from the cloudscale-big-brother dept.
Xi Jinping is using artificial intelligence to enhance his government's totalitarian control—and he's exporting this technology to regimes around the globe.
[...] Xi has said that he wants China, by year's end, to be competitive with the world's AI leaders, a benchmark the country has arguably already reached. And he wants China to achieve AI supremacy by 2030.
Xi's pronouncements on AI have a sinister edge. Artificial intelligence has applications in nearly every human domain, from the instant translation of spoken language to early viral-outbreak detection. But Xi also wants to use AI's awesome analytical powers to push China to the cutting edge of surveillance. He wants to build an all-seeing digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that identify potential dissenters in real time.
[...] China already has hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras in place. Xi's government hopes to soon achieve full video coverage of key public areas. Much of the footage collected by China's cameras is parsed by algorithms for security threats of one kind or another. In the near future, every person who enters a public space could be identified, instantly, by AI matching them to an ocean of personal data, including their every text communication, and their body's one-of-a-kind protein-construction schema. In time, algorithms will be able to string together data points from a broad range of sources—travel records, friends and associates, reading habits, purchases—to predict political resistance before it happens. China's government could soon achieve an unprecedented political stranglehold on more than 1 billion people.
Early in the coronavirus outbreak, China's citizens were subjected to a form of risk scoring. An algorithm assigned people a color code—green, yellow, or red—that determined their ability to take transit or enter buildings in China's megacities. In a sophisticated digital system of social control, codes like these could be used to score a person's perceived political pliancy as well.
A crude version of such a system is already in operation in China's northwestern territory of Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Muslim Uighurs have been imprisoned, the largest internment of an ethnic-religious minority since the fall of the Third Reich. Once Xi perfects this system in Xinjiang, no technological limitations will prevent him from extending AI surveillance across China. He could also export it beyond the country's borders, entrenching the power of a whole generation of autocrats.
See also: In the Age of AI
When a news article revealed that Clarifai was working with the Pentagon and some employees questioned the ethics of building artificial intelligence that analyzed video captured by drones, the company said the project would save the lives of civilians and soldiers.
"Clarifai's mission is to accelerate the progress of humanity with continually improving A.I.," read a blog post from Matt Zeiler, the company's founder and chief executive, and a prominent A.I. researcher. Later, in a news media interview, Mr. Zeiler announced a new management position that would ensure all company projects were ethically sound.
As activists, researchers, and journalists voice concerns over the rise of artificial intelligence, warning against biased, deceptive and malicious applications, the companies building this technology are responding. From tech giants like Google and Microsoft to scrappy A.I. start-ups, many are creating corporate principles meant to ensure their systems are designed and deployed in an ethical way. Some set up ethics officers or review boards to oversee these principles.
But tensions continue to rise as some question whether these promises will ultimately be kept. Companies can change course. Idealism can bow to financial pressure. Some activists — and even some companies — are beginning to argue that the only way to ensure ethical practices is through government regulation.
"We don't want to see a commercial race to the bottom," Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said at the New Work Summit in Half Moon Bay, Calif., hosted last week by The New York Times. "Law is needed."
Possible != Probable. And the "needed law" could come in the form of a ban and/or surveillance of coding and hardware-building activities.
U.N. Starts Discussion on Lethal Autonomous Robots
UK Opposes "Killer Robot" Ban
Robot Weapons: What's the Harm?
