WORKING PAPER 26 - September 30, 2020
KEYWORDS: general purpose technologies, artificial intelligence, national strategies, China, European Union, United States
This paper provides a summary survey of the policy approaches to artificial intelligence-based technologies in China, the European Union, and the United States. China has the most aggressive approach, launching major initiatives since 2015 such as ‘Made in China 2025’, the Internet Plus Plan, the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, and the Artificial Intelligence Standardization White Paper. In 2018, the EU finalized both the European AI Strategy and ‘Made in Europe’ or the Coordinated Plan on the Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. Despite a traditional reticence to adopt national strategies and perhaps pushed by growing concerns about China, the US Government announced the American AI Initiative and a National AI R&D Strategic Plan in 2019. The AI approaches in these three economies reflect their relative strengths—state control in China, citizen voice in Europe, and business practices in America. Unencumbered by privacy concerns, China’s strategy is geared to exploit the abundance of domestic data and to develop AI talent through central schemes and massive injections of money. The European Union’s regulations and spending priorities are guided by the objective of building citizen trust in AI-based technologies by safeguarding privacy and ameliorating disruptions in national labor markets. The mainstay of the US approach is to strengthen the linkages between business and AI-related research, and find ways to fund basic R&D. Despite efforts to indigenize AI innovations, all three economies face challenges. China’s AI strategy continues to rely disproportionately on just three tech giants: Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, which have investments in more than a 100 AI-involved companies. Europe’s AI resources are unbalanced geographically—a quarter of Europe’s AI talent is in the UK and another quarter in Germany and France—and Brexit poses a serious risk. More than half of the AI talent in the US is foreign born, so immigration policies will inevitably be a central component of a national AI strategy.
WORKING PAPER 25 - July 29, 2020
KEYWORDS: General purpose technology; artificial intelligence; transactional, informational and operational technologies; economic effects of technical change; European Union, Fourth Industrial Revolution
First, this paper discusses how AI-based technologies that are powering the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” are similar in their speed, effects and prerequisites to general purpose technologies (GPTs) that came before and how they are different. AI-based technologies are similar to the steam engine, electric power, and information technology in that (a) they change the nature of work but do not reduce it in aggregate; (b) they increase productivity when accompanied by innovations in business process and investment in human capital; and (c) they leave little room for leapfrogging because profitable adoption of new techniques requires having adapted to previous rounds. AI is different from earlier GPTs mainly in that the speed of its spread is likely to be faster. Second, it provides an economic classification of these technologies based on the channels through which they reduce costs, distinguishing between transactional, informational, and operational technologies. This distinction is relevant because they differ in their structural, social and spatial effects. Third, the paper provides a framework that brings together the economic consequences of AI-based technologies and common policy goals: competitiveness, cohesion and convergence. Finally, it illustrates how this framework can be applied to the European Union. EU member states do least well in transactional platforms where scale matters a lot, they do somewhat better in informational technologies where both market size and regulations matter, and some of them are global leaders in the development and use of AI-based operational technologies such as robots. As with earlier waves of technical change, creation and adoption of AI-based technologies will require good education and well-designed R&D incentives, regulatory capacity, and robust tax-and-transfer systems.
WORKING PAPER 24 - June 26, 2020
KEYWORDS: Utility, electric utility, business models, reform, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, minigrids, energy access, solar energy, tariffs, concession, distribution utilities, transmission, distribution, power, electricity
African utilities face the complex and interrelated challenges of being capital constrained, having a relatively low demand base of customers with lower abilities to pay, high levels of system inefficiency, and very large unserved and underserved populations in their service territory. Traditional business-as-usual methods for electrification have fallen short, and utilities in sub-Saharan Africa are critically under-equipped for the universal access challenge. Advances in digitized and decentralized technology offer new delivery models for reliable and affordable access that African utilities could leverage to solve these dual challenges of financial sustainability and universal access. Indeed, though the 'future grid' conversation predominantly focuses on advanced energy markets, the value proposition of such advances is arguably stronger in African markets. From the literature, we find that the inertia of the entrenched regulatory frameworks governing competition, tariffs, and investment priorities are a major hurdle keeping African utility incentives at odds with technology trends and propose reforms. Using case studies, we identify key regulatory reforms needed to transform the sector, and best practice models for novel public-private sector engagement to unlock opportunity.
