China is using DNA to re-create the faces of Muslim minorities

nanoguy

TS Addict
Staff member

China is widely known for its controversial practices with respect to minorities in the Xinjiang region, as well as its strong push for wide adoption of facial recognition systems. The country's latest privacy nightmare is the introduction of new rules that will require anyone who wants to buy a smartphone or a cellular plan to scan their face, supposedly to counter any potential fraud attempts.

The country routinely tests new surveillance systems in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region. In November, it started an experiment to determine the feasibility of an emotion recognition system, but it turns out it's willing to go well beyond that with an even more ambitious project that stretches the moral boundaries of forensic science.

According to a report from the New York Times, Chinese researchers have started collecting blood from Uighur Muslims in the city of Tumxuk, where over one million of them are held in detection camps. They want to use the DNA in the samples to try and generate a rough model of a person's face.

The technique is called DNA phenotyping, and it works by analyzing the groups of genes associated with ancestry, complexion, eye color, shapes of facial features, as well as a person's gender to obtain a sketch of a face that's as close as possible to reality.

Interestingly, the science around this was pioneered in the West, where law enforcement is interested in using the technique to help narrow down the pool of suspects in difficult cases. The same method has also been used to generate models of what ancient humans may have looked like.

The main issue is that even after perfecting their approach for years, scientists aren't confident enough about its accuracy as a tool to identify a certain individual. The current understanding of genes isn't enough to predict how a person might look, and you'd also have to take other variables like age and weight into consideration. The consensus seems to be that we're a long way from being able to use DNA phenotyping as a reliable tool in forensic science.

China isn't waiting, however, and given its penchant for monitoring and controlling its citizens, the new development raises difficult questions about consent and human rights. Mark Munsterhjelm from the University of Windsor, Ontario, told the New York Times the Chinese government is crafting "essentially technologies used for hunting people."

There is no clear indication that the people involved in the research have been asked for consent to provide a sample of their blood, and it's safe to assume that's not the case, since we're talking about internment camps. There are only scattered reports from Uighurs and human rights groups that indicate the authorities have collected blood samples, images of irises, and other personal identification markers as part of mandatory health checks.

Ultimately, the more worrying aspect is the notion that China could use the results of this research to build mass surveillance systems. And according to leaked documents, Chinese tech companies are shaping global surveillance standards, especially in the area of facial recognition - meaning that vision may become easier to export to other regions.

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Vulcanproject

TS Evangelist
Damn this is sinister stuff. There was plenty of it going on in China but the use of advanced technologies to profile is the epitome of totalitarian dystopia.

Disagree with the state? No problem, we'll profile you by DNA phenotyping, spot you with facial recognition, grab you off the street and send you to a concentration camp to be 're-educated' while maintaining to the rest of the world it is voluntary.

DNA profiling incorrect? Don't expect an apology....
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
The smart investors will be buying up manufacturers of special effects makeup and masks.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Damn this is sinister stuff. There was plenty of it going on in China but the use of advanced technologies to profile is the epitome of totalitarian dystopia.

Disagree with the state? No problem, we'll profile you by DNA phenotyping, spot you with facial recognition, grab you off the street and send you to a concentration camp to be 're-educated' while maintaining to the rest of the world it is voluntary.

DNA profiling incorrect? Don't expect an apology....
In other words, those actions, and anything like them in any society, are totally sick.

I really hate to put it this way, but mainland China may have joined the modern technological world, but it remains firmly rooted in the Pliocene era.

It is this kind of oppression, where ever it occurs, that keeps humanity from realizing its true potential.

Modern mathematics has significant influence from Muslim contributors - http://www.storyofmathematics.com/islamic.html
 
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Godel

TS Maniac
The smart investors will be buying up manufacturers of special effects makeup and masks.
Wearing a mask in public is probably already a crime in China and will get you arrested immediately.

Western cops probably aren't much different.
 

FF222

TS Addict
One way or the other communism will be the end of the west
The West has it's own similar problems, but this foreshadows the doom of China. The government can try to sweeping things under the carpet, but in reality all they're doing is building up more and more tension inside their society. Which will ultimately and inevitable end in uprising and revolution. It happened before countless times, and it will happen again. It's only a matter of time.
 
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Danny101

TS Guru
Does anyone suspect that there's a secret unholy alliance between China and the West? Where China is provided all the technology it needs to develop the modern surveillance dystopian world so that when the time is right and world government is instituted, all of their developments will be brought to bear? No one really messes with China so they just do whatever they want. They might do the token 'bad China', but everyone practically crawls on their knees just to invest and do business in China. American companies are the most guilty and many will flatly refuse to criticize China and will suspend their principles, or American principles so we think, just for the privilege to do business there. The U.S. basically built China through very generous trade deals, funding and funneling money to China for the last 50 years. Naw, there's no way this is by accident. China is a test bed for the world to come. Communism, Socialism, or Capitalism? It doesn't matter. The world is getting smaller. Freedom is under siege.
 
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