This paper seeks to determine on the basis of publicly available information (“open sources”) who in China is taking what steps toward general artificial intelligence, as shown by overt expressions and other common measures. While typically conceived as “artificial general intelligence” or AGI, this paper rejects that ambiguous term, along with its usual association with human-level machine intelligence, in favor of an approach that recognizes diverse pathways to broadly capable AI that functions autonomously in novel circumstances.
Accordingly, the paper examines what paths to general AI are available in principle, as a prelude to describing work underway in China to realize that capability. Three broad areas of Chinese research are identified as potentially germane: machine learning, brain-inspired AI research, and brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Data on the persons, institutions, and research making up this ecosystem is given as a foundation for downstream studies,1 and as a starting point for a China-focused indications and warning watchboard.
The paper recounts the methodology used to build a database and prototype watchboard that enable analysts to capture and potentially forecast China AI-related events. Data supporting this pilot is conditioned to accept accretions from follow-on research, done locally or with outside participants, on Chinese artificial intelligence, AI’s political uses, and other emerging Chinese technologies. The project aims to become or inspire a general foreign technology monitoring platform.