China enforces ChatGPT ban as tech fears grow

China has banned ChatGPT and appears to be willing to extend this ban to any apps it believes are using the AI program. The move comes amid fears that machines could render many human functions obsolete and an escalating tech trade war between the Asian superpower and the US.

“Pursuant to orders by the Chinese government, your app will be made unavailable on the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China,” read a translated notification sent to an app user shared on Twitter.

“The government has been tightening regulations associated with deep synthesis technologies (DST) and generative AI services, including ChatGPT,” it added, as first reported by TechNode.

The disclosure adds that all forms of DST must hold a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China to operate there, as well as fulfilling other “permitting requirements.”

This particular notice appears to have been sent to an app user that was not directly affiliated with ChatGPT, but which authorities in China believe to have been using the AI content generator.

“Based on our review, your app is associated with ChatGPT, which does not have requisite permits to operate in China,” it said.

This implies that any program judged by the Chinese government to be using ChatGPT or any other non-approved AI model could effectively fall under the ban.

Since ChatGPT hit the mainstream in November, fears have been raised across the Western world that AI could lead to mass unemployment, the overturning of democracy, and even the extinction of the human race.

As such, it is difficult to say whether the latest move by China is a reflection of similar concerns about machine learning and large-language models in the East, or simply another gambit by the Asian superpower against its major rival the US — the latter country has become increasingly vocal in accusing it of being a threat to national and economic security.