US and China to hold talks on AI safety and risk

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The United States is set to begin important discussions with China this week in Geneva, focusing on establishing and harmonizing artificial intelligence (AI) safety and risk standards. This diplomatic engagement, reported by Axios, underscores the intense competition between the two global powers in the AI sector, which spans both governmental and private sectors.

The talks, slated to start on Tuesday, will involve key U.S. officials from the White House and the State Department, while China’s team will include leaders from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Development and Reform Commission. The agenda for these discussions will focus predominantly on AI risk and safety, particularly concerning advanced systems, aiming to share insights on the technical risks associated with AI technologies.

However, expectations for immediate outcomes such as joint statements or technical collaborations are muted. U.S. officials emphasized that the dialogue is not expected to lead to any cooperative research endeavors, nor will it challenge the U.S.’s stringent technology protection policies. The primary goal is to foster mutual understanding that could enhance global safety in the AI space.

The backdrop of these talks includes ongoing concerns about AI-driven interference in elections and other security-sensitive areas, which, while not officially on the agenda, may surface during discussions. This diplomatic initiative follows an agreement between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at last year’s APEC summit to commence dialogue on AI safety and risk, underscoring the global implications of AI technologies and the need for major powers to navigate its challenges cooperatively.

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