There are so many unintended consequences of artificial intelligence I feel as if we are nowhere near the tip of the iceberg. Consider how Chinese company iFlyTek is leveraging AI in multiple industrial and commercial applications, but also has a close working relationship with the Chinese government. There are many dark ways the government may utilize the data companies like iFlyTek can provide:
As China tests the frontiers of artificial intelligence, iFlyTek serves as a compelling example of both the country’s sci-fi ambitions and the technology’s darker dystopian possibilities.
The Chinese company uses sophisticated A.I. to power image and voice recognition systems that can help doctors with their diagnoses, aid teachers in grading tests and let drivers control their cars with their voices. Even some global companies are impressed: Delphi, a major American auto supplier, offers iFlyTek’s technology to carmakers in China, while Volkswagen plans to build the Chinese company’s speech recognition technology into many of its cars in China next year.
At the same time, iFlyTek hosts a laboratory to develop voice surveillance capabilities for China’s domestic security forces. In an October report, a human rights group said the company was helping the authorities compile a biometric voice database of Chinese citizens that could be used to track activists and others.
Those tight ties with the government could give iFlyTek and other Chinese companies an edge in an emerging new field. China’s financial support and its loosely enforced and untested privacy laws give Chinese companies considerable resources and access to voices, faces and other biometric data in vast quantities, which could help them develop their technologies, experts say.