Artificial intelligence has come to be associated with geopolitical dynamics between states, which in turn affects how AI is governed. States view AI as enhancing their economic and political power, hence affecting their place in international affairs. One such dynamic is the increasing rivalry between the United States and China and the shift towards understanding that rivalry in realist terms. Rivalries like that one support a view of AI development as a race between nations and regions, with direct effects on policy choices that allow that development, either through a top-down approach chosen by China and a hands-off approach chosen by the United States. The tension between the United States and China also colors how foreign policy experts welcome or view with suspicion state measures such as China’s Digital Silk Road initiative. At the same time, not all aspects of AI development and AI applications are part of a zero-sum game between rivals. This becomes apparent in activities such as cross-border AI research and in rather detailed agreements being reached for the use of autonomous vehicles. These examples show that technological innovations such as artificial intelligence can be grounds for agreement, at least in areas such as technical stands. Yet attempts to govern lethal autonomous weapons demonstrates that state fears that one has gotten the game wrong and is in fact in a zero-sum game never completely fade.

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