Artificial Intelligence: China Testing AI-Powered Emotion Detection on Uighurs (BBC)

The system uses AI, cameras, and facial recognition software to detect emotions on Uighurs in Xinjiang, China (as told to the BBC).

In a shocking revelation, a software engineer revealed to the BBC that an elaborate, AI-based system using facial recognition was being used on Uighurs in the Xinjiang province of China for detecting states of emotion on their faces. (BBC)

The system being used in police stations in the province

The unnamed software engineer, whose employer company is also not known, claimed to have installed such systems in police stations in Xinjiang province.

The engineer showed to BBC Panorama five photographs of Uighur detainees – purportedly the subjects of such emotion detection.

He also provided evidence of how the AI system had been trained to recognise and analyze changes in facial expressions, even skin pores.

It could even create a pie chart that indicated a subject’s negative or anxious state of mind by showing a segment in red color.

The use of such systems in a police station was intended for “pre-judgment without any credible evidence,” the engineer claimed.

Human guinea pigs

The software engineer said the subjects were placed in “restraint chairs” with their wrists and ankles locked in place by metal restraints.

An emotion detection camera would be placed about 3 m from the subject.

“It is similar to a lie detector but far more advanced technology,” the person said.

“The Chinese government uses Uighurs as test subjects for various experiments just like rats are used in laboratories,” he added.


“It is shocking material,” said Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, when shown the evidence. “It’s not just that people are being reduced to a pie chart, it’s people who are in highly coercive circumstances, under enormous pressure, being understandably nervous and that’s taken as an indication of guilt, and I think, that’s deeply problematic.”

When asked to comment, the Chinese embassy in London avoided directly answering questions about the emotion detection software.

However, it said that political and social rights in all ethnic groups were guaranteed.

Related Story:  Chinese Techs Filed Patents For AI That Detects Uighur Muslims (IPVM)

Image Credit: Uighurs in Kashgar, Southern Xinjiang (Flickr)

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