As research output and revenue soar in artificial intelligence (AI), the global competition between the United States and China is also starting to heat up.
To compete with the United States, in 2017, China released a three-step program outlining the goal of becoming a world leader in AI by 2030. The Chinese government aims to use more artificial intelligence in several fields such as the military and intelligent cities.
The Communist Party of China (CCP) has used AI to monitor public spaces, scan Internet traffic and provide the state with innovative tools for social control, population surveillance, or information censorship. Some researchers have been deeply concerned about this action by the CCP, who say that it may lead to ethical and human rights violations.
So let’s find out what’s so special about CCP’s AI Development Plan?
The CCP’s AI Development Plan
In July 2017, China’s New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan designated AI as a critical priority for all government and stakeholders. Five open innovation platforms have been launched to accelerate the development of AI, catalyzed by entities such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, iFlytek, and SenseTime.
While the United States leads the world in AI and has a motto of “responsible use of AI to protect free men and free societies, to push the limits of science for the benefit of all mankind, type” on the contrary, the CCP entered the AI industry, implementing a lot of artificial intelligence development strategies that brought with it ethical questions.
Elsa B. Kania, the senior fellow in support of the National Security and Technology Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), delivered a report on “Chinese Military Innovation in Artificial Intelligence,” which mentioned the CCP’s use of artificial intelligence AI to control war systems, the use of technology to monitor people and targeted disinformation campaigns, etc.
To catch up with the U.S. in artificial intelligence technology, the CCP has implemented a strategy of “Technological espionage,” stealing technology on a large scale, targeting the U.S.
According to “Outline of the National Innovation-Driven Development Strategy” published in 2016, the country plans to become a “world science and technology innovation superpower” by 2050. Beijing is applying legal and illegal technology transfer strategies against US research institutions, companies, and critical sectors. As a result, each year, the United States has trade secrets worth about 300 to 600 billion dollars stolen.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been actively involved in about 1,000 investigations involving China’s attempts to steal US technologies in almost every industry.
At a 2020 conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, FBI Director Christopher Wray explained that by establishing authorized organizations and “institutions within our universities,” China has taken advantage of the U.S.’s academic openness to steal technology.
According to CSIS data, between 2000 and 2020, there were 137 publicly reported cases of espionage involving China, 73% of which occurred in the past decade. Chinese spies often target military and commercial technology targets. Furthermore, 90% of the 180 FBI investigations into medical research that misappropriated National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds last year involved China.
China has also penetrated U.S. companies to a worrying degree, with more than $1.3 billion invested in U.S. AI startups between 2010 and 2017.
CCP does everything, even steal, to develop AI, so what is the purpose of CCP in AI development?
Harnessing artificial intelligence for military domination
Also in her report, Elsa wrote that: ”Chinese military modernization has been directed towards learning from and targeting the U.S. military, which is seen as a powerful adversary.”
Since the 1990s, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has concentrated on developing asymmetric capabilities aimed at exploiting potential American vulnerabilities and undermining current American advantages. The PLA aspires not only to equal but also to surpass the U.S. military by seizing the initiative in the course of the ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) that is being catalyzed by today’s advances in emerging technologies.
Chinese military strategists anticipate a transformation in the form and character of conflict, which is seen as evolving from today’s “informalized” warfare to future “intelligentized” warfare. The PLA may even offset U.S. military power if successful in advancing innovation and leapfrogging ahead in the course of this transformation. The advent of AI on the future battlefield might disrupt the balance of power in ways that risk jeopardizing strategic stability and undermining deterrence in the U.S.-China relationship.
Currently, the PLA faces significant challenges to operating artificial intelligence (AI) across a wide range of applications.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G will likely be included in intelligent weapons as their connectivity enables “improvements in data sharing, new mechanisms for command and control, and enhanced systems to meet future operational requirements.” Furthermore, 5G will likely “enable machine-to-machine communication between sensors and drones, as well as improve human-machine interaction.”
Another critical factor is data, which PLA scholar Zuo Dengyun describes as the “blood” of war operations. The PLA strives to “gather vast amounts of information through data repositories, capture the weaknesses of enemy systems through data mining, share operations through data presentation, and open channels of communication” multi-domain linkage, activating the ‘awareness’ of the ‘smart’ empowerment network.” In the future, war may become a “game of algorithms.”
In addition to the ambition to dominate the military with AI, the CCP also uses AI to control the people.
Using AI as a means of influencing and controlling people
Authoritarian regimes like the CCP have long been known to use surveillance to influence and control people. AI-powered technologies assist governments in facial recognition, biometrics, predictive analytics, and citizen data aggregation.
According to a PBS FRONTLINE documentary titled “In the Age of AI,” China has detained up to one million Uighur Muslims and turned Xinjiang into a “project to test other forms of digital surveillance” radical digital. The AI system is said to predict which individuals are more likely to commit “terrorist” acts and need to be “re-educated” at the camps.
