Chinese Authorities Call For Internet Companies To Add Bias To AI Algorithms — In Order To 'Promote Mainstream Values'

from the Xi-Jinping's-little-red-subroutine dept

Techdirt has been tracking the worsening online surveillance and censorship situation in China for many years now. The latest move concerns the currently hot area of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s a sector that the Chinese government understands better than most Western governments, and which it has made one of its technology priorities. The authorities in China know that AI in the form of algorithms is increasingly deployed to optimize and customize Web sites. They have realized that this fact gives them an important new lever for controlling the online world. As South China Morning Post reports, the Cyberspace Administration of China has released its draft regulations on “managing the cyberspace ecosystem”, which include the following:

The regulations state that information providers on all manner of platforms — from news and social media sites, to gaming and e-commerce — should strengthen the management of recommendation lists, trending topics, “hot search” lists and push notifications.

“Online information providers that use algorithms to push customised information [to users] should build recommendation systems that promote mainstream values, and establish mechanisms for manual intervention and override,” it said.

“Mainstream values” include resources that promote Xi Jinping’s writings; party policies and socialist core values; information that displays China’s economic and social development; and anything else which helps promote Chinese culture and stability. By contrast, “harmful information” is stuff that is “sexually suggestive, promotes extravagant lifestyles, flaunts wealth or hypes celebrity gossip and scandals.”

As is increasingly the case, China is in the vanguard of digital culture here. The rest of the world is beginning to wake up to the serious threat of bias as AI-powered algorithms are deployed more widely. China has moved beyond that stage and is now actively weaponizing bias to push a government agenda. This is a useful warning to those who see algorithmic decision-making as the solution to hard problems.

For example, it is clear that the only way that the EU Copyright Directive‘s upload filters can be implemented is through automated filters using AI. As China’s latest move makes clear, once those filters are in place on major Internet sites in the EU, it would be easy for governments to require that the software should be tweaked to introduce a little bias — to protect the children, or society, or whatever. Those who are horrified by what the Chinese authorities are proposing would do well to start arguing for safeguards to stop the same path being taken outside that country.

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Comments on “Chinese Authorities Call For Internet Companies To Add Bias To AI Algorithms — In Order To 'Promote Mainstream Values'”

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84 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 And Troll

What he means is that he’s one of the useful idiots who fell for the "there’s over 1000 documents!" claim. He doesn’t want to be humiliated again by people who, unlike him, actually read the "evidence" and found they prove nothing, so he’ll pretend there’s a conspiracy to shield the truth rather than admit he was lied to again.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 And Troll

"Yet I have in my possession 1000 documents that Google have confirmed are real"

I have 1000 documents in my possession that Lucasfilm have confirmed are real items. That doesn’t mean that Star Wars actually happened.

What you should be doing is stating which parts of the real documents prove the claims you’re making, which is suspiciously lacking thus far. "100 documents!" doesn’t cut it. "Page X of document Y support claim Z" is the proof we’re after. Why are you afraid to supply that information.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 And zof was like....

But, and you’ll love this as a Google Employee.

And everyone will love this… Because Zof will quote a single disgruntled person and claim that this represents an entire company. Or country.

But @Zof is just a good ol’ boy. No matter how many crosses he burns, it’s all just in fun, eh?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And Google was like....

Google is 180° away from this. It’s the opposite of the filter-bubble problem. Here, you won’t be trapped in your own little world, you’ll be trapped in the same little world as everyone else.

It’s already happening in the West. There has been criticism of YouTube’s “recommender” algorithm, and the subsequent pruning of “borderline content.” This is just a another way of saying adding bias towards the mainstream.

Daydream says:

I’m confused, is this a bad thing through and through, or a good thing that’s at risk of abuse?
I mean, an AI designed to trawl the internet and curate stuff for recommendations sounds like it could be useful; you could set up for pro-tolerance and positive social messages, educational content, community activities, et-cetera, stuff to inspire people and get them thinking.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Always ask 'Would this still be good in my enemy's hands?'

I mean, an AI designed to trawl the internet and curate stuff for recommendations sounds like it could be useful; you could set up for pro-tolerance and positive social messages, educational content, community activities, et-cetera, stuff to inspire people and get them thinking.

I mean, you could, but if you think that’s how it would be used(especially given who is trying to set the standards in this particular story), well… cherish that innocence as long as you can, you probably won’t be able to keep it very long these days.

Even if you were able to absolutely trust the current people who would be shaping the AI’s decisions once it’s in place it would be trivial to hijack by someone who you might not agree with down the line in order to shape society to how they think it should be.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Always ask 'Would this still be good in my enemy's hands

If the choice of ‘should it be implemented’ has been taken away and it’s a given that it will be implemented I’d go with ‘the user’s’ and ‘the user’ respectively in that case.

Set the AI as a blank slate and allow it to be molded by the user based upon their actions, such that it’s ‘biases’ reflect theirs and it’s suggestions are aimed at meeting what they’re looking for. It’ll open up the possibility of confirmation bias, where people already leaning one way will be nudged even further that way, but I think I’ll take that over an outside party having the power to set the bias according to their ideas of ‘what is best’.

