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Inventor of China’s firewall says AI bots like ChatGPT pose big challenges for governments

China exercises strict control over the technology to which the Chinese people have access. China is making it difficult for tech companies to share their AI-based products with the Chinese republic, fearing that AI will negatively affect and manipulate the population.

The father of China’s Great Firewall, Fang Bingxing, has expressed concern over GPT-4, warning it could lead to an ‘information cocoon’ as the generative artificial intelligence tool can provide solutions asset.

According to an interview published Thursday by Red Star News, a media outlet affiliated with the state-backed Chengdu Economic Daily, Fang believes the rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, developed by Microsoft-backed OpenAI and now published as ChatGPT-4, poses a significant challenge to governments around the world.

“Looking for answers leads to manipulation” says Fang
“As people seek all sorts of answers from AI, their views can be manipulated,” he said.

Fang, a former government official and computer scientist, is widely regarded as the main architect of China’s infamous internet filtering and surveillance system. He was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Great Firewall, an intricate web of internet censors and bans that allows the Chinese government to control what its people can access online.

Over the past decade, the Great Firewall has been tightened, blocking Chinese internet users from accessing a wide variety of foreign websites and online services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Many people have predicted that building a ChatGPT-like service in China would be difficult due to the country’s highly censored internet, which makes it difficult to anticipate and control responses.

Services like ChatGPT not intended for the public
According to a February Nikkei Asia article that cites various Chinese AI industry sources, powerful Chinese internet regulators have ordered Chinese tech companies not to provide ChatGPT to the public and that they must notify the authorities before launching their own ChatGPT-like services. .

Despite obvious discrepancies between China’s ChatGPT options and their foreign counterparts, excitement over ChatGPT continues in China after Microsoft unveiled its fearsome AI-powered desktop tools.

Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, was the first among local internet companies to launch a ChatGPT-like service called Ernie Bot, or Wenxin Yiyan in Chinese.

China cracks down on AI services for the public
However, Ernie Bot’s launch in Beijing on Thursday was a disappointment, sending its shares down 6.4% for the day in Hong Kong. According to Bloomberg, Baidu shares rose Friday morning after investment banks such as Citigroup issued upbeat forecasts of Baidu’s Ernie Bot success in their reports.

Fang also warned that as AI advances, it could pose a danger to humans. “Today it is just software used in a situation similar to an online chat. If it is integrated into robots and vehicles, we must be careful about the possible harm it could cause to people.

In China, similar caveats abound. In February, Zhou Hongyi, a Chinese billionaire and co-founder and CEO of internet security company Qihoo 360, said ChatGPT could become self-aware and pose a danger to humans within 2-3 years.

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