This article is a review of the AI policy in China, as well as the research infrastructure in China. It discusses the work culture in the Chinese tech community, and how the development of AI has changed the Chinese society in significant ways.
China’s AI research infrastructure
As China’s economy enters a new normal, the country’s AI policy and research infrastructure needs to be developed. To achieve the objectives of national strategic planning, China should firmly seize the strategic initiative in the new stage of international competition in AI development. It is crucial that China’s AI development be comprehensive, systematic, and realistic.
China’s current AI research and development is unbalanced. It lacks a scientifically sound, strategic layout and international influence. Therefore, it has to take urgent action in improving its basic infrastructure and policies. The international competition situation is complex. Moreover, China’s national security is a big challenge. Nevertheless, China’s AI research infrastructure has a strong foundation.
In order to achieve the strategic objectives of national strategic planning, China’s AI research and development should be focused on promoting its long-term R&D layout and application demonstrations. This should be based on the country’s overall development picture and built-in intelligence levels. Moreover, it should concentrate on key common and general technologies and breakthroughs in bottlenecks in the basic application theory.
AI research should also promote the construction of a scientific research institute that has strong interdisciplinary collaboration capacity. In addition, the research should strengthen the cooperation with foreign scientific research institutes. Lastly, the research should encourage the international collaboration of leading enterprises.
Meanwhile, it is necessary to implement a policy to foster an intelligent society. The intelligent society can adopt people-centric development thinking, promote people’s livelihoods, and achieve a people-oriented development. Thus, the intelligent society can guide scientific and technological achievements to transform the nation’s economic and social development.
According to the “Internet +” and AI Three-Year Activities and Implementation Plan, China has made important progress in AI. This includes major breakthroughs in core crucial technologies, such as voice recognition, visual recognition, and intuitive sensing. In addition, China has achieved iconic advancements in high-end equipment and cross-medium intelligence.
However, the Chinese AI talent pool is inadequate to meet demand. Thus, it is necessary to enhance the talent concentration and increase the supply of AI innovation sources. Additionally, it is essential to cultivate AI industry-leading enterprises and participate in international standardization.
Work culture in China’s tech community
There’s no question that China’s tech industry has its own unique work culture. It’s one that evokes images of a hip urban startup. And it’s also one that has sparked a nationwide debate.
One of the simplest examples of this is the 996 work schedule. It’s short for “9am to 9pm, six days a week,” and it has been adopted by many companies. But how does this work for employees?
In many cases, a 996 schedule is unenforced and employees find ways to make it work for them. Some are even willing to slack off a bit. However, others don’t enjoy the long hours and are often left behind.
This all translates to the fact that tech workers earn significantly more money than their full-time counterparts. That’s not to say that they don’t toil away to the tune of ruthless competition. They just do it differently.
To be more specific, there are two main types of tech companies in China. Big ones, like Alibaba and Tencent, employ large swaths of people. Smaller firms, on the other hand, are under-resourced. Their employee base is typically a mix of semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
Fortunately, the Chinese government is taking notice. A recent study found that nearly 70 percent of respondents reported unpaid overtime. The government has also begun to enforce labor laws more firmly. For example, in August, China’s Supreme Court ordered that the 996 work schedule be declared illegal.
The name “996” may have been coined in the early days of the internet boom. It refers to the fact that many tech companies require their workers to put in a 12 hour day, six days a week. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
While the “996” is not an official term, it’s a common idiom in China. Tech workers believe it’s an unwritten rule that staying past your hours is a requisite.
circumvent legal obligations
On the other hand, there are examples of firms using formal methods to circumvent legal obligations. Huawei, for instance, has a share scheme wherein its employees receive annual dividends exceeding millions of dollars.
China’s AI development has significantly impacted Chinese society
China’s rapid AI development has made a considerable impact on Chinese society. As a result, the country’s industrial and economic structure is changing.
However, China’s overall AI development is not on par with that of the developed countries. In addition, China’s AI talent pool is not yet fully utilized. Therefore, the nation must take urgent steps to upgrade its policies, improve the basic infrastructure, and address possible challenges.
At the same time, the government must strengthen national security. China’s national security situation is complex. This requires a comprehensive plan and realistic implementation. The plan should include the construction of a strong AI industry and technological innovation base, and the promotion of foreign start-up investment. It should also promote cooperation with international scientific research institutes and foreign AI enterprises.
China’s new generation of AI will be widely used in intelligent medicine and intelligent agriculture. It will also be deployed in intelligent manufacturing and intelligent transportation. Moreover, it will also be utilized in the construction of the national defense system. Ultimately, it will lead to a fundamental change in the employment training system, lifelong learning systems, and vocational schools.
AI will become the driving force for China’s economic transformation. It will change the economic structure and employment structure, and it will change people’s livelihoods and quality of life. Ultimately, it will make the country more competitive. Consequently, it will play a critical role in advancing China’s transition from a developing to moderately prosperous society.
Although China has made significant progress in AI, it still faces serious challenges. A major challenge is its lack of a systematic research and development layout. Specifically, the early stages of China’s AI development faced major problems due to the lack of resources and talent.
China needs to make further improvement in its policies, and it needs to open up more space. Additionally, the country must firmly seize strategic initiative in the new stage of international competition in AI development.
To ensure the implementation of the new generation of AI, the development plan should have clear tasks, complete mechanisms, organizational leadership, and a realistic implementation. It should also incorporate interdisciplinary collaborations, including academic-corporate collaboration and public-private collaboration.
China’s AI policies to promote the development of AI
China’s AI policies to promote the development of AI should focus on two aspects. One is the overall picture of national development. The other is the characteristics of AI development.
In general, China’s AI technologies will become the global leading level by the end of the decade. This will open up new applications, improve people’s livelihoods, and support China’s entry into the ranks of innovative nations. However, the overall level of Chinese AI development is still lower than the developed countries. Therefore, China needs to enhance its policies and improve the international environment in order to promote the development of AI.
AI policy should encourage foreign mergers, foreign research centers, and foreign investment. It should also promote the construction of international AI science and technology cooperation bases. Specifically, China should promote cooperation with international AI schools, and develop AI industries.
In addition, the government should formulate concrete plans for major AI tasks. It should also launch demonstrations. These trials should be supported by comprehensive guidance and summary of replicable experiences. A national AI innovation experiment should explore policy, regulation, and talent.
In terms of the construction of an AI-related regulatory system, it will be guided by interministerial joint conferences. It will also promote the implementation of AI-related legal and regulatory construction.
In the first half of the 2020s, China will have achieved important progress in the autonomous intelligence systems, hybrid intelligence, and cross-medium intelligence. These breakthroughs will contribute to the optimization of technologies, support national security, and help to strengthen China’s science and technology.
China will also achieve iconic advances in core devices and high-end equipment. In addition, its AI theories should reach world-leading levels by 2030. As a result, China will be able to become a “innovation style nation”.
At the same time, China should establish a system of international AI science and technology cooperation. Such collaborations will not only enhance the efficiency of research and development, but also provide scientific reserves for the application of AI.
In the next five years, China should achieve iconic advances in AI models, methods, and foundational software. This will lay a strong foundation for the future of the country.