Researchers from the Hefei Comprehensive National Science Centre in Anhui, China, claim to have developed a technology that would allow the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to test the loyalty of its members. The dystopian technology will be used to detect party members whose thought stray from what the party considers acceptable.
With over 95 million members, CCP is the second largest political party in the world — but practically, the CCP rules the most populous country on Earth with an iron fist.
The party has been ruling China since 1949 and is infamous for keeping things under its control by hook or by crook. The CCP has ensured that no other political group emerges in the country, maintaining only an illusion of democracy in China. Moreover, using state-of-the-art technologies like AI and Big data, the Chinese government runs the world’s largest mass surveillance network — a network they seem keen on growing further still.
Nine out of the top 10 most surveilled cities across the globe are in China. But it seems like the CCP-led Chinese government is still not satisfied. The AI institute in Hefei recently posted a video on their official Weibo handle. The video demonstrated a mind-reading technology testing the inclination of a human subject towards CCP’s ideology and “thought education”.
Although the video file was soon removed after facing a public outcry, users were still able to get their hands on the related text summary.
How does the loyalty testing technology work?
According to the summary, the problem statement discussed in the video was – “Guaranteeing the quality of party-member activities is turning into a problem in need of coordination.” The video (“The Smart Political Education Bar”) featured an AI-based mind-reading technology that can assign loyalty scores to subjects based on their brain activity, facial expressions, and skin conductance.
In the video, a person (subject) is seen entering a glass booth. He sits in front of a screen that starts showing him content promoting CCP’s policies and ideology. While the subject is busy watching and reading the content; the smart cameras, brain scanners, and other biometrics installed in the booth are analyzing his facial and mental responses via an AI-based method referred to as”emotionally intelligent computing” (in the summary text). Finally, at the end of the video, a “loyalty score” appears on the screen (based on the analysis).
According to the researchers, the loyalty score is an indicator of a person’s focus on CCP’s thought education. It can effectively suggest a person’s take on the ruling party’s ideological and political stand. Think of it like 1984 on steroids.
While explaining the advantages of this technology for the Chinese Communist Party, the researcher said in the video:
“(The loyalty test would) further solidify their (members’) determination to be grateful to the party, listen to the party, and follow the party.”
The loyalty test would make CCP stronger than ever — and wipe out any remaining semblance of democracy
While some experts are calling this mind-reading technology a breakthrough in the field of AI, many others are considering this innovation an abuse of technology by the CCP. In an interview with Radio Free Asia, a sociology researcher from Anhui, Song Da’an said,
“Hefei Comprehensive National Science Center has been using biotechnology to measure the loyalty of party members and cadres. This shows that the CCP is becoming more and more totalitarian. In the logic of a totalitarian society, more and more emphasis is placed on refining controllability, and party members are regarded as screws [that could come loose] and potentially cause damage; they are the enemy of the machine.”
Although there is no official confirmation as to when the CCP is planning to conduct the “loyalty test” for its members, the development of such a technology suggests that the only ruling party in China is strongly committed to protecting its political interests and making sure no one strays from the approved way of thinking.
We also don’t know how well this technology can work — it’s not like it’s been published in a scientific journal for researchers to review, and it wouldn’t be the first time the CCP exaggerates its accomplishments and publishes propaganda. But the fact that they want to do it and that it’s not entirely implausible is enough reason for concern.
However, this is not the only strange use of AI that the Chinese have come up with. In June 2022, a team of scientists from Beijing created an AI-powered helmet-like device that could let government agencies know if a person is watching porn. The AI-powered loyalty test booth, CCTV mass surveillance network, and the above mentioned helmet device to detect porn watchers are just some of the many examples of how the CCP-led Chinese government uses advanced technology to keep more than a billion people under its control. The CCP also uses AI for its social credit system and other mass surveillance programs and this latest announcement shows they have no intention of scaling things down — quite the opposite. If the CCP has its way, mass surveillance and thought control in China are here to stay.
Rupendra Brahambhatt is an experienced journalist and filmmaker covering culture, science, and entertainment news for the past five years. With a background in Zoology and Communication, he has been actively working with some of the most innovative media agencies in different parts of the globe.