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Four things to know about China’s new AI rules in 2024

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This story first appeared in China Report, MIT Technology Review’s newsletter about technology in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

Last year was a banner year for artificial intelligence. Thanks to products like ChatGPT, many millions of people are now directly interacting with AI, talking about it, and grappling with its impact every day.

Some of those people are policymakers, who have been trying hard to respond to the problems AI products pose without reducing our ability to harness their power. 

So at the beginning of this year, my colleagues and I looked around the world for signs of how AI regulations are likely to change this year. We summarized what we found here. 

In China, one of the major moves to be on the lookout for in 2024 is whether the country will follow in the European Union’s footsteps and announce its own comprehensive AI Act. In June of last year, China’s top governing body released a list of legislation they were working on. An “Artificial Intelligence Law” appeared for the first time. 

The Chinese government is already good at reacting to new technologies swiftly. China was probably the first country in the world to introduce legislation on generative AI mere months after ChatGPT’s big break. But a new comprehensive law could give China even more control over how AI disrupts (or doesn’t disrupt) the way things work today.

But you shouldn’t just take my word for it. I asked several experts on Chinese AI regulations what they think will happen in 2024. So in this newsletter, I will share the four main things they said to expect this year.

1. Don’t expect the Chinese “AI Law” to be finalized soon. 

Unlike previous Chinese regulations that focus on subsets of AI such as deepfakes, this new law is aimed at the whole picture, and that means it will take a lot of time to draft. Graham Webster, a research scholar at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation, guesses that it’s likely we will see a draft of the AI Law in 2024, “but it’s unlikely it will be finalized or effective.” 

One big challenge is that even just judging what is and isn’t AI can be so tricky that trying to tackle everything with one law may be impractical. “[It’s] always a question in law and tech whether a singular law is necessary, or whether it should be addressed in terms of its applications in other areas,” says Jeremy Daum, who researches Chinese laws at the Paul Tsai China Center. “So a generative-AI content regulation makes sense, but just AI? We’ll see what happens.”

2. China’s government is telling AI companies what they should steer clear of  

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a state-owned research institute, drafted an advisory version of the future AI law in 2023, and it’s a helpful reference for what China wants to achieve. One of the most interesting items in the document is a “negative list” of areas and existing products that AI companies should stay clear of unless they have explicit government approval. It’ll be interesting to see what ends up on this list and how it differs from similar bans set by the EU.

“The list subjects only some products, services, and model development to stringent oversight and was designed with the intention of lowering Chinese businesses’ overall regulatory compliance burden,” says Kristy Loke, a research fellow at the Centre for the Governance of AI, a think tank. The list tells companies exactly where they shouldn’t go to stay in the government’s good graces, which should help them to avoid accidentally angering Beijing. 

3. Third parties may start evaluating AI models

Regulations don’t mean anything if they aren’t enforced. So developing a way to evaluate AI models could be on Chinese regulators’ 2024 checklist, says Jeffrey Ding, an assistant professor of political science at George Washington University. 

What could that look like? “One, the development of a national platform for testing and verifying the safety and security of models, and two, support for third-party assessment organizations to implement regular reviews,” Ding tells me.

(On that note, I wrote about a fascinating, highly detailed document released by Chinese tech companies and academics last year that suggested ways to evaluate AI models. You can read about it here.)

4. China is likely to be lenient on copyright 

Generative AI has created a copyright nightmare, and current laws aren’t up to the job of untangling who owes who what, and why. Angela Zhang, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, expects more policy guidelines and court decisions from China to clarify potential IP issues next year.

China’s government will likely be lenient to AI companies. “Given the overarching national agenda to encourage the growth and development of the AI sector, it is very unlikely Chinese administrative agencies will take an aggressive stance in investigating firms for AI-related infringements. In the meantime, Chinese courts will take a business-friendly approach in deciding IP cases,” Zhang says.

Needless to say, I will be watching all four areas in the new year and updating you about them in the newsletter. 

And if you want to stay up to date on tech developments in the US, Europe, and beyond, you should really read my colleagues’ newsletters, like The Algorithm on all things AI and The Technocrat, on power, politics, and tech. 

Is there something missing from this list? What are you expecting from Chinese regulators in 2024? Tell me your thoughts at zeyi@technologyreview.com.

