Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chair of the House China Select Committee, told Axios that Beijing views artificial intelligence (AI) as an “instrument or weapon with which to perfect its Orwellian techno-totalitarian surveillance state.”
AI is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.
The speed of recent developments in AI has alarmed some policymakers and tech leaders. Gallagher said his “primary concern” is that the Chinese Communist Party will use the technology to “perfect” and “export” its authoritarian model beyond its borders.
“I think our challenge … is to ensure that AI is used as an instrument for human flourishing and freedom,” Gallagher told Axios’ Alexi McCammond at the second annual What’s Next Summit. “And not as a way to, for example, use chatbots to censor information related to genocide or promote narratives that are good for the CCP and bad for the free world.”
China is one of the leaders in developing these technologies for domestic and international use, according to the Brookings Institution. Some of its most severe use cases include helping to spy on political dissidents, and enabling repression of the Uyghur and Turkic Muslim populations across China.
In a recent interview with the Harvard Gazette, Harvard economics professor David Yang said: “Autocratic governments would like to be able to predict the whereabouts, thoughts, and behaviors of citizens. And AI is fundamentally a technology for prediction.”
This creates an alignment of purpose between AI technology and autocratic rulers, Yang said.
Because AI heavily depends on data, and autocratic regimes are known to collect vast amounts, this helps companies with Chinese government contracts that use state data to bolster commercial projects, Yang added.
Yang’s research shows China exporting vast amounts of AI technology, and he said autocratic regimes around the world have a particular interest in AI.
“To the extent that technology is exported, it could generate a spreading of similar autocratic regimes to the rest of the world,” he said.
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