Spotlight on Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence

China's State-Backed Program for General Purpose AI

Huey-Meei Chang

William Hannas

May 2023

In late 2020, China established the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence, a state-backed institution dedicated to building software that emulates or surpasses human cognition in many or all of its aspects. Open source materials now available provide insight into BIGAI’s goals, scope, organization, methodology, and staffing. The project formalizes a trend evident in Chinese AI development toward broadly capable (general) AI.

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China’s Advanced AI Research, a report by CSET’s William Hannas, Huey-Meei Chang, and Daniel Chou was cited by IndiaAI. The report seeks to determine on the basis of publicly available information (“open sources”) who in China is taking what steps toward general artificial intelligence. It also previews a CSET pilot program that will track China’s progress and provide timely alerts.

Open source intelligence (OSINT) and science and technology intelligence (STI) are realized differently in the United States and China, China putting greater value on both. In the United States’ understanding, OSINT “enables” classified reporting, while in China it is the intelligence of first resort. This contrast extends to STI which has a lower priority in the U.S. system, whereas China and its top leaders personally lavish great attention on STI and rely on it for national decisions. Establishing a “National S&T Analysis Center” within the U.S. government could help to address these challenges.

China AI-Brain Research

September 2020

Since 2016, China has engaged in a nationwide effort to "merge" AI and neuroscience research as a major part of its next-generation AI development program. This report explores China’s AI-brain program — identifying key players and organizations and recommending the creation of an open source S&T monitoring capability within the U.S. government.