Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategorySurveillance

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Phone-Screen-for-Hel-modified

China’s Health Code App: One More Way to Track Citizens

For the Chinese Communist Party, SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus) has provided an opportunity to expand its massive surveillance system. The current extensive network of facial recognition cameras has left some gaps. People could avoid recognition, for example, by wearing a face covering to curb the spread of a respiratory illness. Now, China is looking to fill those gaps by keeping the Alipay Health Code app, launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a mainstay for its citizens: Compared to omnipresent facial recognition software and other surveillance systems in China, the health code mechanism covers more people and collects a broader range of personal information. The state can also impose stricter control as people now have to use health codes…

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Round robot's eye

Exclusive!: John Lennox Answers Our Questions About AI in 2084

In his new book, 2084, the Oxford mathematician doubts that AI, now or then, will out-think humans. Our real worry is how they will be used. Read More ›
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Abstract Chinese flag painted on digital sphere. Futuristic network cyberspace illustration background. View from space. Selective focus used.

China Aims at Global AI Dominance by 2030

China’s systematic use of AI for social surveillance and control should cause us to think carefully about what that means

A 2017 central government document laid out the country’s plan for global dominance in AI by 2030, asking all “people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, all State Council ministries, and all directly controlled institutions” to ”please carefully implement.“ (translation) To achieve that timeline, China has employed several operations against the United States including the Confucius Institutes (fronts for Chinese propaganda according to the FBI, 2020), the Thousand Talents Program (spying and intellectual-property theft, Bloomberg, 2019) and cyber theft. While many Confucius Institutes have been exposed by key members of the Senate and many are being terminated domestically as a result, Chinese-driven cyber theft is costing the U.S. economy more than $100 billion per…

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Smart technologies in your smartphone, collection and analysis of big data

The Birds Aren’t Real. But Maybe the Spying Is.

A defense of our fundamental right to privacy

Technology frees us from drudgery but also enable surveillance that enslaves us. Then, far from computers becoming more like humans, we may become more like computers.

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cybercrime, hacking and technology concept - male hacker with headphones and coding on laptop computer screen wiretapping or using computer virus program for cyber attack in dark room

The New Cyber Cold War with China

Cybersecurity strategist Peter Singer told Wired that there has never been a better time than the COVID-19 pandemic to be a government hacker

The United States has formally accused China of both funding and operating cells of hackers who infiltrate research labs working on responses to COVID-19.

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Woman and man in social distancing sitting on bench

Five Surprising Changes To Watch for from COVID-19

Expect to hear much more about robots that can stand in for humans, as a way of enabling social distance

There are the Spanish police drones flying around, enforcing lockdown orders. And Singapore’s robotic police dogs, enforcing social distance. Will they go away?

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Great bundle of various colored cables with various connectors

No, Scientific American, Don’t Starve AI!

Don't unplug AI; just make sure everyone shares in both the creation and the benefits

While many are concerned about all the jobs that AI will eliminate, no one is talking about the fact that AI needs humans. Information is the fuel that powers AI, and only humans can create this information. So, the real revolution that AI will bring is not data exploitation, but the empowering of people all around the world to power our economy through creation of information. What’s bad news for authoritarian groups like the Chinese Communist party is good news for everyone else. 

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CCTV camera or surveillance operating in glass building

At Scientific American: Starve artificial intelligence!

Silicon Valley authors seek to limit AI's power. Jonathan Bartlett doesn't think it really has the power they are worried about

Jonathan Bartlett agrees with Valley pioneers Davidow and Malone, authors of The Autonomous Revolution (2020) that there are real problems with the misuse of AI. But, he says, that’s because we treat it as powerful. It is a servant but we make it a master.   

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Young woman using smart phone,Social media concept.

Is Contact Tracing a Simple Answer to COVID Lockdowns?

An engineering professor at the University of Austin asks us to look at the costs and benefits

The conventional science fiction fear of a superintelligent AI taking over the planet and ridding it of pesky humans distracts our attention from a much more realistic threat: Artificial intelligence (AI) makes both government and corporate surveillance much easier, cheaper, and more useful—whether it is in average citizens’ interests or not. If we are lucky, this will be the decade when we address the implications of that fact.

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Post-COVID: Five Ways Your Job Could Change

This is a good time to be a creative thinker and innovator.

Many COVID-driven innovations will likely endure, whether it’s vets doing telehealth, trolls harassing Zoom users, or cybercriminals targeting remote workers, the new opportunities and risks will stay with us.

