The Early History of Artificial Intelligence in China (1950s – 1980s)

(Paper presented in the Graduate Student Workshop at 2018 Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), St. Louis, MO)


In recent years, China has become one of the global hubs for innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Countless technology companies, government-funded projects, academic institutes, and media reports in China center around AI. The Chinese government considers AI as a significant part in the endeavor of enhancing China’s scientific and technological power. The “New Generation AI Development Plan” issued by the State Council of China in 2017 established some aspirational goals. Meanwhile, in the private sector, with the encouragement from the government, more and more companies are incorporating AI-related technologies into their products. At the same time, the big data collected is fed back into the training dataset of the algorithms, providing even more remarkable insights with great business and academic values. Many reports and studies have explored the current policies, technological development, as well as the future potentials of AI in China,[1]but very few have looked into the history of AI in China and how the current state came to be. At the same time, most studies on the history of AI concentrate on the western world, especially the United States. How did China become one of the world’s leaders of AI? How did Chinese scientists look at AI in the 1950s and 1960s when AI was just born? What changed their attitude towards AI? How did political ideology affect AI in China? These are interesting questions that could provide significant insights into science and technology policies.

This paper intends to explore some early histories of cybernetics and AI in China from the 1950s to 1980s, providing a context where China’s AI research started to unfold. Also, this paper examines how political ideologies, diplomacy, economic policies, and other social dimensions affect cybernetics and AI in China. First of all, I will explore how scientists treated cybernetics as a bourgeois science in the 1950s’ Soviet Union, from where cybernetics and subsequently AI first entered China. Then, I will talk about how Soviet scientists changed their attitude in the 1960s after the death of Stalin and how Sino-Soviet Split affected the opinions of Chinese scientists on cybernetics and AI. After that, I will explore how changes in political atmosphere in China during the 1970s impacted the direction of technology. Finally, I will examine how the economic reform policy and the government leaders’ recognition of the importance of computer technologies put computer-related technologies and AI research on the right track in the 1980s.

The 1950s: Began with Soviet Cybernetics

AI is a collection of disciplines that use machines to achieve intelligent behaviors or reasoning. The term “AI” was coined in 1956, in the proposal to the Rockefeller Foundation for the Dartmouth Workshop by John McCarthy, along with Marvin Minsky, Nathan Rochester, and Claude Shannon. In the proposal, AI was defined as “an attempt” “to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”[2]Today, after decades of exploration, as summarized by Russell Stuart and Peter Norvig in their Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, four approaches can be identified in AI—thinking humanly, thinking rationally, acting humanly, and acting rationally, each involving a different but overlapping set of theories and methodologies, such as natural language processing, machine learning, computer vision, and robotics.[3]A widely accepted idea is that AI originated from cybernetics, the “study of control and communication in the animal and the machine,” as defined by Norbert Wiener in his book Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine in 1948.[4]Cybernetics deeply influenced almost all participants of Dartmouth Workshop.[5]For example, Claude Shannon’s interest in cybernetics and his collaboration on Automata Studieswith McCarthy in the early 1950s “led directly to McCarthy organizing the 1956 Dartmouth conference,” according to Cornell’s Ronald R. Kline.[6]Also, a conversation with Wiener on cybernetics certainly inspired Alan Turing to compose papers like “Intelligent Machinery.[7],[8]

In the 1950s, the western world was excited about the new ideas of computing, its application potential, and its association with human mind. A lot of new ideas and innovations emerged, for example, Alan Turing’s Turing Test, Isaac Asimov’s “Three Rules of Robotics,” Allen Newell and Herbert Simon’s Logic Theory Machine, the language of LISP developed by John McCarthy, and Arthur Samuel’s Checkers-playing Program. In China, however, no formal research on cybernetics or AI was conducted because of two reasons—the economic damage caused by the WWII and the political ideology under the influence of the Soviet Union.

On October 1st,1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established. On February 14, 1950, China and the Soviet Union signed the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance, or Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliancefor short. The treaty intended to address a series of issues such as military and diplomacy, including an initial USD300 million loan[9]and another RUB520 million in 1954 for China to buy Soviet equipment. The Soviet Union also provided China with a large amount of scientific and technological assistance in the 1950s. It significantly influenced the science and technology policies in China. At the same time, the Chinese government opted to follow the Soviet model of a planned economy and quickly adopted the First Five-Year Planin 1953.[10]Therefore, to understand the origin of AI in China, it is worth looking back at the history of cybernetics in the Soviet Union.

