ChinAI #149: Around the Horn (edition 4)

Greetings from a world where…

kids do yoga on paddle boards

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Around the Horn (4th edition)

A refresher on how this works (previous edition in ChinAI #117):

  • short preview of 10 articles related to ChinAI — all published this past week and sourced from scans of WeChat accounts and groups

  • reply to the email and/or comment on the Substack post with the number of the article you’re most intrigued by, which will be translated next week!

  • some added weight to votes from subscribers that are supporting ChinAI financially

1) Graduate from a 985 (elite) university and end up rolling cigarettes: Is it that graduate students have lost their ideals? Or…

Summary: Graduation season has sparked intense online discussions about underwhelming employment outcomes for graduates from prestigious schools, like Renmin University where the author of this article works. For example, one headline reads: “Renmin University and Wuhan University graduates enter the factory to roll cigarettes, over 30% of the workers on the assembly line are graduate students.” What’s the deal? This article aims to provide some clarity.

Source: Yongmou Liu (刘永谋) — philosophy professor at Renmin University, where he’s the chair of the Department of Philosophy of Science and Technology

2) Let me tell you about a real digitization process

Summary: Qin Shuo has spent the past couple years investigating what actually occurs in the “digital transformation” process, surveying and visiting dozens of companies. He discusses some of the existing barriers and manifold opportunities in China’s ongoing digitalization.

Source: Qin Shuo’s WeChat Moments (秦朔朋友圈) — A WeChat account started by Qin Shuo, former editor-in-chief of China Business News.

3) The Golden Age of Mobile Internet is Really Over

Summary: This essay ties together various factors to support its case, including saturation of the market/diminished returns, as well as recent anti-monopoly crackdowns. The point I found most interesting: the author argues that the mobile Internet era absorbed capital from more high-value-added industries, included industrial innovation.

Source: Shuzili chang (数字力场) — A relatively new WeChat account that I’m starting to follow, since a good number of friends had read their previous articles. This article’s author is Zongming Yu, a former deputy editor of the commentary section in The Beijing News.

4) CAICT and JD Explore Academy release “White Paper on Trustworthy AI”

Summary: The white paper proposes a systematic framework for trustworthy AI, provides some analysis on supporting technologies for trustworthy AI, and also offers a practical guide for the AI industry to address relevant AI ethics and governance issues. JD =, a large e-commerce company.

Source: China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (中国信通院CAICT) — a think tank under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology

5) Comprehending “China’s proposal” for trustworthy AI: What supporting technologies are needed to construct a trusted system?

Summary: This piece provides additional context on the above white paper. It features interviews with the director and a research scientist at JD Explore Academy, including details about why JD chose to participate in this project and what parts it was responsible for drafting.

Source: AI科技评论(aitechtalk) — focuses on in-depth reports on developments in the AI industry and academia.

6) Central government releases serious/heavyweight documents to create a “pioneer zone” in Pudong (Shanghai), key industries such as semiconductors, AI, and biotech will benefit

Summary: The central government released these guiding opinions on July 15. This piece provides an overview of the key planks and offers some insights into the broader significance. What I found most interesting was the emphasis on reforming and liberalizing Shanghai’s capital market, especially the Sci-tech Innovation Board, the listing home for the vast majority of China’s AI companies who have publicly stated their IPO plans.

Source: 机器之能/jiqizhineng (Synced) — a long-time source for ChinAI translations, often features longform articles about China’s tech industry

7) “Open Source” makes it on CCTV again: "Economics Half Hour" focuses on China's open source ecology

Summary: CCTV-2, the business channel for China Central Television, did a special segment on open source software on July 15. This article summarizes what the TV segment covered, including digestible examples of how things like Huawei’s OpenHarmony system works.

Source: OSChina — leading source of news about open source developments in China

8) Behind the craze to build AI computing power centers: who is spending pointless money

Summary: So many cities have or are planning to start building AI computing centers, but the process has been somewhat chaotic. For example, this article presents two different computing centers with the same performance capabilities but construction costs that differ by about 400 million RMB. A detailed, technical piece.

Source: 量子位 (QbitAI) — news portal that regularly covers AI issues, simialr to AIEra and Leiphone

9) 10 major trends of China's AI industry in 2021

Summary: Qbit report following a visit to the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, which took place in Shanghai earlier this month. Qbit analysts summarized the developments into ten main trends.

Source: another one from 量子位 (QbitAI) — news portal that regularly covers AI issues, simialr to AIEra and Leiphone

10) CCCF Column — Guojie Li: Several cognitive issues about AI

Summary: In this column, Academician Li gives his thoughts on a wide range of topics: the trajectory of deep learning, prospects for another AI winter, and pathways and timelines to general artificial intelligence.

Source: 中国计算机学会 (China Computer Federation). Guojie Li is the honrary chairman of the CCF

Thank you for reading and engaging.

*Behind on my reading after taking some time off, so will catch up next issue.

These are Jeff Ding's (sometimes) weekly translations of Chinese-language musings on AI and related topics. Jeff is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the University of Oxford and a researcher at the Center for the Governance of AI at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute.

Check out the archive of all past issues here & please subscribe here to support ChinAI under a Guardian/Wikipedia-style tipping model (everyone gets the same content but those who can pay for a subscription will support access for all).

Any suggestions or feedback? Let me know at or on Twitter at @jjding99