(Bloomberg) -- China should play a key role in shaping the artificial intelligence guardrails needed to ensure the safety of transformative new systems, OpenAI Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman said.
“With the emergence of the increasingly powerful AI systems, the stakes for global cooperation have never been higher,” Altman, whose company kick-started an AI frenzy in China with last year’s launch of ChatGPT, told a Beijing conference via video link on Saturday.
In both China and Silicon Valley, talent and investments are flowing into AI, a strategic area that will help define the deepening tech rivalry between the world’s two largest economies. Advances in the emerging technology have also highlighted tensions in how governments are seeking to regulate the sector, one that China’s President Xi Jinping has said requires greater state oversight to mitigate national security risks.
“China has some of the best AI talent in the world and fundamentally, given the difficulties in solving alignment for advanced AI systems, this requires the best minds from around the world,” Altman told participants at the event hosted by the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence.
Altman’s speech to the Beijing conference itself was notable as the academy has strongly positioned itself in the AI sector in China. The Chinese non-profit, supported by the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Beijing’s local government, has been name-checked by Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith as one of the three frontrunners on AI innovation.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT is not currently available in China, where longstanding data and censorship regulations have long shut out services from Western tech giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook. Experts have said complex data and algorithm laws will similarly make it difficult for Western companies to make inroads in AI in the country.
China’s tech overseer signaled in draft regulation guidelines that the onus for algorithm and content demands in the country may fall largely on platform operators. The State Council said in June it is planning to discuss AI-related legislation later this year.
Altman said Saturday that OpenAI planned to open-source more of its models in the future, as part of its efforts to drive AI safety, without specifying a time frame or particular model.
The tech entrepreneur’s Beijing speech was part of the Asia leg of his global goodwill tour to promote AI governance. While in London at the end of May, Altman clashed with European Union regulators after saying OpenAI could pull out of the region if proposed AI laws were enacted that would hold companies accountable for how their systems are used.
--With assistance from Elaine To.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.