HONG KONG - If a Chinese tech firm wants to venture into generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), it is bound to face significant hurdles arising from stringent government control - at least that is the popular perception. China was, after all, among the first countries to introduce legislation regulating the technology. However, a closer look at China’s so-called interim measures on AI indicates that, far from hampering the industry, the government is actively seeking to bolster it.
This should not be surprising. Already a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) - trailing only the United States - China has big ambitions in the sector, and also has the means to ensure its legal and regulatory landscape encourages and facilitates indigenous innovation.
The interim measures on GenAI reflect this strategic motivation. To be sure, a preliminary draft of the legislation released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) included some cumbersome provisions - it would have required providers of AI services to ensure that training data and the model outputs be ‘true and accurate,’ and it gave firms just three months to recalibrate foundational models producing prohibited content.
Looking at the final legislation, these rules were watered down significantly. The interim measures also significantly narrowed the scope of application, targeting only public-facing companies and mandating content-based security assessments solely for those wielding influence over public opinion.
While securing approval from the regulatory authorities does entail additional costs and a degree of uncertainty, there is no reason to think that Chinese tech giants - with their deep pockets and strong capacThe content herein is subject to copyright by Project Syndicate. All rights reserved. The content of the services is owned or licensed to The Yuan. The copying or storing of any content for anything other than personal use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from The Yuan, or the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in the content.