USA and China Convene in Geneva for Talks About AI

The US and China will meet in Geneva to discuss the development and advancement of artificial intelligence

by Sededin Dedovic
USA and China Convene in Geneva for Talks About AI
© Pool / Getty Images

American officials have emphasized that Washington's policies will not be subject to negotiation. Talks will focus on how to mitigate the risks of this new technology. The Biden administration seeks to engage with China on a range of issues to reduce misunderstandings between the two rivals.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi raised the topic of AI in April in Beijing. They then agreed to hold the first formal bilateral talks on the subject. The State Department has pressed China and Russia to agree with US statements that only humans, never artificial intelligence, make decisions on the use of nuclear weapons, Reuters reports.

"This is the first meeting of its kind. So, we expect to have a discussion about the full spectrum of risks. We will not prejudge any specifics at this time," a senior official said regarding nuclear weapons. The rapid deployment of AI technologies in China across civilian, military, and national security sectors often jeopardizes the security of the US and its allies, one official noted.

He added that the talks would allow Washington to directly convey its concerns. "To be clear, discussions with Beijing are not focused on promoting any technical cooperation or collaboration on advanced research. And our technology protection policies are not subject to negotiation." The American delegation will consist of officials from the White House, the State Department, and the Department of Commerce, according to the National Security Council (NSC).

The Biden administration plans to impose protective measures for AI models developed in the US that power popular chatbots like ChatGPT. This is intended to safeguard the technology from countries such as China and Russia.

Cutting edge applications of Artificial Intelligence are seen on display at the Artificial Intelligence Pavilion of Zhangjiang F© Andrea Verdelli / Getty Images

Competition with China

Another American official noted that Washington and Beijing are competing to shape AI rules.

However, everyone hopes to explore whether some rules can be "accepted by all countries." "Certainly, we do not see eye-to-eye on many AI topics and applications. However, we believe that communication about critical AI risks can make the world safer." NSC official Tarun Chhabra and Seth Center, acting special envoy for critical and emerging technologies at the State Department, will lead talks with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Planner, the National Development and Reform Commission.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to present recommendations for addressing AI risks in the coming weeks. It is stated that these recommendations will then be translated into partial legislation, Reuters reports. He cited competition with China and its various AI goals, including surveillance and facial recognition applications, as reasons why Washington needs to take a leading role in drafting laws on rapidly advancing technology.

Chinese authorities emphasize the need for the country to develop its own "controlled" AI technology. China aims to become a global leader in artificial intelligence. At first glance, spying and controlling its own people seem to help it in this endeavor.

However, on the other hand, this could be a disadvantage, DW reports. According to the official policy of the country's government, China aims to become the world's leading power in artificial intelligence by 2030. For this, until yesterday the most populous country in the world dug deep into its pocket.

Just this year, the world's second-largest economy plans to invest $15 billion (13.5 billion euros) in artificial intelligence projects – an increase of nearly 50 percent in just two years. Spending is designed to help Chinese tech giants keep pace with their US counterparts in developing conversational robots (chatbots) with artificial intelligence (AI).
Recently, the United States has taken additional measures to limit China's technological progress.

The US is now revoking licenses that allowed Intel and Qualcomm to buy and sell chips to Huawei Technologies. The decision will affect the chips that Huawei uses for computers and mobile phones. Huawei has been on US trade restriction lists since 2019, but has recently made progress that worries the US government.

The company unveiled a laptop with integrated artificial intelligence. "We are constantly assessing how our controls can best protect our national security and foreign policy interests, taking into account the constantly changing threat environment and technological landscape.

Although the most advanced artificial intelligence laboratories are in the US and the UK, not all experts believe that the West will continue to dominate the race in this area. One of them is Kai-Fu Lee, a Taiwanese computer expert and entrepreneur.

He said as early as 2018 that China will quickly surpass the US as an AI superpower. "AI has already passed the innovation phase. Meanwhile, the world is in the phase of implementing artificial intelligence and China has an advantage there due to the enormous amount of data collected over years of spying on its own population.

More than half of the estimated billion surveillance cameras in the world are installed in China. With this data, AI platforms could be trained," Lee tells DW.