Microsoft Research Asia’s scientists are working with China’s National University of Technology (CNUT) on projects that include cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) facial recognition for surveillance systems to track minorities and others deemed undesirables by the Communist state.
CNUT is controlled by our Asian opponent’s top military body, the Central Military Commission.
Part of the AI research is to recreate detailed environmental maps by analyzing not just human faces, but their surroundings, which experts say could have clear applications for surveillance and censorship. In other words, it not only decides your identity, but knows exactly where you are and keeps a constant record of that.
Samm Sacks, a China tech policy expert, said documents from the research raised “red flags because of the nature of the technology, the author affiliations, combined with what we know about how this technology is being deployed in China right now.”
The Chinese government is using these technologies to build surveillance systems and to detain minorities [in Xinjiang],” Sacks explained.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), said “we must ensure that American business interests are not aiding Chinese Communist party’s oppression.”
American companies need to understand that doing business in China carries significant and deepening risk.
In addition to being targeted by the Chinese Communist party for espionage, American companies are increasingly at risk of boosting the Chinese Communist party’s human rights atrocities.
Microsoft’s President Brad Smith said no need to worry and then outlined areas where we should worry:
We believe there are three problems that governments need to address,” Smith said.
First, especially in its current state of development, certain uses of facial recognition technology increase the risk of decisions and, more generally, outcomes that are biased and, in some cases, in violation of laws prohibiting discrimination.
Second, the widespread use of this technology can lead to new intrusions into people’s privacy.
And third, the use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms.
Other Peking research includes use of machine reading at very high speeds.
Elsa Kania, a military technology expert, said China sees “natural language processing as a way to enable censorship (on a large) scale.”
Microsoft Research also operates several “tech clubs” for students at Chinese universities known to have military links including NUDT, Beihang University and Harbin Institute of Technology.
Smith says the problems with China or other countries using Microsoft research should be addressed by governments.
He said a major concern is possible discrimination against women and non-whites:
Especially in the current state of development, certain uses of facial recognition technology increase the risk of decisions, outcomes and experiences that are biased and even in violation of discrimination laws. Recent research has demonstrated, for example, that some facial recognition technologies have encountered higher error rates when seeking to determine the gender of women and people of color.
Determining the gender or color of citizens is probably not high on the list in China. Their big goal is to decide who goes to prison or is executed for being outspoken or criticizing the Communist Party.
Smith does admit that governments might infringe on the rights of everyone:
The use of facial recognition technology by a government can encroach on democratic freedoms and human rights. Democracy has always depended on the ability of people to assemble, to meet and talk with each other and even to discuss their views both in private and in public. This in turn relies on the ability of people to move freely and without constant government surveillance.
In a dictatorship that surveillance, aided by Microsoft and other U.S. companies, is already imprisoning many Chinese. Does Smith believe that China will change their laws to use AI in “good” ways?
The Microsoft president admits that the company is working on AI all over the world and cooperates with local and national authorities, and he offered several positive outcomes:
It’s striking to review the breadth of this innovation. Police in New Delhi recently trialed facial recognition technology and identified almost 3,000 missing children in four days.
Historians in the United States have used the technology to identify the portraits of unknown soldiers in Civil War photographs taken in the 1860s.
And in October, the National Australia Bank designed a proof of concept to enable customers to withdraw money from an Automatic Teller Machine using facial recognition and a PIN.
While many are concerned that Micsrosoft’s AI relationship with China could be a threat to its citizens and our military superiority, Smith seems more excited about how it could mean more sales at the local shopping mall.
He really said the following:
From the moment one steps into a shopping mall, it’s possible not only to be photographed but to be recognized by a computer wherever one goes. Beyond information collected by a single camera in a single session, longer-term histories can be pieced together over time from multiple cameras at different locations.
A mall owner could choose to share this information with every store. Stores could know immediately when you visited them last and what you looked at or purchased, and by sharing this data with other stores, they could predict what you’re looking to buy on your current visit.
Our point is not that the law should deprive commercial establishments of this new technology. To the contrary, we are among the companies working to help stores responsibly use this and other digital technology to improve shopping and other consumer experiences. We believe that a great many shoppers will welcome and benefit from improvements in customer service that will result.
Oh, how happy we will be when the retailers know all about our shopping habits.
Meanwhile, back in China, an estimated 3 million are being held in concentration camps, and the so-modern Peking men and women are working on algorithms to make that imprisoned total even larger.
Our government doesn’t seem too excited by China and Microsoft colluding on AI.
Despite other bidders, Microsoft had a terrific bonanza in February, thanks this time to our defense department:
The Pentagon announced a $1.76 billion deal, which will see Microsoft provide enterprise services to the DoD, Coast Guard, and our so-trustworthy intelligence community.
In a statement announcing the deal, the Pentagon explains what Microsoft will do:
Microsoft product engineering services for software developers and product teams to leverage a range of proprietary resources and source code, and Microsoft premier support for tools, knowledge database, problem resolution assistance, and custom changes to Microsoft source code when applicable.
The Washington State tech firm spends about $10 million each election cycle on grateful politicians, plus other lobbying, and the list of 2018 top recipients follows:
|House||Schrier, Kim (D-WA)||$142,005|
|Senate||Cantwell, Maria (D-WA)||$96,898|
|House||DelBene, Suzan (D-WA)||$83,211|
|House||O’Rourke, Beto (D-TX)||$76,477|
|Senate||Heitkamp, Heidi (D-ND)||$60,645|
|House||Smith, Adam (D-WA)||$54,950|
|House||Long, Carolyn (D-WA)||$54,257|
|Senate||Booker, Cory (D-NJ)||$49,240|
|House||Rosen, Jacky (D-NV)||$49,138|
|Senate||Tester, Jon (D-MT)||$44,469|
|Senate||Jones, Doug (D-AL)||$42,520|
|House||Brown, Lisa (D-WA)||$41,222|
|Senate||Nelson, Bill (D-FL)||$36,776|
|Senate||Kaine, Tim (D-VA)||$36,002|
|Senate||Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN)||$33,678|
|House||Kilmer, Derek (D-WA)||$30,900|
|Senate||McCaskill, Claire (D-MO)||$28,994|
|House||Jayapal, Pramila (D-WA)||$28,270|
|Senate||Donnelly, Joe (D-IN)||$27,198|
|House||Rodgers, Cathy McMorris (R-WA)||$26,349|
|See all recipients|