Discussions of Chinese artificial intelligence often center around the trope of a U.S.-China arms race. On this month’s FLI podcast, we’re moving beyond this narrative and taking a closer look at the realities of AI in China and what they really mean for the United States. Experts Helen Toner and Elsa Kania, both of Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, discuss China’s rise as a world AI power, the relationship between the Chinese tech industry and the military, and the use of AI in human rights abuses by the Chinese government. They also touch on Chinese-American technological collaboration, technological difficulties facing China, and what may determine international competitive advantage going forward.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
The rise of AI in China
The escalation of tensions between U.S. and China in AI realm
Chinese AI Development plans and policy initiatives
The AI arms race narrative and the problems with it
Civil-military fusion in China vs. U.S.
The regulation of Chinese-American technological collaboration
AI and authoritarianism
Openness in AI research and when it is (and isn’t) appropriate
The relationship between privacy and advancement in AI
“In July 2017, The State Council of China released the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan. This policy outlines China’s strategy to build a domestic AI industry worth nearly US$150 billion in the next few years and to become the leading AI power by 2030. This officially marked the development of the AI sector as a national priority and it was included in President Xi Jinping’s grand vision for China.” (FLI’s AI Policy – China page) In the context of these developments and an increase in conversations regarding AI and China, Lucas spoke with Jeffrey Ding from the Center for the Governance of AI (GovAI). Jeffrey is the China lead for GovAI where he researches China’s AI development and strategy, as well as China’s approach to strategic technologies more generally.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
-China’s historical relationships with technology development
-China’s AI goals and some recently released principles
-Jeffrey Ding’s work, Deciphering China’s AI Dream
-The central drivers of AI and the resulting Chinese AI strategy
-Chinese AI capabilities
-AGI and superintelligence awareness and thinking in China
-Dispelling AI myths, promoting appropriate memes
-What healthy competition between the US and China might look like
Here you can find the page for this podcast: https://futureoflife.org/2019/08/16/chinas-ai-superpower-dream-with-jeffrey-ding/
2:14 Motivations for the conversation
5:44 Historical background on China and AI
8:13 AI principles in China and the US
16:20 Jeffrey Ding’s work, Deciphering China’s AI Dream
21:55 Does China’s government play a central hand in setting regulations?
23:25 Can Chinese implementation of regulations and standards move faster than in the US? Is China buying shares in companies to have decision making power?
27:05 The components and drivers of AI in China and how they affect Chinese AI strategy
35:30 Chinese government guidance funds for AI development
37:30 Analyzing China’s AI capabilities
44:20 Implications for the future of AI and AI strategy given the current state of the world
49:30 How important are AGI and superintelligence concerns in China?
52:30 Are there explicit technical AI research programs in China for AGI?
53:40 Dispelling AI myths and promoting appropriate memes
56:10 Relative and absolute gains in international politics
59:11 On Peter Thiel’s recent comments on superintelligence, AI, and China
1:04:10 Major updates and changes since Jeffrey wrote Deciphering China’s AI Dream
1:05:50 What does healthy competition between China and the US look like?
1:11:05 Where to follow Jeffrey and read more of his work
You Can take a short (4 minute) survey to share your feedback about the podcast here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YWHDFV7
Deciphering China’s AI Dream: https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Deciphering_Chinas_AI-Dream.pdf
FLI AI Policy – China page: https://futureoflife.org/ai-policy-china/
ChinAI Newsletter: https://chinai.substack.com
Jeff’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/jjding99
Previous podcast with Jeffrey: https://youtu.be/tm2kmSQNUAU
Does the climate crisis pose an existential threat? And is that even the best way to formulate the question, or should we be looking at the relationship between the climate crisis and existential threats differently? In this month’s FLI podcast, Ariel was joined by Simon Beard and Haydn Belfield of the University of Cambridge’s Center for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), who explained why, despite the many unknowns, it might indeed make sense to study climate change as an existential threat. Simon and Haydn broke down the different systems underlying human civilization and the ways climate change threatens these systems. They also discussed our species’ unique strengths and vulnerabilities –– and the ways in which technology has heightened both –– with respect to the changing climate.