China Mind Reading and Censorship of Comments
Surveillance Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics is getting strict.
This is AiSupremacy, where I’m covering the news in A.I. at the intersection of business, technology and society.
This is an Op-Ed.
Please do not hold me to account for any foolish opinions expressed herein. Hold me to account only for the smart things I say. - Hamish McKenzie
I make a concerted effort not to be political. In many ways I’m pro China in terms of the amount of significant innovation they are creating.
However when it comes to the next iteration of Surveillance Capitalism that’s state mandated, we begin to come into some really tricky territory for the future.
What if China wins the Cold-War AI Arms race?
What kind of a world might that look like? Even the privacy invasion and data ethics of Google, Amazon or Microsoft might seem benevolent in comparison. It’s still the wild-wild west of A.I. regulation in 2022, let’s make no mistake about it. Of course TikTok gives its (our) Data to China’s Skynet facial recognition net, more data always better.
I’ve written before about China’s A.I. based social credit system. What it actually does with surveillance and facial recognition is the scary part.
I’m not an alarmist, but two things recently caught my attention.
Facial recognition systems that claim to be able to read emotions (or read your mind) are pretty controversial. They have applications for business development folk for example on Zoom or in online Education. But what if they could be used "against us”?
Take a step into the machine, and have a back-stage pass while you are at it (bonus content):
China uses ‘mind-reading AI’ to test loyalty of Communist Party members
What if they could be used to sense your loyalty to a particular party, group, Government or conform to a way of thinking? Is this western propaganda or is it something else? In my opinion, what has occurred in Hong Kong, is not really so different than Ukraine. It’s been changed forever.
That there is an exodus from Hong Kong or ex-pats in China is not so surprising in view of everything and now the Shanghai lockdowns.
What will be the lie detector of the future, and will it be powered by A.I.? I’ve often written about the weaponization of A.I. in warfare and cybersecurity, but what about for authoritarian regimes?
It’s not just a bifurcation of the internet, it’s the future of surveillance. China’s apparatus of censorship and modulated “correct thinking” is taking on levels of behavior modification at scale, that is truly worrisome.
Did our indoctrination program work guys? Let’s just test the subject. An AI programme now can read facial expressions and brain waves to ‘discern the level of acceptance for ideological and political education’. It’s getting a bit Black Mirror.
Porn is illegal in China, and now there’s an A.I. for that.
Social Media Comments Censorship
Don’t show your soul in your social media comments! In the middle of June, 2022 it came to be known that China is planning on moderating every single “comment” anywhere on the Chinese web. A draft update of rules would dramatically increase the power of China’s censorship machine, but platforms will pay the price, at least according to the Western ideology, where “automated censorship” actually also occurs.
According to the MIT Tech Review, On June 17, the internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published a draft update on the responsibilities of platforms and content creators in managing online comments. One line stands out: all online comments would have to be pre-reviewed before being published. Users and observers are worried that the move could be used to further tighten freedom of expression in China.
China’s approach to freedom of speech or even allow minors to access video games is crushing. China wants above all, social stability and obedient citizens. I understand it’s a One-party state, not entirely too different from the illusion of a two-party state, but it’s still going to get pretty Dark-AI and dystopian.
China’s idea of what tech regulation is, is very different from the Western conception. According to the report, this AI system has potential to measure loyalty of Communist Party members.
The system can analyze facial expressions and study brain waves.
43 Communist Party members are with research team, testing technology.
How do you feel about the CCP? Next time you watch a video on TikTok, maintain control guys! Don’t let your micro expression give your true ideology and soul away!
Conversion by A.I. and Facial Recognition Control
Now we know what happend to the unfortunates in Xinjiang, as Researchers in China claimed to have developed software that can acutely analyze facial expressions and brain waves to monitor if subjects were attentive to “thought and political education.” I’m a tad nervous as to where this is going to lead.
Ideological control on the internet is pretty easy to weaponize. There have been many “experiments”. Foreign hackers aside, Governments doing it to their own citizens is nothing new. The bad guy is not always who they tell you it is, if you have noticed.
One party and one shared reality?
According to the Hefei Comprehensive National Science Centre, the high-tech development would be used to “further solidify their confidence and determination to be grateful to the party, listen to the party and follow the party.”
If A.I. is the new “fire” like Google’s CEO likes to say, someone is going to get burned. Comrades? Any volunteers?
So you have a porn addiction of fetish the state does not approve of? You going to have to volunteer to go to the Re-Education camp all with sophisticated A.I. Forget freedom of speech, how about freedom of action? Who knows, that perverse “Western internet” might one day disappear. America, that place where violent video games cause 700 yearly acts or random “mass-shootings” per year, the barbarians!
A.I. is used for a lot of things, we have to assume our keystrokes is being monitored by Microsoft, the very idea of privacy in a digital age has to be reconsidered. If it exists at all in the modern era of ambient computing and increasing surveillance by BigTech, facial recognition, CCTV and invasive apps. Let’s not be naïve! If you thought your Chrome browser was a data magnet, just wait until you put on those Apple VR devices!
