AI apps taken down from China’s App Store

Days ahead of the implementation of China’s new laws on artificial intelligence, Apple has removed over a hundred AI apps from the country’s App Store.

Among the apps taken down were Spark, a ChatGPT-style platform developed by domestic developers iFlytek, and ChatGAi Plus, which provides writing and translation services and ranked 9th among China’s paid apps before it was taken down.

Apple notified app developers of the move saying “pursuant to orders by the Chinese government, your app will be made unavailable in the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China”. The notice goes on to explain that deep synthesis service providers must secure a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and that any apps associated with ChatGPT will not be eligible for such a permit.

The “illegal” content mentioned by Apple refers to the raft of new regulations designed to bring generative AI under a broad spectrum of anti-competition, data protection, and national security laws.

Under the regulations, any generative AI services made widely available to the public must “adhere to core socialist values” and not “endanger [China’s] national security interests”. It is also explicitly stated that necessary measures will be taken to deal with any generative AI originating from outside China that do not comply with the regulations.

Creators developing AI models for industry-specific applications, however, do not have to comply with the regulations since they will not be publicly available. This gives much more free reign to companies like Huawei, who have funnelled resources into large-scale models that improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and railway fault detection, among other wide-ranging possibilities.

The new measures constitute one of the first major attempts by a government to regulate AI at a national scale and will come into effect on August 15.


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