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Potential for Sino-US cooperation on AI seen

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-01-19 09:13

Will artificial intelligence replace the work of humans?

Here's what an AI business leader in the United States thinks: AI systems are meant to assist and enhance human work, potentially bringing increased efficiency and productivity benefits.

Jeff Wong, global chief innovation officer at Ernst & Young, or EY, highlighted the potential for positive applications of AI, ranging from cancer research to solving pharmacological problems and addressing environmental, social and governance challenges.

Wong told China Daily at the Asia Society in New York last week that he hopes that government and policymakers will "race to keep up with the ideas that are coming out".

The call to "go faster" shows the belief in the transformative power of AI. Despite calls to slow down, the truth is these powerful AI systems keep developing without pause.

Generative AI is improving by about 10 times every 18 months, according to Wong. For example, each release of ChatGPT comes out much more remarkable and powerful than before, he said.

The rapid development of AI, however, has led to legal and ethical concerns.

The New York Times and famous authors like John Grisham are suing OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT. The Times filed the case in December, claiming intellectual property infringement. The company says ChatGPT and Microsoft's Copilot copy the Times' work, divert website visitors, and harm their reputation and revenue.

Wong emphasized global cooperation for shared values and the need for policies, research and legal frameworks to catch up with the technology.

While OpenAI has an early lead, various companies and open-source initiatives in the United States and Asia, including China, also have their own players catching up, Wong said.

"Out in Asia and China, they have to have their own series of different sort of large language model providers. They're certainly racing along the way. And, as we're seeing with all the regulatory pull-apart, a lot of the Asian companies obviously have to play off the Asian platform. So we're seeing that as well," said Wong.

"A lot of the Chinese platforms that are out there are being galvanized by the Chinese companies that have to use them," he added.

He said he "absolutely" sees value in the cooperation of scientists and researchers from China and the US.

AI companies in the US, including OpenAI, Anthropic, and Cohere, have engaged with Chinese AI experts on the risks associated with the technology and encouraged investments in AI safety research, according to the Financial Times.

The cooperation of scientists and researchers from China and the US "will hopefully mean that not just can they cooperate at the academic or company level, but these two societies can come together and start operating around a whole bunch of things and realize that we have a lot more shared values", Wong said.

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