WORKING PAPER 23 - October 21, 2020
KEYWORDS: poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), aggregator mechanism, research and development, clinical trials, antimicrobial resistance, infectious diseases, COVID-19, AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, public funding for R&D, vaccine, public health
There have been significant improvements in recent years in the early stage development of products for poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs). However, there are still major challenges in the funding of late-stage clinical trials of candidate products for these diseases. For vaccine development specifically, Rappuoli and colleagues recently concluded that “these improvements in the early development process have revealed a new, and possibly more perilous, Valley of Death in the late vaccine development phase.” There are three major challenges in conducting phase III trials for PRND product development. First, such trials are expensive and companies often shy away from investing in them because there is no commercial market for most PRNDs. Second, there is poor coordination on late-stage trials across R&D initiatives. At present, there is no overarching global mechanism that is “steering the ship”—there is no universally agreed upon process for prioritizing R&D investments for PRNDs, for selecting the most promising candidates, or for coordinating the multiple, overlapping research programs worldwide. The result is duplication, waste, and ultimately delays in the development of products. Third, current R&D efforts for PRNDs are “top-down”—they are controlled by high-income countries (HICs) and have generally done poorly at including decision-makers from high-burden countries. It is policymakers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) who are in the trenches when it comes to controlling PRNDs—yet they are often not at the table when it comes to deciding on what gets funded, where research is conducted, who gets access to intellectual property, and where and how the technologies end up being manufactured. All these steps need to be “globalized” if we are to develop and deploy new control tools.
WORKING PAPER 22 - May 20, 2020
KEYWORDS: Diplomacy, Sustainable Development Goals, universities, American diplomacy, human behavior, collaboration model, science diplomacy, Vietnam, ozone agreement, Monsanto, black swan
This paper based on Ambassador W. Robert Pearson’s inaugural lecture of the DUCIGS/Rethinking Diplomacy Program at Duke University focuses on how the combination of the disciplines of diplomacy and science plays an important role in facilitating the solution of complex issues. The author introduces a “collaboration model” for modern problem solving of complex problems, including those where good science is a key factor, with many stakeholders. In this model, diplomacy can act as the “facilitator” or the “mediator” to manage that process. In order to succeed with a “collaboration model,” five elements are required: (1) involvement of all the essential stakeholders (those that could make or break an agreement), (2) consensus definition of the problem, (3) sufficient common interests to generate a productive dialogue, (4) a shared commitment by the stakeholders to finding a solution, and (5) successful post-agreement implementation that stands the test of time. Examples of successful stories include the international Ozone Agreement and the agreement on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The author concludes that in today’s world all science is also politics. Knowing what is needed to solve a problem is not enough. Knowing how to persuade the broader public, businesses and governments to do what is needed requires knowing the best way to make that happen. The best way to help make that happen is to use the best tools of diplomacy. Science and diplomacy thus become indispensable partners for human progress.
WORKING PAPER 21 - April 21, 2020
KEYWORDS: transition, graduation, foreign aid, health aid, development assistance for health, Aid for Health, multilateral donor, bilateral donor, the World Bank, USAID, PEPFAR, DFID, JICA
Many donors are reconsidering their approach to providing health aid to countries that are viewed as becoming increasingly capable of self-financing their own development. To better understand this phenomenon, we analyzed the transition approaches adopted by six key global health donors, three multilateral and three bilateral, who provided nearly 75% of all disbursed official development assistance for health in 2016. We conducted a desk-based review and triangulated our findings with semi-structured key informant interviews.
We found: 1) there is no consensus on the terminology used to describe the transition process;
2) donors vary in terms of the formality of their policies, the indicators used to allocate resources and/or trigger transition, and the timeline/duration of transition; 3) some donors view the unit of transition at the sector or program level rather than the country level; and 4) donors provide varying degrees of support before, during, and after transition.
Our findings suggest that more explicit transition approaches and greater definitional clarity are needed. Donors should avoid a “one size fits all” approach—a lack of flexibility puts countries at risk. Evidence should be generated and shared on which transition modalities work best and under which circumstances. Donors should communicate with each other and avoid transitioning at the same time. As more low-income countries transition to middle-income status, transitions away from donor support for health will become an increasingly important phenomenon to understand.
