Techno-Tryanny: How the US National Security State is Using the Coronavirus to Fulfill an Orwellian Vision (Whitney Webb article and interviews)



III. TECH TYRANNY- How the National Security State Is Using Coronavirus to Push AI-Driven Mass Surveillance

by Whitney Webb
April 21st, 2020

How the National Security State Is Using Coronavirus to Push AI-Driven Mass Surveillance

Last year a government commission called for the US to adopt an AI-driven mass surveillance system far beyond that used in any other country. Now, many of the “obstacles” cited as preventing its implementation are being removed under the guise of combating coronavirus.

WASHINGTON DC (The Last American Vagabond) — Last year, a U.S. government body dedicated to examining how artificial intelligence can “address the national security and defense needs of the United States” discussed in detail the “structural” changes that the American economy and society must undergo in order to ensure a technological advantage over China, according to a recent document acquired through an FOIA request. This document suggests that the U.S. follow China’s lead and even surpass them in many aspects related to AI-driven technologies, particularly their use of mass surveillance. This perspective clearly clashes with the public rhetoric of prominent U.S. government officials and politicians on China, who have labeled the Chinese government’s technology investments and export of its surveillance systems and other technologies as a major “threat” to Americans’ “way of life.”

In addition, many of the steps for the implementation of such a program in the U.S., as laid out in this newly available document, are currently being promoted and implemented as part of the government’s response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. This likely due to the fact that many members of this same body have considerable overlap with the taskforces and advisors currently guiding the government’s plans to “re-open the economy” and efforts to use technology to respond to the current crisis.

The FOIA document, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was produced by a little-known U.S. government organization called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). It was created by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its official purpose is “to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.”

The NSCAI is a key part of the government’s response to what is often referred to as the coming “fourth industrial revolution,” which has been described as “a revolution characterized by discontinuous technological development in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology and biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing.”

However, their main focus is ensuring that “the United States … maintain a technological advantage in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other associated technologies related to national security and defense.” The vice-chair of NSCAI, Robert Work – former Deputy Secretary of Defense and senior fellow at the hawkish Center for a New American Security (CNAS), described the commission’s purpose as determining “how the U.S. national security apparatus should approach artificial intelligence, including a focus on how the government can work with industry to compete with China’s ‘civil-military fusion’ concept.”

The recently released NSCAI document is a May 2019 presentation entitled “Chinese Tech Landscape Overview.” Throughout the presentation, the NSCAI promotes the overhaul of the U.S. economy and way of life as necessary for allowing the U.S. to ensure it holds a considerable technological advantage over China, as losing this advantage is currently deemed a major “national security” issue by the U.S. national security apparatus. This concern about maintaining a technological advantage can be seen in several other U.S. military documents and think tank reports, several of which have warned that the U.S.’ technological advantage is quickly eroding.

The U.S. government and establishment media outlets often blame alleged Chinese espionage or the Chinese government’s more explicit partnerships with private technology companies in support of their claim that the U.S. is losing this advantage over China. For instance, Chris Darby, the current CEO of the CIA’s In-Q-Tel, who is also on the NSCAI, told CBS News last year that China is the U.S.’ main competitor in terms of technology and that U.S. privacy laws were hampering the U.S.’ capacity to counter China in this regard, stating that:

[D]ata is the new oil. And China is just awash with data. And they don’t have the same restraints that we do around collecting it and using it, because of the privacy difference between our countries. This notion that they have the largest labeled data set in the world is going to be a huge strength for them.”

In another example, Michael Dempsey – former acting Director of National Intelligence and currently a government-funded fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations – argued in The Hill that:

It’s quite clear, though, that China is determined to erase our technological advantage, and is committing hundreds of billions of dollars to this effort. In particular, China is determined to be a world leader in such areas as artificial intelligence, high performance computing, and synthetic biology. These are the industries that will shape life on the planet and the military balance of power for the next several decades.”

In fact, the national security apparatus of the United States is so concerned about losing a technological edge over China that the Pentagon recently decided to join forces directly with the U.S. intelligence community in order “to get in front of Chinese advances in artificial intelligence.” This union resulted in the creation of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), which ties together “the military’s efforts with those of the Intelligence Community, allowing them to combine efforts in a breakneck push to move government’s AI initiatives forward.” It also coordinates with other government agencies, industry, academics, and U.S. allies. Robert Work, who subsequently became the NSCAI vice-chair, said at the time that JAIC’s creation was a “welcome first step in response to Chinese, and to a lesser extent, Russian, plans to dominate these technologies.”

