US, China to meet on AI risks

Wong Yu Liang/Getty images

Delegations from the U.S. and People’s Republic of China will meet in Geneva this week to discuss approaches to mitigating risks in artificial intelligence deployment.

Government representatives from the U.S. and China will be meeting May 14 in Geneva to discuss artificial intelligence. The U.S. delegation will focus on balancing the technology’s risks with its potential, National Security Council officials said on a Friday press call. 

“The goals of the talk are scoped to be focused on risk and safety,” a senior administration official told reporters. “With an emphasis on advanced systems, the talks are not going to be focused on any particular deliverables, but rather an exchange of views on the technical risks of AI and an opportunity to directly communicate respective areas of concern.”

The official said that the U.S. approach to China in this forthcoming meeting will hinge on increased technological diplomacy, and delegates will discuss both approaches to risk as well as roles AI systems can play in military and national security arenas.

Joint participation in research efforts, however, is off the table. 

“To be very clear: our talks with Beijing are not focused on promoting any form of technical collaboration or cooperating on frontier research in any matter, and our technology protection policies are not up for negotiation,” the officials said. “But we do think it is worth opening a channel for communication on these issues.”

Unlike other bilateral dialogues with more like-minded nations, the Biden administration will look to advocate for its established approaches to AI safety to countries like China, which has been locked in a tense stalemate over multiple geopolitical issues. 

“We are in a competition to shape the rules of the road, but also to explore some of the rules that can be embraced by all countries,” another senior administration official said. “We do have a long history of engaging with competitors on issues of global safety and security. We certainly don't see eye to eye with the PRC on many AI topics and applications, but we believe that communication on critical AI risks can make the world safer.”

The engagement comes as the U.S. is pressing  efforts to stem the flow of the advanced computer chips necessary to power AI applications and large language models to China. The U.S. has revised export rules multiple times in the last 18 months to stem China's imports of Nvidia chips because of concerns that China would adapt the technology for military uses.