China ‘tests AI facial recognition’ on ‘nervous’ Uyghurs in lie detector scandal

China has been accused of testing artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition as a “lie detector” to reveal the emotions of ethnic minority Uyghurs.

The camera systems have reportedly been fitted in police stations in the province of Xinjiang.

China has been heavily criticised over its controversial treatment of Uyghurs, who are mostly Muslim.

Human rights campaigners say more than 1million have been detained in "re-education camps”, which they have described as high security detention camps.

A software engineer told the BBC the cameras reveal whether someone has a negative state of mind or is anxious.

The whistleblower said police officers use restraint chairs which lock in people’s wrists and ankles using metal restraints.

The engineer said: “The Chinese government use Uyghurs as test subjects for various experiments just like rats are used in laboratories.

"We placed the emotion detection camera 3m from the subject. It is similar to a lie detector but far more advanced technology.”

The tool creates a pie chart based on the data fed into it, he said.

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This includes a red segment which represents a negative or anxious state of mind, the BBC reports.

The engineer said this was intended to be used as pre-judgement without “any credible evidence".

Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch, described the software as deeply problematic and shocking.

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She said it involves people who are under enormous pressure and are “understandably nervous” – which is “taken as an indication of guilt”.

Half of the world’s nearly 800 million surveillance cameras are said to be based in China, according to estimations.

Hu Liu, a journalist based in the city of Chongqing, told Panorama that with AI, there is nowhere to hide.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in London told the broadcaster: "The political, economic, and social rights and freedom of religious belief in all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are fully guaranteed.

"People live in harmony regardless of their ethnic backgrounds and enjoy a stable and peaceful life with no restriction to personal freedom."

The Daily Star has contacted the Chinese embassy.

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