AI regulations may see a Beijing effect

August 4, 2022

AI regulations may see a Beijing effect

Sjoerd Bakker
August 4, 2022

AI regulations may see a Beijing effect

Is Europe too late to cause a Brussels effect on AI technology?
Sjoerd Bakker
August 4, 2022
AI regulations may see a Beijing effect
Sjoerd Bakker
Maya Turolla
August 4, 2022
Design by local_doctor. © Shutterstock

Europe is trying to lead the world when it comes to regulating artificial intelligence. However, and perhaps surprisingly, China may be well ahead of us as it has already adopted a range of AI regulations. Quite similar to the European plans, the Chinese rules are supposed to protect consumers against unfair business practices, make sure algorithms are transparent and that humans remain in control. At the same time, the approaches differ as well. First, the Chinese rules apply to businesses only and do not affect the use of AI by the state itself. Second, they are mostly concerned with common interests and thus seek to promote equality (e.g. non-discriminatory pricing of services), stability (e.g. promoting Chinese values) and transparency. The EU, by contrast, seems much more concerned with individual interests and hence focuses on the privacy and autonomy of citizens.

With China moving this quickly, Europe may miss out on the chance to create a “Brussels effect”. That is, by being the first to establish a set of rules, a nation or region can hope to become the de facto global rule setter and thus impose its values, norms and economic interests. As it stands, a Beijing effect could materialize as well, as (some of) the Chinese rules may set the tone for AI regulation across the globe. 

Burning questions:

  • China is adopting a rapid and top-down approach when it comes to regulations, whereas the EU is taking years to carve out regulations in dialogue with businesses and other stakeholders. Will Europe’s careful, but slow process eventually result in “better” rules that stand a greater chance of becoming a global standard?
  • Will China’s head start in regulating AI also provide a boost to Chinese AI developers, given that they are the first to be challenged by having to comply with a set of strict norms?
About the author
Sjoerd Bakker frequently writes about the power and danger of digital technology, as well as sustainability in both technological and institutional innovation. At the think tank, he is mainly involved in research and consultancy projects for clients, and strategic and thematic research for sister company Dasym.
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