Decoding China’s newfound love for AI ethics

Jun 05, 2019, 7:45 AM EDT
(Source: Antonio Sorrentino/flickr)
(Source: Antonio Sorrentino/flickr)

Last week, Chinese scientists and engineers unveiled a code of ethics for artificial intelligence (AI) research and development, and the pleasant surprise doesn’t end there. The guiding principles in the document appeared to closely coincide with those advocated and defined by Western companies and governments.

The Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI), an organization backed by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Beijing municipal government, laid down the Beijing AI Principles, which stress on “sufficiently” respecting human privacy, dignity, freedom, autonomy, and rights, reports MIT Technology Review.

Experts view the development as a significant shift in China’s political culture as a state notorious for its tech-powered surveillance is showing signs of willingness to discuss issues that were virtually non-existent for it. Zeng Yi, director of BAAI, said that the Beijing AI Principles reflect that China is open to a dialog with the international society over development of the technology.

While the move may not mean that Beijing plans to loosen its grip on surveillance of its citizens, it marks a beginning whereby the world can engage with the country on these matters.