In the Soviet Union, science and technology were significantly affected by political ideology. For example, Soviet biologist Trofim Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics and received the endorsement from Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CCCP) of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1952, purging genetic theories from university curricula and driving geneticists out of scientific community to “sheep-breeding farms,” in part because the fact that Mendel was a Christian Priest conflicted with the state atheism and dialectical materialism, the official philosophy of science in the Soviet Union.[11]In the late 1940s and early 1950s, similar ideological influences were exerted on cybernetics. Cybernetics was considered as a bourgeois and reactionary pseudoscience, “kowtowing” to the West.[12]In his book From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics, Slava Gerovitch, an MIT historian of science saw the years from 1948-1953 as the period when cybernetics was officially rejected under Stalin.[13]Since the publication of Wiener’s Cyberneticsin 1948, the Soviet press attacked it scathingly. For instance, an article titled “Whom Does Cybernetics Serve?” published in the magazine of Voprosy filosofii(Questions of philosophy) in 1953 condemned cybernetics as “a pure reductionism transformed into idealism” and “a barren flower on the tree of knowledge.”[14]In the 1954 version of the “Kratkiy Filosofskiy Slovar” (Short Philosophical Dictionary), cybernetics was defined as “a reactionary pseudo-science that emerged in the USA after the World War II and became widespread in capitalist countries.”[15]

Under the ideological influence of Soviet Union, as well as the dark clouds of the massive destruction caused by the World War II, the room left for the research on cybernetics and subsequent AI in China was very small in the early 1950s, compared to western countries like U.S. The planned economic system debut to help China recover from the enormous damages on economy and society. Science and technology were not among the top priorities of the government, and no serious studies on cybernetics were done in China at that time.

However, the development of science and technology, including cybernetics in the western world and its potential for problem-solving had drawn the attention of the Chinese government and intellectuals. In 1953, 26 scientists from Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) visited the Soviet Union to learn the experience in science and technology policy, especially the process of formulating science and technology development plans.[16]In 1956, the birth year of AI, the “Twelve-Year National Long-term Outline for Science and Technology Development (1956–1967),” or “The Twelve-Year Plan” for short, was formulated as the first long-term plan for science and technology development in PRC. In this plan, some so-called “New Technologies,” such as atomic energy, radio electronics, and ultrasonic, were put forward as primary tasks because they were “totally blank” in PRC at that time. Then, nine disciplines were emphasized as foundations for those “New Technologies,” among which, cybernetics was included, along with statistics, nuclear physics, semiconductor physics, and so on.[17]It was the first time that cybernetics was mentioned in a state level policy in China. Since 1956, the scientific community in China started to pay careful attention to cybernetics.[18]

Nevertheless, in 1957, just one year after the issue of “The Twelve-Year Plan,” which was supposed to facilitate the development of science and technology, Chinese government started the Anti-Rightist Campaign (ARC), in which, well-educated intellectuals were attacked fiercely,[19]including scientists, university professors, writers, and artists. It was estimated that until late 1958, before the Great Leap Forward(GLF), “between 550,000 and a million intellectuals” were labeled as Rightists and were condemned fiercely and censured publicly. The ARC not only caused a long-term economic recession[20]but also severely tarnished the public image of Chinese intellectuals and killed their motivations, thus hindered the development of science and technology.[21]From 1958, the PRC government started the campaign of GLF, attempting to rapidly transform China into a superpower in agriculture, industry, steel production, and so on.10The subsequent famine and Cultural Revolution further hampered the implementation of the Twelve-Year Plan, which eventually existed in name only.