WORKING PAPER 20 - April 14, 2020
KEYWORDS: COVID-19, pandemic, vaccine, infectious diseases, research and development, clinical trials
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has quickly spread worldwide. On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and advised all governments to prepare for transmission in their countries. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared that it had become a pandemic. There is uncertainty about what will happen next, e.g., the pandemic could involve multiple simultaneous epidemics of COVID-19 over 1-3 years, and/or SARS-CoV-2 could become a globally endemic virus. In this paper, we begin by arguing that the rapid development and scale-up of COVID-19 vaccines has become critical to reducing the morbidity, mortality, and economic damage associated with a pandemic. We show that new funding for COVID-19 vaccine development is required for all development stages and we estimate how much funding is needed. We examine ways to mobilize such funding and explore potential funding vehicles, including CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, as well as the governance of such vehicles. Finally, we highlight issues such as vaccine manufacturing, intellectual property, global access, regulatory approval, and ethical and trial design considerations in conducting trials in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
WORKING PAPER 19 - March 12, 2020
KEYWORDS: China, South China Sea, bargaining, multilateral, institution, international, order, territorial, disputes, claimant, UNCLOS, power, accountability
Why have the bargaining strategies of the interested states in South China Sea (SCS) territorial disputes changed over time? To date, scholarship has analyzed states’ overall strategies towards the SCS, domestic determinants of bargaining strategies, and China’s remarkable growth and unique position in the world system. But what about international constraints on crisis bargaining? This paper will argue that China’s willingness to engage in restrained negotiating behavior during the bargaining process is constrained by the degree to which it is accountable to the international institutional status quo and the financial system that supports it. China’s decision to exercise restraint in bargaining passes through two analytical dimensions: an assessment of its power relative to neighbors and an analysis of the costs and benefits of defying multilateral institutions. My theory predicts unrestrained, more aggressive bargaining when relative power is high and the state in question is decreasingly accountable to international multilateral institutions. Using case studies and historical sources, this paper finds that restraint in bargaining behavior in the South China Sea from the 1970s to the present is directly related to relative power and the extent to which China’s behavior is constrained by its accountability to international multilateral institutions. These findings are applicable to academics and policymakers considering the engagement between countries and the world order.
WORKING PAPER 18 - February 8, 2020
KEYWORDS: Ethiopia, health financing, aid, resource mobilization, Sub-Saharan Africa
In this paper, we discuss Ethiopia’s approach to health delivery, trends in health financing trends, focusing on the financing arrangements and expenditure management systems through which health funding is allocated from various internal and external sources. The paper reviews Ethiopia’s public financial management system to identify challenges and opportunities to improve domestic resource mobilization for health and resource allocation within the health sector. With the imminent transition away from external donor support that Ethiopia faces due to economic growth, the paper explores the sources of fiscal space for health in Ethiopia to sustain progress in the health sector through a deep dive of the sources of health financing through tax and non-tax revenues, additional borrowing, future aid prospects, and better fiscal discipline and expenditure efficiency.
WORKING PAPER 17 - January 28, 2020
KEYWORDS: middle income trap, economic growth, creative destruction
Since we coined the term in 2006, “the middle income trap” has been the subject of scores of investigations. The investigators have generally tried to answer one of two questions: Is there evidence to support the existence of the trap, and what can middle-income countries do to spring free of it? The evidence in support of its existence has been mixed, and the policy discussions have—to put it bluntly—been largely unhelpful. But our original proposition was that of the possibility of a trap, not its inevitability. We were more convinced of the absence of a functional theory of economic growth for middle-income economies. Solow-Swan models that stressed capital accumulation and exogenous technological change did well to explain growth in low-income countries, and Lucas-Romer models emphasizing learning and endogenous technical change identified the main drivers of growth in advanced economies and explained why capital and knowhow did not easily flow to poorer economies. Neither class of models has, to our knowledge, satisfactorily explained successful transitions from one type of growth to the other. In this paper, we propose that Schumpeterian models proposed by Aghion, Howitt and others that stress creative destruction and institutional change could provide the analytical foundations for understanding middle-income economies better. We present evidence that is consistent with the main predictions of this approach, and discuss its key policy implications, especially effective competition regimes, mechanisms to maintain social mobility, and adept management of economic crises.