Posted On: Thursday - December 10th 2020 9:29AM MST
In Topics:   China  Artificial Stupidity  Orwellian Stupidity  Books  iEspionage
Part 1 of this review was a deserved trashing of the author's stupidity. One can write an important book, but that doesn't prevent one from being an ignorant moron on other subjects. Part 2 was a discussion of the 1st of the 3 main parts of the book, the modern Chinese government, as run by the Chinese Communist Party.
The 2nd part of Kai Strittmatter's book We Have Been Harmonized is the meat of the book. This is the part that reads like a dystopian science fiction novel, except it's no longer in the future. If you don't read anything but this part - pages 165 through 263, you'll get the gist of how modern computer technology* is being used by the new not necessarily kinder, but maybe gentler (for now) new incarnation of Mao Zedong. If you want to read the book for entertainment too, sure, read the whole thing, but this section and some of the 3rd part, should suffice to scare the BeJesus out of you, as I have noted before.
The chapter called "The Eye" (pp 167-213) starts off with the idea that the huge Chinese push for Artificial Intelligence is supposedly another Sputnik moment for us. The author unduly (IMO) highlights March 15, '16, when the AlphaGo computer program beat the top Go player** in Seoul, Korea as "one of those dates that the human race will always remember." Yeah, I don't recall a thing about it, and I never did. Well, the point is that the Chinese have been overtaking the US quickly, or already have, and that should scare us ... to do what? Should we do what we did after Sputnik? "By the end of this da-KADE [trying to do a Kennedy accent here], we will have computers that will make you obsolete. We should all kill ourselves by the end of this da-KADE." Do we really want to keep up on A.I. and the Orwellian visions of China. This is the subject of a recent John Derbyshire article, in fact - Give Us Liberty or Give Us Artificial Intelligence Victory Over China? I Choose Liberty (I probably should have pointed the reader to that Derbyshire article already, as it could be read along with this part of our review.)
The author then describes how cameras and facial recognition are being used to their full abilities to monitor Chinese
The forecast is for China to have from their 176 million surveillance cameras that they had in '16 to 600 million of them, many of them attached to AI, by 2020. Wait, that's now! These are networked at this very time so that Chinese people can be tracked in real time, at least in the city areas (hmmm, what book does this remind me of?) Skynet is not only real now rather than just a Sci-Fi movie, but the Chinese even named their camera/A.I. network that. The People's Daily claimed back in '18 "to be capable of identifying any one of China's 1.4 billion citizens [sic] within a second..." "Masks hats, sunglasses, even plastic surgery present on problem these days, claim Megvii and SenseTime."***
This same chapter also gets into the various widely-used, as in by billions of people, apps that the Chinese use, such as WeChat. These apps do multiple things to where they are necessities of life, and you only need the few of them. Consolidation of spyware is good, per Fred Reed (same column linked-to above). Yeah, all those entrepreneurs make these cool apps, just like old time Silicon Valley, right? Wrong, these guys, such as the big ones, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and iFlytek (leader in speech recognition - that's who the world will be talking to in the future) don't do anything without the CCP approving of it.
The phones the apps run on are nothing but iEspionage and then the network is in on it too. Yeah, we've got our own NSA listening in, but that doesn't mean I want Huawei in on it too, sending every damn thing that goes on in my life to the Chinese Communist Party.
There is no longer any expectation of privacy in China, per the author. It's not just this spying though. "I'm just getting warmed up!" says Xi Pacino.**** Mr. Strittmatter documents so many different AREAS of life that the CCP wants to not just monitor but control and alter behavior in, that one should just read the book. I'm going to type in just one bit about school students in the new China (page 193, top):
Middle School No. 11 in Hangzhou drew enthusiastic attention from the press when it had "eyes in the sky" installed in every classroom: surveillance cameras with a continuous view of every student. "They are all-knowing eyes; nothing gets past them. As soon as someone nods off or starts daydreaming, he is captured on the spot, using facial recognition," said an article on Sina.com. According to the article, the cameras not only capture how often during the eight-hour school day a student's mind wanders; they also "analyze facial expression and mood -- whether someone is happy, sad, annoyed , or reluctant -- and send the data straight to a terminal that analyzes the student's attitude to learning. The system really does have magic powers."[My paragraph break, since the author failed on that.] Holy shit! I thought the face-diapering here was the worst it could get.
The school has long since done away with the school card that students use for the cafeteria or the library. "Students scan their faces to get food, they scan their faces to buy things, and they scan their faces to borrow books." Big data and facial recognition, according to the report, are helping "students to study more efficiently." A student named Xiao Qian admits that he used to be a bit lazy in the lessons he didn't enjoy as much: "You might close your eyes for a minute or read another school book under the desk." With the eyes in the sky, those days are gone: "Now you feel the gaze of a pair of mysterious eyes on you constantly, and no one dares to go off-task any longer."
Mr. Strittmatter gives lots of examples of the CCP doing their most cutting edge experiments in A.I. and control-freakiness on the Uighurs out there in what is now the boss man's dirt in the northwest. Now, I don't personally give a tinker's damn (even if I knew what that was) about the Uighurs, but the results of these evaluations of the new TECH (spit) methods will be used against everyone. Those Uighurs are expendable for the experiments.
There's lots more fun going on. Part of the effort by the CCP to get people to behave is through shaming. It's not like your Daddy's old-time shaming though - "hey quit spitting on the sidewalk next to the vegetables I'm selling. It's disgusting!" No, this is computer-, excuse me, A.I.-run shaming. Everyone can know who's behind on bills, such as the dating website or app, for example. There's no hiding anything.
That's it. I'll urge the Peak Stupidity reader to get ahold of this book one more time. We didn't know it would be in the Orient - or was the Orient that "Eastasia" in the book, the enemy of Oceania? The Chinese Communist Party and it's antiChrist leader Xi Jinping have been using 1984 as an instruction manual. Then they've improved greatly upon the "technology" in the book. Go China! Just keep that Orwellian shit over there, OK? No, they won't do that . That's the problem, which will be the subject of Part 4 of this review.
* Sure enough, this Strittmatter is clueless about the world of actual technology too. We complained before, in a footnote in Part 1 of this review, about the use of the words "TECH" or "technology" being used for computer/electronic technology only. On page 184, near the bottom of the page, we read "In the field of technology .." WTH?! There's no field of technology. Technology is the practical application of knowledge .. to ANYTHING. Is there not a whole lot of technology in fuel injectors, in tires, in welding, in textile weaving, in, yes, in automated soldering processes to make up those computers where this TECH resides too. C'mon, Strittmatter!
** Go is supposedly so much more complex than chess, it's not even funny. Chess in not funny either, at least when my kid beats me.
*** Does that sound a little overblown? The author notes that even when the claims are exaggerated, the effect on the population is the same. He starts off this chapter talking about a mental exercise about the "panopticon".
**** The movie Scent of a woman is where this quote is from.