Following his visit to Beijing and Shanghai, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla TSLA, announced that China is planning to implement more government regulations on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.
The Cyberspace Administration of China had already released a draft called “Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services” in April, which followed on from regulations put in place in January on machine learning. Musk has been an advocate for finding tools to offset the dangers that AI poses to humanity. Regulation would serve this purpose while also allowing for the successful development of an industry concerning the use of AI.
Musk stated that he had “productive discussions on artificial intelligence risks and the need for some oversight and regulation” with some of China’s senior leaders during his visit. His meetings included discussions with China’s foreign, commerce, and industry ministers, as well as Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang.
Analysing The US Stance On Regulation
The race to dominate AI technology is becoming of geopolitical importance. Recently, the US banned the export of key semiconductors to China, which are used to train AI systems, to curtail the country’s development in this field. In retaliation, China banned some US-made chips in its territory. However, the US is falling behind China in the deployment of regulation surrounding this technology.
Two weeks ago, the Biden administration released a document analyzing the potential threats to US citizens due to AI and introduced an “AI Bill of Rights” aimed at guiding lawmakers in drafting legislation concerning regulations for this technology. Nevertheless, these proposals are still far from gaining enough attention from Congress. In contrast, the European Union is already progressing with a piece of legislation known as the AI Act, which seeks to broadly regulate the technology. The act was approved by a committee in the European Parliament and is preparing for a final vote this month.
The Chinese regulation was presented in a draft released in April, and it made companies that are providing generative AI services responsible for the outputs they produce, even when prompted by users and when used as APIs. This is a controversial issue that the EU has not yet resolved. The draft also sets rules on the data used to train these models. In contrast, China released its first piece of regulation in January that oversaw deep synthesis technology, which involves deep learning and machine learning applied to generative images, texts, audio, and video.
Regulation is commonly viewed as an obstacle to technological development; however, China sees it as an opportunity to be the first state to regulate AI, gaining a lead in the AI race. Regulatory measures can aid in building public trust in AI, which can drive consumer uptake and growth. It also enables Chinese government control to prevent the technology from getting out of hand.
Musk’s visit to China would have turned Washington’s attention towards it, but China is currently the largest market for Tesla vehicles outside of the US. In addition, Musk opposed the ongoing process of “decoupling” between China and the West. While Alphabet Inc. GOOG GOOGL CEO Sundar Pichai also supported more regulation on AI, claiming that it is “too important not to regulate well.”