Catch up with China

1. Lai Ching-te (William), the Taiwanese presidential candidate whose political stance was least welcome to Beijing, won the election on Saturday. (Al Jazeera)

  • Taiwanese prosecutors arrested an online journalist, claiming he published fabricated election poll results as part of a Chinese disinformation campaign. (Politico)
  • Many Taiwanese people worship folk deities with roots in China. Those religious lineages have become increasingly politicized during this election cycle. (BBC)

2. Microsoft’s AI research lab in Beijing used to be a successful example of an international research collaboration. Now it’s a liability for the company amid US-China political tensions. (New York Times $)

3. The Chinese government has spent more than $65 billion to build up Xiongan, a supposedly era-defining smart city. But the city is still empty, as people hesitate to move there. (Bloomberg $)

4. The Beijing municipal government bragged about employing a tech company to crack the encryption of Apple’s AirDrop service in order to find out who used it to send anonymous protest messages. (AFP)

5. How has the Great Wall of China survived thousands of years of deterioration? A “living skin” of tiny, rootless plants and microorganisms has helped, according to new research. (CNN)

6. Ships passing through the Red Sea are broadcasting their links to China to avoid attack by militants in Yemen. (Bloomberg $)

Lost in translation

Chinese tech companies finally returned to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that just concluded in Las Vegas, after a years-long hiatus when China closed its border during the pandemic. Still, according to the publication Wu Xiaobo Channel, participants observed that Chinese companies occupied only a fifth to a third as much exhibition space as they did at their peak. They particularly said it’s a pity that Chinese electric-vehicles companies didn’t come to the US to showcase the rapid development of EV manufacturing in China. (The only exception is Xpeng, which drew a lot of attention with its flying-car model.) However, many companies from other countries mentioned that they source batteries from China.

One more thing

New AI models have made it easy to generate songs that closely mimic a singer’s voice. Some musicians hate it and are taking legal action; others are embracing it. Wan Kwong, a 75-year-old Hong Kong singer, released a song last year that featured an AI-generated clone of his voice in his youth. 

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Lets Govern AI Rather Than Let It Govern Us

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A pivotal moment has unfolded at the United Nations General Assembly. For the first time, a resolution was adopted focused on ensuring Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are “safe, secure and trustworthy”, marking a significant step towards integrating AI with sustainable development globally. This initiative, led by the United States and supported by an impressive cohort of over 120 other Member States, underscores a collective commitment to navigating the AI landscape with the utmost respect for human rights.

But why does this matter to us, the everyday folks? AI isn’t just about robots from sci-fi movies anymore; it’s here, deeply embedded in our daily lives. From the recommendations on what to watch next on Netflix to the virtual assistant in your smartphone, AI’s influence is undeniable. Yet, as much as it simplifies tasks, the rapid evolution of AI also brings forth a myriad of concerns – privacy issues, ethical dilemmas and the very fabric of our job market being reshaped.

The Unanimous Call for Responsible AI Governance

The resolution highlights a crucial understanding: the rights we hold dear offline must also be protected in the digital realm, throughout the lifecycle of AI systems. It’s a call to action for not just countries but companies, civil societies, researchers, and media outlets to develop and support governance frameworks that ensure the safe and trustworthy use of AI. It acknowledges the varying levels of technological development across the globe and stresses the importance of supporting developing countries to close the digital divide and bolster digital literacy.

The United States Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, shed light on the inclusive dialogue that led to this resolution. It’s seen as a blueprint for future discussions on the challenges AI poses, be it in maintaining peace, security, or responsible military use. This resolution isn’t about stifling innovation; rather, it’s about ensuring that as we advance, we do so with humanity, dignity, and a steadfast commitment to human rights at the forefront.

This unprecedented move by the UN General Assembly is not just a diplomatic achievement; it’s a global acknowledgment that while AI has the potential to transform our world for the better, its governance cannot be taken lightly. The resolution, co-sponsored by countries including China, represents a united front in the face of AI’s rapid advancement and its profound implications.

Bridging the Global Digital Divide

As we stand at this crossroads, the message is clear: the journey of AI is one we must steer with care, ensuring it aligns with our shared values and aspirations. The resolution champions a future where AI serves as a force for good, propelling us towards the Sustainable Development Goals, from eradicating poverty to ensuring quality education for all.

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The emphasis on cooperation, especially in aiding developing nations to harness AI, underscores a vision of a world where technological advancement doesn’t widen the gap between nations but brings us closer to achieving global equity. It’s a reminder that in the age of AI, our collective wisdom, empathy, and collaboration are our most valuable assets.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s remarks resonate with a fundamental truth: the fabric of our future is being woven with threads of artificial intelligence. It’s imperative that we, the global community, hold the loom. The adoption of this resolution is not the end, but a beginning—a stepping stone towards a comprehensive framework where AI enriches lives without compromising our moral compass.

At the heart of this resolution is the conviction that AI, though devoid of consciousness, must operate within the boundaries of our collective human conscience. The call for AI systems that respect human rights isn’t just regulatory rhetoric; it’s an appeal for empathy in algorithms, a plea to encode our digital evolution with the essence of what it means to be human.

