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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: 1) by khallow on Sunday August 16 2020, @04:47AM (3 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 16 2020, @04:47AM (#1037364) Journal

    It's easier to trust an AI, even a poorly trained AI, than it is to trust a person.

    Because you trust the programmer and the code easier somehow?

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @05:22AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @05:22AM (#1037370)

    Is the programmer convicted pedophile and rapist Dick Bathroom Stallman? Remove Emacs from macOS.

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday August 16 2020, @06:06AM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 16 2020, @06:06AM (#1037379) Journal

    Me? Not me. I don't trust programmers any further than I can throw them. But, look at the world today. Everyone stakes everything on their computers working correctly. People trust computers - they don't trust people.

    ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @09:21AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16 2020, @09:21AM (#1037401)

      Imagine you finding something that rots easily and you are surrounded by it. You take that thing and wash it with water as much as you can and dry the residual. This thing can be torn, burned, dissolved and has no structural integrity.

      So you start writing on it and people trust that more than people. The whole world runs on permeability of this stuff called paper. Along comes paper - as long as there is electricity and some smart people - it is better than paper. And smart people are so easy to control and you will always have them. And if you don't have electricity, you always will have paper.