Four things to know about China’s new AI rules in 2024

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Some of those people are policymakers, who have been trying hard to respond to the problems AI products pose without reducing our ability to harness their power. 

So at the beginning of this year, my colleagues and I looked around the world for signs of how AI regulations are likely to change this year. We summarized what we found here. 

In China, one of the major moves to be on the lookout for in 2024 is whether the country will follow in the European Union’s footsteps and announce its own comprehensive AI Act. In June of last year, China’s top governing body released a list of legislation they were working on. An “Artificial Intelligence Law” appeared for the first time. 

The Chinese government is already good at reacting to new technologies swiftly. China was probably the first country in the world to introduce legislation on generative AI mere months after ChatGPT’s big break. But a new comprehensive law could give China even more control over how AI disrupts (or doesn’t disrupt) the way things work today.

But you shouldn’t just take my word for it. I asked several experts on Chinese AI regulations what they think will happen in 2024. So in this newsletter, I will share the four main things they said to expect this year.

1. Don’t expect the Chinese “AI Law” to be finalized soon. 

Unlike previous Chinese regulations that focus on subsets of AI such as deepfakes, this new law is aimed at the whole picture, and that means it will take a lot of time to draft. Graham Webster, a research scholar at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation, guesses that it’s likely we will see a draft of the AI Law in 2024, “but it’s unlikely it will be finalized or effective.” 

One big challenge is that even just judging what is and isn’t AI can be so tricky that trying to tackle everything with one law may be impractical. “[It’s] always a question in law and tech whether a singular law is necessary, or whether it should be addressed in terms of its applications in other areas,” says Jeremy Daum, who researches Chinese laws at the Paul Tsai China Center. “So a generative-AI content regulation makes sense, but just AI? We’ll see what happens.”

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