An assessment of AI in China

« previous post | next post »

For those who are interested in the development of AI in the PRC, the following article is probably the most complete and forthcoming report on the state of the field.  Drawbacks are that is excessively lengthy and machine translated, with some parts awkward or difficult to understand.

Where Does China Stand in the AI Wave?
China’s top policy experts discuss the US-China gap, open vs. closed, and societal implications.

Nicholas Welch, ChinaTalk (May 10, 2024)

The introduction summarizes the article:

In this article, ChinaTalk presents the highlights and a full translation of a panel discussion on AI (archived here) that took place six weeks ago in Beijing. Hosted by the non-profit organization “The Intellectual” [Zhīshì fēnzǐ] 知识分子 — whose public WeChat account serves as a platform for discussions on scientific issues and their governance implications — the panelists delved into a wide range of topics, including:

    • the state of China’s AI industry, discussing the biggest bottlenecks, potential advantages in AI applications, and the role of the government in supporting domestic AI development;

    • the technical aspects of AI, such as whether Sora understands physics, the reliance on the Transformer architecture, and how far we are from true AGI;

    • and the societal implications — which jobs will be replaced by AI first, whether open- or closed-source is better for AI safety, and if AI developers should dedicate more resources to AI safety.

The article is long and rambling, so I won't attempt to abridge it, but I will say one thing in its defense, which is that the three panelists seem to agree in general:  the key issues for the improvement of AI in the PRC are:

  • 1. the development of TALENT, though they do not have a clear, workable idea of how to achieve that goal
  • 2. quantity is not as important as QUALITY, though again, they do not offer workable guidelines for maintaining that desideratum
  • 3. they focus on ECOSYSTEM development, which is great, but they barely define what the issues and goals are, let suggest how to reach them

The panelists repeatedly recognize that the United States is far advanced ahead of the PRC in diverse aspects of AI, but they do not mention what  the chief causes of that disparity are:  a.) political constraints and b.) the nature of their epistemological "software" and "hardware".  These are things very difficult — given the sociopolitical environment — even to mention.


Selected readings

[h.t. Bill Benzon]


  1. Mark Liberman said,

    May 15, 2024 @ 11:58 am

    For background, see "Linguistic Science and Technology in China", 11/12/2017, which includes a link to "China's AI Awakening" (Technology Review, 10/10/2017) and to the Chinese government's 2017 "Development Plan for the New Generation of Artificial Intelligence".

  2. AntC said,

    May 16, 2024 @ 2:40 am

    the development of TALENT, though they do not have a clear, workable idea of how to achieve that goal

    PRC doesn't seem to lack people/talent in some aspects of computing tech: Chinese cyberattacks against Taiwan surge ahead of presidential inauguration — that is, inauguration of Taiwan's just-elected President, due today. (Those are not just attempts that got detected, but successes in obtaining State secrets.)

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Comment