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CHINA HAS CREATED A RACIST A.I. TO TRACK MUSLIMS
The Chinese government is using facial-recognition software to “track and control” a predominantly Muslim minority group, according to a disturbing new report from The New York Times. The Chinese government has reportedly integrated artificial intelligence into its security cameras to identify the Uighurs and appears to be using the information to monitor the persecuted group. The report, based on the accounts of whistleblowers familiar with the systems and a review of databases used by the government and law enforcement, suggests the authoritarian country has opened up a new frontier in the use of A.I. for racist social control—and raises the discomfiting possibility that other governments could adopt similar practices.
Two people familiar with the matter told the Times that police in the Chinese city of Sanmenxia screened whether residents were Uighurs 500,000 times in a single month. Documents provided to the paper reportedly show demand for the technology is ballooning: more than 20 departments in 16 provinces sought access to the camera system, in one case writing that it “should support facial recognition to identify Uighur/non-Uighur attributes.” This, experts say, is more than enough to raise red flags. “I don’t think it’s overblown to treat this as an existential threat to democracy,” Jonathan Frankle, an A.I. researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the Times. “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.”