Similar concerns about “losing” technological advantage to China have also been voiced by the NSCAI chairman, Eric Schmidt, the former head of Alphabet – Google’s parent company, who argued in February in the New York Times that Silicon Valley could soon lose “the technology wars” to China if the U.S. government doesn’t take action. Thus, the three main groups represented within the NSCAI – the intelligence community, the Pentagon and Silicon Valley – all view China’s advancements in AI as a major national security threat (and in Silicon Valley’s case, threat to their bottom lines and market shares) that must be tackled quickly.

Targeting China’s “adoption advantage”

In the May 2019 “Chinese Tech Landscape Overview” presentation, the NSCAI discusses that, while the U.S. still leads in the “creation” stage of AI and related technologies, it lags behind China in the “adoption” stage due to “structural factors.” It says that “creation”, followed by “adoption” and “iteration” are the three phases of the “life cycle of new tech” and asserts that failing to dominate in the “adoption” stage will allow China to “leapfrog” the U.S. and dominate AI for the foreseeable future.

The presentation also argues that, in order to “leapfrog” competitors in emerging markets, what is needed is not “individual brilliance” but instead specific “structural conditions that exist within certain markets.” It cites several case studies where China is considered to be “leapfrogging” the U.S. due to major differences in these “structural factors.” Thus, the insinuation of the document (though not directly stated) is that the U.S. must alter the “structural factors” that are currently responsible for its lagging behind China in the “adoption” phase of AI-driven technologies.

Chief among the troublesome “structural factors” highlighted in this presentation are so-called “legacy systems” that are common in the U.S. but much less so in China. The NSCAI document states that examples of “legacy systems” include a financial system that still utilizes cash and card payments, individual car ownership and even receiving medical attention from a human doctor. It states that, while these “legacy systems” in the US are “good enough,” too many “good enough” systems “hinder the adoption of new things,” specifically AI-driven systems.

Another structural factor deemed by the NSCAI to be an obstacle to the U.S.’ ability to maintain a technological advantage over China is the “scale of the consumer market,” arguing that “extreme urban density = on-demand service adoption.” In other words, extreme urbanization results in more people using online or mobile-based “on-demand” services, ranging from ride-sharing to online shopping. It also cites the use of mass surveillance on China’s “huge population base” is an example of how China’s “scale of consumer market” advantage allowing “China to leap ahead” in the fields of related technologies, like facial recognition.

In addition to the alleged shortcomings of the U.S.’ “legacy systems” and lack of “extreme urban density,” the NSCAI also calls for more “explicit government support and involvement” as a means to speed up the adoption of these systems in the U.S. This includes the government lending its stores of data on civilians to train AI, specifically citing facial recognition databases, and mandating that cities be “re-architected around AVs [autonomous vehicles],” among others. Other examples given include the government investing large amounts of money in AI start-ups and adding tech behemoths to a national, public-private AI taskforce focused on smart city-implementation (among other things).

With regards to the latter, the document says “this level of public-private cooperation” in China is “outwardly embraced” by the parties involved, with this “serving as a stark contrast to the controversy around Silicon Valley selling to the U.S. government.” Examples of such controversy, from the NSCAI’s perspective, likely include Google employees petitioning to end the Google-Pentagon “Project Maven,” which uses Google’s AI software to analyze footage captured by drones. Google eventually chose not to renew its Maven contract as a result of the controversy, even though top Google executives viewed the project as a “golden opportunity” to collaborate more closely with the military and intelligence communities.

The document also defines another aspect of government support as the “clearing of regulatory barriers.” This term is used in the document specifically with respect to U.S. privacy laws, despite the fact that the U.S. national security state has long violated these laws with near complete impunity. However, the document seems to suggest that privacy laws in the U.S. should be altered so that what the U.S. government has done “in secret” with private citizen data can be done more openly and more extensively. The NSCAI document also discusses the removal of “regulatory barriers” in order to speed up the adoption of self-driving cars, even though autonomous driving technology has resulted in several deadly and horrific car accidents and presents other safety concerns.

Also discussed is how China’s “adoption advantage” will “allow it to leapfrog the U.S.” in several new fields, including “AI medical diagnosis” and “smart cities.” It then asserts that “the future will be decided at the intersection of private enterprise and policy leaders between China and the U.S.” If this coordination over the global AI market does not occur, the document warns that “we [the U.S.] risk being left out of the discussions where norms around AI are set for the rest of our lifetimes.”

