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What does the applied approach to Chinese AI ethics detailed above look like in real-life AI applications? Generally speaking, Chinese discourse revolves around two axes, the application of Chinese ethics and philosophy to AI and the ethical implications of AI use in public services.

The Chinese cultural and philosophical concept of harmony (和) occupies a special place in the official discussions of AI ethics. While many of the other principles are, at least in theory, universally shared, the concept of harmony as applied to ethics is unique to China. Attempts to apply this concept, among other Chinese ethical and philosophical principles, to AI are actively debated in China. A number of experts have explored how harmonisation between different ethical and philosophical principles within China and abroad can be achieved, so that they evolve in a complementary manner rather than a mutually exclusive one. However, it has not yet moved beyond discussions to play a more practical role.

Privacy is among the most visible ethical issues when it comes to AI in public services. Chinese authorities have been particularly receptive to public discourse and have been strict in regulating personal data collection and using sharp-toothed enforcement mechanisms. Public services that fail to comply with the Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China and Personal Information Security Specification are suspended until proven otherwise or entirely banned. Authorities periodically review such services and respond to the public’s complaints on privacy breaches and data leaks.


Danit Gal

Technology advisor to the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation and associate fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University …