China Gets Ethical Guidelines for AI

China has unveiled ethical guidelines governing AI algorithms to guide the use of AI technology by Internet technology giants and enterprises as part of its continuing efforts to shape its use in the world’s most populous nation.

With the guidelines, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and other government bodies also announced that they will set up governance rules for algorithms in three years.

Guidelines for AI

The latest guidelines are titled “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Ethics Specifications”, and were drafted by an AI governance committee set up by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in China, according to a report by the SCMP. Six basic principles for AI systems were outlined, including a stipulation that AI systems are “controllable and trustworthy”.

The guidelines are being done to give users greater transparency and control over their interactions with AI systems online. It runs the gamut of data security, personal privacy, fairness, and the right to opt-out of AI-driven decision-making.

Under the proposal, businesses that use AI must give users the option to turn off algorithmic recommendations. And Chinese users can request that a platform explain its decision if they believe that the platform’s algorithm has impacted their rights. Moreover, companies will need to audit their algorithms regularly, including the models, training data, and AI outputs.

The guidelines for ethical AI follow the release of draft guidelines by the CAC in August to regulate the use of algorithmic systems by Internet information service providers. As reported by the Global Times, the guidelines required service providers “not to use algorithms to block information, manipulate ranking lists or search results, control searches or selection, forge likes and comments, or hijack online traffic”.

At that time, the CAC also solicited public opinion for a new draft of rules for managing AI, which presumably shaped the latest guidelines for ethical AI use. Of course, setting up the actual governance rules to regulate AI will be a much harder endeavor.

China has an ambitious plan to become the global leader in AI within the next 10 years, leapfrogging the US and Europe. AI technology is widely used in the country, powering online commerce marketplaces such as Taobao and mobile apps such as ByteDance’s Douyin.

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