The presentation also dwells considerably on how “the main battleground [in technology] are not the domestic Chinese and US markets,” but what it refers to as the NBU (next billion users) markets, where it states that “Chinese players will aggressively challenge Silicon Valley.” In order to challenge them more successfully, the presentation argues that, “just like we [view] the market of teenagers as a harbinger for new trends, we should look at China.”

The document also expresses concerns about China exporting AI more extensively and intensively than the U.S., saying that China is “already crossing borders” by helping to build facial databases in Zimbabwe and selling image recognition and smart city systems to Malaysia. If allowed to become “the unambiguous leader in AI,” it says that “China could end up writing much of the rulebook of international norms around the deployment of AI” and that it would “broaden China’s sphere of influence amongst an international community that increasingly looks to the pragmatic authoritarianism of China and Singapore as an alternative to Western liberal democracy.”

What will replace America’s “legacy systems”?

Given that the document makes it quite clear that “legacy systems” in the U.S. are impeding its ability to prevent China from “leapfrogging” ahead in AI and then dominating it for the foreseeable future, it is also important to examine what the document suggests should replace these “legacy systems” in the U.S.

As previously mentioned, one “legacy system” cited early on in the presentation is the main means of payment for most Americans, cash and credit/debit cards. The presentation asserts, in contrast to these “legacy systems” that the best and most advanced system is moving entirely to smartphone-based digital wallets.

It notes specifically the main mobile wallet provider in India, PayTM, is majority owned by Chinese companies. It quotes an article, which states that “a big break came [in 2016] when India canceled 86% of currency in circulation in an effort to cut corruption and bring more people into the tax net by forcing them to use less cash.” At the time, claims that India’s 2016 “currency reform” would be used as a stepping stone towards a cashless society were dismissed by some as “conspiracy theory.” However, last year, a committee convened by India’s central bank (and led by an Indian tech oligarch who also created India’s massive civilian biometric database) resulted in the Indian government’s “Cashless India” program.

Regarding India’s 2016 “currency reform,” the NSCAI document then asserts that “this would be unfathomable in the West. And unsurprisingly, when 86% of the cash got cancelled and nobody had a credit card, mobile wallets in India exploded, laying the groundwork for a far more advanced payments ecosystem in India than the US.” However, it has become increasingly less unfathomable in light of the current coronavirus crisis, which has seen efforts to reduce the amount of cash used because paper bills may carry the virus as well as efforts to introduce a Federal Reserve-backed “digital dollar.”

In addition, the NSCAI document from last May calls for the end of in-person shopping and promotes moving towards all shopping being performed online. It argues that “American companies have a lot to gain by adopting ideas from Chinese companies” by shifting towards exclusive e-commerce purchasing options. It states that only shopping online provides a “great experience” and also adds that “when buying online is literally the only way to get what you want, consumers go online.”

Another “legacy system” that the NSCAI seeks to overhaul is car ownership, as it promotes autonomous, or self-driving vehicles and further asserts that “fleet ownership > individual ownership.” It specifically points to a need for “a centralized ride-sharing network,” which it says “is needed to coordinate cars to achieve near 100% utilization rates.” However, it warns against ride-sharing networks that “need a human operator paired with each vehicle” and also asserts that “fleet ownership makes more sense” than individual car ownership. It also specifically calls for these fleets to not only be composed of self-driving cars, but electric cars and cites reports that China “has the world’s most aggressive electric vehicle goals….and seek[s] the lead in an emerging industry.”

The document states that China leads in ride-sharing today even though ride-sharing was pioneered first in the U.S. It asserts once again that the U.S. “legacy system” of individual car ownership and lack of “extreme urban density” are responsible for China’s dominance in this area. It also predicts that China will “achieve mass autonomous [vehicle] adoption before the U.S.,” largely because “the lack of mass car ownership [in China] leads to far more consumer receptiveness to AVs [autonomous vehicles].” It then notes that “earlier mass adoption leads to a virtuous cycle that allows Chinese core self-driving tech to accelerate beyond [its] Western counterparts.”

In addition to their vision for a future financial system and future self-driving transport system, the NSCAI has a similarly dystopian vision for surveillance. The document calls mass surveillance “one of the ‘first-and-best customers’ for AI” and “a killer application for deep learning.” It also states that “having streets carpeted with cameras is good infrastructure.”

