Shanghai adopts China’s 1st provincial-level AI law to support sound, safe development
Published: Sep 22, 2022 08:19 PM
The 2022 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) opens in Shanghai on September 1, 2022. Photo: Xie Jun/GT

The 2022 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) opens in Shanghai on September 1, 2022. Photo: Xie Jun/GT

Shanghai's municipal legislature on Thursday passed the country's first provincial-level law covering the development of artificial intelligence (AI), which experts said would effectively fill a gap where there was no specific law for AI and further pave the way for sound and sustainable development of technology.

At a meeting, the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress Standing Committee passed the Shanghai Regulations on Promoting the Development of the AI Industry, after public opinion was solicited from August 30 to September 13. The ordinance will come into effect on October 1.

Yan Rui, director of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, told the media that this legislation focuses on industry innovation and serves as guidance for future development.

"Various incentives are included to promote the high-quality development of the AI industry," Yan said.

One highlight of the new law is that it stipulates that the relevant municipal departments can draw up lists of "minor illegalities" in the development of the AI sector, indicating that there would be no administrative punishment for minor violations in accordance with the law as part of the government's efforts to encourage exploration and stimulate innovation.

The law also clarifies the bottom line and ethical norms for the development of the AI industry, and makes it clear that relevant entities that carry out AI-related research and development and applications should abide by laws and regulations, while enhancing ethical awareness, so as to ensure the sound and safe development of the industry.

While this law is only a provincial-level one, and it is surely not the final word on the subject, it offers good guidance for the AI sector's development in a broader sense, given the fact that Shanghai has been taking the lead in many digital sectors, including the metaverse, Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent tech analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The regulation gives a clear definition of what AI is. It also clearly defines government management standards, as well as measures to boost the industry's development in ways such as supporting enterprises and educational institutes to conduct international cooperation for research and development on AI.

This is Shanghai's second local regulation in the field of the digital economy after the "Shanghai Data Regulations," which started to take effect on January 1. The new regulation will strongly support the city's comprehensive digital transformation and help build a city with an international influence on AI, experts said.

"The new law shows Shanghai's consistent support, encouragement and guidance for the AI sector and other innovative high-tech segments for industry participants to better follow," Liu said.

Shanghai's AI industry has continued to grow in recent years, with a planned output value in 2021 of 305.68 billion yuan ($43.18 billion), a year-on-year increase of 17.2 percent and 2.28 times that of 2018, according to media reports.

Shanghai envisions reaching an "AI highland" with more international influence by 2025, reports said.

Global Times