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Professor of China and International Studies at Lancaster University Jinghan Zeng gives the 2022 BCI Annual Lecture


Professor of China and International Studies at Lancaster University Jinghan Zeng visited us at the University of Leeds to give the 2022 Business Confucius Institute Annual Lecture on China’s emerging Artificial Intelligence industry. 

Guests and staff came together on Wednesday 14 December at the Leeds University Business School Maurice Keyworth Building, where Jinghan Zeng provided us with his knowledge and insights on China’s intention to become the next global AI superpower. 

Jinghan Zeng, not only a Professor at Lancaster University, but also the Academic Director of China Engagement and Director of Lancaster University Confucius Institute, has done extensive research in China’s domestic and international politics. He has vast previous experience with lecturing in various parts of the UK, and has worked for the United Nations in New York City, too.

‘’China, the next global AI superpower?’’

In his lecture on Artificial Intelligence, particularly in China, Professor Zeng first discussed the types of AI, and how there is still a long way to go in the development of such technologies. Human society has yet to reach levels of AI that would completely exceed the intelligence of humans and could replace them in various aspects in our daily lives. 

Professor Zeng also argued that when such a level of AI would be reached, the world will undergo a plethora of social transformations, like people losing their jobs and having to adapt to a new world order. Nevertheless, besides the negative aspects of Artificial Intelligence, this talk highlighted the perspective of international peace and prosperity that AI could bring into our lives as well, creating a more comfortable way of life and nearly equal opportunities for everyone. For this plan to become a success, China plans to invest billions of yuan (元) in its Artificial Intelligence development programme.

Jinghan Zeng proceeded to explain how the likes of Artificial Intelligence can help limit and fight against crime, such as kidnappings and human trafficking. He pointed out that using AI for this purpose, however, has the potential to pose threats of compromised data security, particularly where facial recognition technologies are involved.

Throughout the lecture the difference between approaches to the AI industry of the West (Europe and the United States) and China was emphasised, especially focusing on governance, security and national strategy. Professor Zeng highlighted that China has a significant advantage over other countries in the race to dominate the Artificial Intelligence field due to the country’s massive population and the amount of people using the Internet in China every day. He stated that this allows Chinese AI mechanisms to gather data quicker and in larger amounts compared to those in the US or Europe. 

Overall, Professor Zeng's lecture provided the audience with a comprehensive explanation and outline on the progression of modern day Artificial Intelligence, as well as the ways the Chinese government intends to further the evolution of their own AI technologies for a better future.

We were very happy to welcome all our attending guests to Leeds University Business School and pleased to hear Professor Jinghan Zeng's prepared lecture. We look forward to seeing you at future BCI events in the upcoming Year of the Rabbit - 2023!

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