ChinAI Newsletter #4: 2018 is the Year of AI Policy at the Local Level

Welcome to the ChinAI Newsletter!

These are Jeff Ding's weekly translations of writings on AI policy and strategy from Chinese thinkers. I'll also include general links to all things at the intersection of China and AI. Please share the subscription link if you think this stuff is cool.

I'm a grad student at the University of Oxford where I lead the Future of Humanity Institute - Governance of AI Program's research on China AI happenings.

2018: The Year of Local AI Policy – local plans target 429 billion RMB AI core industry by 2020, vastly exceed national target of 150 billion RMB:

In just the first three months of 2018, Guangdong, Tianjin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Fujian, Sichuan and six other provinces and cities issued AI plans. In addition to the provinces and cities that had issued policies last year, 15 of the 31 provinces and cities in the country had issued artificial intelligence plans as of March 2018, of which 12 have set specific development goals for the scale of the industry; in the next few months, the remaining 16 provinces and cities will release them one after another. Per a report by the Qianzhan Chanye Research Institute, the targeted scale of industry of these 12 provinces and cities will reach 429 billion by 2020, far exceeding the target of 150 billion at the national level.
I translate the summary of the report, including all the main figures that outline the different local level plans. Definitely take a look at this – it has the main speakers on AI issues from the recent Two Sessions meeting as well.

Translation of article describing China's local level plans on AI

Chapter 1 of Tencent Book - Chinese experts' forecasts for Strong AI

From the translation: Regarding the threat of artificial intelligence, the most famous is the “AI threat theory” promulgated by Elon Musk. He has publicly stated on several occasions that artificial intelligence may become the greatest threat to human civilization and calls for the government to quickly adopt measures to supervise this technology. Contrary to Musk's "AI threat theory", many artificial intelligence industry and scholars including Zuckerberg, Kai-fu Lee, and Andrew Ng all expressed that the artificial intelligence threat to human survival is still far away. The biggest difference between the two sides on whether artificial intelligence threatens humans comes from the different understanding of "artificial intelligence." The “artificial intelligence” in the context of what Musk is mainly referring to is “strong artificial intelligence” (or “universal artificial intelligence”), that is, having the ability to handle multiple types of tasks and adapt to unforeseen circumstances and capabilities. Zuckerberg's term "artificial intelligence" refers to artificial intelligence in a narrowly defined professional field. At present, there is no conclusive scientific community consensus on when "strong artificial intelligence" will be achieved. More than half of scientists and technical researchers believe that "strong artificial intelligence" will not be realized before 2045, while non-technical groups predict that it will be realized in a shorter time.

Includes figures on domains where AI applications are most accepted, preferred methods for interacting with AI, beliefs on whether AI will develop consciousness, etc.

Link to Tencent Book Chapter 1 Translation

Wechat Platform 45Society Regularly Publishes Great Articles on AI Ethics

One 45Society article caught my attention this week – a very interesting analysis of AI ethics courses at U.S. universities, which ends with a call for “all organizations that train the next generation of talent for the Internet and technology shoulder this responsibility and get on the train of technological ethics to ensure the direction of the future.”

h/t to Matt Sheehan for sharing this Wechat account with me – check out his work at MacroPolo for some top-notch analysis of the connections between the AI systems of Silicon Valley and China.

Translation of 45Society Wechat Article

This Week's ChinAI Links

Absolute must read by Tim Hwang on importance of computing in geopolitics of AI: lays out an important question, "The extent to which the U.S. is able to successfully deny China access to advanced computing power, and the extent to which China is able to develop it domestically or acquire it otherwise, remains to be seen." One in which Taiwan will play a major role with its leading semiconductor industry.

Great article by Scott Kennedy on misguided U.S. aims in trade talks with China: There should be a level playing field in the battle for these future industries, what Beijing has dubbed Made in China 2025. But U.S. negotiators instead seem to be focused on greater access to China's financial markets, lower tariffs, more chip sales and other dollar steps toward reduce the annual trade imbalance. "Trump is fixated on trade balances, that deficits mean one is being cheated," said Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "But reducing the trade deficit is different from hamstringing China's industrial policy, from inhibiting China Inc."   
h/t to Bill Bishop's Axios China newsletter for pointing me to this.

Thank you for reading and engaging.

Please feel free to comment on any of my translations in the Google docs, and you can contact me at or on Twitter at @jjding99