Everyone could learn from China's tech policies, World Economic Forum says

  • The World Economic Forum, which runs the annual conference of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, is launching a hub in Beijing for government officials, businesses and academics to develop suggestions for future tech policies.
  • "We have a lot to learn from China as well," Murat Sonmez, head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, tells CNBC. "China represents a huge opportunity for the rest of the world to see what's coming."
Tencent CEO Pony Ma Huateng, Alibaba's Jack Ma and Baidu CEO Robin Li, attend the China IT Summit 2017 at Shenzhen Wuzhou Guest House.
VCG | Getty Images
Tencent CEO Pony Ma Huateng, Alibaba's Jack Ma and Baidu CEO Robin Li, attend the China IT Summit 2017 at Shenzhen Wuzhou Guest House.

TIANJIN, China — The World Economic Forum is looking to China for ideas on how governments can appropriately regulate the technologies of the future.

The organization, which runs the annual conference of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, announced Wednesday it is launching a hub in Beijing for government officials, businesses and academics to come up with suggestions for future policies on developments such as artificial intelligence.

The group in the communist country will mark the third location of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which opened in San Francisco in March 2017. A location in Tokyo launched in July, and another is due to open in Mumbai, India, in October. Areas of focus include blockchain, internet of things technology, and artificial intelligence.

"We can't use 20th century models for 21st century technology," Murat Sonmez, head of the organization's Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said in an interview with CNBC.

"We have a lot to learn from China as well," he said. "China represents a huge opportunity for the rest of the world to see what's coming."

While China is one of the most controlling states in the world, the national government has let some sectors such as internet companies thrive relatively unrestricted. In addition, under a "Made in China 2025" plan, Chinese authorities are investing heavily in technologies such as artificial intelligence in a bid to become a world leader in advanced tech.

A list of those who will participate in the Beijing hub was not immediately available because the group is still in early stages of development. Two Chinese companies are already involved with the center's San Francisco hub: telecom giant Huawei and drone maker DJI.

Sonmez said he hopes the hubs can complete several pilot programs within 18 months to help form guidelines for future policies, such as data privacy, liability for algorithm-generated actions and cross-border data flows.

"There's a potential if you do not have flexible regulation, all these investments will not lead to [a] desired outcome," he said.