China seeks glimpse of citizens’ future with crime-predicting AI

China, a surveillance state where authorities have unchecked access to citizens’ histories, is seeking to look into their future with technology designed to predict and prevent crime. Companies are helping police develop artificial intelligence they say will help them identify and apprehend suspects before criminal acts are committed. “If we use our smart systems and smart facilities well, we can know beforehand . . . who might be a terrorist, who might do something bad,” Li Meng, vice-minister of science and technology, said on Friday. Facial recognition company Cloud Walk has been trialling a system that uses data on individuals’ movements and behaviour — for instance visits to shops where weapons are sold — to assess their chances of committing a crime. Its software warns police when a citizen’s crime risk becomes dangerously high, allowing the police to intervene. “The police are using a big-data rating system to rate highly suspicious groups of people based on where they go and what they do,” company spokesperson Fu Xiaolong told the Financial Times. Risks rise if the individual “frequently visits transport hubs and goes to suspicious places like a knife store”, Mr Fu added. China’s authoritarian government has always amassed personal data to monitor and control…


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