China Vows To Push AI Across Society, Industry

China’s government has hailed the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and vowed to push forward with the technology to drive economic regeneration, amidst intense international focus on the sector in the wake of the stir caused by OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

AI is also emerging as a competitive flashpoint between the US and China, along with 5G and advanced semiconductors, as the US prepares an executive order restricting domestic companies’ investments in Chinese AI development.

The Chinese government’s latest remarks on AI appeared in an opinion piece in the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily on Monday, the second commentary on AI in two weeks.

“[Artificial general intelligence] will become an important driving force in the new wave of technological revolution and industrial transformation, with a major impact on people’s production and life,” People’s Daily said in the article.

Image credit: Magda Ehlers/Pexels

Risk assessment

AI could benefit China in areas including daily office work, biopharmaceuticals, remote sensing and meteorology, the article said.

It added that challenges for China include a lack of compute-in-memory chips – an emerging technology for speeding up data processing – as well as risks such as the protection of intellectual property rights, personal privacy and the potential for online fraud.

“The evolving nature of AI also poses certain risks,” the paper wrote.

It called on governments and industry players to use risk assessment and introduce forward-looking policies to address such issues.

Competitive flashpoint

The article appeared the same day that the head of China’s main internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), delivered a speech that also emphasised AI’s potentially broad impact while cautioning of the regulatory challenge it poses.

The article and speech both show how China, like other countries, is seeking to push ahead with AI innovation while mitigating its potential risks.

The US administration is understood to be studying how it can rein in the competitive threat from China in the AI field, as it has done in recent years by creating export restrictions that affect China’s development of 5G and advanced semiconductor technology.

An outbound investment review that is currently underway is expected to result in an executive order including restrictions on US companies’ investment into Chinese AI.

‘Used against us’

The US has already restricted companies such as Nvidia from selling their most advanced AI accelerator chips to Chinese firms.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken met with Chinese president Xi Jinping last week and later spoke about areas of cooperation between the two countries, including the world economy and climate change.

But he made it clear that the two remained in competition on advanced technology.

“It’s not in our interest to provide technology to China that could be used against us,” he said.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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