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Artificial intelligence: scope, players, markets and geography

Jean Paul Simon (JPS Public Policy Consulting, Séville, Spain)

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance

ISSN: 2398-5038

Article publication date: 28 March 2019

Issue publication date: 17 July 2019




This paper aims to clarify the notion of artificial intelligence (AI), reviewing the present scope of the phenomenon through its main applications. It aims at describing the various applications while assessing the markets, highlighting some of the leading industrial sectors in the field. Therefore, it identifies pioneering companies and the geographical distribution of AI companies.


The paper builds upon an in-depth investigation of public initiatives focusing mostly on the EU. It is based on desk research, a comprehensive review of the main grey and scientific literature in this field.


The paper notes that there is no real consensus on any definition for this umbrella term, that the definition does fluctuate over time but highlights some of the main changes and advances that took place over the past 60 years. It stresses that, in spite of the hype, on both the business and consumer sides, the demand appears uncertain. The scope of the announced disruptions is not easy to assess, technological innovation associated with AI may be modest or take some time to be fully deployed. However, some companies and regions are leading already in the field.

Research limitations/implications

The paper, based on desk research, does not consider any expert opinions. Besides, the scientific literature on the phenomenon is still scarce (but not the technical one in the specific research sectors of AI). Most of the data come from consultancies or government publications which may introduce some bias, although the paper gathered various, often conflicting viewpoints.


The paper gives a thorough review of the available literature (consultancies, governments) stressing the limitations of the available research on economic and social aspects. It aims at providing a comprehensive overview of the major trends in the field. It gives a global overview of companies and regions.



This paper is based on a report for the EC Joint Research Centre, Digital Economy Unit (B6). Review of public programmes, research funding, and similar initiatives on AI in Europe at a national, subnational or super-national level, forthcoming. Checking and editing of the text by Patricia Farrer is gratefully acknowledged.


Simon, J.P. (2019), "Artificial intelligence: scope, players, markets and geography", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 208-237.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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