China to invest heavily in artificial intelligence, to help predict social unrest and terrorism: Report

Artificial intelligence is becoming popular with nation states and China is at the forefront when it comes to AI research. But it doesn't just want to do research in the field. In fact, China intends to use this technology for prediction and prevention of any kind of social unrest and terrorism in the state.

Representative image. Reuters.

Representative image. Reuters.

“Artificial intelligence can complete tasks with a precision and speed unmatchable by humans, and will drastically improve the predictability, accuracy and efficiency of social management,” said Meng Jianzu, head of the Communist Party’s Central Political and legal affairs commission.

According to a report by The South China Morning Post, machine learning, data modelling and data mining, according to Meng are the tenets by which artificial intelligence would detect any burgeoning unrest. Another area they would like to focus on is big data and integration of surveillance.

Interestingly, this comes at a point when China does not have its own data laws.

Zunyou Zhou, a counterterrorism law expert at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, has said that Xinjiang could prove to be a testing ground for this technology. Urging the need for data legislations, Zhou said, “China has no specific data protection laws. The government can use personal data in any way they like, which could pose a huge threat to its citizens’ privacy.”

Hence, to expect data sharing at national level, can elevate the insecurity about data privacy and its security.

China's State Council has previously said that the "situation with China on national security and international competition is complex". This is part of the incentive for making a domestic AI push. "We must take initiative to firmly grasp this new stage of development for artificial intelligence and create a new competitive edge," it said.

China has outlined plans to become a world-leader in artificial intelligence by 2025, laying down a challenge to US dominance in the sector amid heightened international tensions over military applications of the technology.

It had released a national AI development plan on 20 July, 2017, aiming to grow the country's core AI industries to over CNY 150 billion ($22.15 billion) by 2020 and CNY 400 billion ($59.07 billion) by 2025, the State Council said.

However, recently, it had pulled the plug on virtual private networks which were not government approved.

Published Date: Sep 22, 2017 11:38 AM | Updated Date: Sep 22, 2017 11:39 AM