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China develops face biometrics, AI tool to test Party member loyalty

China develops face biometrics, AI tool to test Party member loyalty
 

New research from the Hefei Comprehensive National Science Center hints at the development of a new biometric device allegedly capable of determining whether a person is attentive to “thought and political education.”

The video explainer was published on 1 July 2022 and is no longer publicly accessible, but was reported on by The Telegraph. The video describes a system that could read facial expressions and brain waves in order to “further solidify [party members’] confidence and determination to be grateful to the party, listen to the party and follow the party.”

More specifically, the video showed a person viewing content about the ruling party on a TV screen as an artificial intelligence (AI) program collected brain signal information, face biometrics data, and skin electrical response.

The alleged program would then score the individual’s “emotional identification” and “learning attentiveness” in order to decide whether they needed better education or if they passed the loyalty threshold.

Since the research and video are no longer available to the public, an in-depth analysis of the biometric tool’s effectiveness in delivering the intended results is currently not possible.

Before it was taken down from its website, however, the Hefei Comprehensive National Science Center said it had encouraged 43 party members on the research team to take party lessons while being monitored by the new software.

For context, emotion recognition is still a controversial and somewhat inaccurate technology.

For instance, reports that video communications firm Zoom was planning to develop an AI-based system to monitor and analyze users’ emotions last April was met with sharp criticisms from rights advocates. Tel Aviv University has claimed success with lie detecting based on facial muscle twitches, while a Member of the European Parliament has taken legal action to attempt to force the EU into revealing more information about its biometric-based lie detection for border control purposes.

As for the other part of the alleged research in Hefei, it is unclear how brain waves and skin electrical responses could be used to assess subjects’ loyalty to the CCP.

Biometric Update has reached out to the Hefei Comprehensive National Science Center and will update this article should they provide new information about the research.

The release (and disappearance) of the alleged biometric tool comes weeks after an investigation by the New York Times has revealed how China is conducting biometric mass surveillance on a scale even broader than previously understood.

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