Sophie Richardson, China Director for Human Rights Watch, tells FRONTLINE: “The kinds of behavior that’s now being monitored — you know, which language do you speak at home, whether you’re talking to your relatives in other countries, how often you pray — that information is now being Hoovered up and used to decide whether people should be subjected to political reeducation in these camps.”
The technology has been installed across China, complemented by rural surveillance programs such as the Sharp Eyes Project, which openly monitors the homes of residents and dissidents by announcing their names and address over the loudspeaker.
Human rights activists lawyer Nury Turkel told FRONTLINE that to persecute more Uighurs, the CCP even “has a barcode on someone’s door to identify the type of citizen.”
Monitoring the people in a good sense could be a welcoming thing, but here, it seems that the CCP does not do that. The CCP even uses AI to kill people.
Using AI to kill people
On Oct. 10, 2019, the Hong Kong Reporters Association reported that about 2,400 people had been arrested since the beginning of the protest movement against the extradition law. The number of “suspicious” suicides in Hong Kong coincidentally had a sharp increase connected with these arrests.
A reputable artificial intelligence (AI) organization in the U.S. has revealed a terrorist situation involving the arrest of protesters in Hong Kong, who suffered sexual abuse, and ended up dead in so-called “suicide” cases.
These suicides have many very suspicious points, such as jumping from a building without a trace of bleeding, a victim’s body with old wounds, a person drowned with his hands tied, and in many cases of suicide the body looks horrible, like a woman’s body was just a dried body.
The AI Organization’s online page published the article “Facial recognition artificial intelligence technology targeting young people in Hong Kong: arrest, rape and so-called suicide”. The article points out that if AI synthesizes faces, sounds, and many other biometric features, it will be very harmful; this can be done by scanning, locating, tracking, tracing, and can eventually lead to murders. This technology has been supplied to the mainland by many big technology companies; it can penetrate mobile phones, the Internet, smart homes, drones, cars, and video surveillance systems.
An intelligence response said that the Beijing government had deployed its paramilitary force in police stations in Hong Kong, which has used artificial intelligence facial recognition technology to locate individual students, arrest girls in police buildings and police cars. It was reported that several Hong Kong police officers raped the girls. Most of these so-called “Hong Kong Police” are the security forces and Mainland police on duty deployed in Hong Kong.
The report points out that Hong Kong students, including both men and women, have “committed suicide” by jumping in rivers or jumping off buildings. But in fact, many women are victims of rape. CCP wants Hong Kong students to give up the path of protest to help Beijing take over Hong Kong smoothly. These alleged “committed suicide” were either raped or directly thrown down.
This tactic is commonly used in Mainland China as police, security circles, and paramilitary police track and arrest democracy activists, Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists and other groups.
The article also said: Hong Kong students are pursued by facial recognition mainly because of Internet-connected software hidden in smartphones and applications.
Using AI to spread malicious information
AI is a sophisticated learning system capable of disseminating a powerful propaganda message in the form of a million personalized messages that consider the target’s digital footprint, emotions, and social contacts.
In 2020, China allegedly used AI-powered malicious disinformation to attempt to influence the Taiwanese election. The IP addresses of many posts spreading disinformation aimed at discrediting the Taiwanese government have been queried about China. The goal of China’s disinformation campaigns is “to redirect Taiwan’s public opinion to adopt a pro-reunification stance.”
In 2019, China’s disinformation campaign was also believed to have affected the United States. When NBA sports executive Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the protesters in Hong Kong, he received a backlash from LeBron James and a pro-China army that included angry netizens and activists automated bot account mentioned Morey’s name more than 16,000 times within the first 12 hours of his post.
To spread fake news and direct public opinion, what needs to be done in parallel, what the CCP has been doing, is to suppress genuine information.
AI has become a tool for the Chinese government to block genuine information
On April 1, the official Weibo of Alibaba Group announced information about the “Rumor Crusher using artificial intelligence technology.” The group said it would block the source of spreading “rumors.” However, there are also analyzes that this technology will become a tool for the Chinese government to maintain stability and suppress genuine news.
Chinese media then continuously report in connection to this technology. The information about the “rumor” judgment process of “Rumor Crusher” said that this technology would trace the source of data on the network to see if the information is originating from other sources. Pages authorized by the Chinese government to post and label “reliable” to be used or not.
Freelance online observer Ke Ha shared that the “Rumor Crusher” will eventually act as a “cyber police,” helping the government maintain stability to prevent ‘rumor-makers,’ or maybe it’s stopping people from spreading the truth. Because all speech that does not conform to government standards will be defined as rumors, and this “Rumor Crusher” is a tool to help the government maintain stability, taking advantage of artificial technology intelligence to save workforce and enormous costs for maintaining stability, and also to increase the strength of ‘fake news’ attacks, thereby achieving the purpose of asserting dominance.