Stalin’s death in 1953 became a turning point of the Soviet government’s attitude towards cybernetics. In 1955, two articles by major scientists appeared on the 4thissue of Questions of philosophy,putting forward the positive significance of cybernetics.[22]Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor as the First Secretary, gave a “secret speech” in 1956 that denounced Stalin’s crimes and started the so-called de-Stalinization process in Soviet society. In Khrushchev’s speech, ideas of cybernetics were seen as potential ways to boost the Soviet economy. After that, cybernetics was lifted to the mainstream discourse of science and technology in the Soviet Union,13though partly due to its applicability for radar and rocketry for the Cold War, according to Gerovitch.12

Later in 1955, the two articles on Questions of philosophywere translated into Chinese.22In the same year, Qian Xuesen, a prominent Chinese aerodynamicist and the founder of engineering cybernetics, resigned from California Institute of Technology and returned from the U.S. to China after five years of travel ban.[23]During his four-year-long house arrest in Los Angeles County from 1951, he wrote and published the book Engineering Cybernetics.[24]His main idea was built on Wiener’s conceptions.[25]His return to China was essential to the independent research on cybernetics in China. However, at that time, due to the isolation from the world’s scientific community, the focus of Chinese scientists on cybernetics was mostly on the philosophical level, trying to understand if it is a real science.

In summary, in the 1950s, in China, there’s nearly no research on cybernetics, let alone AI. One reason is Chinese society was recovering from the damage of the WWII. Another reason is that Chinese scientists, influenced greatly by Soviet political ideology, which, under Stalin, considered cybernetics as a bourgeois and reactionary pseudoscience, mostly focused on the philosophical level. Some scientists realized the potential of cybernetics and helped include it into the “The Twelve-Year Plan” in 1956, but the plan was interrupted and was not very fruitful.

The 1960s: Sino-Soviet Split

In the 1960s, in western countries, the main obstacle of AI research is the limited computing power that was unable to keep pace with the exploding search spaces. Back then, heuristic search and knowledge representation were considered two critical approaches to reduces search spaces.[26]Meanwhile, the seeds for many futuristic ideas such as graphical user interface and the Internet germinated with some forward-looking pioneers, for instance, J. C. R. Licklider’sMan-Computer Symbiosis,[27]Douglas Engelbart’s “The Mother of All Demos,[28]Shakey the Robot at the Artificial Intelligence Center of Stanford University, and ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet. Even though some people were skeptical about the potential of AI, for example, Herbert Dreyfus’s critiques in his Alchemy and Artificial Intelligencein 1965,[29]from the middle 1960s, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) started to pour funding into AI, backing AI labs such as SRI International.[30]

Meanwhile, in China, however, the 1960s began with a widespread famine and steep economic decline caused by the GLF and natural disasters. Gross industrial output, production in the construction sector, and transportation sector dropped 42.8%, 64.2%, and 42.1% respectively in 1960, and another 16.6%, 14.8%, and 19.5% in 1962.[31]The number of pigs plunged by 48% between 1957 and 1961.[32]In 1966, following the failure of GLF, the Culture Revolution was launched, marking the beginning of ten years of social turbulence, with education system paralyzed, intellectuals exiled, and science and technology stagnated. In the late 1960s, “the Gang of Four,” the powerful political faction started to fiercely criticize some scientific theories, such as Weiner’s cybernetics, Einstein’s theory of relativity, Mendelian genetics, and the Big Bang theory.[33]

Another factor that profoundly influenced the development of cybernetics and AI in China in the 1960s was the relation between China and the Soviet Union, especially the deterioration of that relation, the so-called Sino-Soviet split. As mentioned in the last section, China was eager to recover from the damages from the WWII, so the PRC government quickly adopted the Soviet model of economic planning. In the 1950s, thousands of Soviet advisors, including scientists, experts, teachers, and workers were sent to China to help China with heavy industries, agriculture, education, scientific research, and so on, bringing with them knowledge, methods, and habits for building hydropower stations, bridges, railways, schools, etc, as well as the High Stalinism model that emphasized “strong party leadership.”[34]The Soviet Union gradually realized, however, with their assistance, China was developing excessively fast in many areas, including nuclear power.35Meanwhile, China realized that after the death of Stalin, the two countries seemed divergent ideologically. For example, some of Khrushchev’s proposals such as de-Stalinization, “peaceful coexistence,” and “peaceful transition to socialism” were belittled by CPC as revisionism.[35]At the same time, political campaigns in China such as ARC and GLF also made Soviet advisors feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, and radical. The assistance from the Soviet Union started to decline. Not only some promises were failed to fulfill, but also some Soviet advisors already in China were withdrawn one by one, taking away blueprints and documents with them, causing abrupt ceasing of many on-going projects.34

