When it comes to artificial intelligence, public-private collaboration and coordination is reportedly pervasive, and China has recruited big Chinese tech firms as part of the “AI national team.” Western commentators often portray the success of Chinese technology firms as the result of unfair practices, like theft of intellectual property and the provision of state subsidies. But, as Kai-Fu Lee notes, this also stems from China’s ability to endorse particular objectives and set the tone for private capital choices, as it has done in seeking to foster the development of artificial intelligence. China likewise leads the way in providing infrastructure to support these technological developments, such as building cities and highways with built-in sensors designed to facilitate the use of driverless cars. The Chinese government views its state capitalist model as a national strength that does not contradict international trade rules, which that it needs to secure against U.S. attempts to halt or reverse China’s rise. A key question for the future of international economic law is whether these different economic models will be able to coexist under the same legal framework.
Internet has become a way of life. But, just like the market it needs some regulation to make sure it is not used by rogue elements for their benefit. The difficult question is where to draw the line.
It might be tempting to simply have a high bar and not fret about all these possibilities—terrorists are terrorists, after all. But a high bar can easily interfere with legitimate users in the name of counterterrorism. Facebook, for example, took down the iconic and disturbing image of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing after a napalm attack on the grounds that images of naked girls are, well, child pornography. (After an outcry, Facebook restored the image.) Likewise, a high bar on encryption might prevent terrorists from communicating securely with one another, but it could also prevent human rights dissidents from doing the same.