Christenson says:

AI bias is inevitable

There’s no such thing as neutral AI.

AI or whatever filter we use to decide which tiny corner of the internet to pay attention to HAS to have bias, favoring some types of content over others. The only question is what the bias is.

For example, google’s original contribution to search was to bias results toward those websites other sites linked to a lot.

Zof (profile) says:

THE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!

"Milo is just pretending. He’s clearly a white supremacist"

Yes.. Makes perfect sense. Milo is clearly just the most amazing troll in history. He’s so good, he traveled back in time to make sure both his parents were Jewish, and he just pretended to be gay and fight for gay rights, and literally married a huge Black guy and has gay sex with him…. BECAUSE HE KNEW SOMEDAY…. he’d matter for 2 months. Yeah. Make perfect sense.

Clearly he’s a liar and wants to kill all the um, people of his own faith.

Zof (profile) says:

So Please Enjoy Google Replying To Me In The Comments

See, I did a type of post called a "tailored post".

It’s very easy. Once I explain it, you’ll be able to do it.

You can carefully craft a post that will literally only offend ONE TYPE OF PERSON. How you ask? Hateful people are so delusional, they think the things that matter to them, matter to everyone. So if you make a post tailored just to make someone like them angry, they will be so self centered and broken, they’ll assume everyone is as angry as them. Then, they’ll give it away by pretending they speak for everyone in their comment. Simultaneously showing their delusion, and exposing themself as a Google Employee. Because honestly, the only folks that really care about Google at all, are Google employees lol.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: God...don’t stop... I’m almost there.

Eh, I wouldn’t go that far. Zof is stupidly, rigidly consistent and double downs like a lead balloon, but he’s not John Smith’s level of apoplectic when his lies get called out on. Zof also doesn’t do threats on the level of horse with no name. (Honestly, it’s been what, four months? I’m still waiting for Jhon boi to make good on his threat to skewer my Aspie ass.)

Zof, admittedly, also makes reasonable comments on rare occasion. The same cannot be said for Jhon "I’ll insult Masnick’s offspring and there’s nothing you can do to stop me" Smith.

I suppose this is as close as we can get to a glowing review of Zof, not that "better than MyNameHere" is a particularly high bar…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: God...

I wish Google actually did hire the smart people

Zof, you are really not one to talk about smart people as you are definitely not one of them. Let me see, you think that 9800 out of 20000 is about 5%, you think that hardware phone unlock devices can be found on file sharing sites, you think being conservative is now a race. I am sure I could find more.

Oh, and what about the time that you said you were never reading the articles here again?

(Some of those linked comments may need to be un-hidden in order to view)

Benjamin Albout says:

You fanboys are NOT helping the site. You're just not.

Any reasonable person cringes reading you above.

In the opinion of myself and THOUSANDS of others who stay away from Techdirt every day, it’s you fanboys who look crazy besides petty. You clearly have the advantage of numbers. Stop throwing it away by STUPID back and forth.

It’s not really arguable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You fanboys are NOT helping the site. You’re just not.

Considering you want the site dead (that Shiva Ayyadurai gambit really worked out well for you, didn’t it?) why would this be a bad thing?

In the opinion of myself and THOUSANDS of others who stay away from Techdirt every day

The guy who says there’s thousands of people staying away from a website, him included, is letting people know about this… on the website he says he’s staying away from.

Let that sink in.

You clearly have the advantage of numbers

I thought you said THOUSANDS of others were staying away from the website? Only 27 Bangladeshi visit this site? How do we have the advantage of numbers, again? Seriously, can’t you stay consistent within your own fucking diatribe?

Stop throwing it away by STUPID back and forth

When you stop demonizing grandmas you’ll stop getting demonized.

It’s not really arguable.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: You fanboys are NOT helping the site. You're just not.

"THOUSANDS of others who stay away from Techdirt every day"

Billions of people not only don’t come here, but have never heard of the site. Yet, this doesn’t make your own drivel any more insightful.

What differentiates those thousands of people from you is that they at least have sense to stay away from a site they dislike, yet you are compelled to come here every day. It’s a very sad sight to behold.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: You fanboys are NOT helping the site. You're just not.

"In the opinion of myself and THOUSANDS of others who stay away from Techdirt every day, it’s you fanboys who look crazy besides petty. "

I hate to break it to you, but for someone who insists he’s staying away from techdirt you appear to be remarkably present.

…and that brings me to the topic of what your claim does to your general credibility. Russel’s Teapot doesn’t become a more valid as an argument because you try to claim there are thousands of the little buggers.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'Dance my pathetic puppets, dance.'

Pavlov really has nothing on TD’s trolls. They dangle some obvious bait and people jump right on it like starving animals, eager to show that they can throw out childish insults too, demonstrating not only how laughably easy they are to manipulate but that they are little better than the trolls as they will sink to their level with just a tiny nudge.

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