China has an AI computer "prosecutor" that files charges against people

(AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)

I’m fairly sure that we’ve already reached the point where you can no longer distinguish reality (or whatever passes for reality these days) from dystopian futurist movies. The latest example of this trend comes to us from China, as one might expect. We’ve long known that Beijing operates an intimidating security state that monitors the speech and movement of all of its citizens and frequently makes people simply disappear if they are even suspected of the smallest failure to comply with the demands of the government. But China has a population of more than 1.4 billion people, so that’s a lot of folks to keep an eye on. How can you possibly catch all of the ones who are engaging in unauthorized speech or activities? No problem. The Chinese government is truly embracing the latest technological advances of the 21st century and they’ve developed an Artificial Intelligence prosecutor that can identify people engaging in unauthorized behavior and issue arrest warrants for them without needing any slow-moving human beings to interfere in the process. (South China Morning Post)

Researchers in China say they have achieved a world first by developing a machine that can charge people with crimes using artificial intelligence.

The AI “prosecutor” can file a charge with more than 97 percent accuracy based on a verbal description of the case, according to the researchers.

The machine was built and tested by the Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate, the country’s largest and busiest district prosecution office.

They call it “System 206,” which seems like a harmless, yet menacing name for something so insidious. It’s described as an algorithm that can “replace prosecutors in the decision-making process.”

The system isn’t completely automated, or at least not yet. Human law enforcement agents still need to make the actual arrests and System 206 is not empowered to determine or suggest prison sentences for those who are convicted. But that day may not be too far off in the future.

So what sort of crimes can this system detect and issue warrants for? The creators claim that System 206 is spotting credit card fraud, illegal gambling operations, theft, and intentional injury. More worrisome is the system’s ability to identify “obstructing official duties and picking quarrels or provoking trouble.” Anyone not complying with the demands of the CCP in any fashion is obviously “provoking trouble” and will likely be moving into a new residence in the near future. With sensors of various sorts monitoring everyone’s movement and speech, the new AI program is probably going to be very busy indeed.

Of course, the Chinese aren’t only using AI to hunt down and prosecute uppity citizens. They have other tools that are simply weird. Have a look at XiaoIce. If you don’t have any friends or romantic partners, that AI program will generate a customized “chatbot” for you to simulate a boyfriend, girlfriend, or just a buddy. You can text the bot whenever you like to complain about your day or your need for companionship and it will respond to you sympathetically and become your digital partner in life. Just don’t tell your new “girlfriend” that you’re thinking of criticizing the government, though, because System 206 will be monitoring your chats as well.