It then discusses how “an entire generation of AI unicorn” companies are “collecting the bulk of their early revenue from government security contracts” and praises the use of AI in facilitating policing activities. For instance, it lauds reports that “police are making convictions based on phone calls monitored with iFlyTek’s voice-recognition technology” and that “police departments are using [AI] facial recognition tech to assist in everything from catching traffic law violators to resolving murder cases.”

On the point of facial recognition technology specifically, the NSCAI document asserts that China has “leapt ahead” of the US on facial recognition, even though “breakthroughs in using machine learning for image recognition initially occurred in the US.” It claims that China’s advantage in this instance is because they have government-implemented mass surveillance (“clearing of regulatory barriers”), enormous government-provided stores of data (“explicit government support”) combined with private sector databases on a huge population base (“scale of consumer market”). As a consequence of this, the NSCAI argues, China is also set to leap ahead of the U.S. in both image/facial recognition and biometrics.

The document also points to another glaring difference between the U.S. and its rival, stating that: “In the press and politics of America and Europe, Al is painted as something to be feared that is eroding privacy and stealing jobs. Conversely, China views it as both a tool for solving major macroeconomic challenges in order to sustain their economic miracle, and an opportunity to take technological leadership on the global stage.”

The NSCAI document also touches on the area of healthcare, calling for the implementation of a system that seems to be becoming reality thanks to the current coronavirus crisis. In discussing the use of AI in healthcare (almost a year before the current crisis began), it states that “China could lead the world in this sector” and “this could lead to them exporting their tech and setting international norms.” One reason for this is also that China has “far too few doctors for the population” and calls having enough doctors for in-person visits a “legacy system.” It also cited U.S. regulatory measures such as “HIPPA compliance and FDA approval” as obstacles that don’t constrain Chinese authorities.

More troubling, it argues that “the potential impact of government supplied data is even more significant in biology and healthcare,” and says it is likely that “the Chinese government [will] require every single citizen to have their DNA sequenced and stored in government databases, something nearly impossible to imagine in places as privacy conscious as the U.S. and Europe.” It continues by saying that “the Chinese apparatus is well-equipped to take advantage” and calls these civilian DNA databases a “logical next step.”

Who are the NSCAI?

Given the sweeping changes to the U.S. that the NSCAI promoted in this presentation last May, it becomes important to examine who makes up the commission and to consider their influence over U.S. policy on these matters, particularly during the current crisis. As previously mentioned, the chairman of the NSCAI is Eric Schmidt, the former head of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) who has also invested heavily in Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies including the controversial start-up “incubator” Team8. In addition, the committee’s vice-chair is Robert Work, is not only a former top Pentagon official, but is currently working with the think tank CNAS, which is run by John McCain’s long-time foreign policy adviser and Joe Biden’s former national security adviser.

Other members of the NSCAI are as follows:

Safra Catz, CEO of Oracle, with close ties to Trump’s top donor Sheldon Adelson
Steve Chien, supervisor of the Artificial Intelligence Group at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Lab
Mignon Clyburn, Open Society Foundation fellow and former FCC commissioner
Chris Darby, CEO of In-Q-Tel (CIA’s venture capital arm)
Ken Ford, CEO of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
Jose-Marie Griffiths, president of Dakota State University and former National Science Board member
Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research Labs
Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services (CIA contractor)
Gilman Louie, partner at Alsop Louie Partners and former CEO of In-Q-Tel
William Mark, director of SRI International and former Lockheed Martin director
Jason Matheny, director of the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, former Assistant director of National Intelligence and former director of IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Project Agency)
Katharina McFarland, consultant at Cypress International and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition
Andrew Moore, head of Google Cloud AI

As can be seen in the list above, there is a considerable amount of overlap between the NSCAI and the companies currently advising the White House on “re-opening” the economy (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Lockheed Martin, Oracle) and one NSCAI member, Oracle’s Safra Katz, is on the White House’s “economic revival” taskforce. Also, there is also overlap between the NSCAI and the companies that are intimately involved in the implementation of the “contact tracing” “coronavirus surveillance system,” a mass surveillance system promoted by the Jared Kushner-led, private-sector coronavirus task force. That surveillance system is set to be constructed by companies with deep ties to Google and the U.S. national security state, and both Google and Apple, who create the operating systems for the vast majority of smartphones used in the U.S., have said they will now build that surveillance system directly into their smartphone operating systems.

