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Uncle Sam sanctions Chinese AI outfits for links to Xinjiang Uyghur human-rights abuses

Plus: A tool that automatically shames politicians distracted by their phones during official business

In Brief The Biden Administration has cracked down on Chinese AI companies over their links to human rights abuses against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.

These organizations will struggle to do business with America now that they're on Uncle Sam's Entity List [PDF]. US companies will need special permission from the government to work with them. Don't expect that permission to be granted.

Some of these Chinese businesses specialize in machine-learning technology for surveillance, particularly DeepGlint, Kuang-Chi Group, Xinjiang Lianhai Chuangzhi Company, and Shenzhen Cobber Information Technology.

DeepGlint, a facial-recognition startup, had received funding from Sequoia Capital, a top American VC firm, according to The Verge. The upstart's software was even audited by NIST for its Face Recognition Vendor Test in 2021, and achieved top accuracy scores.

Kuang-Chi Group specializes in telecoms and AI technologies for smart cities. Xinjiang Lianhai Chuangzhi Company has built checkpoints that automatically track Uyghurs moving across the region. Shenzhen Cobber Information Technology is another facial recognition business.

AI can tell when politicians are looking down at their phones in parliament

An artist and coder have built a tool that automatically detects when politicians in the Belgian parliament are on their phones during sessions, and calls them out by sharing on social media clips from video feeds of the distracted lawmakers.

The bot account The Flemish Scrollers has shamed a few politicians already on Twitter and Instagram. These folks are tagged in a post along with a message that reads, “pls stay focused!” The cheeky software was developed by Dries Depoorter and written in Python.

“Every meeting of the Flemish government in Belgium is live streamed on a YouTube channel. When a livestream starts the software is searching for phones and tries to identify a distracted politician,” he explained on his website.

The tool went live this week, pretty much two years after Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon was caught playing Angry Birds in a parliament, according to Mashable.

Facial-recognition software to stop kids playing games late at night

Children trying to play Tencent's games late at night face being automatically booted out by facial-recognition technology.

The chinese web giant announced it had rolled out machine-learning-based software that will automatically shut down its games if the device detects that someone under 18 is playing past 10pm. It will know whether someone is a minor or not by matching the face with a database of people’s photographs and their names and ages. The restrictions will only affect 60 games at first; Tencent said it will include more titles in the future.

Brats who hope to evade the system by declining to have their faces scanned will be automatically kicked off gaming apps. The Chinese government issued strict guidelines in 2019 to prevent under-18s from getting addicted to games; they should not play between 10pm to 8am and can only play for a maximum of 90 minutes except on national holidays when they can play for up to three hours, according to NPR. ®

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