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Your Future is Scripted! China, AI and the Race for Digital Authoritarianism

The race for digital authoritarianism between China and the US is now exceedingly stark. It is a race with enormous implications for the management of humankind, (yes I said it) and the respected doctrines of our human rights and freedoms. Everything we care about today as freedom-loving citizens will be transformed by AI, from access to healthcare to economic status and, more importantly, your ability to serve.

President Xi Jinping has not been timid about China’s ambitions to be the technological leader in frontier technologies like Artificial Intelligence. The exponential rise in the number of Artificial Intelligence citations authored by an assertive China continues to gain strategic momentum for the region as it focuses on global economic and technological dominance in the coming decade.

Now, an Orwellian theorist might suggest, using such technologies as AI as a catalyst for economic and technological supremacy poses grave dangers to society and could be far more destructive politically than the cold war the US experienced with Russia a few decades ago. It is. There are pockets of highly reputable monitoring organizations that might call this totalitarianism, and the rabid exploitation of such technologies on societies might be considered a tool to thwart certain freedoms. Nevertheless, the citizens of China are thriving. If China were exhibiting signals totalitarianism over the past four decades, they would not have lifted 500M people out of poverty, albeit many might argue through the US government’s facilitation.

Decades ago, the US focused on bringing China into the international economy and facilitated its inclusion into the WTO. Nevertheless, we never would have imagined that it will surpass the US in the number of AI citations awarded in just a few short years from now. This assertive China looks like it wants to nudge the US out of the region militarily and, more importantly, technologically. This assertive China is recognized as the only superpower to perhaps replace the world reserve currency from the USD to the Chinese Yaun. China is already exporting the AI citations of its digital currency to other countries around the world related to their digital currency. Further, China aims to circumvent “swift” transactions to cement it is the currency in other countries and already has over 1B people on its Alipay and WeChat payment services.

Today as we know it, technology is, in fact, “neutral.” How we use technology and develop proper governance to circumvent bad actors is the challenge. Is China a Bad Actor? However, concerning China, the main questions, scholars at the Hoover Institute are bellowing with such ridiculous zeal is that these theories such as totalitarianism and Orwellianism, as redundant as it may sound, are in-fact actively being discussed in great detail. Technology in the hands of the ethically moral vs. technology that serves only its people for state economic success and its citizens. But China is accelerating this and exporting AI to other countries for digital currency supremacy.

Why has AI thrived, particularly in Authoritarian states like China? We all have heard the expression of Big Data being the new oil. However, AI facilitates the centralized analysis of vast quantities of data, allowing for these digital authoritarian states to excel and recognize patterns of companies and the patterns of your everyday life as civilians, while at risk of augmenting data to manipulate the survival of large enterprises, using predictive modeling to enable an extreme acceleration of manufacturing, digital surveillance, and service output, whether you are online or not.

China has a 360-degree view of every citizen, business, and pretty soon country, large or small. AI is the perfect instrument in the hands of the communist party. China’s biggest ally in this is not the US or Russia, but it is its people. The data of 1.4B civilians act as an accelerant to achieve full digital authoritarianism in the coming decades. In a matter of 24-36 months, China will have 300M cameras, focusing on its citizens. That is almost one full-time camera for each citizen in the United States.

The Rise of Algorithmic Governance

Algorithmic governance is the ability to sort, classify, and manipulate your behavior. In the new decade and already prevalent in China is the social credit system. Such an approach is a digital profile that rewards or punishes citizens based on big data and AI to augment a citizen’s digital profile and behaviors, manipulated by the government. In many ways, the system screens profiles based on a citizen’s behavior, online or offline, and creates biases based on a citizen’s digital footprint. In the hands of an authoritarian regime, this power has the ability and potential to sanction and publicly shame individuals. The totality of this system is quite powerful. It would have the ability to motivate you, (my digital running coach) the ability to humiliate you publicly, and the ability to increase your chances of economic status. This reduces humankind to a predefined dataset by someone else and eliminates the very freedoms we have been born with. It eliminates human rights, and as humans, we are now and will be more so dictated by dimensions and metrics. You, of course, fall into one of these dimensions and are more than just a data point.

The greatest obstacle of such a credit system is that humans are unpredictable, spontaneous, and creative creatures. To eliminate such spontaneity is to destroy our very human rights as citizens. This is called scientific engineering, where the government identifies, sorts, and classifies you based on actions and behaviors. During this hyperbolic rejuvenation of economic success, China’s dream is to establish an individual’s successes and financial status based on China’s success as a state. For all freedom-loving people, this is the nightmare we face. The cultural genocide citizens are now facing in China and, to some extent, here in the US, is becoming quite pervasive. If the US encapsulated 1.4B citizens, it would be a very different picture. I would think a majority of US Citizens would be living under the poverty line under current circumstances. Hat tip to China and it’s remarkable management of its vast population.

By Fred Tabsharani, Founder and CEO at Loxz Digital Group

Fred Tabsharani is Founder and CEO of Loxz Digital Group, A Machine Learning Collective with an 18 member team. He has spent the last 15 years as a globally recognized digital growth leader. He holds an MBA from John F. Kennedy University and has added five AI/ML certifications, two from the UC Berkeley (SOI) Google, and two from IBM. Fred is a 10 year veteran of M3AAWG and an Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Olympic Basketball Champion.

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