How an “AI-tocracy” emerges

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Many scholars, analysts, and other observers have suggested that resistance to innovation is an Achilles’ heel of authoritarian regimes. Such governments can fail to keep up with technological changes that help their opponents; they may also, by stifling rights, inhibit innovative economic activity and weaken the long-term condition of the country. 

But a new study co-led by an MIT professor suggests something quite different. In China, the research finds, the government has increasingly deployed AI-driven facial-recognition technology to suppress dissent; has been successful at limiting protest; and in the process, has spurred the development of better AI-based facial-recognition tools and other forms of software.

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