China leads world in generative AI adoption, underscoring country’s progress

China is leading the world in adopting generative AI, a new survey shows, the latest sign the country is making strides in the technology that gained global attention after US-based OpenAI’s ChatGPT launched in late 2022.

In a survey of 1,600 decision-makers in industries worldwide by US AI and analytics software company SAS and Coleman Parkes Research, 83 per cent of Chinese respondents said they used generative AI, the technology underpinning ChatGPT.

That was higher than the 16 other countries and regions in the survey, including the United States, where 65 per cent of respondents said they had adopted GenAI.

The global average was 54 per cent.

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How does China’s AI stack up against ChatGPT?

How does China’s AI stack up against ChatGPT?

The industries surveyed included banking, insurance, healthcare, telecommunications, manufacturing, retail and energy.

The results underscore China’s rapid progress in the generative AI field, which gained momentum after Microsoft-backed OpenAI released ChatGPT in November 2022, prompting dozens of Chinese companies to launch their own versions.

Last week, a report by the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization showed China was leading the GenAI patent race, filing more than 38,000 between 2014 and 2023 against 6,276 filed by the United States in the same period.

While many leading international generative AI service providers, including OpenAI, face curbs in China, the country has developed a robust domestic industry, with offerings from tech giants such as ByteDance to start-ups such as Zhipu.

Enterprise adoption of generative AI in China is expected to accelerate as a price war is likely to further reduce the cost of large language model services for businesses.

The SAS report also said China led the world in continuous automated monitoring (CAM), which it described as “a controversial but widely-deployed use case for generative AI tools”.

This technology can collect and analyse vast amounts of data on users’ activities, behaviour and communications, which can lead to privacy infringements as they are not aware of the extent of the data being collected or how it is used, said Udo Sglavo, vice-president of applied AI and modelling at SAS.

“The algorithms and processes used in CAM are often proprietary and not transparent,” Sglavo added.

“This can make it difficult to hold the entities using CAM accountable for misuse or errors.”

He added, “China’s advancements in CAM contribute to its broader strategy of becoming a global leader in artificial intelligence and surveillance technologies.”

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