Communist and post-Communist oppression China | 07 September 2023

China: Technology homes in on deviant behavior

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A recently published article has used patent-filings for obtaining a glimpse into trending topics for security-related issues (Wright J & Weber V & Walton G F: “Identifying potential emerging human rights implications in Chinese smart cities via machine-learning aided patent analysis”, in: Internet Policy Review 12/3, 28 July 2023). While the article focuses on “smart cities” and what is called the “city brain”, one finding in particular stands out: Many of the patent-filings deal with identifying deviant or abnormal behavior.

World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller explains: “National security remains one of the biggest issues in China. At the same time, it has become increasingly difficult to find and use sources from within China on security-related topics. However, looking at patent-filings has supplied interesting insights. The fact that many filings deal with the identification of deviant behavior highlights a field where tech companies perceive growing financial value. Thus, it can be expected that companies will come up with AI-generated tools for identifying individuals and groups showing deviant behavior. In classical Communist ideology, all religious groups would be seen as deviant; however, in modern China, this is especially true for Christian house church groups. These look likely to be particularly targeted.”


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