China’s artificial intelligence strategy: lessons from the European Union’s ‘ethics-first’ approach

China and the European Union have outlined distinct visions for the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI), with the former currently characterised by a primary focus on fostering innovation and the latter on promoting ethical outcomes. In this article, we compare the two governments’ strategies, assessing the key similarities and differences regarding what the high-level aims of each government’s strategy are, how the development and use of AI is promoted in the public and private sectors, and whom these policies are meant to benefit. Building on this comparative analysis, we consider where China’s AI strategy could learn from and improve upon the European Union’s ethics-first approach to AI governance. We outline three recommendations which are to i) agree within government as to where responsibility for the ethical governance of AI should primarily lie, ii) explicate high-level principles in an ethical manner, and iii) define and regulate high risk applications of AI. Adopting these recommendations would enable the Chinese government better to fulfil its stated aim of governing AI ethically.
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