This brings to light a pertinent question: How do we ensure that AI’s trajectory remains aligned with human welfare? The resolution’s advocacy for cooperation among nations, especially in supporting developing countries, is pivotal. It acknowledges that the AI divide is not just a matter of technological access but also of ensuring that all nations have a voice in shaping AI’s ethical landscape. By fostering an environment where technology serves humanity universally, we inch closer to a world where AI’s potential is not a privilege but a shared global heritage.

Furthermore, the resolution’s emphasis on bridging the digital divide is a clarion call for inclusivity in the digital age. It’s a recognition that the future we craft with AI should be accessible to all, echoing through classrooms in remote villages and boardrooms in bustling cities alike. The initiative to equip developing nations with AI tools and knowledge is not just an act of technological philanthropy; it’s an investment in a collective future where progress is measured not by the advancements we achieve but by the lives we uplift.

Uniting for a Future Shaped by Human Values

The global consensus on this resolution, with nations like the United States and China leading the charge, signals a watershed moment in international diplomacy. It showcases a rare unity in the quest to harness AI’s potential responsibly, amidst a world often divided by digital disparities. The resolution’s journey, from conception to unanimous adoption, reflects a world waking up to the reality that in the age of AI, our greatest strength lies in our unity.

As we stand at the dawn of this new era, the resolution serves as both a compass and a beacon; a guide to navigate the uncharted waters of AI governance and a light illuminating the path to a future where technology and humanity converge in harmony. The unanimous adoption of this resolution is not just a victory for diplomacy; it’s a promise of hope, a pledge that in the symphony of our future, technology will amplify, not overshadow, the human spirit.

In conclusion, “Let’s Govern AI Rather Than Let It Govern Us” is more than a motto; it’s a mandate for the modern world. It’s a call to action for every one of us to participate in shaping a future where AI tools are wielded with wisdom, wielded to weave a tapestry of progress that reflects our highest aspirations and deepest values.

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KASBA.AI Now Available on ChatGPT Store

ChatGPT Store by OpenAI is the new platform for developers to create and share unique AI models with monetization opportunities

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OpenAI, the leading Artificial Intelligence research laboratory has taken a significant step forward with the launch of the ChatGPT Store. This new platform allows developers to create and share their unique AI models, expanding the capabilities of the already impressive ChatGPT. Among the exciting additions to the store are Canva, Veed, Alltrails and now KASBA.AI with many more entering every day.

About OpenAI

OpenAI, founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, has always been at the forefront of AI research. With a mission to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity, they have consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the field.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT has already changed the way we interact with technology with its ability to generate coherent and contextually relevant responses. Now, with the ChatGPT Store, OpenAI is aiming to empower developers and non technical users to contribute and build upon this powerful platform.

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What is the ChatGPT Store?

The ChatGPT Store is an exciting initiative that allows developers to create, share and in time monetise their unique AI models. It serves as a marketplace for AI models that can be integrated with ChatGPT.

This means that users can now have access to a wide range of specialised conversational AI models, catering to their specific needs. The ChatGPT Store opens up a world of possibilities, making AI more accessible and customisable than ever before.

chatgpt store

Key Features of the ChatGPT Store

Some unique features of the store include customisable AI models, pre trained models for quick integration and the ability for developers to earn money by selling their models.

Developers can also leverage the rich ecosystem of tools and resources provided by OpenAI to enhance their models. This collaborative marketplace fosters innovation and encourages the development of conversational AI that can cater to various industries and use cases.

Impact on Industries and Society

The launch of the ChatGPT Store has far reaching implications for industries and society as a whole. By making AI models more accessible and customisable, businesses can now leverage conversational AI to enhance customer support, automate repetitive tasks and improve overall efficiency.

From healthcare and finance to education and entertainment the impact of AI on various sectors will only grow with the availability of specialised models on the ChatGPT Store. This democratisation of conversational AI technology will undoubtedly pave the way for a more connected and efficient world.

Ethical Considerations

As with any technological advancement, ethical considerations are crucial. OpenAI places a strong emphasis on responsible AI development and encourages developers to adhere to guidelines and principles that prioritize user safety and privacy. The ChatGPT Store ensures that AI models are vetted and reviewed to maintain high standards.

OpenAI is committed to continuously improving the user experience, and user feedback plays a vital role in shaping the future of AI development. For specific concerns regarding AI and data protection visit Data Protection Officer on ChatGPT Store.

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KASBA.AI on ChatGPT Store

One of the most exciting additions to the ChatGPT Store is KASBA.AI, your guide to the latest AI tool reviews, news, AI governance and learning resources. From answering questions to providing recommendations, KASBA.AI hopes to deliver accurate and contextually relevant responses. Its advanced algorithms and state of the art natural language processing make it a valuable asset to anyone looking for AI productivity tools in the marketplace.

