China wants to make its own rules for AI ethics
Tencent’s Pony Ma and Baidu’s Robin Li join calls for ethical rules, as country faces global scrutiny on tech use
It is no secret that China wants to be a global leader in AI. Now it also wants to set up ethical standards for the technology.
Two of the country’s biggest tech billionaires are spearheading the calls. Baidu’s Robin Li and Tencent’s Pony Ma said guidelines are also needed in areas that are likely to bring ethical conundrums: Autonomous vehicles, gene editing, and data privacy.
Baidu and Tencent called on the Chinese government to regulate new technologies on Sunday at the start of China’s annual gathering of its legislative and political advisory bodies, known as the “two sessions.”
According to its national plan, China is gearing up to become the international AI trend-setter. In October last year, Baidu became the first Chinese company to join the Partnership on AI, a US-based consortium that studies and formulates best practices on AI technologies.
Still, China’s use of AI in surveillance has met with plenty of international criticism. Reports of using AI to assist surveillance and genetic data collection in the Western region of Xinjiang have triggered privacy and human rights concerns.
Tech giants in the West, meanwhile, are also facing scrutiny over algorithms that perpetuate human biases and military uses of AI. Google, for instance, was forced to cancel its deals with the Pentagon and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement after complaints from workers. Amazon has found itself under fire for selling facial recognition software to government agencies.
But Baidu’s Li says so far, China’s role in making rules for AI has been small on an international level.
“The discussion of AI ethics in China has just started and has not yet formed a broad consensus,” Li wrote in his proposal.