It’s typically believed that authoritarian governments resist technical innovation in a means that finally weakens them each politically and economically. However a extra sophisticated story emerges from a brand new examine on how China has embraced AI-driven facial recognition as a software of repression.
“What we discovered is that in areas of China the place there’s extra unrest, that results in higher authorities procurement of facial-recognition AI,” says coauthor Martin Beraja, an MIT economist. Not solely has use of the know-how apparently labored to suppress dissent, however it has spurred software program improvement. The students name this mutually reinforcing state of affairs an “AI-tocracy.”
In actual fact, they discovered, corporations that had been granted a authorities contract for facial-recognition applied sciences produce about 49% extra software program merchandise within the two years after gaining the contract than earlier than. “We study if this results in higher innovation by facial-recognition AI corporations, and certainly it does,” Beraja says.
Including all of it up, the case of China signifies how autocratic governments can probably discover their political energy enhanced, slightly than upended, once they harness technological advances—and even generate extra financial development than they might have in any other case.
The students are actually finding out the extent to which China is exporting facial-recognition tech around the globe—highlighting a mechanism by way of which authorities repression may develop globally.