Also notable is the fact that In-Q-Tel and the U.S. intelligence community has considerable representation on the NSCAI and that they also boast close ties with Google, Palantir and other Silicon Valley giants, having been early investors in those companies. Both Google and Palantir, as well as Amazon (also on the NSCAI) are also major contractors for U.S. intelligence agencies. In-Q-Tel’s involvement on the NSCAI is also significant because they have been heavily promoting mass surveillance of consumer electronic devices for use in pandemics for the past several years. Much of that push has come from In-Q-Tel’s current Executive Vice President Tara O’Toole, who was previously the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and also co-authored several controversial biowarfare/pandemic simulations, such as Dark Winter.

In addition, since at least January, the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon have been at the forefront of developing the U.S. government’s still-classified “9/11-style” response plans for the coronavirus crisis, alongside the National Security Council. Few news organizations have noted that these classified response plans, which are set to be triggered if and when the U.S. reaches a certain number of coronavirus cases, has been created largely by elements of the national security state (i.e. the NSC, Pentagon, and intelligence), as opposed to civilian agencies or those focused on public health issues.

Furthermore, it has been reported that the U.S. intelligence community as well as U.S. military intelligence knew by at least January (though recent reports have said as early as last November) that the coronavirus crisis would reach “pandemic proportions” by March. The American public were not warned, but elite members of the business and political classes were apparently informed, given the record numbers of CEO resignations in January and several high-profile insider trading allegations that preceded the current crisis by a matter of weeks.

Perhaps even more disconcerting is the added fact that the U.S. government not only participated in the eerily prescient pandemic simulation last October known as Event 201, it also led a series of pandemic response simulations last year. Crimson Contagion was a series of four simulations that involved 19 U.S. federal agencies, including intelligence and the military, as well as 12 different states and a host of private sector companies that simulated a devastating pandemic influenza outbreak that had originated in China. It was led by the current HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Robert Kadlec, who is a former lobbyist for military and intelligence contractors and a Bush-era homeland security “bioterrorism” advisor.

Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec speaks before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the coronavirus on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Robert Kadlec speaks before a Senate hearing on the coronavirus on Capitol Hill, March 3, 2020, in Washington. Andrew Harnik | AP

In addition, both Kadlec and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which was intimately involved in Event 201, have direct ties to the controversial June 2001 biowarfare exercise “Dark Winter,” which predicted the 2001 anthrax attacks that transpired just months later in disturbing ways. Though efforts by media and government were made to blame the anthrax attacks on a foreign source, the anthrax was later found to have originated at a U.S. bioweapons lab and the FBI investigation into the case has been widely regarded as a cover-up, including by the FBI’s once-lead investigator on that case.

Given the above, it is worth asking if those who share the NSCAI’s vision saw the coronavirus pandemic early on as an opportunity to make the “structural changes” it had deemed essential to countering China’s lead in the mass adoption of AI-driven technologies, especially considering that many of the changes in the May 2019 document are now quickly taking place under the guise of combatting the coronavirus crisis.

The NSCAI vision takes shape

Though the May 2019 NSCAI document was authored nearly a year ago, the coronavirus crisis has resulted in the implementation of many of the changes and the removal of many of the “structural” obstacles that the commission argued needed to be drastically altered in order to ensure a technological advantage over China in the field of AI. The aforementioned move away from cash, which is taking place not just in the U.S. but internationally, is just one example of many.

For instance, earlier this week CNN reported that grocery stores are now considering banning in-person shopping and that the U.S. Department of Labor has recommended that retailers nationwide start “‘using a drive-through window or offering curbside pick-up’ to protect workers for exposure to coronavirus.” In addition, last week, the state of Florida approved an online-purchase plan for low income families using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Other reports have argued that social distancing inside grocery stores is ineffective and endangering people’s lives. As previously mentioned, the May 2019 NSCAI document argues that moving away from in-person shopping is necessary to mitigate China’s “adoption advantage” and also argued that “when buying online is literally the only way to get what you want, consumers go online.”

Reports have also argued that these changes in shopping will last far beyond coronavirus, such as an article by Business Insider entitled “The coronavirus pandemic is pushing more people online and will forever change how Americans shop for groceries, experts say.” Those cited in the piece argue that this shift away from in-person shopping will be “permanent” and also states that “More people are trying these services than otherwise would have without this catalyst and gives online players a greater chance to acquire and keep a new customer base.” A similar article in Yahoo! News argues that, thanks to the current crisis, “our dependence on online shopping will only rise because no one wants to catch a virus at a shop.”