The relationship between China and the Soviet Union deteriorated quickly, resulting in the emotion of resistance and hostility against the Soviet Union in China. Cybernetics and AI were attacked in China because they were fervently embraced by Soviet scientists, philosophers, and the general public as the most promising discipline to reach the goal of Marxism-Leninism.13In the 22ndCongress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1961, the term “cybernetics” appeared in Khrushchev’s speech.[36]It even entered the third Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Unionadopted in 1961, with the potential to help realize “communism in 20 years,” as Khrushchev put it.[37]As mentioned in the program, “cybernetics, electronic computer, and control systems will be widely applied in production processes in industry, building, and transport, in scientific research, planning, designing, accounting, statistics, and management.”[38]However, many Soviet scholars at that time were more focused on the compatibility of the philosophy of cybernetics and their political ideology, attempting to incorporate cybernetics as a part of dialectical materialism and use it as an ideological tool.[39],[40]At the same time, Chinese scientists were suspicious about Soviet Union’s change and reluctant to embrace it. They decided to focus on the politics and philosophy of cybernetics and AI, trying to figure out what it is and how it can be used to attack Soviet ideology.

In short, in the 1960s, due to political campaigns and natural disasters, science and technology in China were largely stagnated. Under Khrushchev, Cybernetics and AI were embraced by Soviet society. As China and Soviet split ideologically, Chinese scientific community was reluctant to accept cybernetics and AI. They mainly focused on the philosophical level and tried to reject them ideologically.

The 1970s: Transformation

In the 1970s, cybernetics and AI were among the mainstream research projects in the Soviet Union. However, due to the Sino-Soviet split, many Chinese scientists criticized this transformation of Soviet as revisionism and pseudoscience, the same way Chinese politicians attacked Khrushchev’s political agenda. It can be seen from some articles in journals of social science and philosophy, such as Selective Translation: Philosophy of the Natural Science From Foreign Countries(摘译:外国自然科学哲学). In the second issue in 1974, an article from the Soviet Union talking about AI and how machines learn and evolve was translated and published. However, in the editorial note, the Chinese editor commented that the article “shows these revisionists have gone too far on the road that betrays Marxism-Leninism.” An original article on the same issue titled “Does AI Exist?” admitted the value of AI-related research in assisting human cognitive activities, but at the same time rejected the feasibility of AI and attacked Soviet scientists as “traitors,” emphasizing that calling AI “intelligence” might lead to “reactionary idealism,” an unwelcome ideological position:

Can human build intelligence? No. The term ‘artificial intelligence’ is easy for idealists to exploit. If humans can build ‘intelligence,’ then, in the future, something more intelligent than humans will emerge. … Some Soviet revisionist academicians are vigorously propagating AI. This behavior fully exposes their ugly face as traitors.[41]

Discussions on AI also became a weapon against people with different political stands. As an article put it in the third issue in 1976, “we must work against Deng Xiaoping (邓小平), … walking our own way in the war against those reactionary trends such as ‘image recognition’ and ‘artificial intelligence.’” These words represented the coupling of scientific research and political struggles. The standard procedures to test if a scientific theory is acceptable were no longer experiment, evidence collecting, and logic reasoning, but to see if it could be justified by some sort of ideology and if it can be used as a weapon to attack the ideological enemy. In Soviet and China, science became a tool to promote or belittle certain ideological positions. It is a demonstration of social pressure and political code imposed upon the autonomy of science.[42]

Toward the end of the 1970s, as “the Gang of Four” fell from power. The Culture Revolution ended in 1976. Science and technology started to step into the right path. The year 1978 was a turning point in the development of science and technology in China. In March 1978, the National Science Conference was held in Beijing by the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council to restore and facilitate science and technology. In this conference, Deng Xiaoping, then the Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference gave a groundbreaking, far-reaching speech, in which he famously said, “science and technology constitute a primary productive force.” This conference became a milestone of science policy in China, promoting scientific inquiries, including cybernetics and AI. In the conference, Mechanical Geometry Theorem-Proving method developed by Wu Wenjun (吴文俊), an academician at the CAS, received the Significant Science and Technology Award. Also, the National Science and Technology Development Plan (1978-1985), or the Eight-Year Planfor short, was established at the conference. In the plan, 108 major research projects were proposed, among which, “Intelligent Simulation and Intelligent Control System” was emphasized by CAS and the Ministry of Education as one of the key research projects in natural science.[43]

