In 2024 the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society will be hosting the 21st Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC 2024) in Brisbane. The theme of the event is ‘Politics and Geopolitics of Automated Decision-Making on the Global Chinese Internet’ and will be held on 17-18 June.
The Chinese Internet has a unique technological and politico-cultural ecosystem. It is characterized by the Great-Firewall censorship regime, a vibrant platform-centered digital economy, and highly connected and engaged consumers and users. These features are complemented with a fast-paced and dynamic experimentation with intelligent and disruptive technologies across an expanding array of areas, platforms, sectors, and national boundaries. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and blockchain—technologies and digital tools that contribute to automated decision-making (ADM)—are used to innovate digital economy, service provision, transport and mobility, media/propaganda, labor relations, and cross-border trade, and so forth. They also shape societal processes, contributing to new forms of social governance, cultural production and social engagement, resetting labor relations, and transforming power dynamics across industries, sectors, and national boundaries. Chinese Internet and technology companies like Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Bytedance are the forerunners in the AI race and technological innovation. They are encouraged by the Chinese Party-state to develop research and innovation capacities in cutting-edge technologies, while bearing the brunt of state regulations on content and data control on the one hand and of the high-tech fallout with the US on the other hand.
The politics of ADM in China impacts on how Chinese people live and work, even after they travel and immigrate to other places. Made-in-China digital companies, born-in-China entrepreneurs, or entities and organizations with Chinese investment or influence look to created-in-China models and tested-in-China protocols for inspiration. However, they face challenging problems across a wide range of areas in social, institutional, cultural, legal and ethical domains, both inside China and beyond. It is especially so when Chinese Internet companies expand overseas and become strategic players in the global Chinese Internet. Together with Chinese players in telecommunications and information services, Chinese Internet companies, entrepreneurs, users, and their associates have found themself embroiled in the geopolitics of digital communication, technology, and governance.
The global Chinese Internet is centered around and complicated by politics and geopolitics. Underpinning the politics and geopolitics of the global Chinese Internet are the new and disruptive ADM technologies and technological systems, which are used in a wide range of scenarios, from consumer profiling to citizen surveillance on- and offline. China’s role in politics and geopolitics concerning AI applications, blockchain operations, data governance, digital surveillance, and automated media, etc., can have significant implications beyond its borders and the Chinese speaking world.
How to make sense of and govern these changes brought about by ADM technologies and systems with Chinese characteristics and how to support the development of a global framework for responsible, ethical, and inclusive ADM continue to be a policy challenge and scholarly interest. The significance of politics and geopolitics of the global Chinese Internet and its role in ADM+S in and outside China makes Chinese Internet research a multidisciplinary subject that is beyond the traditional Internet research and China studies.
CIRC 2024 calls for papers and exhibitions that examine politics and geopolitics of the global Chinese Internet in relation to ADM. It features two major streams: (1) examining ADM in the Chinese context, and (2) situating Chinese ADM in the global context.
CIRC 2024 will be organized and sponsored by ADM+S, Australia’s cross-disciplinary, national Centre of Excellence, which aims to create the knowledge and strategies necessary for responsible, ethical, and inclusive automated decision-making. The conference will be held at the QUT node of ADM+S. It will not only be the first CIRC conference to be held physically in the Southern Hemisphere but also the first in the CIRC history to bring scholars outside the traditional fields and disciplines in China studies and Internet research to engage in meaningful dialogues on topics ranging from Chinese Internet to ADM politics and geopolitics.