News: China Is Profiling a Minority Group Using AI Technology2019-04-22 - 2 minutes read
A New York Times article written by Paul Mozur details how Chinese authorities are using “a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority.” China has added this facial recognition technology into its surveillance camera networks to identify Uighurs and record their movements for search and review. According to experts, this is the first known case of a government intentionally using AI for racial profiling. And “[s]imilar tools could automate biases based on skin color and ethnicity elsewhere” states Mozur in the article.
Image by Keith Guske and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Chinese start-ups are building the algorithms that the government uses to track Uighurs. For example, software from one Chinese AI company called Yitu generated a database that showed how the police were running software on cameras to try to identify residents of a city over 500,000 times in about a month.
Yitu is also one of multiple Chinese AI companies that aims to spread their technology abroad. MIT IPRI researcher Jonathan Frankle states that this push could give other governments ethnic profiling software. “I don’t think it’s overblown to treat this as an existential threat to democracy,” said Frankle. “Once a country adopts a model in this heavy authoritarian mode, it’s using data to enforce thought and rules in a much more deep-seated fashion than might have been achievable 70 years ago in the Soviet Union. To that extent, this is an urgent crisis we are slowly sleepwalking our way into.”
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