Tencent, the Chinese tech giant, believes its concept of “tech for good” combines the socially beneficial uses of artificial intelligence for, say, medical research, with a social contract between stakeholders over the use of personal data.

That is according to Seng Yee Lau, the company’s SVP and chairman of global branding and group marketing, who outlined Tencent’s vision on ethics in an interview with the Financial Times.

“As our company gets larger in significance in our position in society, we should begin to question what’s the soul of the company,” he said, adding that “tech for good” stems from the philosophical concept of human good coming from within the individual rather than being enforced by governments.

He also insisted that Tencent cares greatly about user privacy despite its WeChat messaging platform receiving frequent demands from the Chinese authorities to censor posts deemed to be politically sensitive.

“As a Chinese company starting from a social network business, we actually care more about user privacy,” he said, adding that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been “a huge inspiration” for Tencent.

“Billions of users have entrusted us with their personal sensitive information, this is the reason we must uphold our integrity above the requirements of the law,” he said.

Seng Yee Lau was speaking after delivering a keynote speech at the AI Everything Summit in Dubai where he proposed that Chinese companies have so far focused more on solid achievements – such as facial recognition software that can help track missing children – rather than general principles.

He advocated building an open AI ecosystem which brought together all stakeholders – including tech firms, users, governments and universities – to establish agreed values and ensure that technological progress benefits human society.

“As technological innovation enters the deep water, AI brings convenience to human beings together with philosophical, ethical and practical risks and challenges,” he said in comments reported by Xinhua. “We need to establish correct technological values as technologies evolve rapidly.”

Read more on AI and data ethics in the May issue of Admap, published on Tuesday.

Sourced from Financial Times, Xinhua; additional content by WARC staff