Nov. 5, 2018
More than a year after the Chinese government released the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan (AIDP), General Secretary Xi Jinping led a Politburo study session that emphasized the continued importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in official Chinese development and governance goals.
Politburo “group” or “collective” study sessions “are meetings at which top experts in the country are invited to deliver a lecture to members of the Politburo on a topic in which they specialize,” according to scholar Yiyi Lu, who wrote in 2007 that the meetings’ other uses include sending signals to lower officials, “forging consensus among the central leadership,” “facilitating policy implementation,” and assisting in leaders’ “image building.”
Peking University Professor and Chinese Academy of Engineering Academician Gao Wen (高文), who presented to last week’s session, is also a member of the New Generation AI Strategic Advisory Committee, formed earlier this year to implement the AIDP. (See Figure 1 in this DigiChina analysis for the full committee list.)
The session was covered prominently in Chinese media, but, as is often the case, official media supplied considerably less detail in English. Below, DigiChina translates the fuller Chinese-language official media coverage chronicling the event. –Ed.
Xi Jinping: Advancing the Healthy Development of Our Nation’s New Generation of Artificial Intelligence
October 31, 2018
During the ninth group study session of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping emphasized:
Strengthening leadership, planning well, clarifying tasks, and laying a solid foundation to promote the healthy development of China's new generation of artificial intelligence.
The Politburo of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) convened the ninth group study session on the current status and trends of AI development on the afternoon of October 31. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CCP Central Committee, emphasized that AI is an important driving force for a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation. Accelerating the development of a new generation of AI is related to the strategic issue of whether China can seize the opportunities for a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation. It is necessary to understand profoundly the great significance of accelerating the development of a new generation of AI, strengthen leadership, properly plan, clarify tasks, establish a solid foundation, promote AI’s deep integration with economic and social development, and advance the healthy development of China's new generation of AI.
Gao Wen, a professor at Peking University and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, explained the issue and discussed his opinions and suggestions.
The comrades of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee listened carefully to the explanations and discussed the relevant issues.
Xi Jinping gave a speech as chair of the study session. He stressed that AI is a strategic technology heralding this round of scientific and industrial revolution and industrial change, and has a “lead goose” (头雁) effect with a strong stimulating nature. Under the impetus of mobile Internet, big data, supercomputing, sensor networks, neuroscience, and other new theories and new technologies, AI has developed rapidly, presenting new characteristics such as deep learning, interdisciplinary convergence, human-machine cooperation, group intelligence development, autonomous operation, etc. It is currently producing a major and profound influence on economic development, social progress, and the structure of international politics and economics. Accelerating the development of a new generation of AI is an important strategic handhold for China to gain the initiative in global science and technology competition, and it is an important strategic resource driving our country's leapfrog development in science and technology, its industrial optimization and upgrading, and a comprehensive leap ahead in productivity.
'Accelerating the development of a new generation of AI is an important strategic handhold for China to gain the initiative in global science and technology competition.'
Xi Jinping pointed out that AI is characterized by multidisciplinary integration and a high degree of complexity. We must strengthen deliberations and decisions, plan matters comprehensively, coordinate and innovate, move ahead steadily, and make strengthening original innovation capability into a focus point. With critical and core technologies as the main direction of advancement, lay down a basis for the development of a new generation of AI. We must: strengthen fundamental theory research; support scientists to bravely charge into the "no man's land" ahead of AI technological frontiers; strive to make transformative and disruptive breakthroughs in the development direction of AI and in areas such as theories, methods, tools and systems; and ensure that our country marches in the front ranks where it comes to theoretical research in this important area of AI, and occupies the high ground in critical and core technologies. We must focus on advancing in critical and core technologies. In this process let us be problem-oriented, comprehensively strengthen AI science and technology innovation capabilities, accelerate the establishment of critical common technology systems for a new generation of AI, pay firm attention to the structure of our shortcomings, and ensure that critical and core AI technologies are firmly grasped in our own hands. We must strengthen science and technology application and exploitation, closely focus on economic and social development demands, fully give rein to our country's advantages of vast quantities of data and its huge scale for market application, persist in a scientific and technological development path guided by demand and driven by the market, vigorously foster new products and services with AI innovations, move forward the industrialization of AI technologies, and create a desirable development structure in which science and technology innovation and industrial application mutually support each other. We must strengthen the building of personnel, forge high-level talent training platforms in many kinds and forms with ever greater determination and ever greater strength, strengthen training of reserve talent, and provide ever fuller talent support for scientific, technological, and industrial development.
'[I]ntegrate multi-disciplinary capabilities; strengthen research on legal, ethical, and social issues related to AI; and establish and improve laws and regulations, systems and institutions, and ethics and moral principles that ensure the healthy development of AI.'
Xi Jinping stressed that: our country's economy has transformed from a high-speed growth stage to a high-quality development stage; it is currently in a period in which it is transforming its development method, optimizing its economic structure, and changing its growth drivers; and it is urgently necessary that major innovations such as new-generation AI add wealth and enhance strength. We must profoundly grasp the characteristics of new-generation AI development, strengthen the convergence of AI and industrial development, and provide new drivers for high-quality development. We must: focus on building modernized economic systems; make supply-side reform into the main line; grasp the converged opportunity for digital, networked, and smart development; give rein to the role of AI in transformations of quality, efficiency, and dynamics; and raise the productivity of all factors. We must: foster AI enterprises and industries with major driving and stimulating effects; and build intelligent economic forms driven by data, with human-machine cooperation, cross-disciplinary convergence, and joint and shared innovation. We must give rein to the technological advantages of AI in industrial upgrading, product development, service innovation and other such areas; stimulate AI's deep integration with primary, secondary and tertiary industries; promote the transformation of all industries with AI technologies; and foster new growth points and shape new energies in mid-tier and high-end consumption, innovation leadership, green and low-carbon areas, the sharing economy, modern supply chains, human capital services, and other domains. We must promote the construction of intelligent information infrastructure, enhance the application of intelligent operation to traditional infrastructure, and shape infrastructure systems adapted to the needs of the economy and the smart society.
'Leading cadres at all levels must assiduously study the leading edge of science and technology, grasp the natural laws of development and characteristics of AI, strengthen overall coordination, increase policy support, and form work synergies.'
Xi Jinping pointed out that we must strengthen the integration of AI with safeguarding and improving the people’s livelihoods. Starting from safeguarding and improving livelihoods, and in order to create a beautiful life for the people, we must promote the deep application of AI in people's daily work, study, and life, creating more intelligent work styles and lifestyles. It is necessary to grasp the prominent contradictions and difficulties in people's livelihood, strengthen the in-depth application of artificial intelligence in the fields of education, medicine and healthcare, sports, housing, transportation, disability and elder care, and domestic service, innovating intelligent service systems. It is necessary to: strengthen the combination of AI with social governance; develop AI systems suitable for government services and decision-making; strengthen the integration of government information resources and accurate prediction of public requirements; promote the construction of smart cities; promote the deep application of AI in the field of public security; strengthen the use of AI in the ecological field; and improve the level of public services and social governance using AI. It is necessary to strengthen the analysis and prevention of potential risks in the development of AI, safeguard the interests of the people and national security, and ensure that AI is secure, reliable, and controllable. It is necessary to: integrate multi-disciplinary capabilities; strengthen research on legal, ethical, and social issues related to AI; and establish and improve laws and regulations, systems and institutions, and ethics and moral principles that ensure the healthy development of AI. Leading cadres at all levels must assiduously study the leading edge of science and technology, grasp the natural laws of development and characteristics of AI, strengthen overall coordination, increase policy support, and form work synergies.