Expert lauds China's approach in dealing with new technologies
Updated 16:01, 26-Jun-2020
Andy Mok

Editor's note: New technologies have transformed the way we live, made the world more convenient and problem solving easier. But there are some concerns along with positive aspects. Andy Mok, research fellow at Center for China and Globalization, shares his view on China's approach in dealing with new technologies. The opinions expressed in the video are his own, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Andy Mok: COVID-19 has had a devastating impact all around the world, not just the cost in human lives – people that have died or have been severely sickened by it – but it has also had tremendous negative economic impact globally.

I think holding events like the World Intelligence Conference (WIC) online is yet another example of the way China is responding by using public policy as well as technology to overcome and turn this crisis into an opportunity, revealing a silver lining in this terrible event.

But from a technology perspective, I think what's very important to recognize is that at events like the WIC, big ideas, new ideas are being implemented.

One of those is this "data lake" approach to public health. And all that means is taking existing data in data warehouses that most hospitals around the world already have, but adding what's called non-structured clinical data. This involves literature, research studies, patient notes as well as non-clinical, unstructured data. So this could be everything from postings on social media – whether that's Twitter, whether that's Weibo, [and] other types of information that traditionally would not live in a data warehouse, [and] pulling all of this kind of information together using artificial intelligence techniques, like machine learning, to identify more effective treatments and even better vaccine candidates that can be developed and implemented more quickly.

I think these are some of the ways that China is actually leading the world in the fight or in the quest to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The problem with any powerful new technology, whether we're looking at electricity, whether we're looking at information technology, or even certain life science advances, [is that] it creates a double-edged sword.

I think one way that they are being addressed, how China's taking the lead here, is taking a comprehensive and systematic approach to say it's not just about pushing the technology [but asking] what are the principles of governance in cyberspace, in artificial intelligence – whether that's from a security perspective, whether that's from an actual meaning of fairness perspective.

I think regulation, of course, is a part of it, but without an overarching theoretical framework or how we think about these questions, we could end up with shortsighted and even policy and regulation decisions that backfire. So, I think it's important to think about strategically as well as at the policy and regulatory level.

This is something that China has shown it excels at, in thinking systematically, theoretically, but also turning those into a machine of regulatory and policy implementations, while also promoting economic and technological development. It's an integrated package. And I think that really is a more effective way of approaching this than a more scattershot, laissez-faire approach.

Interviewer: Zhou Xin

Graphic design: Yin Yating

Video editing: Liu Shasha

Managing editor: Zhou Xin

Senior producer: Wei Wei

Managing director: Mei Yan

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