Takeaway

OpenAI’s ChatGPT Store represents an exciting leap forward in the world of conversational AI. With customisable models, the ChatGPT Store empowers developers to create AI that caters to specific needs, with the potential to propel industries and society to new horizons..

OpenAI’s commitment to responsible AI development should ensure that user safety and privacy are prioritised; lets keep an eye here! Meanwhile as we traverse this new era of conversational AI, ChatGPT Store will undoubtedly shape the future of how we interact with technology in time to come with potentially infinite possibilities.

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Two AIs Get Chatty: A Big Leap at UNIGE

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Chatting AIs: How It All Started

Scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have done something super cool. They’ve made an AI that can learn stuff just by hearing it and then can pass on what it’s learned to another AI. It’s like teaching your friend how to do something just by talking to them. This is a big deal because it’s kind of like how we, humans, learn and share stuff with each other, but now machines are doing it too!

Two AIs Get Chatty By Taking Cues from Our Brains

This whole idea came from looking at how our brains work. Our brains have these things called neurons that talk to each other with electrical signals, and that’s how we learn and remember things. The UNIGE team made something similar for computers, called artificial neural networks. These networks help computers understand and use human language, which is pretty awesome.

How Do AIs Talk to Each Other?

For a long time, getting computers to learn new things just from words and then teach those things to other computers was super hard. It’s easy for us humans to learn something new, figure it out, and then explain it to someone else. But for computers? Not so much. That’s why what the UNIGE team did is such a big step forward. They’ve made it possible for one AI to learn a task and then explain it to another AI, all through chatting.

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Learning Like Us

The secret here is called Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP is all about helping computers understand human talk or text. This is what lets AIs get what we’re saying and then do something with that info. The UNIGE team used NLP to teach their AI how to understand instructions and then act on them. But the real magic is that after learning something new, this AI can turn around and teach it to another AI, just like how you might teach your friend a new trick.

Breaking New Ground in AI Learning

The UNIGE team didn’t just stop at making an AI that learns from chatting. They took it a step further. After one AI learns a task, it can explain how to do that task to another AI. Imagine you figured out how to solve a puzzle and then told your friend how to do it too. That’s what these AIs are doing, but until now, this was super hard to achieve with machines.

From Learning to Teaching

The team started with a really smart AI that already knew a lot about language. They hooked it up to a simpler AI, kind of like giving it a buddy to chat with. First, they taught the AI to understand language, like training it to know what we mean when we talk. Then, they moved on to getting the AI to do stuff based on what it learned from words alone. But here’s the kicker: after learning something new, this AI could explain it to its buddy AI in a way that the second one could get it and do the task too.

A Simple Task, A Complex Achievement

The tasks themselves might seem simple, like identifying which side a light was flashing on. But it’s not just about the task; it’s about understanding and teaching it, which is huge for AI. This was the first time two AIs communicated purely through language to share knowledge. It’s like if one robot could teach another robot how to dance just by talking about it. Pretty amazing, right?

Why This Matters

This is a big deal for the future. It’s not just about AIs chatting for fun; it’s about what this means for robots and technology down the line. Imagine robots that can learn tasks just by listening to us and then teach other robots how to do those tasks. It could change how we use robots in homes, hospitals, or even in space. Instead of programming every single step, we could just tell them what we need, and they’d figure it out and help each other out too. It’s like having a team of robots that learn from each other and us, making them way more useful and flexible.

The UNIGE team is already thinking about what’s next. Their AI network is still pretty small, but they believe they can make it bigger and better. We’re talking about robots that not only understand and learn from us but also from each other. This could lead to robots that are more like partners, helping solve problems, invent new things, and maybe even explore the universe with us.

What’s the Future?

This adventure isn’t just about what’s happening now. It’s about opening the door to a future where robots really get us, and each other. The UNIGE team’s work is super exciting for anyone who’s into robots. It’s all about making it possible for machines to have chats with each other, which is a big deal for making smarter, more helpful robots.

The brains behind this project say they’ve just started. They’ve got a small network of AI brains talking, but they’re dreaming big. They’re thinking about making even bigger and smarter networks. Imagine humanoid robots that don’t just understand what you’re telling them but can also share secrets with each other in their own robot language. The researchers are pretty stoked because there’s nothing stopping them from turning this dream into reality.

So, we’re looking at a future where robots could be our buddies, understanding not just what we say but also how we say it. They could help out more around the house, be there for us when we need someone to talk to, or even work alongside us, learning new things and teaching each other without us having to spell it all out. It’s like having a robot friend who’s always there to learn, help, and maybe even make us laugh.

Wrap up

What started as a project at UNIGE could end up changing how we all live, work, and explore. It’s a glimpse into a future where AIs and robots are more than just tools; they’re part of our team, learning and growing with us. Who knows what amazing things they’ll teach us in return?

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