The political right vs. left in America really seems like propaganda, advertising and brain-washing to me. It seems like a fictitious construct some elites perform, entirely like some semblance of the masquerade of democracy that no longer truly exists. But what do I know? Algorithms have changed the world, not always for the better!
The Power of Information Augmented with A.I. Surveillance
It’s no secret that America is not so immune to the same kind of propaganda, mind control, brain-washing and behavior modification of citizens we find in Russia or China. I just think as of 2022, China is becoming more advanced in how they leverage A.I. at scale on their own citizens. China’s social credit system (Wired) will become something that no other country will be able to even approximate.
If China prohibits me as a minor growing up in China, from consuming porn or video game indulgently, what’s next? With enough data they are literally able to predict my behavior and even mould my place in society should they choose. They will create rewards and punishments for the desired behavior. At a certain point I become a drone of the State, whatever it may be or becomes. Nationalism at the intersection of A.I. will be pretty intense!
China’s “Mind Reading” Trial
In a short clip, a subject was seen looking at screen at a kiosk, scrolling through exercises promoting party policy. According to researchers, the technology in the kiosk was able to note the researcher’s expressions and pinpoint their reaction to particular pieces of content.
The institute said it has encouraged 43 party members on the research team to take party lessons while being monitored by the new software.
The video report was published on July 1 but has since vanished.
That actually sounds like interactive Ads, that I’m sure Meta is already working on that we will experience in their “Metaverse”. Eye tracking and facial recognition systems will only become better with time. Whether its BigTech driven or the CCP, it will be part of our future of less privacy and less human rights.
Social Media Comment Censorship
I already I have to admit don’t feel safe leaving a comment on Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook any longer.
The costs of doing so outweigh the benefits.
We’re already been scored in our social media activity, we’ve already been profiled, predictive analytics already knows what we are likely to do. Our data has already been shared across platforms!
Surveillance Capitalism has already won. Google, Meta and the NSA already made sure of that. Will the CCP take it a step further? Sure they certainly have the tools and capabilities to do so.
More Stringent Censorship is Occurring Globally
Still mind what you say on WeChat I guess. Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published a draft update is pretty all-powerful.
The new changes affect Provisions on the Management of Internet Post Comments Services, a regulation that first came into effect in 2017. Five years later, the Cyberspace Administration wants to bring it up to date.
From free speech, to misinformation to sharing your truth, the town-square is broken as fuck. That’s partly why I decided to hop on Substack. I don’t need the CCP boating about some absurd tool to know that censorship is a problem!
Apple seems to care about privacy, but Google, Amazon and Microsoft needs you to sort of forget about caring about those things. Each new iteration of Google home, Amazon’s Alexa, or Microsoft Windows is likely to be more invasive as a rule.
There is a social-graph master log on all of us. All that you have ever done on the internet is there.
In China, the idea for social credit came about back in 2007, with projects announced by the government as an opt-in system in 2014. But there's a difference between the official government system and private, corporate versions, though the latter's scoring system that includes shopping habits and friendships is often conflated with the former. China has been playing around with this for nearly two decades already!
More global cities are placing more CCTV video surveillance. Cities in China are under the heaviest CCTV surveillance in the world, according to a new analysis by Comparitech. But globally, many more cities are under increasing amounts of surveillance. There’s no stopping the Dark-Tech dystopia, in all honesty. Governments and BigTech are aligned on this.
Police buy their software, whether its facial recognition, robot dogs or Palantir like A.I. and analytics, it’s all there. Surveillance Capitalism is profitable for the monopolies, and it will be profitable for China if they dominate globally, as is the most likely scenario of the 21st century. We barely let on that Silicon Valley is in decline. It’s not even politically correct in the U.S. to entertain the possibility! That’s not Capitalism.
Still, it’s hard to imagine China being able to moderate every single online comment. For them to put it into law means they now have the capability. Their entire centralized internet is very well moderated. Censorship at a new scale via A.I. surveillance.
Sure, let’s boast about mind-reading! That is sure to make the Empire more popular!
The wonderful claims of facial recognition being able to read emotions is not new. In 2018, South China Morning Post reported that similar technology was used by a factory to read workers' emotions and detect the development of depression, anxiety, or anger. Hilariously, Microsoft recently banned the tech internally. As if it suddenly became taboo (while they were working on it this entire time).
The deepfake era isn’t just about censorship though, it’s about the rise of synthetic content. Influencers, brand ambassadors, newscasters and musicians even who aren’t real, but simply AI-generated personalities. East Asia embraces that stuff. The Metaverse is like a synthetic playground to commercialize that stuff. In Meta’s kingdom we’ll be voice controlling A.I. that will be spinning up our fantasies and it will likely be unhealthy to our mental health as fuck (excuse the language).
There are real dystopian concerns of A.I. and its weaponization not just in China. What comes after apps? What comes after dopamine scrolling and memes? Some members of ByteDance call TikTok an Entertainment platform. Meanwhile, President Xi, secretary of the Communist Party and leader of the nation of 1.4 billion, has demanded absolute loyalty to the party it and has previously declared “thought and political education” is an essential part of the government’s doctrine.
It’s a brave new world, it won’t be so different from how Orwell or Asimov envisioned it. It’s very 1984. Welcome to 2023.
Thanks for reading!
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