China’s domestic security and intelligence chief has called on the country’s police to use artificial intelligence to improve their ability to predict and prevent terrorism and social unrest.
Meng Jianzhu, head of the Communist Party’s central commission for political and legal affairs in charge of the country’s massive security and intelligence systems, pledged at meeting in Beijing on Tuesday to use AI through machine learning, data mining and computer modelling to help stamp out risks to stability.
“Artificial intelligence can complete tasks at a precision and speed unmatchable by humans and will drastically improve the predictability, accuracy and efficiency of social management,” Meng was quoted as saying by the Chinese online news outlet The Paper on Thursday.
Meng said security forces should study patterns that might be spotted in cases of terrorist attacks and public security incidents and build a data analysis model to improve the authorities’ ability to predict and stop such events taking place.
The idea has echoes of the Steven Spielberg’s science fiction thriller Minority Report, in which the authorities use technology and genetic mutation to predict when and where crimes will take place.
Meng said the security services should break down any barriers in data sharing to enable smooth integration of various systems.
He also called for renewed efforts to integrate all the footage from surveillance cameras around the country.
It is not the first time the security chief has stressed the need for high technology to strengthen the country’s sprawling surveillance network to help combat crime.
Meng said during a five-day inspection in the restive Xinjiang region last month that large-scale analysis of data, cloud computing and AI should be used to fight terrorism.
Maintaining social stability is one of the key tasks Beijing has set for its fledging AI industry.
The State Council unveiled a national artificial intelligence development plan in July, with the aim of its core AI industries exceeding 150 billion yuan (US$22.8 billion) in value by 2020 and 400 billion yuan by 2025.
The blueprint explicitly lays out AI’s role in helping to manage public security, such as developing products that can analyse video footage and identify suspects from the biometrics of their faces and bodies.
China has already kicked started a campaign to turn the large scale study of data into mass surveillance to enhance its predictive policing capabilities, according to the news service Bloomberg.
The government has directed one of the country’s largest state-run defence contractors, China Electronics Technology Group, to develop software to collate data on jobs, hobbies, consumption habits and other behaviour of ordinary citizens to help predict terrorist acts before they occur, Bloomberg reported last year.
“It’s crucial to examine the cause after an act of terror, but what is more important is to predict upcoming activities.” Wu Manqing, the chief engineer for the military contractor, was quoted as saying.