In this episode of Big Tech, Taylor Owen speaks with Geoffrey Cain, author of The Perfect Police State, about the technology enabled in China’s Xinjiang region to oppress its Uighur population. Through a network of surveillance systems, social credit scores, algorithm-driven pre-crime computer software and a society where people are now fearful of their neighbours, China has built a chillingly real Orwellian police state. In their conversation, Taylor and Geoffrey discuss how these technologies are used to identify, detain and brainwash the Uighur people in what may be the first genocide in history driven by big data and artificial intelligence (AI).
However, one of the most powerful aspects of this surveillance system has nothing to do with the advanced technology. “It’s a crude system that is designed to keep people on their toes, to, you know, turn them against each other. … If my good friend might be snitching on me, well, I’m going to snitch on him first, and hopefully he’ll be taken to a camp. And then my ranking with the government rises and maybe the AI and the computer systems won’t take me away,” Cain explains. With no transparency in the system — no one knows how it functions or decides who’s a threat, or what computer code might determine their fate — an entire population lives in constant uncertainty and fear.
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