One month later, Tong Tianxiang (童天湘), a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences wrote an article about the epistemological issues in cybernetics, urging the Chinese government to facilitate cybernetics research.[44]He then did a lot of pioneer work in the philosophy of mind, cybernetics, and AI. Also, in the same year, Chinese Association of Automation (CAA), which was established in 1961 but suspended activities due to the Culture Revolution, was reactivated and reported several research achievements, such as optical character recognition system, bio-cybernetics, and fuzzy set, demonstrating that formal studies on cybernetics and AI started to take off in China.

At the same time, unprecedentedly open policies in economics not only boomed GDP and improved the living standards, but also opened up people’s mind and helped create a social atmosphere that encouraged scientific research and technological innovation, bringing many opportunities. From December 1978, led by Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese Economic Reform began to implement a series of new policies to facilitate economic growth, including the de-collectivization of agriculture, allowing businesses, and opening up to foreign investment. China started to transform into a market economy with apparent Chinese characteristics. This “Reform and Opening-up” (so-called “改革开放”) policy gradually changed the prevailing idea that political ideology comes first, transformed Chinese society immensely, and broke the chain for scientific and technological innovation.

In summary, the 1970s saw a transformation. The suspicions against cybernetics and AI due to the hostility against the Soviet Union extended from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Soviet Union’s embrace of cybernetics and AI were considered as revisionism by Chinese scientists. Fortunately, in the late 1970s, as the Culture Revolution ended and the economic reform began, the National Science Conference opened up the opportunity for science and technology, including cybernetics and AI. Academic activities started to revive.

The 1980s: From Pseudoscience to mainstream

In the 1980s, expert systems rose as the mainstream in AI research and applications, seeking to represent domain-specific human expertise in computers using symbolic manipulations. With the policy foundation laid at the end of the 1970s, the 1980s saw a rapid development in AI research in China. However, it started with some interesting drawbacks.

As we discussed in the last section, most studies on cybernetics and AI before the 1980s in China were focused on philosophical level, because very few people understood what they really were and historically there was a tendency in Chinese academia that every scientific theory had to be justified and conform to the official political ideology. In the early 1980s, the misunderstanding about AI lead many people to an idea that associates AI with the so-called “exceptional human body functions” (人体特异功能), which refers to some unscientific, unproven, imaginary, supernatural functions of human body such as extrasensory perception (ESP), telepathy, and moving things with mind. This fervor stemmed from a news report in March 1979 on Sichuan Daily, a local newspaper in Sichuan Province. The report was about a boy named Tang Yu (唐雨) who were claimed to be able to read books using his ears. The news caused a sensation. After that, a series of such ridiculous reports sprung up everywhere. Interestingly, this idea was advocated and even popularized by Qian Xuesen, the founder of engineering cybernetics mentioned before. In 1980, Qian published an article on the Chinese Journal of Nature, talking about his opinions about the human body, supporting the feasibility of exceptional functions, especially Qi Gong (气功).[45],[46]As a highly respected scientist, his opinions were as much praised as blamed. Many intellectuals, including Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), then the director of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of CPC, opposed Qian’s ideas and considered those exceptional human body functions as a pseudoscience, which should not be put on the media and discussed as a scientific issue.[47],[48]In May 1982, in response to a notification issued by China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) that banned news reports about exceptional functions on newspapers,[49]Qian wrote a letter to the Publicity Department, in which, he used cybernetics and AI as examples to urge that scientific studies on controversial issues should be encouraged.[50]As he put it, “how can the Party (CPC) treat controversial scientific research like this? Haven’t we had enough lessons from past mistakes? We’ve criticized Morganian genetics, cybernetics, quantum chemical resonance theory, artificial intelligence, quantitative economics, imaginal thinking, and so on. I hereby present my judgment: I guarantee with my Party character that exceptional human body function is real, not fake.” Also, in his public speeches and articles thereafter, Qian frequently used AI as a shield to justify his backing of exceptional functions.[51]He even invited AI researchers to the gatherings about exceptional functions. With his endorsement, since then, more and more people started to associate AI with supernatural phenomena.

