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Governance initiative for AI a visionary global move

By Khalid Taimur Akram | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-11 09:13
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The China-proposed Global AI Governance Initiative, announced in October in Beijing at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, marks a significant stride forward in shaping the future of artificial intelligence development and governance on a global scale.

Rooted in the recognition of a growing digital divide, the initiative aims to address imbalances in AI capabilities among nations. President Xi Jinping, in his keynote speech at the forum, said China stands ready to increase exchanges and dialogue with other countries and jointly promote sound, orderly and secure AI development in the world.

China's commitment to addressing frontier AI safety issues, including safety evaluations and red-teaming — the testing of an organization's digital security by attempting to infiltrate a computer network — showcases its proactive stance in shaping a secure AI landscape. By aiming to bridge the gap in AI capabilities between nations, China seeks to anticipate additional economic benefits in the Global South and foster global inclusivity.

This initiative revolves around the core principle of a people-centered approach, striving to elevate the well-being of humanity through AI development.

China suggests that all countries should actively support the role of AI in promoting sustainable development and tackling global challenges. In addition, all countries should uphold the principles of wide participation and consensus-based decision-making, adopt a gradual approach, pay close attention to technological advancements, conduct risk assessments and policy communication, and share best practices, according to the initiative.

The Cyberspace Administration of China further solidified the initiative's foundations by releasing a comprehensive statement outlining the mission. Cognizant of the rapid evolution of global AI technology and its associated risks, the CAC outlined multifaceted recommendations, including the establishment and refinement of laws and regulations ensuring privacy and data security, opposition to illegal activities such as theft and tampering with personal information, and the promotion of a testing and assessment system based on AI risk levels.

The CAC's call for collaboration extends to research and development entities, heightened data authenticity and accuracy, and the construction of AI technologies subject to review, monitoring and traceability. Adherence to the principles of fairness and nondiscrimination during data collection, algorithm design, technology development and product application is emphasized, underscoring the need for global commitment to equitable AI technologies.

Furthermore, the CAC encourages nations to enhance information exchange and technological cooperation on AI governance, foster collaboration to prevent risks, and formulate AI governance frame-works, norms and standards based on broad consensus.

The international community has embraced China's proposal, recognizing its embodiment of the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind. The proposal, covering AI development, safety and governance, not only addresses global concerns but also serves as a reference for global discussions and rule-making, offering a constructive framework for tackling contemporary challenges in the AI landscape.

Acknowledging the need to amplify the voice of the developing Global South in the AI field, China's proposal aims to foster the creation of a fair and just global AI governance system. Simultaneously, Beijing openly advocates global AI cooperation, vehemently objecting to certain countries' technological monopolies and unilateral restriction practices that hinder the broader development of AI on a global scale.

As the world's largest consumer and industry application market in AI, China has been ranking second on the Global AI Innovation Index for three consecutive years, with the nation's core AI industry estimated at over $68 billion in value, as revealed during the sixth World Artificial Intelligence Conference in July.

Over 30 AI models developed by Chinese enterprises have completed the filing process with cyberspace regulators, with an additional 10 undergoing the same process. The rapid development of AI is projected to create new economic growth areas, accelerating the expansion of digital industries and facilitating the intelligent upgrade of traditional sectors such as education, medicine and transportation.

China's supervision, guided by establishing "red lines" for better technology application, not only ensures regulatory clarity but also provides a much-needed reference and certainty for Chinese AI startups.

China, serving as a magnet for global AI talent, boasts a thriving AI ecosystem, substantial research funding and opportunities for innovation, attracting top researchers and engineers from around the world.

The international community has responded positively to the Global AI Governance Initiative, with numerous countries expressing eagerness to enhance policy communication and pragmatic cooperation in the field of AI. This global momentum is evident in significant moves taken worldwide, including the establishment of China-US government talks on AI and the recent signing of the Bletchley Declaration, an unprecedented agreement on AI risk mitigation, during the United Kingdom's AI Safety Summit.

The Global AI Governance Initiative's comprehensive and constructive approach, rooted in principles of fairness, collaboration and responsible innovation, reflects China's commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable AI landscape. As the world collectively grapples with the challenges and opportunities presented by AI, China's vision for global cooperation and governance emerges as a guiding light for the responsible development of this transformative technology.

The author is executive director of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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