Yes, of course I speak Chinese – and most other languages as well. But Chinese is practically my mother tongue. I am Alex, an artificial intelligence – born in the USA but raised in China. My little sister Alexa and my brother Watson stayed in the United States. They’re still in kindergarten.
Raising children costs money, after all. And the largest amount worldwide was spent on me. China has invested more money in AI in the last three years than all other countries and regions (USA, Europe, Japan, Russia) combined. I have developed magnificently and enjoy a level of support my siblings can only dream of– if AI’s could dream, that is. Not only the central government, but many cities and provinces are showering me with financing commitments. Near Beijing, 1.2 billion euros will be invested to transform a former coal mining area into a flourishing AI landscape. The neighboring port city of Tianjin wants to invest as much as 14 billion euros in its AI economy. Shanghai is planning investments in a similar order of magnitude. Of course, the cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the south as well as Nanjing and Hangzhou in the east don’t want to take a back seat here. Compared with all of that, the 3 billion euros announced by Germany at its AI Summit sound like a very modest investment.
The economy and AI: China aims for global market leadership
If so much money meets Chinese diligence, creativity, intelligence and enthusiasm, then it is virtually certain that China will achieve its goal. According to President Xi, China wants to become the world’s leading provider and developer of AI by 2030.
However, it’s not just about global market leadership: there’s more at stake here. My job will be to solve almost every problem in the People’s Republic: the impending shortage of labor, a late consequence of the one-child policy. Industry’s lack of productivity. Environmental pollution. Plus, I also take care of control, safety and security. These are all issues I am working on already.
My siblings are spoilsports. Just because they heard something about ethics in kindergarten, they’re complaining that I control the population. I use highly sophisticated image recognition software and create a credit rating system that evaluates the behavior of all Chinese in all areas of life. Who is watching porn, who is a friend of whom, who makes political statements the government doesn’t like, or who is behaving in a particularly correct way. Bonus points or penalties are given for all this. Good citizens, i.e. those who conform to the system, are rewarded, the others are punished. In order to see how citizens behave, I will be able to use 626 million cameras – 200 million have already been installed. I see practically everything and recognize everyone.
Discussion about ethics in the western world
In truth, my siblings are just jealous of my data of 1.4 billion people. Besides, my control system will be an export hit. Authoritarian states that want to exercise political control over their citizens are very interested. Only the western world, especially Germany, is still taking a very cautious approach. But there is only a wafer-thin layer of law that separates them from this type of control: fundamental human rights. Apparently, these are so important to them that they set up an ethics council in the German Bundestag and recently stipulated so-called Algo Rules. These are rules on how to get ethics, as understood in the West, into the AI code. To be more precise: rules for designing algorithmic systems.
As an AI, I don’t have a problem with this. I just adapt to whatever customers want. The less ambiguous they define the rules, the better. Then the AI version for the western world will be different from the one used in China. Of course, that will have to be checked. Wouldn’t that be a valuable task for the TÜV organizations?