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The Age of Artificial Intelligence Calls for ‘Digital Artisans’The Messenger (May 22, 2023)

For decades, the United States and other northern industrialized countries have moved their economies from manufacturing to services. They offshored the smokestacks of yesteryear to the developing world and with them, the black lung disease, industrial accidents and labor strife. Clean rooms and hackathons became the workshops as the developed world moved to a knowledge-based, post-industrial economy. This globalization bargain worked through the 1990s and 2000s. But such a post-Fordist model benefits the developed world only if its innovators do the designing, inventing, licensing and royalty collection that come with leadership in disruptive technologies.

Indeed, the post-Cold War global trading regime, typified by the World Trade Organization and regional and bilateral agreements the U.S. signed with trading partners, was based on the understanding that the developing world would host low-skilled factories and the developed world would produce knowledge and commercialize it. The knowledge-based economy has created a world in which intellectual property became king and the industrialized north created new “things” — the internet, GPS, 5G, the mobile telephone, semiconductor-chip designs, social media, pharmaceutical breakthroughs and other game-changing technologies. Knowledge was incentivized, celebrated, leveraged and rewarded. Sometimes it went into the public domain, becoming part of the collective commons; other times it went public (as in, an initial public offering).

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