US consortium for safe AI development welcomes Baidu as first Chinese member

A US-led technology consortium dedicated to safeguarding the development of artificial intelligence has welcomed its first Chinese member, internet search company Baidu.

The Association for AI (PAI) was created two years ago to generate best practices for AI technology. It is funded by its members, which include companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, and also partners with government entities such as the UN and Human Rights Watch. Membership does not require any legally binding promise, but companies that join PAI must "believe and strive to defend" eight fundamental principles.

PAI Executive Director Terah Lyons told The Verge that the group can not achieve its objectives without the "vision of AI's main global players", including Chinese companies. "China has a clear ambition to become a world leader in artificial intelligence by the year 2030 and is making massive investments for that purpose," Lyons said. "We can not have a global and global conversation about AI development unless China has a place at the table."

Undoubtedly, there is a difference of approach between Western and Chinese companies, especially when it comes to data collection and user privacy. China is using artificial intelligence and related technologies, such as facial recognition, to create a powerful surveillance network that, according to critics, is dystopian. Meanwhile, one of the fundamental principles of PAI promises that members will work to "protect the privacy and safety of people."


The PAI position on user privacy may in the future clash with China's expansive use of surveillance.
Jonathan McIntosh / Creative Commons

Lyons recognized that different nations will have different approaches to AI according to "national needs and priorities", and that it was important to recognize them. "We see potentially divergent perceptions about the development and use of AI as something to embrace and try to overcome through our work," said Lyons, who again emphasized that PAI can not achieve its objectives "unless we have a vision of the other actor." important AI in the global scenario (China). "

To achieve its objectives, PAI has created a series of working groups on particular topics, such as" AI, Labor and Economics "," Critical Security AI "and" AI and Good Society. "However, none of the groups has published research.

Baidu is the first Chinese member of PAI, but it is not the most influential technology company working with AI in China.The company had an early leadership in AI, and is following family programs such as self-driving cars and a voice activated assistant, but in recent years, China's other technological giants, such as Alibaba and Tencent, have spent more money. ero in its development of artificial intelligence. At the same time, a new generation of firms such as iFlytek, SenseTime and Bytedance have forged a place in subdomains like facial recognition.

Hosting the Baidu to Partnership in AI may be the beginning of the disclosure of the China group, but it can not be the end.

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