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How much can government-provided surveillance technology influence and change our society? Approximately $1.5 million was provided by the Minerva Initiative and the Ministry of Defense to the University of Utah to examine this question.

The new study examines how the adoption of artificial intelligence-based surveillance technologies by some governments may affect social norms and structure. A multidisciplinary team of researchers from various universities was formed to investigate the export process of Chinese artificial intelligence-based surveillance technologies to Latin America.

As a major global supplier of artificial intelligence-based surveillance systems, China has already tested such systems in certain cities and even made public statements about them.

The study also raises a key question regarding the export effects of surveillance technologies: Does exporting technology also translate into exporting political norms? Or does the manner in which imported technology is used solely depend on the government that purchased it? As the United States, Russia, and China are all involved in the Great Power Competition, this is an important issue for US national security.

It is a common assumption in U.S. national security circles that China exports its government and surveillance technologies to other countries in order to spread “digital authoritarianism” internationally, thus challenging democratic forms of government around the world. During this three-year study, this assumption will be tested.