China’s Research Efforts and the Urgent Need for Open Source Monitoring
Chinese researchers have made remarkable progress in artificial general intelligence (AGI) with the publication of 850 papers between 2018 and 2022. These papers serve as evidence of Beijing’s active pursuit of AGI and its potential exploration of brain-computer interfaces. The think tank Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) highlights that China’s efforts challenge emerging global norms, underscoring the necessity for a comprehensive open-source monitoring program to foster transparency and cooperation.
Examination of Research Papers Reveals China’s Genuine Commitment to AGI
The CSET report delves into a comprehensive analysis of scientific papers covering a wide range of relevant technologies. It uncovers 500 research items related to routine AI applications and a significant body of research on AGI precursor technologies. These findings confirm the sincerity of China’s claims to be actively working towards the development of artificial general intelligence. As such, it is imperative to take China’s aspirations seriously and recognize the strategic implications they carry.
The New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan and China’s Progress
China first articulated its ambitions in AGI with the publication of the “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” in 2017. This plan aims to secure China’s first-mover advantage in AI development. The CSET report indicates that China’s plan is advancing favorably, identifying the universities that have contributed the most to AGI research. Notably, five of the most prolific sources of AGI research are located in Beijing, suggesting the city’s significance as a hub for AGI development.
Beyond Beijing: Exploring Alternative AGI Research Locations
While Beijing is a prominent center for AGI research, the report acknowledges the multi-disciplinary nature of AGI and the potential for breakthroughs in other parts of China. Limited data suggest that Beijing may serve as a research hub for testing and deployment, with significant research activities taking place in other regions, including Wuhan. China’s exploration of multiple paths to AGI, such as cognitive sharing through brain-computer interfaces, further underscores its comprehensive approach to AGI development.
Concerns Surrounding Limited Access and Understanding of China’s AGI Achievements
The report emphasizes the challenges posed by limited access to China’s AGI research for the international community. With the bulk of research situated within Chinese institutions, understanding China’s achievements becomes challenging.
The authors caution that restrictions on access to academic journals may lead to false assumptions and hinder global understanding. Drawing parallels with historical events like the “missile gap,” the report warns against the risks of misinformation and the subsequent escalation of countermeasures.
Towards Collaboration and Responsible AGI Development
The CSET report concludes with a call for policymakers to recognize the strategic significance of AGI and the intentions of rival nations. It urges policymakers to avoid an unrestrained race to the top while emphasizing the risks of unilateral restrictions or unverifiable trust-based agreements.
The authors emphasize the importance of transparent collaboration and adherence to ethics, legal considerations, and social implications. By promoting open dialogue and international cooperation, the global community can ensure responsible and beneficial AGI development for all.