Jack Ma, the founder of the popular Chinese website Alibaba, has been seen very rarely in public over the past three years. He disappeared after criticizing the policy of the Chinese financial regulator in 2020. Recently, however, he was seen at a school he founded in Hangzhou, the city where Alibaba’s headquarters are located.
Jack Ma disappeared from the public space after the government’s crackdown on tech entrepreneurs emerged. According to the “South China Morning Post”, however, he recently returned to China after spending more than a year abroad.
The newspaper said that the entrepreneur traveled the world and learned about agricultural technologies, but did not say why he disappeared from public space in recent years.
Jack Ma on a school trip
The founder of Alibaba, who used to be an English teacher, was seen on a field trip at Yungu School where he was shown around the classrooms and met with the teaching staff. According to the information posted by the school in social media, he talked about the challenges that arise in education due to the development of artificial intelligence.
– ChatGPT and similar technologies are just the beginning of the era of artificial intelligence. We should be using AI to solve problems instead of being controlled by it,” said Jack Ma.
How Jack Ma fell out with the Chinese authorities
Jack Ma, once China’s richest citizen, handed over control of his company to Ant Group in January this year.
In the opinion of some commentators, this is proof that he has fallen out of favor with the Chinese authorities, who considered him too powerful and too open in his public statements.
As the BBC recalls in October 2020, Ma said at a finance conference that traditional banks have a “pawnbroker mentality”. The debut of Ant Group on the stock exchange was planned for the following month, but it was unexpectedly canceled at the last minute by the Chinese authorities.
Since then, Jack Ma, once an active participant in the public debate on financial and technological issues, has practically disappeared.
Last November, the Financial Times reported that Ma had been living in Tokyo for six months.
When Ma first stopped appearing in public, rumors circulated that he had been placed under house arrest or otherwise detained.
Main photo source: GettyImages