In addition, the push towards the mass use of self-driving cars has also gotten a boost thanks to coronavirus, with driverless cars now making on-demand deliveries in California. Two companies, one Chinese-owned and the other backed by Japan’s SoftBank, have since been approved to have their self-driving cars used on California roads and that approval was expedited due to the coronavirus crisis. The CPO of Nuro Inc., the SoftBank-backed company, was quoted in Bloomberg as saying that “The Covid-19 pandemic has expedited the public need for contactless delivery services. Our R2 fleet is custom-designed to change the very nature of driving and the movement of goods by allowing people to remain safely at home while their groceries, medicines, and packages are brought to them.” Notably, the May 2019 NSCAI document references the inter-connected web of SoftBank-backed companies, particularly those backed by its largely Saudi-funded “Vision Fund,” as forming “the connective tissue for a global federation of tech companies” set to dominate AI.

California isn’t the only state to start using self-driving cars, as the Mayo Clinic of Florida is now also using them. “Using artificial intelligence enables us to protect staff from exposure to this contagious virus by using cutting-edge autonomous vehicle technology and frees up staff time that can be dedicated to direct treatment and care for patients,” Kent Thielen, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida stated in a recent press release cited by Mic.

Like the changes to in-person shopping in the age of coronavirus, other reports assert that self-driving vehicles are here to stay. One report published by Mashable is entitled “It took a coronavirus outbreak for self-driving cars to become more appealing,” and opens by stating “Suddenly, a future full of self-driving cars isn’t just a sci-fi pipe dream. What used to be considered a scary, uncertain technology for many Americans looks more like an effective tool to protect ourselves from a fast-spreading, infectious disease.” It further argues that this is hardly a “fleeting shift” in driving habits and one tech CEO cited in the piece, Anuja Sonalker of Steer Tech, claims that “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology. Humans are biohazards, machines are not.”

Another focus of the NSCAI presentation, AI medicine, has also seen its star rise in recent weeks. For instance, several reports have touted how AI-driven drug discovery platforms have been able to identify potential treatments for coronavirus. Microsoft, whose research lab director is on the NSCAI, recently put $20 million into its “AI for health” program to speed up the use of AI in analyzing coronavirus data. In addition, “telemedicine”– a form of remote medical care – has also become widely adopted due to the coronavirus crisis.

Several other AI-driven technologies have similarly become more widely adopted thanks to coronavirus, including the use of mass surveillance for “contact tracing” as well as facial recognition technology and biometrics. A recent Wall Street Journal report stated that the government is seriously considering both contact tracing via phone geolocation data and facial recognition technology in order to track those who might have coronavirus. In addition, private businesses – like grocery stores and restaurants – are using sensors and facial recognition to see how many people and which people are entering their stores.

As far as biometrics go, university researchers are now working to determine if “smartphones and biometric wearables already contain the data we need to know if we have become infected with the novel coronavirus.” Those efforts seek to detect coronavirus infections early by analyzing “sleep schedules, oxygen levels, activity levels and heart rate” based on smartphone apps like FitBit and smartwatches. In countries outside the U.S., biometric IDs are being touted as a way to track those who have and lack immunity to coronavirus.

In addition, one report in The Edge argued that the current crisis is changing what types of biometrics should be used, asserting that a shift towards thermal scanning and facial recognition is necessary:

At this critical juncture of the crisis, any integrated facial recognition and thermal scanning solution must be implemented easily, rapidly and in a cost-effective manner. Workers returning to offices or factories must not have to scramble to learn a new process or fumble with declaration forms. They must feel safe and healthy for them to work productively. They just have to look at the camera and smile. Cameras and thermal scanners, supported by a cloud-based solution and the appropriate software protocols, will do the rest.”

Also benefiting from the coronavirus crisis is the concept of “smart cities,” with Forbes recently writing that “Smart cities can help us combat the coronavirus pandemic.” That article states that “Governments and local authorities are using smart city technology, sensors and data to trace the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus. At the same time, smart cities are also helping in efforts to determine whether social distancing rules are being followed.”

