Tech triangles and AI ethics: Danit Gal on Chinese AI


Danit Gal is a former Yenching Scholar and coauthor of a recent paper, “Perspectives and Approaches to AI Ethics: East Asia.” On this episode, Gal discusses how Japanese, South Korean, and Chinese experts are forging new paths in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), exploring societal applications — and the unexpected drawbacks of “female” virtual assistants. Gal also explains the tech connections between China and Israel, and the possible impact of the U.S.-China trade war on this relationship.

What to listen for on this week’s ChinaEconTalk:

15:56: Gal on her trip to Longquan Monastery in Beijing: “They basically have a Chinese robot monk, named Xian’er. I spoke to him and he gives you all these responses and talks to you about the deep meaning of Buddhist ceremonies… And then I asked him, ‘Who is your master?’ And then he answered to me very clearly, ‘The data is my master.’ And the monks freaked out — they [said] ‘No, no, no. We give him the data. We are the data. We feed him the ceremonies, and everything he has to say!’”

41:28: In a recent piece, Gal wrote that trade and technology tensions between the U.S. and China present both challenges and opportunities for Israel: “One clear way is that it’s really disrupting supply chains in that you would have to choose your alliances in order to get certain components at a good price and time. We’re getting to the point where a lot of companies are not allowed to trade directly and that significantly adds costs and uncertainty… An upside to that is actually that because American companies are not allowed to directly trade with China, they go through technical middlemen.”

Jordan will be in New York and Washington, D.C., this September and October, so reach out if you want to meet up! Email him at or connect on WeChat using his WeChat ID, jordanschneider.

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This podcast was edited and produced by Jason MacRonald.