Biden signs executive order on AI regulation as Chinese experts warn against US politicizing technology

(Global Times) 10:59, November 01, 2023

US President Joe Biden has issued an executive order on artificial intelligence (AI) that aims to monitor the cutting-edge technology while tapping its potential. Although they touch on matters of consumer protection, civil rights and innovation, the Biden administration's new rules are narrow-minded and risk turning AI into a political tool in next-generation technology competition, Chinese observers said.

They called for international cooperation in the research and development (R&D) and application of the state-of-the-art technology, which is the core of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a sector that will have profound implications for all human beings.

According to a circular on the White House website, the executive order requires developers of AI systems that pose risks to US national security, economy, public health or safety to share the results of safety tests with the US government, in line with the Defense Production Act, before companies make them public.

Claiming that it has consulted widely on its AI governance frameworks with its allies and partners including Australia, Canada, the EU and Japan, the White House said that the document will "direct actions to counter adversaries' military use of AI."

Generally, AI can be applied in every industry, including the military. However, the Biden administration especially pointed out the need to "counter adversaries' military use of AI," reflecting its concerns in this respect, Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

While the US attaches importance to international competition by vowing to continue to lead in AI innovation, the Chinese regulations on generative AI content stress increasing the benefits brought to people and preventing potential risks, Wang said.

In July, China released an interim regulation on the management of generative AI services, which went into effect on August 15. It put forth measures on boosting generative AI technology on the one hand, and stipulated basic norms for generative AI service providers on the other.

"Both countries' regulations on generative AI services are just a form of general guidance, as there is yet no definition to problems such as AI platform monopolies. Moreover, laws are needed to restrain users of the technology, as some problems are produced by human beings rather than the technology itself," Liu Gang, director of the Nankai Institute of Economics and chief economist at the Chinese Institute of New Generation AI Development Strategies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Analysts warn against the potential for the US to politicize AI in next-generation technology competition, since the US has damaged the semiconductor market, a treasure for all human beings.

Amid mounting calls in the West to ban China's participation in the upcoming AI Safety Summit in the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the invitation.

"It's wise for the UK to invite China to attend the summit," Liu said. He said China plays a leading role in AI and 5G, and increased international exchanges in AI and digital technologies will contribute to the world's economy and sustainable development.

Wang said that the development and governance of AI has significant implications for all of humanity and the digital economy, and therefore requires global cooperation. "China plays a crucial role in digital infrastructure, the digital economy, markets, and relevant research, and therefore is an important link that shouldn't be omitted," Wang said.

China's AI sector has developed at an unprecedented speed this year despite an intensifying US blockade, with Chinese high-tech firms including Baidu and iFlytek rushing to deploy ChatGPT-like AI solutions. As of the end of August, 11 Chinese AI large language models, including Baidu's ERNIE Bot, had obtained approval for release to the general public.

China aims to promote the development of its computing power technologies - with a goal of increasing its computing power by about 50 percent to exceed 300 EFLOPS by 2025 - laying the infrastructure foundation for the development of the AI sector.

"As AI is critical to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an international cooperation system needs to be established at an early date for countries to discuss the application of AI in society and potential problems, based on a series of consensuses," Liu said.

Amid escalating tech competition, the US recently tightened curbs on exports of state-of-the-art AI chips to China.

"The US measures seriously violated market economy principles and international trade rules, while aggregated the fragmentation of global semiconductor supply chains," the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The Chinese business community firmly opposes the US acts, which benefit no one, and hopes the US side will cancel related restrictions and respond to the reasonable concerns of the global business community about opening-up and cooperation, the government agency said.

"Related enterprises across the world should maintain mutual trust and cooperation to jointly safeguard the safety, stability and smoothness of global supply and industry chains," it said.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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