ChinAI #239: Around the Horn (12th edition)
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Greetings from a world where…
for the rest of the college football season, this status update will be devoted to tracking the Iowa Hawkeye offense’s march to mediocrity
…As always, the searchable archive of all past issues is here. Please please subscribe here to support ChinAI under a Guardian/Wikipedia-style tipping model (everyone gets the same content but those who can pay support access for all AND compensation for awesome ChinAI contributors).
Around the Horn (11th edition)
It’s been a while since our last Around the Horn issue (ChinAI #228), so let’s run it back. For those new to ChinAI, here’s how it works:
I give short previews of ten articles related to ChinAI (all published within the past week or so). The title for each preview links to the original article in Chinese.
Readers choose next week’s feature translation by replying to the email and/or commenting on the post with the number of their favorite article. *I give a little added weight to readers who financially support ChinAI through paid subscriptions.
The idea here is that any of these 10 links would have made for a great feature translation this week — like OutKast’s Stankonia, there’s no skips!
1) Can legislation defeat AI “magic”? Can “human-machine alignment” prevent technology from getting out of control
Summary: Last month, the Ministry of Public Security released data that they had handled 79 cases of “AI face-swapping” since 2020. This article explores the misuse of AI face-swapping technology and interviews experts on potential legislative solutions to such issues.
Source: 瞭望 (Outlook Magazine) — a state-run publication written for Communist Party bureaucrats and policy makers, which also does some investigative work such as this piece on wasteful chip investments (ChinAI #118).
Summary: Lou is known as China’s No. 1 Programmer. Caixian Chen profiles Lou’s journey, from winning basically every global programming competition to co-founding Pony.ai, the autonomous vehicle company.
Source: AI科技评论(aitechtalk) — focuses on in-depth reports on developments in the AI industry and academia.
Summary: We’ve been regularly following developments in SuperCLUE, the most comprehensive evaluation benchmark for Chinese large language models. This article provides an update on the list and interprets industry development trends in this ecosystem.
Source: CLUE中文语言理解测评基准 (SuperCLUE) — organization that tests the capabilities of large language models from Chinese and international labs.
4) Having invested in 7 unicorns, the “Desert Prince (UAE)” uses its “spending power” to strongly support Chinese companies
Summary: Based on IT Juzi’s database, this article reviews UAE investments in Chinese companies, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s support for Megvii (an AI unicorn).
Source: IT桔子 (IT Juzi) — good source on financing and venture capital trends in technology fields.
Summary: This white paper analyzes trends in China’s data market, such as the higher requirements on data imposed by developments in AI, as well as what government can do to ensure fair and efficient data circulation.
Source: 中国信通院 (CAICT) — a think tank under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Summary: SenseTime’s intellectual property director Gao Mou [高某] is under criminal prosecution for bribery-related accusations. This piece outlines Gao’s role at SenseTime and the corruption risks in IP management. This one’s probably the “newsiest” of the ten.
Source: 21世纪经济报道 (21st Century Business Herald) — one of China’s leading business-news dailies.
Summary: The story behind The Xplorer Prize, set up by Tencent’s foundation, was set up five years ago as a large fund for talented young researchers in basic science. This story gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the fund has been managed, how it recruited applicants (e.g., convincing them this was not a scam), and how it reviewed proposals.
Source: 人物 (renwu) — magazine that covers human-interest stories. A previous issue translated their longform investigation of the algorithmic pressures faced by Chinese delivery drivers.
For the next two options, I used the Emerging Technology Observatory’s Scout tool to “scout” out intriguing candidates by sorting articles with the “Artificial Intelligence” tag from the past month. We highlighted Scout as a “must-use” in last week’s issue.
Scout’s summary: “China's machine vision industry is still in the early stages of development, with a main challenge being attracting and recruiting highly skilled talent. The article explores this and other challenges after arguing that many companies that claim to offer 3D vision have only reached an insufficient level that has been termed as 2.5D vision. 2.5D imaging technology can convey depth information, but crucially can only use one perspective, while 3D algorithms should have multiple perspectives…”
Scout’s description of source: Leiphone (雷锋网) is a Shenzhen-based portal for longform and shorter coverage on a range of science and technology issues.
9) Crazy volumes of large models - Banks, insurance companies, and security companies are struggling to keep up
Scout’s summary: “The application of large-scale models is growing rapidly in China's finance industry…Companies such as Ant Group and Tencent have launched their own models, with applications in customer service, risk management, and financial consultation, and a host of major banks are known to be evaluating LLMs in their operations. However, there remain issues…making it difficult for financial institutions to place full trust in the decisions made by the models. Additionally, companies face regulatory and compliance hurdles, especially in relation to privacy protections and user data collection…”
Source: Jiedian Caijing (节点财经) — self-media platform focused on deep finance content, especially in key sectors of the digital economy.
Summary: Last one is a bit off-topic but just for fun: A deep dive into China’s nightlife economy, through the eyes of an investor turned entrepreneur.
Source: 虎嗅 (Huxiu) — well-known platform that shares user-generated content but also publishes their own pieces on China’s science and technology ecosystem.
ChinAI Links (Four to Forward)
I’ve thrown a lot of text at you in this Around the Horn, so we’ll keep the recommendations short this week.
Must-read: The Key to Winning the Global AI Race. Jordan Schneider and Matthew Mittelsteadt, in Noema, make a powerful case for AI diffusion as the critical determinant of national competitiveness for the coming decades.
Must-read: Heavily persecuted, highly influential: China’s online feminist revolution. Bringing together years of covering gender in China, Wanqing Zhang describes shifts in China’s online feminism ecosystem, including the migration of netizens to Weibo alternatives to discuss female empowerment. Also, the illustrations in this Rest of World article are incredible!
Should-read: Thread on China’s relaxation of strict requirements for cross-border data transfer. Angela Zhang, prof. at Hong Kong University, provided some initial analysis on these new CAC proposals.
Should-listen: ChinAI Newsletter Podcast. Just a reminder that ChinAI has a podcast with narrations of each issue. Just imagine putting the pod on before bed and drifting off to sleep to technical specifications for advanced lithography machines!
Thank you for reading and engaging.
These are Jeff Ding's (sometimes) weekly translations of Chinese-language musings on AI and related topics. Jeff is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University.
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 email@example.com or on Twitter at @jjding99