What is it about?

Over the past decade, AI technology has rapidly evolved, becoming increasingly recognized as a crucial element for a country's industrial competitiveness. Our study demonstrates that by leveraging their expertise, skills, and technology in AI, countries can gain a competitive edge in emerging sectors. This advantage is crucial for maintaining a strong position in the ongoing global competition in AI research and development. However, the applicability of this advantage varies; some nations will invest astronomical sums in AI-related industries, such as semiconductors, while others may face challenges in accessing high-performance computing.

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Why is it important?

We find that countries possessing established technological capabilities demonstrate superior proficiency in diversifying into new areas of AI technology compared to those lacking such capabilities. Particularly, these nations exhibit a heightened likelihood of outpacing latecomers by increasing the complexity of AI technologies. However, in a rapidly evolving environment, the capacity to integrate new scientific discoveries proves to be more crucial than merely enhancing technological complexity. This suggests the potential for technologically less developed nations to specialize in new areas related to their existing industries by adopting AI technologies, thereby fostering innovation and growth.


AI has rapidly advanced based on high-performance computing power and algorithms with trillions of parameters, but paradoxically, countries lacking these capabilities may fall behind. This paper discusses the potential for nations to gain a comparative advantage in new fields by integrating cutting-edge AI technologies based on data produced by their existing industries. I expect that this will have implications for policymakers in countries with lower levels of technology or regions specialized in specific industries.

Youngsam Chun
Seoul National University

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This page is a summary of: AI technology specialization and national competitiveness, PLoS ONE, April 2024, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0301091.
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