A blind and opaque reputelligent nosedive

Data isn’t just being collected from your phone. It’s being used to score you. – “Operating in the shadows of the online marketplace, specialized tech companies you’ve likely never heard of are tapping vast troves of our personal data to generate secret ‘surveillance scores’ — digital mug shots of millions of Americans — that supposedly predict our future behavior. The firms sell their scoring services to major businesses across the U.S. economy. People with low scores can suffer harsh consequences.”[1]

CoreLogic and TransUnion say that scores they peddle to landlords can predict whether a potential tenant will pay the rent on time, be able to “absorb rent increases,” or break a lease. Large employers use HireVue, a firm that generates an “employability” score about candidates by analyzing “tens of thousands of factors,” including a person’s facial expressions and voice intonations. Other employers use Cornerstone’s score, which considers where a job prospect lives and which web browser they use to judge how successful they will be at a job.

Brand-name retailers purchase “risk scores” from Retail Equation to help make judgments about whether consumers commit fraud when they return goods for refunds. Players in the gig economy use outside firms such as Sift to score consumers’ “overall trustworthiness.” Wireless customers predicted to be less profitable are sometimes forced to endure longer customer service hold times.

Auto insurers raise premiums based on scores calculated using information from smartphone apps that track driving styles. Large analytics firms monitor whether we are likely to take our medication based on our propensity to refill our prescriptions; pharmaceutical companies, health-care providers and insurance companies can use those scores to, among other things, “match the right patient investment level to the right patients.”

Surveillance scoring is the product of two trends. First is the rampant (and mostly unregulated) collection of every intimate detail about our lives, amassed by the nanosecond from smartphones to cars, toasters to toys. This fire hose of data — most of which we surrender voluntarily — includes our demographics, income, facial characteristics, the sound of our voice, our precise location, shopping history, medical conditions, genetic information, what we search for on the Internet, the websites we visit, when we read an email, what apps we use and how long we use them, and how often we sleep, exercise and the like.

The second trend driving these scores is the arrival of technologies able to instantaneously crunch this data: exponentially more powerful computers and high-speed communications systems such as 5G, which lead to the scoring algorithms that use artificial intelligence to rate all of us in some way.

The result: automated decisions, based on each consumer’s unique score, that are, as a practical matter, irreversible.

That’s because the entire process — the scores themselves, as well as the data upon which they are based — is concealed from us. It is mostly impossible to know when one has become the casualty of a score, let alone whether a score is inaccurate, outdated or the product of biased or discriminatory code programmed by a faceless software engineer. There is no appeal.

-IB’s grading algorithm is a huge mess
-Edward Snowden: How Your Cell Phone Spies on You

meanwhile, in China…
People With Low Social Credit Scores Have Photo Shown At Movie Theaters – “The Chinese social scoring system has a new twist: if you have a low social credit score, then you are deemed by the government as untrustworthy. Untrustworthy individuals with low social credit scores are journalists who write unfavorable things about the government, or they are people who do not pay their bills. Christians also have low social credit scores and are deemed to be untrustworthy by the government.”

Individuals who have a low social credit score are now publicly shamed. It has been reported that individuals with low social credit scores are appearing on IMAX movie screens before the beginning of the movie.

When the Marvel movie ‘The Avengers: Endgame’ was released in China, several individuals with low social credit scores appeared on the screen. This is becoming so common that it is called the “reel of shame.”

They are also appearing on large building screens.

Everything in China is reminding people of their social credit scores – when they go to the bank, get on a train, travel on a bus, go to the ATM or go to a large shopping center.

The Panopticon Is Already Here – Xi Jinping is using artificial intelligence to enhance his government’s totalitarian control—and he’s exporting this technology to regimes around the globe.”

Xi’s pronouncements on AI have a sinister edge… He wants to build an all-seeing digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that identify potential dissenters in real time…

China already has hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras in place. Xi’s government hopes to soon achieve full video coverage of key public areas. Much of the footage collected by China’s cameras is parsed by algorithms for security threats of one kind or another. In the near future, every person who enters a public space could be identified, instantly, by AI matching them to an ocean of personal data, including their every text communication, and their body’s one-of-a-kind protein-construction schema. In time, algorithms will be able to string together data points from a broad range of sources—travel records, friends and associates, reading habits, purchases—to predict political resistance before it happens. China’s government could soon achieve an unprecedented political stranglehold on more than 1 billion people…

A crude version of such a system is already in operation in China’s northwestern territory of Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Muslim Uighurs have been imprisoned, the largest internment of an ethnic-religious minority since the fall of the Third Reich. Once Xi perfects this system in Xinjiang, no technological limitations will prevent him from extending AI surveillance across China. He could also export it beyond the country’s borders, entrenching the power of a whole generation of autocrats.

The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China – “Finally, and perhaps most importantly in light of the global future of policing and carceral technologies, the U.S. government should introduce legislation, and work with partner nations, to universally ban the collection and use of ‘passive’ or involuntary biometric information and data surveillance.”

