Chinese artificial intelligence governance platforms 2.0: The belt and road edition

Alan Smart, Yawei Zhao, Dean Curran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Since Alibaba launched ET City Brain, an artificial intelligence (AI) governance platform, in 2016, city brain has grown into an urban governance concept more than a product owned by Alibaba as other technology companies design and sell their own platforms to local governments across China and beyond. Based on official documents and news articles, this chapter first considers the emerging phenomenon of city-brain-style urban governance platforms, whose rapid development is underappreciated in mainstream smart city research. Then this chapter turns to geopolitical conflicts that may undermine the rise of Chinese AI leadership. The Digital Silk Road (DSR) initiative is discussed in relation to the emergence of two divergent systems of AI governance, one centred on America and the other on China, with geopolitics becoming more important for both alternatives. This chapter thus calls for a fundamental rethinking of our understanding of AI and smart urbanism, with a greater integration of geopolitical considerations, rather than an exclusive emphasis on neoliberal agendas.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArtificial Intelligence and the City
Subtitle of host publicationUrbanistic Perspectives on AI
EditorsFederico Cugurullo, Federico Caprotti, Matthew Cook, Andrew Karvonen, Pauline McGuirk, Simon Marvin
Place of PublicationAbingdon, UK
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003365877
ISBN (Print)9781032431475, 9781032431468
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


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