Under such circumstances, AI researchers and many other intellectuals put great efforts in drawing the boundary between AI and exceptional functions. For example, in September 1981, Yu Guangyuan (于光远), a prominent economist and philosopher, pointed out in a speech in the founding ceremony of Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence (CAAI), “Someone asked me what conference I am attending before I came to Changsha and I told him the answer. He asked me if AI is a kind of exceptional human body function and I said no. AI is an emerging science, which we should actively support; at the same time, the so-called ‘exceptional human body functions’ is a pseudoscience, which we should fight against.” The speech was included later in his book that criticizes the latter, emphasizing that AI and exceptional human body functions should be treated with two opposite attitudes.[52]

The establishment of CAAI was enormously crucial for the development of AI in China. It was the first official research institute in China dedicated specifically to AI. From then on, it not only contributed to the field academically, such as initiating AI research and publishing books and journals but also promoted international collaboration, science communication, education, training, and consulting related to AI. In 1982, the first issue of The Journal of Artificial Intelligence, the first academic journal on AI in China was published in Changsha, Hunan Province.

At the same time, the Chinese government gradually realized the importance of AI and other computer technologies. In 1984, after he saw a chess-playing computer program designed by children, Deng Xiaoping, then the Chairman of the State Military Commission, famously said, “the popularization of computer should start with children.” This sentence became a guideline for government agencies and private companies to facilitate the usage of computers. Policies and funding started to favor projects related to computer technologies. It can be seen from People’s Daily(人民日报), the official newspaper of CPC, whose articles are regarded as “authoritative statements of official government policy.”[53]Since then, more and more articles about AI appeared on People’s Daily, for instance, The Rise of AIon June 30, 1983, The Research Focuses of AIon August 30, 1988, The First Intelligent Computer was born in Xi’an Jiaotong Universityon April 26, 1989, and Bridge-Playing Computer: The New Achievement in AIon November 13, 1990.[54]

In 1984, the National Academic Colloquium of Intelligence Computer and System was held. In 1985, the first National Academic Colloquium of the Fifth-Generation Computers was held. In 1986, the 863 Program, or the State-High-Tech Development Planwas initiated, seeking to fund and stimulate a wide range of advanced technologies. In the program, intelligent computer systems and intelligent robotics were included in the field of Information Technology and the field of Automation respectively. In 1987, the first original academic monograph on AI—Artificial Intelligence and Its Applicationswas published by Tsinghua University Press.[55]In 1988, the first Chinese original book on robotics was published. In 1989, the first China Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (CJCAI) was held. In the same year, the journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligencewas launched.[56]More and more papers were published, which can be seen from Figure1, the number of papers related to AI included in the database of Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI). After that, China was gradually able to keep up with global AI research and even became one of the leaders in this area.




The history of AI in China shows how social factors such as political ideologies and struggles, diplomatic relations, and economy influence science and technology. In the 1950s, cybernetics was deemed as a bourgeois pseudoscience and officially rejected in the Soviet Union. Some Chinese scientists realized the potential of cybernetics but lacked the incentive to promote its study. In the 1960s, after Stalin’s death, Soviet scientists started to embrace cybernetics because of Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization movement. However, due to the Sino-Soviet Split, many Chinese scientists and philosophers refused to accept it. In this situation, cybernetics became a tool to attack ideological enemies. In the 1960s and 1970s, a series of political campaigns negatively impacted the Chinese economy, as well as science and technology. From the late 1970s, the economy started to improve because of the economic reform and open-up policy. At the same time, policies started to facilitate the development of science and technology. However, due to the misleading of some prominent scientists such as Qian Xuesen, the image of AI in China was distorted and was associated with pseudoscience. Not until the government leaders realized the importance of computer technologies in the mid-1980s, did the research on AI start to take off, with academic and industrial associations being established, journals and books being published, and conferences being held, formulating an active AI research community.


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