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China Looking to Regulate Artificial Intelligence Usage

The new regulations, known as the Internet Information Service Algorithmic Recommendation Management Provisions, have been drafted by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the body that enforces cybersecurity, internet censorship, and e-commerce rules. Terming the new rules as regulations for deep synthesis technology, GAC is implementing them to protect people’s legitimate rights and interests. These significant policies are being implemented to ensure more effective services (e.g., ride-hailing, social media) for the country’s over 1.4 billion people and manage tech companies and services providers.

Artificial Intelligence issues are of concern to China. President Xi Jinping alluded to such challenges in his speech last October, “Some unhealthy and disorderly signals and trends have occurred in the rapid development of our country’s digital economy.”

A fairly representative example is seen in ride-hailing apps across the country where commuters reported different prices for the same commute. On the defensive, the companies claim that prices vary due to fluctuations in road traffic. Contrarily, a slew of studies points out that the apps price the same rides differently depending on key factors such as ride history and the phone a commuter is using to book the app.

Starting March 1 this year, such discriminatory algorithms will be outlawed. Under the new provisions, companies cannot use personal information to offer users different prices for the same service or product. Algorithms that set prices, control search results, recommend videos and filter content will be under scrutiny.

Moreover, the new digital rules are aimed to address common complaints about sketchy and difficult-to-discontinue online services. Users will not only be given notice when algorithms are used but will have to be given the chance to opt-out. Infractions of the norms come with big penalties and sidetracked stock offerings. Companies that violate the rules could face fines, be barred from enrolling new users, have their business licenses pulled or see their websites or apps shut down.

These new digital rules are bound to create better service for every Chinese citizen. Among the many things, this digital policy will crackdown on deep fake accounts, manipulation of traffic numbers and the promotion of addictive content. As a result, it will provide timely protections for delivery personnel, ride-hail drivers and other gig-economy workers.

Still, experts perceive China’s new initiative against AI as an uphill climb. Certain elements in the new regulation can be difficult or even impossible to implement. Tracking the behaviour of an algorithm that is constantly changing due to new input is challenging to say the least.

It certainly is no accident even the most learned and most successful tech leaders on the planet today are unsure of how safe Artificial Intelligence is to society in general. One thing’s for certain, the global economy these days is largely propelled by such cutting-edge technology.

Be that as it may, in a world where tech giants can be sidelined, this digital policy has everyone on their toes. Pundits see China’s digital initiative as ambitious and a first of its kind and policymakers across the globe are also taking note.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the recent Beijing Winter Olympic Games was empowered and catalysed by the nation’s state-of-the-art technology.  This time around, China is bringing the same technology to heel.


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