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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: 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.

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  • (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.