China-US artificial intelligence talks ‘deep, professional and constructive’

China and the US exchanged views “deeply, professionally and constructively” in their first intergovernmental talks aimed at reducing the risks of artificial intelligence and improving world governance.

According to a Chinese foreign ministry readout, at the talks in Geneva on Tuesday the two sides recognised that there are opportunities and risks in the development of AI technology.

They also reaffirmed their continued commitment to implement the consensus reached when President Xi Jinping met his US counterpart Joe Biden in San Francisco last November, the readout said.

The Chinese delegation was led by Yang Tao, director general of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, and included officials from the science and technology ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission and other government agencies.

Tarun Chhabra, special assistant to the president and senior director for technology and national security, and Seth Center, acting special envoy for critical and emerging technology, led the US side, with Commerce Department officials also present.

Both sides introduced their views on AI technology risks and governance initiatives as well as measures taken to promote AI-enabled economic and social development, according to the readout.

Yang said China has always stuck to the principle that AI technology should be people-centred and used for good to ensure that AI technology is beneficial, safe and fair. He also expressed Beijing’s willingness for more communication with Washington over AI governance.

“China supports strengthening the global governance of AI and advocates for the United Nations to play the role of main channel,” Yang said.

“[China] is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with the international community, including the US, in order to form a global AI governance framework and standards and norms with broad consensus.”

Officials from China and the US exchange views on AI risks and governance during talks in Geneva on Tuesday. Photo: Weibo

The readout said that during the meeting the Chinese also made clear its “solemn position” on US restrictions and suppression of China in the field of artificial intelligence.

The two powers are seeking to mend ties and deepen engagement over a range of issues, but expectations were low for any concrete achievements from the talks, intended to implement an agreement struck by Xi and Biden at their November meeting.

In a background briefing before the talks, a US official said the meeting would not focus on “promoting any form of technical collaboration or cooperating on frontier research in any matter”.

Instead, the discussion would focus on emerging risks related to AI systems, and how the two countries define “risk” and “safety”, the official said. The US also planned to raise concerns over security risks stemming from China’s use of AI.

“[Beijing] is rapidly deploying capabilities across civilian as well as military, national security sectors, and in many cases in ways that we believe undermines both US and allied national security.”


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