  • @doctorow: “But the whole story isn’t the walled prisons: it’s the entire region, which has been turned into an open air prison where technology tracks and controls predominantly Muslim Turkic people while allowing Han people to go about their business largely unhindered.”
  • @bcrypt:”wow, this is some incredible reverse-engineering from a screen recording of a drone video… ‘showing 3-400 detainees handcuffed & blindfolded at a train station in Xinjiang [uploaded to YouTube] In this thread I’ll share how I’ve verified that this video was filmed at 库尔勒西站 (41.8202, 86.0176) on or around August 18th.'”
  • @misszing: “I’ve heard so many awful stories about what’s happening in the Uighur concentration camps but this has absolutely broken me (cw: rape).”
  • @VinceCoglianese: “In search of the next Yao Ming, the NBA opened a player development academy in Xinjiang — where most athletes were Uighurs. The Chinese government ran the facilities and the coaches physically beat the players.” (NBA re-evaluating training programme in China after abuse allegations)

U.S. imposes sanctions on Chinese company over abuse of Uighurs – “The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps is a quasi-military group created in 1954. It was initially made up of demobilized soldiers who spent time in military training while developing farms on the region’s arid land. Civilian members from eastern China later joined the corps, which now numbers 3.11 million people, or more than 12% of the region’s population. It is almost entirely made up of Han Chinese in a region that is home to the Muslim Uighur people. Experts have said the group is like a ‘state within a state’ and has established new cities in the region with schools and universities and jurisdiction over police and courts.” (Seems like a big deal: U.S. sanctions China’s paramilitary in Xinjiang)

Exclusive: SenseTime eyes STAR market IPO after $1.5 billion fundraising – sources – “The company was among eight Chinese tech companies placed on the U.S. entity list in October amid trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. The U.S. alleges the companies have played a role in human rights abuses against Muslim minority groups in China.”

What’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide – “The new evidence shows that China is systematically using pregnancy checks, forced intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion to reduce the population of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang. Moreover, having too many children is being punished by incarceration in the camps.”

Shocked Hong Kong in a new era under ‘white knuckle’ China grip – “The law has brought a chill and the pulling of pro-democracy books from library shelves, disqualifications of democrats from a city election and the arrests of three teenagers for Facebook posts deemed secessionist. New arms of China’s state security apparatus have been set up, including a National Security Office in a leafy neighbourhood on Hong Kong island. In a few flare-ups of opposition to the law, protesters have been arrested for once legal banners and for shouting slogans now labelled subversive.” (Exclusive: Global banks scrutinize their Hong Kong clients for pro-democracy ties)

China’s Xi Sets His Sights on Taiwan After Subduing Hong Kong – “Now fears are growing that Xi wants to cement his place alongside Mao and Deng by conquering Taiwan, a prize that’s eluded Communist Party leaders for decades.”

The World’s Highest and Fastest Cell Service Could Have Geopolitical Implications – “Now, data speeds in the ‘death zone’ on Everest, where the altitude is too high and the air is too thin to support life, are faster than in most American neighborhoods… But this comes at a cost. The internet in Tibet, like the rest of China, is censored by the government, and it’s rife with alternative facts designed to hide the history of Tibet’s sovereignty before 1950.”

India, Jio, and the Four Internets – “One of the more pernicious mistruths surrounding the debate about TikTok is that this will potentially lead to the splintering of the Internet; this completely erases the history of China’s Great Firewall, started 23 years ago, which effectively cut China off from most Western services. That the U.S. may finally respond in kind is a reflection of reality, not the creation of a new one. What is new is the increased splintering in the non-China Internet: the U.S. model is still the default for most of the world, but the European Union and India are increasingly pursuing their own paths.” (Chinese banks urged to switch away from SWIFT as U.S. sanctions loom)

Whose century? – “China under the control of the CCP is involved in a gigantic and novel social and political experiment enrolling one-sixth of humanity, a historic project that dwarfs that of democratic capitalism in the North Atlantic.” (via)

One has to wonder whether the advocates of a new Cold War have taken the measure of the challenge posed by 21st-century China. For Americans, part of the appeal of allusions to Cold War 2.0 is that they think they know how the first one ended. Yet our certainty on that point is precisely what the rise of China ought to put in question. The simple fact is that the US did not prevail in the Cold War in Asia. Korea was divided by a stalemate. Vietnam was a humiliating failure. It was to find a way out of that debacle that Nixon and Kissinger turned to Beijing and inaugurated a new era of Sino-American relations. America’s ability to tilt the balance against the Soviet Union was linked to its success in playing the Chinese off against the Soviets. The Tiananmen Square massacre was not an incidental blot on the liberal landscape of 1989; it was the Communist Party of China’s answer to the Berlin-centred ‘end of history’ narrative.

The mistake in thinking that we are in a ‘new Cold War’ is in thinking of it as new. In putting a full stop after 1989 we prematurely declare a Western victory. From Beijing’s point of view, there was no end of history, but a continuity – not unbroken, needless to say, and requiring constant reinterpretation, as any live political tradition does, but a continuity nevertheless. Although American hawks have only a crude understanding of China’s ideology, on this particular matter they have grasped the right end of the stick. We have to take seriously the CCP’s sense of mission…

China’s regime is serious about maintaining and expanding its power and conceives of itself as having a world historic mission to rival anything in the history of the West – the question is how rapidly we can move to détente, meaning long-term co-existence with a regime radically different from our own, a long-term attitude of ‘live and let live,’ shorn of assumptions about eventual convergence and the inevitable historical triumph of the West’s economic, social and political system. It would be a long-term co-existence, in which, over time, the US may well find that it has become the junior partner or, at best, the leader of a coalition of smaller powers balancing the massive weight of China.

Special Report: Rite Aid deployed facial recognition systems in hundreds of U.S. stores – “In the hearts of New York and metro Los Angeles, Rite Aid deployed the technology in largely lower-income, non-white neighborhoods, according to a Reuters analysis. And for more than a year, the retailer used state-of-the-art facial recognition technology from a company with links to China and its authoritarian government.” (How Reuters analyzed Rite Aid’s use of facial recognition technology)

-Congress Needs to Act On Facial Recognition
-Big Tech companies want to act like governments
-Rapidly developing technologies challenge politics

Data Privacy Before and After a Pandemic – “Marietje Schaake, former EU Parliament Member and international policy director of Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, explains how Singapore and China used surveillance to track COVID-19 and what it could mean for the US.”

also btw…

Why are all these science-fiction shows so awful? – “I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology.”[2]

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