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Asia AI

China Secretly Tracks Uighurs With Help From Local AI Startups

Chinese authorities are using a vast, secret facial-recognition system to track and control Uighurs, an ethnic minority located in the country’s northwest Xinjiang region, the New York Times reported. 

The system, which is integrated with the country’s network of surveillance cameras, uses artificial-intelligence software developed by Chinese startups such as Yitu, Megvii, SenseTime and CloudWalk, the newspaper said. In the city of Sanmenxia, for example, authorities attempted to identify whether residents were Uighurs more than 500,000 times over a 30-day period from mid-February, it said.

As international pressure mounts against China’s crackdown of its Muslim minority, the revelations could create ethical dilemmas for investors in these startups, some of which include Qualcomm and Sequoia, the newspaper reported. The ethical issues clouding these startups could also complicate any plans to list their shares in U.S. markets, where they might face more scrutiny.

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