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New America’s DigiChina and Harvard-MIT AI Initiative Partner to Advance Understanding of China’s AI Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, New America and the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative (AI Initiative), a project of MIT’s Media Lab and Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center, formed a new partnership to strengthen international understanding of Chinese artificial intelligence policies and developments.

The AI Initiative will contribute $250,000 to support the work of New America’s DigiChina project, a collaborative effort to translate, analyze, and contextualize Chinese digital policy developments.

New America President and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter said:

“Understanding dramatic developments in artificial intelligence and other technologies is essential to New America's mission to renew America for the 21st century. Not all of that new technology will be created in the United States, so understanding China’s technology policy and development efforts will be critical. Yet the language barrier and unique characteristics of China’s system make it difficult for the international community to take important developments into account. Along with Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab, New America's DigiChina team will have an opportunity to build on its early success in broadening discussions and understanding of Chinese AI and digital policy.”

DigiChina, which published its first work in July 2017, emerged organically from a group of scholars and analysts on technology in China and has so far published translations and analysis by 12 scholars from 10 different organizations.

AI Initiative Executive Director Tim Hwang said:

“Translation is powerful. DigiChina has been doing crucial work to open China’s AI and machine learning policy discourse to an international readership. We believe an accurate understanding of trends in China is critical for productive conversations on the international development of AI, and we are excited to be taking this forward in partnership with New America.”

In 2017, DigiChina published the first complete English-language translation of China’s New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, which lays out ambitions for AI development and policy stretching to 2030. See below for links to other work so far on AI-related issues.

DigiChina Coordinating Editor Graham Webster said:

“With China home to so much of the world’s development and deployment of AI technologies, global efforts to address ethics and policies surrounding AI have to reckon with what’s going on in China’s policy world. The choices Chinese regulators and companies make on AI-related policies, from personal privacy to national security, will have effects in tech and policy communities worldwide.”

Links to DigiChina’s AI-focused work so far:

About the AI Initiative:  The Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative is a hybrid research effort and philanthropic fund that seeks to ensure that technologies of automation and machine learning are researched, developed, and deployed in a way which vindicate social values of fairness, human autonomy, and justice. The Initiative is a joint project of the MIT Media Lab and the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. It incubates a range of research, prototyping, and advocacy activities within these two anchor institutions and across the broader ecosystem of civil society. More at https://aiethicsinitiative.org/.

About DigiChina: The DigiChina project, housed in New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative, is a collaborative effort to understand China’s digital policy developments, primarily through translating and analyzing Chinese-language sources. How the Chinese state and society deploy and use digital technologies is increasingly consequential for governance, markets, and security around the world. From laws and regulations to published commentaries from policymakers and corporate strategies, China’s public sphere provides a great deal of insight into what’s happening and why. DigiChina contributors, working collaboratively with industry and policy experts around the globe, work innovatively to bring that insight to an international audience and better inform important debates and decisions. More at https://www.newamerica.org/cybersecurity-initiative/digichina/

About New America: We are dedicated to renewing America by continuing the quest to realize our nation's highest ideals, honestly confronting the challenges caused by rapid technological and social change, and seizing the opportunities those changes create.