What China’s Algorithm Registry Reveals about AI Governance

Article by Matt Sheehan, and Sharon Du: “For the past year, the Chinese government has been conducting some of the earliest experiments in building regulatory tools to govern artificial intelligence (AI). In that process, China is trying to tackle a problem that will soon face governments around the world: Can regulators gain meaningful insight into the functioning of algorithms, and ensure they perform within acceptable bounds?

One particular tool deserves attention both for its impact within China, and for the lessons technologists and policymakers in other countries can draw from it: a mandatory registration system created by China’s internet regulator for recommendation algorithms.

Although the full details of the registry are not public, by digging into its online instruction manual, we can reveal new insights into China’s emerging regulatory architecture for algorithms.

The algorithm registry was created by China’s 2022 regulation on recommendation algorithms (English translation), which came into effect in March of this year and was led by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). China’s algorithm regulation has largely focused on the role recommendation algorithms play in disseminating information, requiring providers to ensure that they don’t “endanger national security or the social public interest” and to “give an explanation” when they harm the legitimate interests of users. Other provisions sought to address monopolistic behavior by platforms and hot-button social issues, such as the role that dispatching algorithms play in creating dangerous labor conditions for Chinese delivery drivers…(More)”