The Party’s Over: Technology Trumps Ideology

Context: Can SenseTime become a Chinese AI champion?

Success here being defined as much by the extent to which a corporation becomes a compliant appendage of state control as by technical expertise. It’s a strange game – the control systems being fielded will gradually become the axioms of political power; what is successful as applications of automation, surveillance and prediction will eventually come by osmotic offset to hold the central position that ideology currently does, effectively displacing and over the longer term replacing it.

These kinds of sociotechnical drift are usually quite slow but I do wonder if the stakeholders in this context are actively aware of the extent to which their burgeoning dependency on technology as organ of social and economic control will dynamically reshape and lead ideology into something unexpected. Such changes are of the core nature of technological metamorphosis and AI is in this sense really just an accelerated, exponentiated form of the same trend towards sociotechnical complexity; data in AI recursively writes the (software) systems just as technology rewrites the axioms of normative (self-)organisational practice, quite agnostic of where one sits on the ideological spectrum.

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