Chinese authorities are waging a "war on terror" against the Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwestern China. One million Uyghurs have already disappeared in internment camps, forced to undergo "reeducation" programs, where they learn Mandarin and criticize and renounce their faith. Aided by a vast system of advanced facial recognition technology, the Chinese government is expanding its efforts to track and control the Muslim minority population.
The days are over when conventional methods of repression (spies, police, military, firearms, unmanned aircraft) define a government's methods of restraining and ruining a people. While China continues to use these tactics, it is also building a future in which artificial intelligence (AI) is the main strategy of surveillance and control. According to The Guardian, China has invested approximately $ 7.2 billion in technology security technology in Xinjiang. Such lucrative monetary incentives have aroused the interest and participation of the new Chinese technology companies, which in the last five years have been enriched by China's "war on terror". According to the New York Times, Chinese artificial intelligence companies behind the software include Yitu, Megvii, SenseTime and CloudWalk. Each valued at more than $ 1 billion, has driven the development of AI-driven predictive technologies that aim to keep Xinjiang and Greater China safe from threats from the Uighur population.
Deepening in all aspects of the digital life and physical movements of the Uyghurs, these highly invasive technologies filter the vast amounts of data generated by the Uyghurs, looking for suspicious patterns and, according to The Guardian, point to the "religious discourse" or even the lack of fervor. using Mandarin ", while deep learning systems" search in real time through videos that capture millions of faces, building a file that can supposedly help identify suspicious behavior to predict who will become an "unsafe" actor.
Computerized surveillance, police surveillance and intelligence gathering have spread throughout China. According to the New York Times, the procurement documents show that "two dozen police departments in 16 different provinces and regions of China searched for this technology as of 2018." For example, the police in the central province of Shaanxi tried to acquire an artificially intelligent camera A system that "should be compatible with facial recognition to identify the Uighur / non-Uighur attributes".
Having gained unrestricted access to all aspects of Uighur life, this technology has complemented the creation of a surveillance state in Xinjiang. China has instituted a system of notebooks, which restricts the internal travel of the Uyghurs. China has also demanded that Uyghurs provide DNA and biometric samples, and has deployed security forces to monitor the families of those missing or killed by the state. These actions represent China's dreadful efforts to dissolve the rights of the Uyghurs. Xi Jinping aims not only to eliminate the Uighurs' basic right to privacy, but to their culture. China's "war on terror" is nothing more than an attempt to remove Uighur Muslim identity.
Once the Internet provided Uighurs with a means to explore Islam and strengthen their Muslim identity in a country that had spent decades repressing access to mosques, Islamic burial practices, religious knowledge and other Muslim communities. According to The Guardian, social media "reinforced the feeling that the first sources of Uyghur identity were their faith and language, their claim to a native lifestyle and their membership in a Turkish Muslim community that stretches from Urumqi to Istanbul" . This new sense of identity and community as an existential threat to the secular and Chinese lifestyle. Therefore, to interrupt and destroy the identity and community of the Uighurs, the officials requested that the technology enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) focus on the place where the Uighur identity first flourished. : the digital sphere.
The launch of this technology has ushered in a new era of automated governmental control and repression. Saying the words artificial intelligence often inspires fantastic fears of a future in which AI dominates and destroys humanity, but these fears should not detract from the reality that China is currently developing, implementing and monopolizing control over cutting-edge technology to repress and, finally, destroy a town. While China has faced increasing international criticism for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, the words of scolding are insufficient. The world can not evade meaningful action by hiding behind critical claims. China is the first country to implement this technology, and it will not be the least. Should Uyghurs face the destruction of their culture, and should the most authoritarian regimes adopt this technology before the international community realizes how dangerous it is and acts accordingly?