The UK Government Urged to Establish an Artificial Intelligence Ethics Board
Google Employees on Pentagon AI Algorithms: "Google Should Not be in the Business of War"
South Korea's KAIST University Boycotted Over Alleged "Killer Robot" Partnership
About a Dozen Google Employees Have Resigned Over Project Maven
Google Drafting Ethics Policy for its Involvement in Military Projects
Google Will Not Continue Project Maven After Contract Expires in 2019
Uproar at Google after News of Censored China Search App Breaks
"Senior Google Scientist" Resigns over Chinese Search Engine Censorship Project
Google Suppresses Internal Memo About China Censorship; Eric Schmidt Predicts Internet Split
Leaked Transcript Contradicts Google's Denials About Censored Chinese Search Engine
Senators Demand Answers About Google+ Breach; Project Dragonfly Undermines Google's Neutrality
Google's Secret China Project "Effectively Ended" After Internal Confrontation
Microsoft Misrepresented HoloLens 2 Field of View, Faces Backlash for Military Contract
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3196
Beijing is bringing AI judges to court. The move, proclaimed by China as "the first of its kind in the world", comes from the Beijing Internet Court, which has launched an online litigation service center featuring an artificially intelligent female judge, with a body, facial expressions, voice, and actions all modeled off a living, breathing human (one of the court's actual female judges, to be exact).
[...] But conspiracy theorists can breathe a sigh of relief — the AI apocalypse is not nigh (yet). This virtual judge, whose abilities are based on intelligent speech and image synthesizing technologies, is to be used for the completion of “repetitive basic work” only, according to the Beijing Internet Court’s official statement on the move. That means she’ll mostly be dealing with litigation reception and online guidance. Other features of the online service center include a mobile micro-court and an official Weitao (Taobao's social-media service for brands) account.
Rather than replacing human-populated courts, Beijing's Internet Court’s stated mission is to use new technology to provide more effective, more widely-reaching public services. According to court president Zhang Wen, integrating AI and cloud computing with the litigation service system will allow the public to better reap the benefits of technological innovation in China.
For the first time in China, #AI assistive technology was used in a trial at Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People's Court on Wed, the Legal Daily reported. When the judge, public prosecutor or defender asked the AI system, it displayed all related evidence on a courtroom screen. pic.twitter.com/fEI7cR5U3T
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) January 25, 2019
Submitted via IRC for chromas
One billion surveillance cameras will be deployed globally by 2021, according to data compiled by IHS Markit and first reportedby The Wall Street Journal. China's installed base is expected to rise to over 560 million cameras by 2021, representing the largest share of surveillance devices installed globally, with the US rising to around 85 million cameras. When taking populations into account, however, China will continue to have nearly the same ratio of cameras to citizens as the US.
In 2018, China had 350 million cameras installed for an estimated one camera for every 4.1 people. That compared to one for every 4.6 people in the US where 70 million cameras were installed. Taiwan was third in terms of penetration with one camera for every 5.5 citizens in 2018, followed by the UK and Ireland (1:6.5) and Singapore (1:7.1).
China's installed base of cameras has recently risen 70 percent, while the US increased by nearly 50 percent.
The Biden administration said on Thursday that it would put limits on doing business with a group of Chinese companies and institutions it says are involved in misusing biotechnology to surveil and repress Muslim minorities in China and advancing Beijing's military programs.
In announcing one set of the moves, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said China was employing biotechnology and medical innovation "to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups."
The administration said those efforts included the use of biometric facial recognition and large-scale genetic testing of residents 12 to 65 in the mostly Muslim region of Xinjiang.
China has used such technology to track and control the Uyghurs, a predominately Muslim ethnic group.
[...] In its announcement on Thursday, the Biden administration said Beijing was using advances in biotechnology to drive forward its military modernization. A senior administration official called out China's work to edit human genes for performance enhancement and create ways for human brains to connect more directly to machines.
Also caught in the crosshairs is the drone company DJI, for providing drones used by the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau to surveil Uyghurs, Megvii, which makes artificial intelligence and facial recognition software, and Dawning Information Industry (also known as Sugon), a manufacturer of supercomputers and provider of cloud-computing services.
Previously: Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China
Massive DNA Collection Campaign Continues in Xinjiang, China
China Installs Surveillance App on Smartphones of Visitors to Xinjiang Region
DNA Databases in the U.S. and China are Tools of Racial Oppression
The Panopticon is Already Here: China's Use of "Artificial Intelligence"