Effective governance is a prerequisite for authoritarian regimes to stay in power. Yet there comes the autocrats’ dilemma: How do you find out what people most need from their government if you don’t let them tell you openly? China, the world’s largest autocracy, has turned to technology to try to resolve this predicament. Writing for MIT Technology Review, journalist Christina Larson lays out the dangers and pitfalls of using algorithms and secretive databases as governing tools. The technology that China employs to surveil and keep track of its population is available to governments around the world – which makes the Chinese case study relevant and intriguing to citizens of democracies.
In this summary, you will learn
- Why China gathers information on its population;
- How China uses technology as a tool for governance; and
- How big data and AI make it easier for governments to suppress political dissent.
About the Author
Christina Larson is a foreign correspondent and science journalist with a special focus on China and Asia.