SHANGHAI (reuters) – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mit), and at least one other university study along with the Chinese, an artificial intelligence company that has business relations with the police in the chinese region of Xinjiang, where a sweeping crackdown, the Regime has drawn international condemnation.
Is a 2016 of the procurement notice, the name of a company iFlytek, as the sole supplier of 25 of “voiceprint” systems for the collection of the police in Kashgar, a city in the province of Xinjiang. Another iFlytek-owned subsidiary, signed a “strategic cooperation framework agreement with Xinjiang’s prison administration bureau, according to May, 2017, in a blog post on a social media platform, WeChat.
The government can make use of voiceprint technology, which captures the unique signatures of a person who has the vote to help track and identify people, human rights activists say.
Reuters found no evidence that any of the universities have been directly involved in the creation of technology, iFlytek, or that it was intended for use in Xinjiang, where Uighurs, a Muslim minority group, have been kept under tight control, including in the “re-education camps.”
Still, a number of U.S. universities are taking a closer look at their collaboration with Chinese technology firms, in light of the U.S.-china trade conflict, Washington, dc, the review of the telecommunications-equipment maker Huawei, and the reports of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang province.
MIT, for example, announced in April that it will sever its ties with its arch-rival, Huawei, and ZTE, the U.S. government says are a threat to the safety and security. Other institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley, have also been stopped, funding from Huawei to all of the research partnerships.
iFlytek declined to comment on the activities of the chinese security forces in Xinjiang and other parts of the country. In a statement sent through WeChat, a representative told Reuters that “some of the co-operation and to the content which is related to the safety and security.”
The company added that the research at MIT is “based on a common understanding of the use of artificial intelligence to create a more beautiful world” and iFlytek was a “good corporate citizen.”
WITH that, last year, it announced a five-year agreement, under which iFlytek, it would help with taking out three research projects at the university’s renowned Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
The projects are related to the AI in the health system; speech recognition; and CSAIL, described in the notice, if it is to make more human AI.”
“CSAIL, understands, and has taken into account the concerns that have been raised about this kind of work,” a lab spokesman Adam Conner-Simons, said in an e-mail to Reuters. “But (we) decided that it would be appropriate to make the findings of all three projects will be published in the open literature, and the research is not expected to have any direct application.”
Randall Davis, an MIT research team, said: iFlytek did not intervene in health care research that involves the use of COMPUTER-driven analysis for the diagnosis of cognitive decline.
“We want to build a system that truly knows what you’re talking about, or what you really want by the look on your face,” said Davis, a professor of engineering and computer science.
He added that the iFlytek and had not sent anyone to work in his laboratory, and does not have exclusive access to the results of the study.
Dana Penney, director of neuropsychology at the Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Mass., who is working with CSAIL, said the research was “of the highest ethical and professional standards.” Jim Glass, that is, it is concerned with language-related research at MIT, said, iFlytek hadn’t interfered with the team’s work.
Joshua Tenenbaum, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences, who is also a research at MIT, as part of its partnership with iFlytek, did not respond to requests for comment.
In November Of 2017, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, all in the name of iFlytek was founded in 1999, is a national champion in the voice-based AI.
China Mobile, which is the public telecommunications operator, it is iFlytek’s second-largest shareholder, with a 12.85% of the outstanding shares, in accordance with its 2018 annual report, to be released in the month of April.
A tender notice from the Kashgar public security bureau, dated as of May 13, 2016 and provides for a wholly-owned subsidiary of iFlytek, iFlytek Intelligent Information Technology Co., Ltd, is a supplier of a 25-voiceprint systems for the data collection. Reuters could not verify, by iFlytek, or Xinjiang authorities of the order had been complied with.
On May 3, 2017, with a different iFlytek-owned subsidiary, whose name translates as “the Xinjiang iFlytek,” signed a strategic agreement with the Xinjiang prison administration bureau to participate in the interpretation and translation of the human voice, and in the court documents, according to a report from the May 6, 2017, at a iFlytek blog.
The Xinjiang government did not respond to a request for comment about the documents. The Xinjiang prison agency did not respond to a request for comment, and referred the request to the Xinjiang propaganda department. The propaganda department did not respond to a request for comment.
Government procurement database contains 31 different documents naming iFlytek Intelligent Information Technology, is an earlier name for the same company as the provider of the voiceprint associated with the products or services, up to and including 25 police departments in the country and the Ministry of Public Security, between 2014 and 2018. Most of the documents were from the police departments in Anhui province in eastern China, where iFlytek based.
The eight sections of the police force and the Ministry of Public Security confirmed that they have used or are still iFlytek voiceprint associated with the technology; and nine could not be reached or referred to in the request to the other departments of the company, which could not be achieved in five said that they were unaware of or unclear on such contracts; and three declined to comment.
Gao Kang), a police officer in Jixi County, Anhui province, confirmed that his department had purchased iFlytek voiceprint collection of appliances by 2015, and that it was still using it.
“Suspected criminals, or people who are suspected of having broken the law, have their voiceprints are collected to when they are in the us for the treatment of the area,” he said over the phone.
Maya Wang, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that she and a colleague interviewed the people in Xinjiang in May of 2018 and beyond, which had been taken to a police station and asked to read a newspaper, sing a song, tell a story, and in the front of the machine, which seemed to be included. iFlytek declined to comment on the question of whether it was the technology.
Activists say China is keeping more than 1 million people are held in detention camps in the province of Xinjiang. The authorities have implemented a range of biometric technologies to keep track of the population.
It has been said that the measure is justified by the need to clamp down on Islamic extremism, and in March, Xinjiang governor called for the camps, and “boarding houses.”
DUE DILIGENCE, MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
Even though the MIT, the donation is the latest in a series of iFlytek has been made in the last few years of the study, the company has other joint ventures in North America.
In October 2015, the York University in Toronto, ontario, Canada, has announced that iFlytek have had with the university, Lassonde School of Engineering to $1.5 million for the creation of a neural computing, and machine learning laboratory, and deals with being a professor.
Yanni Dagonas, a York University representative, said in an e-mail message that iFlytek’s 2015 gift to support an existing investigation, the results of the survey will be made available to the public, and that the investigation is not related to voiceprint technology.
“York does not accept gifts when a condition of such acceptance would result in a curtailment of academic freedom or integrity,” the statement read. The university added that it was not aware of the activities of the company, in the province of Xinjiang.
In April 2017 at Rutgers School of Business announced that it had accepted the $1 million provided by iFlytek, for a five-year effort to create a Big Data Lab to explore data mining and business intelligence, among other things, according to the school’s website.
The school, in a statement, calling the work” research of data mining methods that can be used by the company to improve the marketing effectiveness.” It is said that the agreement had been entered into on the mutual and in February, without saying why.
In its 2018 annual report, iFlytek advertising some of the so-called “strategic partnership” with Princeton University. The partnership is related to applied and computational mathematics, ” he said in a message on its website, which was a Wednesday.
Ben Chang, a Princeton university spokesman, confirmed in a statement that the iFlytek had been made by “a gift in support of the fundamental research carried out by a member of the faculty,” but said that the absence of a strategic co-operation agreement. The faculty will need to follow a due diligence process prior to the signing of the agreement, he added.
Reporting By Alexandra Harney; Additional reporting by John Ruwitch and the Shanghai newsroom. Edited by Gerry Doyle