Barely seven months ago, a senior Chinese official promised that artificial intelligence could one day help authorities spot crime before it happens.
In the country's far western Xinjiang region, it's already happening, with the establishment of a system that critics call "Orwellian" in scope and ambition, and which is being used to place people in political re-education.
Called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform, or IJOP, it assembles and parses data from facial-recognition cameras, WiFi internet sniffers, licence-plate cameras, police checkpoints, banking records and police reports made on mobile apps from home visits, a new report from Human Rights Watch finds.
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If the system flags anything suspicious – a large purchase of fertilizer, perhaps, or stockpiles of food considered a marker of terrorism – it notifies police, who are expected to respond the same day and act according to what they find. "Who ought to be taken, should be taken," says a work report located by the rights organization.
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