China’s Control Over AI Apps: Emerging Dynamics In The Field Of Artificial Intelligence – Analysis


China is actively fostering and encouraging innovation in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) via a multitude of approaches. With the order from the Chinese government, Apple has removed over 100 artificial intelligence applications from the Chinese App Store. These apps have broken enacted governmental regulations that seek to curb the dissemination of “subversive” discourse originating from chatbot platforms such as ChatGPT.

The deletions represent the beginning of a new era of artificial intelligence regulation put into place by Chinese authorities. Concurrently, the same authorities are also pushing local enterprises to intensify the development of their language models, subject to stricter oversight. These models can compete with established entities such as OpenAI and Google in the US. In recent times, the Cyberspace Administration of China has issued fresh recommendations that urge creators of artificial intelligence to undertake comprehensive security evaluations and officially register their algorithms with governmental regulatory bodies.

This has potentially provided Chinese developers of artificial intelligence (AI) with the opportunity to narrow the gap between themselves and their American counterparts. Simultaneously, it allows them to retain strict control over the information generated by extensive language models that is subsequently shown to users.

Following the order, Apple informed developers in a letter that OpenCat posted on Twitter that it was removing some applications because they contained information that was illegal in China. According to reports, many widely used Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) applications, such as Spark, ChatGAi Plus, OpenCat, and ChatbotAI, have been eliminated as a result of the government’s recent efforts to eradicate generative AI technologies. These regulations, which will take effect on August 15, 2023, require that AI developers obtain a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and ensure that their products adhere to the core socialist values and do not produce content that is fake or misleading to state power.

China’s governance of artificial intelligence differs from that of other nations in several respects. In contrast to the United States, which adopts a decentralized and grassroots-oriented approach towards regulating artificial intelligence, involving multiple federal agencies, states, and private sector entities in the formulation and execution of AI policies, China employs a more centralized and coordinated national strategy that encompasses all facets of AI advancement and utilization. Also, the European Union emphasizes a human-centric and value-based approach to regulating artificial intelligence, prioritizing the establishment of trustworthiness, fairness, accountability, and transparency in AI systems. But China adopts a more pragmatic approach that seeks to strike a balance between the advantages and risks of AI based on its unique requirements and contextual factors.

China has objectives to establish a comprehensive national strategy and policy framework for Artificial Intelligence to position the country as a leading global hub for AI innovation by the year 2030. It has allocated funds for the advancement of AI research and development, with significant investments coming from both public and private sources. China has established a robust framework, including data, computational capabilities, and infrastructure, that is crucial to facilitating the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) applications across many sectors and domains. It is facilitating the development of a thriving and dynamic artificial intelligence (AI) industry, characterized by the presence of several prominent technology conglomerates and emerging startups that provide a diverse array of AI services to both individual customers and enterprises.

It is probable that Chinese authorities now possess the capacity to penalize AI businesses for disseminating information deemed subversive. However, the introduction of these rules aims to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of this process. China also wants to engage with the US and European states in the development of global regulations and standards about artificial intelligence (AI) and foster partnerships with other nations and areas for joint AI initiatives.

Several factors, depending on the particular type of AI service in question, drive China’s regulation of AI services. The regulation of AI services serves as a means to safeguard the security, stability, and sovereignty of the nation. China perceives artificial intelligence (AI) as a strategic technology with the potential to increase its economic and military capabilities while also bolstering its worldwide influence. Hence, the government seeks to exert authority over the advancement, implementation, and utilization of artificial intelligence services, particularly those capable of influencing public sentiment, societal stability, or the security of the country. This content may be employed for purposes such as disseminating misinformation, propagating domestic narratives, or executing cyberattacks.

The implementation of a licensing and registration system for AI developers would enable governmental oversight and control over algorithms, facilitating the monitoring and potential censorship of information that is identified as false, deceptive, or undermining state authority.

From an economic standpoint, the regulation of AI serves as a means to promote innovation, competitiveness, and collaboration with other Asian markets. China has a substantial and vibrant artificial intelligence industry, characterized by the presence of several prominent technology conglomerates and emerging enterprises that provide diverse AI solutions to both individual customers and corporate entities. Nevertheless, the sector is confronted with several obstacles, including issues with data quality, safeguarding privacy, upholding ethical standards, and fulfilling social responsibilities.

The establishment of unambiguous and uniform regulations for artificial intelligence services by the government may foster equitable conditions for all stakeholders, stimulate the adoption of methodologies and quality benchmarks, and facilitate inter-industry cooperation. As an example, the government actively promotes the use of generative artificial intelligence across many businesses and domains while also assisting in the development of reliable and secure chips, software, tools, computing capabilities, and data repositories. The government further encourages platforms to actively engage in the development of global regulations and standards for generative artificial intelligence.

From a political perspective, regulating AI services is seen as a general means of safeguarding China’s interests and values. China’s government can guarantee that AI services align with the fundamental principles of socialism and refrain from generating material that poses a threat to social morality or public order. As an example, governmental regulations mandate that suppliers of AI services must do security evaluations and get user permission before the collection or use of personal data. In addition, governmental regulations mandate that AI service providers divulge the origin and characteristics of their material while also affording consumers the opportunity to complain about or rectify any inaccuracies or issues encountered.

Nevertheless, it is plausible that some other variables or motives have not been disclosed to the public or extensively deliberated about. Hence, it is important to maintain a receptive mindset and exercise discerning analysis when assessing the advantages and disadvantages of China’s policies on artificial intelligence.

In conclusion, China is regulating AI services to pursue and safeguard its domestic policies and ensure its interests in the global domain. It is crucial to acknowledge that the regulation of artificial intelligence by China is a multifaceted issue that encompasses many parties, viewpoints, and considerations.

Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma

Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma is a Research Associate at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD). She is a research analyst in security studies. She obtained her Master's and Bachelor's in International Relations from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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