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Leonid Bershidsky

U.S. and China Go Their Own Ways With AI

Western democracies want algorithms that are transparent and can be appealed to humans. That's a better approach.

Not obsolete yet.

Not obsolete yet.

Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

As the U.S. and China appear headed for a digital cold war, competing policy approaches to the same technologies are emerging. Artificial intelligence is a prime example: Policy makers in democratic societies should, in theory, be making sure it isn’t used to promote intellectual conformity or to persecute minorities and dissidents.

The idea that AI should be ethical and benefit society has led to the emergence of multiple versions of basic principles, drafted by governments, academics and industry groups. Last year, Chinese researchers Yi Zeng, Enmeng Lu and Cunqing Huangfu identified 27 such codes and made a website on which they can be compared. It makes a somewhat eerie impression, as if the various codes form a data set on which an AI algorithm could be trained to spew forth ethical principles for its peers.