Artificial Intelligence: China’s Frightening, Orwellian Use Of AI
China’s current leadership is developing AI with the ultimate objective of knowing everything about its billion-strong citizens.
Ross Andersen, deputy editor at The Atlantic writes a chilling account of China’s sinister intentions behind its avowed objective to achieve global AI supremacy by 2030. “Xi wants to use AI’s awesome analytical powers to push China to the cutting edge of surveillance,” says Andersen. “He wants to build an all-seeing digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that identify potential dissenters in real-time.”
The Uighurs – a dangerous pilot that could later extend to all Chinese
Millions of cameras would watch at every conceivable point, and AI would analyze their data. All public areas could be covered, and every citizen recognized. It’s a custom-made modus operandi to quell dissent and stamp out independent thinking or actions.
The Chinese government already has a pilot running of their objective – and it appears right out of the pages of George Orwell’s book, 1984.
The authorities have imprisoned over a million Muslim Uighurs in the northwestern territory of Xinjiang. Apparently, as punishment for their dissent against discrimination and usurpation of their land.
According to Andersen, the Uighurs are the “most intensely surveilled population on earth.”
Omnipresent AI-powered sensors, nanny apps forcibly installed on Uighur phones, spot checks of phones by the police at various checkpoints, and forcible extraction of physical data such as blood samples, DNA, height, and voice samples. This is the oppressive, authoritarian, and seemingly omniscient environment the Uighurs endure.
“Xi Jinping seems to have used Xinjiang as a laboratory to fine-tune the sensory and analytical powers of his new digital panopticon before expanding its reach across the mainland,” warns Andersen.
The capture of multiple data streams
The Chinese government has entrusted Alibaba with developing City Brain, an AI-powered software platform. The project seems to be an automated nerve center that analyzes real-time information collected from sensors deployed throughout the urban environment.
But City Brain and its later avatars could take integrated surveillance to new heights. This could be far beyond innocuous purposes such as traffic control and tracing lost children.
There is no limit to the number of data streams that could ultimately route into the system. The massive algorithms processing the data could produce a 3-D model of the city that is updated in real-time. Every human being, at every location, would be accounted for.
“City Brain’s feeds could be synthesized with data from systems in other urban areas, to form a multidimensional, real-time account of nearly all human activity within China. Server farms across China will soon be able to hold multiple angles of high-definition footage of every moment of every Chinese person’s life.”
“In the decades to come, City Brain or its successor systems may even be able to read unspoken thoughts,” warns Andersen, referring to brain-computer-interfaces. These interfaces could be made compulsory wearables, such as in a helmet. Smartphones could be loaded with emotion-sensing apps that report back negative or rebellious thoughts.
Xi: Big brother?
The data collection could eventually become vast enough to capture a profile of each of its billion-plus citizens. The profile could be scored on multiple counts – including any threat to the party’s overarching power.
The system could become smart enough to restrict a person’s movements in case of a sudden change in the risk score of her profile. For example, it would bar her from buying a plane or rail ticket.
Ultimate AI supremacy
By 2030, Xi Jinping’s China will perhaps become the world’s largest economy. It will have enough money to spend on AI to propel formidable military applications – even artificial humanoid soldiers.
Will there be any ethical governance of China’s AI development?
“The development path of AI will be shaped by overlapping systems of local, national, and global politics, not by a wise and benevolent philosopher-king,” writes Andersen. “That’s why China’s ascent to AI supremacy is such a menacing prospect: The country’s political structure encourages, rather than restrain, this technology’s worst uses.”
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