xi jinping Fred Dufour - Pool/Getty Images

Long Reads

The AI Threat to Open Societies

In an age of populist nationalism, open societies have increasingly come under strain. But the threat of atavistic ideological movements pales in comparison to that posed by powerful new technologies in the hands of authoritarians.

DAVOS – I want to warn the world about an unprecedented danger that’s threatening the very survival of open societies. 

The rapidly improving instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can produce are giving repressive regimes an inherent advantage. For them, the improving instruments of control are a help; for open societies they constitute a mortal danger.

I’ll focus on China, where President Xi Jinping wants a one-party state to reign supreme. Xi is trying to consolidate all the available information about a person into a centralized database to create a “social credit system.” Based on these data, people will be evaluated by algorithms that will determine whether they pose a threat to the one-party state. People will then be treated accordingly.

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