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China Goes Global: China's AI Challenge: How Confucian Communism Can Help

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Professor Daniel Bell, Dean of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University & Professor at Tsinghua University, will be joined by a panel to discuss the possible future of AI in China and how it may interplay with both Communism and Confucianism.

In Karl Marx’s ideal of communism, advanced machines do the socially necessary labour and we are free to lead our lives as we see fit. Marx would probably have been thrilled by the prospect that AI will gradually replace menial jobs and provide technological conditions for the realisation of communism. The state must lead the transition to communism, but it will wither away once communism is realised because people’s basic needs will be met by machine-workers and there will be no need for a coercive state. But Marx did not foresee the possibility that machines might eventually outsmart even “fully-developed individuals,” with the risk that human beings could be enslaved by machine-masters.

Given this possibility, it would be foolhardy to even hope that the state will wither away. There is a need for a strong and capable pro-human organisation that represents the interests of the vast majority of people, not just to facilitate the transition to a society composed of “fully developed individuals,” but also to ensure that human beings maintain their dominance over machines.

One hopes that such worries will only become live political issues in the long term, several decades from now. In the short to medium term, the development of AI will lead to ethical dilemmas and we must look beyond the Marxist tradition for insights, especially in the Chinese context.

Tea will be served prior the beginning of the event.

This talk is part of the Pembroke College Talks series.

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