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Young little Asian boy wearing shoes on stair with wear medical face mask to protect from infection of viruses, pandemic, outbreak and epidemic of disease in empty shopping mall during quarantine.

DingTalk: Where the “Teacher” Really Is Always Watching You

The COVID-19 quarantine has spiked both virtual workplaces and classrooms in China, highlighting anger at the surveillance

Every human being, whether office worker or high school student, bucks against digital harnesses.

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Aerial view of city intersection with many cars and GPS navigation system symbols. Autonomous driverless vehicles in city traffic. Future transportation concept

The Real Threat AI Poses Is the “I” That Controls It

As AI becomes a part of everyday life, the science fiction glow fades; the constant high-tech surveillance intensifies

Pundits like Nick Bostrom and Ray Kurzweil worry that smart AI will rule us. But, as the Carnegie Index shows, conventional dictators using conventional AI for mass surveillance are a growing real-world problem while smart AI remains science fiction.

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Market street in Kashgar during Chinese National Holiday (Xinjiang, China)

China: Sophisticated Surveillance Decides Who Gets Sent to Uyghur Camps

The leak of documents from police in Karakax County in Xinjiang reveal the details of everyday life that can send a Uyghur to the camps

The tracking app used by the police aggregates all of the data of people living in Xinjiang. Based on the parameters, or “micro-clues” that police put in the app, prompts the user to collect additional details or determines whether that person should be detained. This could include “not socializing with neighbors, often avoiding using the front door,” or using more electricity than others.

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The Danger AI Poses for Civilization

Why must Google be my helicopter mom?

If I have a coffee cup with “AI inside,” it’s probably connected to the Internet, which is just another way of saying that my coffee cup is transmitting data to some company’s servers about my coffee drinking habits. Whatever benefit the app provides will come at a cost to my autonomy, privacy, and competence as a person.

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Photo by Chris Yang

Technology Centralizes by Its Very Nature

Here are some other truths about technology, some uncomfortable ones

To see what I mean about centralization, consider a non-digital tool, say, a shovel. The shovel doesn’t keep track of your shoveling, read your biometrics, and store a file on you-as-shoveler somewhere. It’s a thing, an artifact. So you see, the new digital technology is itself the heart of the surveillance problem. No Matrix could be built with artifacts.

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Middle aged Asian man wearing glasses and medical face mask on public train, Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, air pollution and health concept

Coronavirus in a World Without Trust

In China, medical heroism thrives despite both paranoia and justified mistrust of authorities

While China’s citizens are living in an information vacuum, the government has stepped up its surveillance strategies in order to track people who have been near someone infected with the coronavirus. Some commentators consider these measures disproportionate to the actual risk posed to others and in violation of human rights. Others see them as necessary.

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Rest in Peace Posters of Dr Li Wenliang, who warned authorities about the coronovirus outbreak seen at Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia. Hosier Lane is known for its street art.

Censorship? But Coronavirus Doesn’t Care!

Back when SARS was a threat, social media wasn’t the giant it is today. Censorship, secrecy, and detention are less effective tools of control now

Coronavirus provides a test. The Chinese Communist Party offers mainland Chinese people security and prosperity in exchange for the sacrifice of personal freedom. But when the government cannot uphold its end of the agreement—security—the people may become less tolerant of the human rights violations. And the age of information makes it much easier to discover them.

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Simulation of a screen of cctv cameras with facial recognition

EU Mulls Five-Year Ban on Facial Recognition

Too soon, too fast, and not enough discussion of the objectives, say critics

Opposition is growing in the Western world to routine government use of facial recognition (FR) technologies. But it takes different forms in different places.

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An internet email symbol and a group of people are separated by a red prohibitory symbol No. restrictions on access to the global Internet. Censorship. Information control, society isolation policy

Can a Totalitarian State Be an Information Society?

Beijing’s clumsy social media campaigns against democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan have failed but attempts to control local media are ramping up

Xi believes that the Western values of a free press, free speech, and separation of powers contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union and that China must avoid them so as not to succumb to the same fate. But the Soviet Union fell just before the internet became today’s information superhighway.

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Photo by Wherda Arsianto

Serious Media In China Have Gone Strangely Silent

With a compulsory new app, the government can potentially access journalists’ phones, both for surveillance and capturing data

Liu Hu sums up the scene in a few words: “Outside of China, journalists are fired for writing false reports… Inside China, they are fired for telling the truth.”

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