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posted by janrinok on Wednesday December 04 2019, @11:32PM   Printer-friendly

Submitted via IRC for chromas

China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West

With a million or more ethnic Uighurs and others from predominantly Muslim minority groups swept up in detentions across Xinjiang, officials in Tumxuk have gathered blood samples from hundreds of Uighurs — part of a mass DNA collection effort dogged by questions about consent and how the data will be used.

In Tumxuk, at least, there is a partial answer: Chinese scientists are trying to find a way to use a DNA sample to create an image of a person's face.

The technology, which is also being developed in the United States and elsewhere, is in the early stages of development and can produce rough pictures good enough only to narrow a manhunt or perhaps eliminate suspects. But given the crackdown in Xinjiang, experts on ethics in science worry that China is building a tool that could be used to justify and intensify racial profiling and other state discrimination against Uighurs.

In the long term, experts say, it may even be possible for the Communist government to feed images produced from a DNA sample into the mass surveillance and facial recognition systems that it is building, tightening its grip on society by improving its ability to track dissidents and protesters as well as criminals.

Some of this research is taking place in labs run by China's Ministry of Public Security, and at least two Chinese scientists working with the ministry on the technology have received funding from respected institutions in Europe. International scientific journals have published their findings without examining the origin of the DNA used in the studies or vetting the ethical questions raised by collecting such samples in Xinjiang.

[...]Sketching someone's face based solely on a DNA sample sounds like science fiction. It isn't.

The process is called DNA phenotyping. Scientists use it to analyze genes for traits like skin color, eye color and ancestry. A handful of companies and scientists are trying to perfect the science to create facial images sharp and accurate enough to identify criminals and victims.

The Maryland police used it last year to identify a murder victim. In 2015, the police in North Carolina arrested a man on two counts of murder after crime-scene DNA indicated the killer had fair skin, brown or hazel eyes, dark hair, and little evidence of freckling. The man pleaded guilty.

Despite such examples, experts widely question phenotyping's effectiveness. Currently, it often produces facial images that are too smooth or indistinct to look like the face being replicated. DNA cannot indicate other factors that determine how people look, such as age or weight. DNA can reveal gender and ancestry, but the technology can be hit or miss when it comes to generating an image as specific as a face.

Phenotyping also raises ethical issues, said Pilar Ossorio, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The police could use it to round up large numbers of people who resemble a suspect, or use it to target ethnic groups. And the technology raises fundamental issues of consent from those who never wanted to be in a database to begin with.

"What the Chinese government is doing should be a warning to everybody who kind of goes along happily thinking, 'How could anyone be worried about these technologies?'" Dr. Ossorio said.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:56AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:56AM (#930414)

    Nothing to do with "Islamic". That's your bullshit to rile people up. These are terrorists in armed struggle, financed by you people in order to spread destabilization into the far east.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday December 10 2019, @06:26AM (8 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 10 2019, @06:26AM (#930478) Journal

    Nothing to do with "Islamic".

    I don't buy it particularly when you blather about jihadis and Al Qaeda. Instead, I bet that's exactly why they're getting the pointy end of your scorn.

    These are terrorists in armed struggle, financed by you people in order to spread destabilization into the far east.

    What terrorists? What armed struggle? You just mentioned a few in Syria. I don't see how this imaginary destabilization is any worse than the real world one where China imprisons vast numbers of Uyghur.

    This thread is a great example of how a people can be tarred and horrid crimes rationalized on the flimsiest of pretexts. I judge people by their actions not some bullshit that an AC pulled out of their ass.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10 2019, @08:15AM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10 2019, @08:15AM (#930492)

      Nah, you just repeat bullshit propaganda that fits your story line. The links prove my point.

      I don't buy it particularly when you blather about jihadis and Al Qaeda.

      That's not Islam, they're just mercenaries paid by various governments including yours. The Islam thing is you as the presumptuous person you are! More of your propaganda.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday December 10 2019, @03:53PM (6 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 10 2019, @03:53PM (#930612) Journal
        Looks like my spellchecker prefer Uighur to Uyghur, so I'll go with that.

