Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Digital dictatorship?

China’s “social credit” system coming under scrutiny
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Machine learning means information about and control over things that were not previously controlled. But who has that control? In China, it’s the government. And the control is very detailed:

China’s “Social Credit System” – which is expected to be fully operational by 2020 – doesn’t just monitor the nation’s almost 1.4 billion citizens. It’s also designed to control and coerce them, in a gigantic social engineering experiment that some have called the “gamification of trust”.

That’s because the massive project, which has been slowly coming together for over a decade, is about assigning an individual trust score to each and every citizen, and to businesses too.

According to China’s Communist Party, the system will “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”. Peter Dockrill, “China’s Chilling ‘Social Credit System’ Is Straight Out of Dystopian Sci-Fi, And It’s Already Switched On” at Science Alert

It involves about 200 million CCTV cameras. One victim was investigative journalist Liu Hu, whose access to rail travel and to 2 million followers was stopped, he says, after he made “accusations of government corruption.”

It is not clear that most Chinese people understand the implications yet but many in the industry do. As of September 16, over 1400 Google employees had signed a letter of protest against Google’s involvement in Chinese censorship.

Given that Google is already attracting the US government’s attention over anti-trust issues at home, this won’t help. Life after Google, many could conclude, may not only be okay but better.

See also: Senior Google scientist quits over Google’s censorship in China

and

AI can mean ultimate big surveillance