OpenAI Blocks China Access to AI Tools

OpenAI announces block on China access to AI tools, impacting global tech dynamics amid increasing geopolitical tensions.

Jun 25, 2024 - 09:25
Jun 25, 2024 - 09:25
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OpenAI Blocks China Access to AI Tools
OpenAI Blocks China Access to AI Tools

OpenAI, supported by Microsoft Corp., has announced plans to block developers in China from accessing its tools and software starting July, according to reports. The move signals a proactive stance by the ChatGPT creator to prevent usage from countries where its services are not officially available.

Screenshots of memos sent to developers in various regions, including China, have surfaced on social media and local outlets like the Securities Times reported on Tuesday. In response, Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Zhipu AI have encouraged developers to transition to alternative platforms.

The motive behind OpenAI's decision remains unclear. However, in May, the startup disclosed thwarting several covert influence operations that allegedly exploited its products for manipulating public opinion.

This development coincides with heightened pressure from Washington to restrict Chinese access to advanced AI technology. Despite OpenAI being officially unavailable in China, many developers have historically accessed its tools through virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods.

As Chinese companies like Baidu Inc. and startups like Zhipu strive to develop AI models comparable to ChatGPT and other US pioneers, Beijing has actively promoted domestic AI innovation. The technology is viewed as pivotal for bolstering China's economic and military capabilities.

Conversely, the US government under President Joe Biden has intensified efforts to limit Chinese access to critical technologies. Proposed rules from the US Treasury Department aim to restrict outbound investments in sectors deemed crucial to national security, including semiconductor chips and AI.

These measures underscore the geopolitical tensions surrounding AI development, with implications for global technological competition and security strategies.

Also Read: Apple and Meta in Talks for AI Collaboration, Reports Wall Street Journal

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