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AI conference points to China's large role

By WANG YING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-11 09:39

A robot hand picks up a ball during the 2024 World AI Conference in Shanghai, July 4, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

The annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference, which wrapped up over the weekend, showcased China's growing significance in promoting global governance of the game-changing technology, industry experts said.

With agreements reached during this year's event exceeding 40 billion yuan ($5.5 billion), WAIC 2024 also witnessed the birth of the Shanghai Declaration on Global AI Governance.

The declaration is committed to promoting the healthy, orderly and safe development of global AI by initiating joint efforts in its development and security, consultation on governance, mutual benefit and shared results, and promoting exchanges and dialogue among countries.

"We look forward to positive responses from governments, the scientific and technological community, the industry and all parties involved, and joint actions will promote AI to benefit mankind," said Chen Jining, Party secretary of Shanghai, during the opening ceremony.

Themed "Governing AI for Good and for All", 10 separate forums on global AI governance and international collaboration were conducted throughout this year's World AI Conference & High-Level Meeting on Global AI Governance, and experts discussed the development status, challenges and countermeasures of AI ethical governance from different dimensions.

"While AI brings positive impacts on the development of the economy, society and environmental sustainability, the technology also contains risks and may pose threats to society over the long term," said Xue Lan, dean of Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University.

"In order to tackle major issues emerging in AI development, a system on global exchanges, prevention and control, strengthening multilateral dialogue mechanism among governments, and improving the global system by the scientific community must be developed," said Xue, who is also director of the Institute for AI International Governance with Tsinghua University.

"The role of AI governance is similar to the steering wheel and brakes of a vehicle, which means AI governance can not only guide the research and development of technology and products in the right direction, but also stop AI innovation from going the wrong way in a timely manner," said Zhang Wang, vice-president of SenseTime Group, who is also chairman of the company's AI ethics and governance committee.

"In such reference, AI governance should adapt to technological innovations," Zhang said.

Zhou Bowen, director and chief scientist of Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said in the process of AI development, security and controllability of AI should be ensured, and it is necessary to develop security with coordination.

"The investment into AI security is lagging far behind that into talent density, commercial motivation and computing power. Currently, only 1 percent of investment is used in AI security or prioritized safety considerations. Therefore, instead of expanding market scale, we need to pursue the trustworthiness of AI, ensuring its security and performance," Zhou said.

"By making a Chinese proposal into an international consensus, China has played a very important role in tapping into the aspirations and wishes of developing countries for AI governance," said Dai Bing, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, during a special briefing on the sidelines of the Global AI Governance Forum.

According to Dai, on July 1, the 78th session of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution proposed by China and cosponsored by over 140 countries on strengthening international cooperation in the capacity building of AI.

Calling it a milestone in global AI governance, Dai said this UN document showcases the unity and cooperation of various countries, as well as their determination and confidence in promoting the orderly and inclusive development of AI. And he believes China's contribution will have far-reaching influence on shaping the future of the world.

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