China ‘using AI to assess people’s guilt’ in ‘move to Orwellian future’

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Concerns have been raised that artificial intelligence will lead to an ‘Orwellian future’.

Experts fear governments could end up tracking everything citizens do and say using machines.

The warning comes after reports China is testing how to use AI and facial recognition as a “lie detector” to assess guilt on ethnic minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

China is already using facial recognition on public transport instead of tickets in some cities.

According to BBC Panorama, this means the government has huge amounts of data on the movements and interactions of its citizens.

Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, said facial recognition is an “extraordinarily powerful tool” which can do some good things.

But he said: “But if you want to surveil everyone on a street, if you want to see everyone who shows up at a demonstration, you can put AI to work.

"And we're seeing that in certain parts of the world.”

George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 was about a government that could see and hear everything, through the use of ‘telescreens’, even in their homes.

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Mr Smith warned: “Well, that didn't come to pass in 1984, but if we're not careful, that could come to pass in 2024.”

He said it was important laws to protect the public are put in place.

According to the US research group IPVM, Beijing plans to create a system called ‘one person, one file’.

This would collect the activities, political beliefs and relationships of each citizen in a file.

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Meanwhile, the European Union is planning to set limits on how AI can be used.

But in the United States, laws have mainly aimed to promote the use of the technology for national security reasons and to limit regulation.

Defence chiefs at the Pentagon spend more than $1billion (£700million) a year on AI contracts, according to reports.

Bernhardt Trout, a professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said using AI for military and national security reasons is inevitable as a result.

He said countries each have different values when it comes to how to use AI.

All a nation can do is develop machines so it has a better understanding of them to protect itself, he added.

He told LiveScience: “You cannot do very much to hinder a foreign country's desire to develop these technologies.”

  • Science
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Technology

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