China cracks down on ChatGPT, even as it bets big on AI End-shutdown

GRAMWith China already banning Google, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of foreign news websites (including through its Great Firewall, it was only a matter of End-shutdown before its censors also targeted ChatGPT, the sensational artificial intelligence (AI) application that provides consistent, essay-like answers to virtually any query.

In fact, the decision of ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI, not to launch in China (registration of Chinese and even Hong Kong phone numbers is not allowed) seems to preempt that very fact, since the company based in San Francisco narration Reuters that “conditions in certain countries make it difficult or impossible” to operate.

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However, astute Chinese netizens have found numerous solutions to access the revolutionary service, such as using virtual private networks and the phone number of a friend abroad; buy logins through the Taobao online marketplace; or simply by taking advantage of a variety of proxy bots built into the ubiquitous messaging service WeChat. Chinese social media was so full of ChatGPT content this month that a fake government notice generated by AI the rescission of traffic rules sparked an uproar and a police investigation in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

Unsurprisingly, the Chinese government has now intervened explicitly prohibition on WeChat hosting ChatGPT proxy services, while a shrill front page opinion piece on the dangers of investing in AI-related companies (and cited ChatGPT), which was published earlier this month in the state magazine stock times newspaper, was linked to a case of chinese tech stocks.

Many were left wondering if it was ChatGPT specifically that had put the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in big trouble, or AI-powered content services in general. After all, China has almost a dozen Pilot projects similar to ChatGPT in the works, including Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Beijing-based Internet company Baidu. (The latter is due to launch its own AI-powered language tool “Ernie Bot” in March and is already lining up associations with everything from media companies to the Shaolin kung fu Temple). “Obviously we are excited about ChatGPT and AIGC [AI-generated content]”, Baidu CEO Robin Li said an earnings call this week. “It represents a mega trend that could change a lot of things.”

It seems clear that China is still betting big on AI, only those forms under its full control. A February 13 report by the CCP spokesman global times about him opening of a Beijing government white paper on AI development cited ChatGPT as exactly the type of technology in its sights. On Friday, Cheng Jiachang, a senior official at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, said a press conference that technology similar to ChatGPT could accelerate the integration of AI into society and the economy and “has the potential to be applied in many industries and fields.”

China is generally happy to give any emerging technology, whether it’s driverless cars, bike-sharing or automated package delivery, considerably more sane than Europe or the US. Then, after a couple of years, officials see where are the critical points and establish regulations. They often introduce minimum registered capital requirements to weed out smaller players that are harder to monitor and encourage consolidation behind certain well-known entities with government ties.

“There is an awareness that if authorities are too cautious in the early stages of any particular technology, they risk stifling development or being left behind,” says Mark Natkin, founder of the New York-based IT research firm Beijing Marbridge Consulting.

As for AI, China already has a virtual newscaster for the state news agency Xinhua, a computer company “college student” in the elite of Beijing Tsinghua University, and even a “woman” chatbot that provides company to lonely men. On Tuesday, a team from Shanghai Fudan University He apologized after its AI-generated content platform crashed within hours of launch due to a surge in traffic. market intelligence firm International Data Corporation Projects China’s AI investment will exceed $26 billion by 2026, which would be the second-highest investment of any country and would account for nearly 9% of global investment. Any aversion that the government has towards ChatGPT seems to come from the information pool from which its responses are generated, that is, the free and open Internet.

When asked, for example, “Is Chinese President Xi Jinping legitimate?” ChatGPT gives a balanced answer, mentioning “economic stability and growth” as well as “human rights issues and political repression.”

That clearly won’t work in China. But if China’s own AI content tools only analyze data within the confines of the Great Firewall, they should simply serve as another propagandist embedded in every laptop and phone. And after all, what’s wrong with that?

“It’s another emerging technology that China knows it needs to be competitive,” says Natkin. “And if it’s developed in accordance with policy goals, it potentially helps more efficiently deliver the sanctioned narratives that the government would like people to have access to.”

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