Amid Fears of Big Brother Surveillance State, China Announces Ambition to Become Leader in AI Tech
Annie Wu, 7 Dec 17

China's 19-year-old Go player Ke Jie prepares to make a move against Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo, in Wuzhen, eastern China's Zhejiang Province on May 25, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

In China, digital technology has become increasingly pervasive.

Facial recognition technology is used to pay for goods at shops and restaurants, and for the country’s surveillance system—currently with 20 million security cameras and plans to cover the entire nation—with the capability to gather personal information in real time.

Mobile pay is set up and readily accessible in many major Chinese cities, allowing citizens to pay cab fare, a meal at the street food stall, or a street busker with a swipe or scan on their smartphones.

China has embraced the latest advances in technology with a kind of fervor that has observers worried that an Orwellian nightmare could come true.

Nevertheless, China has ambitions for more.

At the country’s annual World Internet Conference held from Dec. 3 to 5 in the town of Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, the Chinese regime announced its determination to become the world’s leader in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, via a panel on the subject, according to DW News, a pro-Beijing news website.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the opening ceremony of the 4th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen in China’s eastern Zhejiang province on December 3, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

Citing a report by Chinese Internet company Tencent’s established research institute, the article boasted that China ranked number two in the world in terms of number of AI firms, just behind the United States.

“In terms of China’s implementation of AI technology though, it cannot be denied that China is already doing much better than the United States,” the article read, citing Chinese innovations in driverless cars, smart homes, and AI in medical treatments. The aforementioned surveillance system, called “Skynet,” also employs AI to predict physical features of people captured on security camera.

“China’s plans and determination to become the world’s AI leader cannot be stopped,” it said.

In July, the Chinese regime released a blueprint report, titled “The New Era of AI Development Plan,” foresees increasing the value of its IT industry to 520 billion dollars, which will be two percent of its GDP, by the year 2030.

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