Biotech control of dissidents
The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) claims that AI could enable a pathogen specifically designed to be lethal or to target genetic profiles. This type of pathogen is a biological weapon of ultimate reach and reach. As for the 2019 pandemic, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence acknowledges the “danger of highly contagious pathogens,” but the report does not explicitly indicate a link between the two link of the epidemic to the Wuhan laboratory.
Despite the controversy, German scientist and professor Dr. Roland Wiesendanger said that “some quality sources” point to a “laboratory accident” at the Wuhan Institute of Viruses (WIV) as being where the pandemic originated. The laboratory theory is bolstered by China’s long history of dangerous gain-of-function virus research, which can generate new deadly infectious pathogens.
China has now amassed the largest genetic database in the world with more than 80 million records. According to Newsweek, the country plans to “dominate the biotech industry” and develop “biological weapons” designed to target specific ethnic groups.” Last year, Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced plans to micromanage his country’s citizens further and facilitate the “orderly process of identity” by how to create an “internationally accepted QR code.” It’s a form of global health certificate based on nucleic acid test results.
Biotech giants such as BGI Group, formerly the Beijing Gene Institute, expand China’s genetic database by collecting DNA from the US and other countries. A 60-minute CBS News documentary revealed that BGI sent letters to several US states last year to offer expertise and sequencing services. Many places have refused BGI’s services because the entity has proven to be a Chinese company, received $1.5 billion from the CCP in 2010, and collected genetic data from Muslims Uyghur Church to “identify, target other family members, and fine-tune facial recognition software.”
Using AI for worldwide surveillance
China already has hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras. The Xi Jinping administration hopes to achieve comprehensive surveillance camera coverage of critical public areas soon. The vast majority of Chinese cameras collect data for government security purposes and are analyzed by algorithms. Shortly, any citizen entering a general site can be identified instantly through a system that uses artificial intelligence and integrates with an extremely large amount of data personal data, already stored.
The CCP may soon achieve an unprecedented political squeeze on its more than one billion people. However, the problem is not only the 1 billion people of China, the countries that are participating in the “Belt and Road” are also at risk of similar data collection by Chinese cameras and surveillance equipment.
Late last year, Chinese leader Xi Jinping called on Southeast Asian countries to help build a “digital silk road,” a plan that falls under the broad BRI umbrella and is tasked with promoting the adoption of a digital silk road. Use China’s “safe” and “smart” city technology – as well as other digital technologies and services – around the world.
Andrew Davenport, executive director of RWR Advisory, said that Chinese surveillance technology companies are gaining dominance in this sector globally with state support in various forms different.
Recent research by CSIS, a Washington-based consulting organization, has revealed that in the narrowly-defined areas of cloud infrastructure and e-government services, Huawei is also penetrating rapidly, signing 70 agreements in 41 countries for these services between 2006 and April this year. This means Huawei’s cloud infrastructure and e-government services handle sensitive health, tax, and regulatory data, said Jonathan Hillman, a senior fellow at CSIS of citizens in these countries.
Prior to its activities of exploiting AI for inhuman reasons, the CCP faced international outcry, particularly with the plot to monitor and collect data from the camera system.
The world’s reaction
The Financial Times reports that the growing backlash against China’s surveillance technology is gaining attention not only in the U.S. but also in Europe and parts of Asia.
The U.K. is a prime example of this trend. In May, the Financial Times discovered that a deal for “smart location” services provided by Alibaba for the southern English town of Bournemouth had been canceled at the last minute. Alibaba declined to comment on the Bournemouth deal.
Another U.K. town, Milton Keynes, has canceled a contract with Huawei for a smart city project using 5G telecommunications equipment and is planning to phase out the Chinese company’s telecom equipment kit following the decision. Downing Street’s decision last year to altogether remove Huawei equipment from its network by 2027.
In Taiwan, too, concerns about data privacy have led to a move away from Chinese-made intelligent city technology.
“Our direction in Taiwan tries not to use Made in China, we understand that with regard to some small, very tiny components this may be unavoidable sometimes, but we still try to mainly rely on Taiwanese vendors,” said Lee Chen-yu, director, Taipei Smart City Project Management Office.
Jonny Wu, senior director at Ability Enterprise, a Taiwanese innovative city provider, confirmed the change in attitude towards Chinese-made technology.
Wu said, “Last year, the Taiwan government started changing public surveillance and IP cam systems and getting rid of all China-made ones.”
The race for artificial intelligence is still going on. The victory belongs to the United States, China, or any other country we still do not know. One thing is for sure, however, that we need to be wary of CCP.