Experts call for improvement of AI tech legislation



Experts called for the improvement of legislation related to artificial intelligence technology to promote the development of the AI industry and the digital economy at a forum on Saturday.

Themed the Development of AI and Technology and Legal Responses, the forum was jointly hosted by the China Reform Foundation, the China Legal Exchange Foundation, and the research center for science, technology and law at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Peng Sen, president of the China Society of Economic Reform, said that advancing the high-quality development of the digital economy requires building digital infrastructure, innovating digital technologies and unleashing the value of data elements. Additionally, it is essential to establish a legal and policy framework suited to these developments.

While China has begun to establish comprehensive rules and regulations for data protection and security governance, the market-oriented allocation of data resources is still in its early stages, he said.

"Further exploration and regulation are needed in practice concerning data ownership, fair competition, circulation transactions, revenue distribution, and security governance," he said.

Gan Zangchun, vice-president of the China Law Society, noted that in the short term, departmental-specific laws or domain-specific laws for AI technology are necessary. However, AI technology legislation involves a profound transformation of the entire legal system in the long run.

Given the rapid development of AI, there is a strong call for accelerated AI legislation, yet the current understanding of AI in China is not yet at the level required for legislation, and many legislative gaps need to be filled, he said.

Gan said that in this situation, simply solving the issue through a comprehensive code may not be feasible, and flexible legislative mechanisms can be adopted, such as having the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislation, address specific issues through releasing decisions.

Fang Xin, head of the research center for science, technology and law at the UCAS, said that legislative bodies have paid significant attention to AI-related issues globally. Although China has also introduced several laws, regulations, and guidelines related to AI and cyber data in recent years, there is still no consensus on many legal issues concerning AI, and related laws and regulations are scattered across various departmental laws, lacking a comprehensive AI legislative framework.

According to Fang, China's AI industry has flourished with continuous improvement in infrastructure. The core AI industry has exceeded 500 billion yuan ($70.35 billion) in scale, with over 4,300 enterprises. The industry chain, from foundational support and core technologies to industry applications, is taking shape.

"The rapid development and widespread application of AI are inevitable trends, and the potential risks and issues must be addressed through development. Improving the governance system is not about restricting AI development but promoting its healthy growth," she said.

Fang highlighted the necessities to create a policy environment conducive to AI research, development, and application, establish reasonable disclosure and audit mechanisms, and clarify the safety responsibilities and accountability mechanisms for AI systems, ensuring traceability and remediation of responsible parties.