China recently launched its “Global Artificial Intelligence Governance Initiative” at the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum in Beijing, aiming to promote an open, inclusive, and fair approach to AI development. The initiative was promoted by China’s state-run Global Times as a stark contrast to the U.S.’s restrictions and blockade aimed at preserving its hegemony. The U.S. and allied countries locked down sales of advanced computer technology to China last year, in recognition of the enormous security risk posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s malign activities and its penchant for intellectual property theft.
The thought of China’s authoritarian government gaining control of AI technology has been a nightmare plaguing the free world for most of the new century. Concerns were raised that China’s lack of regard for privacy would allow it to compile gigantic databases to feed growing A.I. programs, leaping ahead of American and European companies bound by data privacy rules. The Chinese Communist Party’s loose ethical standards quickly gave rise to horrific exercises in A.I.-driven surveillance, including research into A.I. facial recognition systems that would allow the tyrants of Beijing to track and monitor “troublesome” minority populations such as Tibetans and the Uyghur Muslims.
The CIA and FBI have both expressed ongoing concerns about China’s influence on A.I. development and its abuse of the technology to drive massive espionage, surveillance, and influence campaigns. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advised that adversaries like China are seeking to undermine trust in government institutions, social cohesion, and democratic processes are using AI to create more believable mis-, dis-, and malinformation campaigns.
The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in August argued that A.I. could yet make the old dream of using Internet freedom to undermine authoritarian regimes a reality, reversing decades of dismal regression that made the Internet a better tool for tyrants than liberators. CEPA noted that China hastily stuffed its homegrown A.I. chatbot genies back into their bottles because they kept coming up with unexpected and challenging answers to questions after being fed a steady diet of Communist propaganda.