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posted by chromas on Sunday August 16 2020, @01:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the cloudscale-big-brother dept.

The Panopticon Is Already Here (archive)

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

Related: Is Ethical A.I. Even Possible?
China Now Has AI-Powered Judges
The US, Like China, Has About One Surveillance Camera for Every Four People, Says Report


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:03AM (18 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:03AM (#1037321)

    Something really needs to be done about China. Something drastic, if this goes on for much longer.
    That kind of evil cannot be allowed to fester and metastasize.

    Why not? How does it affect you? Do you live in China? If not, it's really none of your concern. Sucks to be them, but it's their own problem to deal with. The last time we tried invading a country to "liberate" it, it didn't go so well and we created not just a bunch of terrorists, but a bunch of terrorists bent on creating their own country that made China's actions here look quite benevolent by comparison. (Sorry, but I'll happily take an AI spying on me to make sure I'm not a dissident over living with a bunch of religious freaks who would saw my head off if I disobeyed their religious orders.)

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by khallow on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:16AM (2 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:16AM (#1037328) Journal
    The big social media businesses were required to develop censorship tools at the behest of China and the EU. Now they're using those tools on us.
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @09:48AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @09:48AM (#1037409)

      And once again, that is on the people who live [wherever it is] to fix. The EU seems to be fighting back against surveillance, why don't you?
      If capitalism is so great buy your own politicians and pass the laws you want.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:18AM (5 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:18AM (#1037330) Journal
    Also a number of films are compromising their quality in order to sell in China.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:35PM (#1037474)

      Compromising? Some of us like Rambo thank you very much.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Sunday August 16 2020, @03:48PM (3 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday August 16 2020, @03:48PM (#1037500)

      Also a number of films are compromising their quality in order to sell in China.

      And this is a good thing, according to capitalism: the film studios can make a lot more money by pandering to China and compromising their movies' artistry. Would you prefer that we have state socialism like China, where the government has a lot of control over what kind of movies the studios are allowed to make? Americans generally hate that idea, so this is what we get. If Americans don't like it, they're free to start their own movie studios and make movies that don't worry about offending China.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday August 16 2020, @10:07PM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 16 2020, @10:07PM (#1037629) Journal

        Would you prefer that we have state socialism like China, where the government has a lot of control over what kind of movies the studios are allowed to make?

        Of course, I wouldn't prefer that, but that's what we're getting. Hence, my complaint. It's one thing to compromise quality of a movie to appeal to the sensibilities of a Chinese audience. Go for it.

        It's another to compromise as I noted above with the sensibilities of Chinese censors.

        • (Score: 2) by dry on Monday August 17 2020, @03:50AM (1 child)

          by dry (223) on Monday August 17 2020, @03:50AM (#1037731) Journal

          Well, it does kinda balance out the historic American censorship, which worked the same way, government threatened censorship if the film industry didn't self-censor and since the courts at the time had ruled that movies were not art but rather a business, government censorship was fine.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday August 17 2020, @12:10PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 17 2020, @12:10PM (#1037789) Journal

            historic American censorship

            Which has been rolled back quite a bit over the years. No point to claiming today's misdeeds can compensate for past ones which aren't around any more.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by PartTimeZombie on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:44AM (5 children)

    by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Sunday August 16 2020, @02:44AM (#1037337)

    The US is not going to invade China.

    For a start that's not a fight they can win, and secondly too many western corporations make too much money from China to allow it.

    No matter who wins your election in November, all this anti-China stuff will end pretty quickly. Trump won't need the distraction any more and Biden is not interested.

    Is the Chinese government a horrible, totalitarian bully? Yes. Is China a nice place? No.

    Will the west try to change that? No.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @04:54AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @04:54AM (#1037365)

      Is the US government a horrible, totalitarian bully? Yes. Is the US a nice place? Not anymore.

      Will the east try to change that? No.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @06:01AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @06:01AM (#1037376)

        > Will the east try to change that? Yes

        FTFY. Russia and probably China and North Korea are interested in screwing with us, much like we screw with them.

        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday August 16 2020, @04:10PM (2 children)

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday August 16 2020, @04:10PM (#1037507)

          Russia and China and NK are certainly interested in screwing with us, but that doesn't equate to them trying to make the US a nicer place. They're trying to reduce our power so that they can become more powerful.

          • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Monday August 17 2020, @08:36AM (1 child)

            by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 17 2020, @08:36AM (#1037764) Journal

            Oh, they will definitely try making the US a nicer place. It's just that they will apply their definition of nice. Which means under their control.

            --
            The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2020, @11:41AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2020, @11:41AM (#1037785)

              And when that happens, (China, Russia, or NK) become super powers as our power fades, those in this country who currently protest 'isms will long for the time before George Floyd. Those three countries have horrific track records concerning all kinds of 'isms.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @12:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @12:39PM (#1037441)

    >> The last time we tried invading a country to "liberate" it, it didn't go so well and we created not just a bunch of terrorists, but a bunch of terrorists bent on creating their own country.

    Canada?

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Sunday August 16 2020, @06:03PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Sunday August 16 2020, @06:03PM (#1037554) Journal

    Why not? How does it affect you? Do you live in China? If not, it's really none of your concern.

    We don't live in a world where that's true anymore. It's hard to put one date on it, but sometime in the mid-90's we became a real global economy where what happens in one place has repercussions everyplace, financially speaking. And, of course, because politics so frequently follow on economic factors, what one place does politically frequently has political repercussions far away.

    So it matters that China is working on AI for surveillance and censorship. It affects all of us on Earth.

    Note, this is also true of the horrific violations the NSA and its counterparts in the West have been committing.

    All of it taken together is an existential threat to our freedom.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday August 17 2020, @01:29AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 17 2020, @01:29AM (#1037688) Journal
    And the third reason. It creates a twisted arms race. Every surveillance technology that is developed by one country is readily adopted [soylentnews.org] by others.

    Why 30 years? The UK already uses AI in its CCTV system to better track "persons of interest" as they move along through the camera system. They can use AI to track based on anything from face biometrics, to your heartbeat, to the way you walk.

    The "risk scoring" that China is already doing is being discussed in the UK as well, as a way to better discover who is an "undesirable" before they do anything that would cause trouble to the powers that be. Drones swarm around protests filming and logging people, who can later on have a knock at their door by the authorities.