The Carnegie Endowment AI surveillance report
Written by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the "Global Expansion of AI Surveillance" details the sweeping extent to which nations are employing surveillance worldwide.
Updated September 23rd
A look at American companies supplying AI technology abroad: Palantir, IBM and Amazon
Politics doesn't determine whether a government uses advanced AI surveillance — defense spending does
China and Huawei are the world's leading suppliers of AI surveillance technology, according to a Carnegie report
Huawei is a leading smartphone maker and the world's largest manufacturer of network equipment.
Its opaque relationship with the Chinese government makes many worry that the company's products -- their phones and, more importantly, the infrastructure that runs mobile and communication networks -- come with built-in backdoors allowing the Chinese government to listen in on private communication abroad.
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China is a major leader AI investment and development. And with government encouragement, China's giant population produces more AI-usable data than perhaps anywhere else on earth.
Here's how China is unique in artificial intelligence development:
- The country's authoritarian political regime: The Chinese government closely controls the economy. This has allowed the Chinese Communist Party to funnel vast amounts of wealth and tax incentives to companies that develop AI products.
- By investing large sums into AI companies and capping the RoI it receives, the government has given Chinese startups access to capital found nowhere else outside of Silicon Valley.
- China's huge population: The country's massive middle class has largely embraced the conveniences and features that AI models provide, and thereby produce more useful data than any other group on earth. The more data produced, the better the technology gets.
- The country's history of political control has, arguably, created a friendly environment for companies that want to build services that require vast amounts of user data. While the debate over privacy rages in Europe, the controversy is felt far less in China.
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Surveillance and Privacy
AI-enabled technologies produce and rely on vast troves of personal data, most of which is unregulated and vulnerable to theft and misuse.
These technologies include:
- Facial recognition: It helps users unlock their smartphones. It also helps police in China track criminal suspects and monitor members of the Uyghur ethnic minority.
- Personalization: It helps consumers make necessary purchases and discover entertainment, but also encourages developers to collect personal data from increasingly far-flung sources.
- Voice assistants: They help users answer questions, create calendar events, and set alarms. They also record audio accidentally, and until recently relied on human reviewers to listen to private audio to improve their responses.
- Smart home products: Similar to voice assistants, these products allow users to remotely operate appliances, set temperatures and access security footage. They also collect a vast amount of private information about the home life of their users.
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