Opinions and Editorials

Apr. 21, 2021

The Hill: Innovation Suffers When Property Rights Are Weak Or Difficult To Enforce by Judge Paul Michel

U.S. policymakers apparently do not recognize the connection between imprudent court decisions and artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies that will determine our nation’s security and economic strength in the 21st century.  But their counterparts in China do.

While America’s leaders continue to weaken legal regimes that incentivize innovation, China’s leaders continue to upgrade their own legal and economic regimes. Their goal is to surpass the U.S. and all other nations in 10 advanced technologies, from AI to robotics to aerospace equipment. China’s “Made in China 2025” plan seeks to position China as the global industrial and technological superpower. And according to its very public “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development” plan, China commits to become, by 2030, “the world’s premier artificial intelligence innovation center,” which in turn will “foster a new national leadership and establish the key fundamentals for an economic great power.”

A command economy, China compels its companies to do the government’s bidding. The Chinese government controls most of the country’s wealth, which it is massively investing in AI and the other nine technologies. In the United States, public investment as a percentage of GDP has steadily declined.

In the U.S., private-sector companies are truly independent of the government. Investment decisions in our free-market economy are a function of whether legal protections adequately assure a return on investment. When those incentives fall, so do private investments, especially risky and expensive ones in advanced technologies.