China, US to hold talks on AI governance
Published: May 13, 2024 11:34 PM
A concept photo of artificial intelligence (AI) Photo: VCG

A concept photo of artificial intelligence (AI) Photo: VCG

China and the US will hold their first meeting of intergovernmental dialogue on artificial intelligence (AI) in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday local time to implement the consensus reached by the two leaders in San Francisco.

The two countries will discuss risks associated with AI technology, global governance, and other issues of mutual concern, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a notice on Monday.

Experts said it is positive development to foster global advances and governance in the AI industry, as well as an opportunity for China and the US to manage conflicts in technology. They called on the US to work with China to promote the development of AI for good.

The dialogue holds great significance for the two sides to address the potential risks of AI, which pose a common challenge to both China and the US, as well as to humanity as a whole, Li Yangyang, research assistant at the Institute of International Scientific and Technological Relations under the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development, told the Global Times on Monday.

The dialogue could revolve around the risks of AI, such as the illegal use of AI in weapons, AI-related unemployment, privacy breaches, and the spread of false information. The two sides may also seek to find common ground based on their own AI policies, Li Yangyang said.

"China and the US are leading countries in AI technology and applications, therefore it is crucial for them to reach a consensus for global AI governance," Li Yangyang said.

Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times on Monday that a possible outcome of the dialogue between China and the US on AI could lead to a consensus in the AI industry, potentially focusing on AI legislation and industry behavioral norms.

"As both countries are strong players in AI research and application, reaching a consensus could benefit the global AI field and guide the future direction of AI development," Li Yong said.

The start of the dialogue also comes amid the intensified US crackdown against Chinese tech industries and curbs on China's access to AI chips.

The US further tightened export restrictions on AI-related chips and semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China in October 2023, seeking to halt shipments of more advanced AI chips designed by Nvidia and other companies.

Experts expect the dialogue to be an important starting point for China and the US to build a consensus on AI, and they urged the US to stop politicizing the issue.

The AI governance presents an opportunity for China and US to improve their relations in the field of technology. Substantial cooperation in the AI field requires both sides to seek common ground and avoid hostile attitude, Li Yangyang said. 

"The development of AI should not be used as a tool to create political barriers or block technological cooperation. Doing so will hinder the realization of the promising potential that AI holds," Li Yong said.

What China expects is cooperation that benefits global human development. The US should adhere to the same principles, showing mutual respect in discussions rather than undermining each other and fostering distrust, Li Yong added.

China has made AI development a major priority and has been an active player in global AI governance. 

Last October, China launched the Global AI Governance Initiative, offering an open, inclusive and fair approach for the development, security and governance of emerging AI technologies and services.

Speaking about global AI governance in March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that China takes an active and open approach on AI cooperation with other countries and has established dialogue mechanisms with a number of countries.

Wang Yi stressed that attempts to create "small yard, high fence" in AI development would result in mistakes with historic consequences. Such attempts cannot block other countries' technological development. They would only fragment international industrial and supply chains and undercut humanity's ability to tackle risks and challenges.