        Nah, you just repeat bullshit propaganda that fits your story line. The links prove my point.

        It's interesting how hard people project around here. Only link I saw was to a few soldiers/mercenaries/"terrorists" in Syria. That's nothing. From that link:

        The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011.

        The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks.

        [...] At the peak of the Syrian conflict in 2013, there reportedly were an estimated 3,000 TIP fighters across the country, mainly in Idlib, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and the northern part of Latakia province. Their numbers, however, have significantly declined because of major military advances by the Syrian regime troops, backed by Russia and Iran.

        Only 3,000 people at peak and now they're in decline. So much for your alleged threat. Meanwhile in the main story, we're hearing of a million Uighur imprisoned.

        I don't buy it particularly when you blather about jihadis and Al Qaeda.

        That's not Islam, they're just mercenaries paid by various governments including yours. The Islam thing is you as the presumptuous person you are! More of your propaganda.

        Right. Sorry, you used Islam-specific terms and then claim it's not about Islam. Who else has jihadis, for example? You already gave the game away.

        And why the concern that a handful of Uighur are fighting in Syria? Should we be equally concerned about the handful of Russians (which is somewhat more BTW) fighting in the area?

        My view is simply that you don't punish a vast number of innocent people for the crimes of a handful of guilty. But I grant the present accusation of Chinese mass imprisonment by ethnicity might be exaggerated, but that's still low grade genocide.

        Sure, I get you've rationalized that somehow the innocent are guilty - I've seen that game. It remains wrong and evil since it's resulted in the defense of terrible crimes. People are good and evil by their actions not their ethnicity, not their beliefs.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10 2019, @04:51PM (5 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10 2019, @04:51PM (#930641)

          My view is simply that you don't punish a vast number of innocent people for the crimes of a handful of guilty.

          Yet you vote for war every time. You have killed a lot more people than the jihadis have. Looks like you're doing the genocide. Who's the terrorist?

          I've seen that game.

          You ARE that game!

          Your point of view is singular and invalidates everything you say. You are a simple mouthpiece, a recording played back over the loudspeaker

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday December 10 2019, @08:57PM (4 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 10 2019, @08:57PM (#930773) Journal

            Yet you vote for war every time.

            Irrelevant even if it were true. The alleged sins and resulting punishment of the Uighur are completely independent from the warmongering of my country.

            In particular, it's funny how because I'm supposed to be a warmonger, the Uighur should suffer. This is the continuing absurdity of your beliefs and views.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11 2019, @04:39AM (3 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11 2019, @04:39AM (#930955)

              In particular, it's funny how because I'm supposed to be a warmonger, the Uighur should suffer.

              The stories you repeat are lies. Again, you are just being a non-responsive mouthpiece for war mongering liars. Cui bono?

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday December 11 2019, @02:55PM (2 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 11 2019, @02:55PM (#931056) Journal

                The stories you repeat are lies.

                Including yours?

                Again, you are just being a non-responsive mouthpiece for war mongering liars.

                Projection.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11 2019, @05:40PM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11 2019, @05:40PM (#931141)

                  Projection = "I know you are, but what am I?"

                  Well, I'm rubber you're glue, bounces off me, and sticks to you!... Actually, I'm a mirror.

                  Cool, you finally ran out of bullshit. No further response is needed.

                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday December 12 2019, @03:43PM

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 12 2019, @03:43PM (#931418) Journal
                    And now you're signaling that you're out of argument. My position remains the same. I will never damn a people merely because they have the wrong beliefs or some minute part fights on the wrong side. I'll note also that coming up with such flimsy excuses is standard warmongering 101. That is why, when you then accuse me without even the slightest basis in reality of "vote for war every time", you're engaging in a ridiculous display of hypocrisy and projection. You've already got the war and tyranny excuses lined up for the Uighur even though they didn't do a thing to deserve it.