In nearly every discussion I've engaged in relating to the potential delay or pause in AI research, multiple people have responded with the quip: "If we don't build AGI, then China will, which is an even worse possible world". This is taken at face value and is something I've never seen seriously challenged.
This does not seem obvious to me.
Given China's semi-conductor supply chain issues, China's historical lack of cutting edge innovative technology research and the tremendous challenges powerful AI systems may pose to the governing party and their ideology, it seems highly uncertain that China will develop AGI in a world where Western orgs stopped developing improved LLMs.
I appreciate people can point to multiple countries, including ones with non-impressive historical research credentials, developing nuclear weapons independently.
Beyond this, can anyone point me to, or outline arguments in favour of the idea that China is very likely to develop AGI+, even if Western orgs cease research in this field.
I don't have a strong view on this topic but given so many people assume it to be true, I would like to further understand the arguments in support of this claim.
Here's a thought experiment: if we lived in China, could we suggest on a Chinese forum that 'the US might actually be a better steward of our global safety than China is being, at least in the domain of AI development'?
Could we have a discussion that was honest, free, and open with no fear of censorship or consequences?
Where are all the public discussions in China about how the CCP needs to be more responsible in how it uses AI, how perhaps it sh... (read more)
I'm not a China expert, but I have some experience running classes and discussion forums in a Chinese university. In my experience, people in China feel considerably more freedom to express their views on a wide variety of issues than Westerners typically think they do. There is a short list of censored topics, centered around criticism of the CCP itself, Xi Jinping, Uyghurs, Tibet, and Taiwan. But I would bet that they have plenty of freedom to discuss AI X risks, alignment, and geopolitical issues around AI, as exemplified by the fact that Kai-Fu Lee, author of 'AI Superpowers' (2018), and based in Beijing, is a huge tech celebrity in China who speaks frequently on college campuses there - despite being a vocal critic of some gov't tech policies.
Conversely, there are plenty of topics in the West, especially in American academia, that are de facto censored (through cancel culture). For example, it was much less trouble to teach about evolutionary psychology, behavior genetics, intelligence research, and even sex research in a Chinese university than in an American university.