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Opinion
Kai-Fu Lee

AI Could Devastate the Developing World

The technology will cut off traditional routes to prosperity for poorer nations.

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Robots Will Come for Jobs in Poor Countries First

Most studies of the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs and the economy have focused on developed countries such as the U.S. and Britain. But through my work as a scientist, technology executive and venture capitalist in the U.S. and China, I’ve come to believe that the gravest threat AI poses is to emerging economies.

In recent decades, China and India have presented the world with two different models for how such countries can climb the development ladder. In the China model, a nation leverages its large population and low costs to build a base of blue-collar manufacturing. It then steadily works its way up the value chain by producing better and more technology-intensive goods.