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America's tech battle with China is about to get ugly

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses how China's efforts to dominate the development and application of generative artificial intelligence (AI) have been impacted by the rise of ChatGPT, a powerful AI chatbot developed by OpenAI in the US. It examines China's plans to use AI for political repression, surveillance, and control of information, as well as the challenges it faces in catching up to the US in the AI race.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] China's Plans for Dominating AI

1. What are China's plans to eventually dominate the creation, application, and dissemination of generative AI?

  • According to the article, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has laid out careful plans to dominate the development of generative AI by 2020, including achieving "iconic advances in AI models and methods, core devices, high-end equipment, and foundational software."
  • However, the release of OpenAI's ChatGPT in 2022 caught Beijing off guard and asserted that US companies were leading the AI race.

2. How does China plan to use AI for political repression, surveillance, and monitoring dissent?

  • The CCP's internal documents state that it will use AI to "shape reality and tighten its grip on power within its borders" through political repression, surveillance, and monitoring dissent.
  • The CCP believes AI can be a tool to "fortify its power" and "significantly elevate the capability and level of social governance" to "effectively maintaining social stability."

3. What are the challenges China faces in catching up to the US in the AI race?

  • China's tech giants are playing catch-up, with companies like Baidu, Alibaba, and ByteDance launching their own chatbots to compete with ChatGPT.
  • However, the current price war and race to the bottom in the Chinese AI industry may not be the best strategy for long-term innovation and development.
  • The CCP's top-down control and pressure for quick results may also slow down China's ability to push the frontier of AI technology.

[02] The Geopolitical Implications of China's AI Ambitions

1. How could China use AI to gain geopolitical influence?

  • The article suggests that even if China lags behind the US in AI technology, it can still have a powerful geopolitical impact by using AI to "drive breakthroughs in industrial engineering, biotechnology, and other fields the CCP considers productive."
  • China can also use AI to "facilitate" the use of "the tools of the future to cement [other like-minded leaders'] authority in the present and distort the past."

2. What are the concerns about China's ability to control the information and outputs of AI systems?

  • In a tightly controlled information environment like China, the inability to fully understand the inner workings of AI models poses an "existential problem" for the CCP's grip on power, as a chatbot could potentially "tell an uncomfortable truth" without the CCP knowing why.
  • To prevent this, China is "feeding AI with information that encourages positive 'social construction'" to maintain control over the information and outputs.

3. How could China's AI capabilities be used to undermine global cooperation and shared reality?

  • The article warns that the "digital curtain" AI can build will be "much more impenetrable than iron, making it impossible for societies to cooperate in a shared future."
  • China can use its AI capabilities to sell "tools of control, surveillance, and content generation to regimes that wish to dominate their societies and are antagonistic to the US and its allies."
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