That article in Forbes also contains the following passage:

…[T]he use of masses of connected sensors makes it clear that the coronavirus pandemic is–intentionally or not–being used as a testbed for new surveillance technologies that may threaten privacy and civil liberties. So aside from being a global health crisis, the coronavirus has effectively become an experiment in how to monitor and control people at scale.”

Another report in The Guardian states that “If one of the government takeaways from coronavirus is that ‘smart cities’ including Songdo or Shenzhen are safer cities from a public health perspective, then we can expect greater efforts to digitally capture and record our behaviour in urban areas – and fiercer debates over the power such surveillance hands to corporations and states.” There have also been reports that assert that typical cities are “woefully unprepared” to face pandemics compared to “smart cities.”

Yet, beyond many of the NSCAI’s specific concerns regarding mass AI adoption being conveniently resolved by the current crisis, there has also been a concerted effort to change the public’s perception of AI in general. As previously mentioned, the NSCAI had pointed out last year that:

In the press and politics of America and Europe, Al is painted as something to be feared that is eroding privacy and stealing jobs. Conversely, China views it as both a tool for solving major macroeconomic challenges in order to sustain their economic miracle, and an opportunity to take technological leadership on the global stage.”

Now, less than a year later, the coronavirus crisis has helped spawn a slew of headlines in just the last few weeks that paint AI very differently, including “How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fight Coronavirus,” “How AI May Prevent the Next Coronavirus Outbreak,” “AI Becomes an Ally in the Fight Against COVID-19,” “Coronavirus: AI steps up in battle against COVID-19,” and “Here’s How AI Can Help Africa Fight the Coronavirus,” among numerous others.

It is indeed striking how the coronavirus crisis has seemingly fulfilled the NSCAI’s entire wishlist and removed many of the obstacles to the mass adoption of AI technologies in the United States. Like major crises of the past, the national security state appears to be using the chaos and fear to promote and implement initiatives that would be normally rejected by Americans and, if history is any indicator, these new changes will remain long after the coronavirus crisis fades from the news cycle. It is essential that these so-called “solutions” be recognized for what they are and that we consider what type of world they will end up creating – an authoritarian technocracy. We ignore the rapid advance of these NSCAI-promoted initiatives and the phasing out of so-called “legacy systems” (and with them, many long-cherished freedoms) at our own peril.

Feature photo | A computer monitors some of Cadet Cheyenne Quilter’s reactions as she works with a virtual reality character named “Ellie” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Seth Wenig | AP

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News contributing journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Comments to First Video

Militant.Monk • 15 days ago
China is just a false enemy. They want you to believe that there’s a conflict with China while they steadily turn the whole world into China.

marketapley Militant.Monk • 15 days ago
China is the Zionist NWO Model for the Global totalitarian State.

Militant.Monk marketapley • 14 days ago
The Neo-Bolshevik state?
There aren’t many who would disagree with that.

xtong@usa marketapley • 2 days ago
You are not wrong, but too few Chinese can see that.

Brutal Honesty Militant.Monk • 15 days ago
Excellent comment!

Khechari Militant.Monk • 4 days ago
“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”
Jandre Kroeze • 15 days ago
Hospitals have become Human extermination Centres. Avoid at all costs. At this stage they have tasted the power and are drunk on it. Bloodthirsty psycho killers. Empowered to be mass-murderers. Its horrifying. Theres no telling how many they have exterminated , forced “treated”.

xydki • 14 days ago • edited
As you quote President Eisenhower, Mr. Cristian, are you aware of the claims from many sources he murdered more than a million German P.O.W.’s? This was done in dozens of “open air death camps”, where they were fenced in like sardines over acres of land, outside with no shelter or any sanitary facilities. There are photos and film recording these masses of murderously imprisoned men and survivor’s and other witnesses’ testimonies. The men were left there through a cold April, where massive numbers died from exposure, (Wikipedia notwithstanding.) This was a slow, torturous death. And just plain torture for any that emerged alive. (Eisenhower was also most likely responsible for Patton’s “elimination”, at roughly the same time.)
Not that what he said isn’t pertinent. But do you quote Elliott Abrams or the Bushes? Their war crimes are dwarfed by this and what was done to German civilians as well.
Please excuse me if this is “old news”, I’m just making sure you know who you’re quoting. Excuse me from wandering away from our favorite topic these days…
By the way, I tried to leave this comment on You Tube, but they “shadow banned” it. When you use a browser where your identity is not recognized by You Tube, you can see the comment isn’t there! But it shows up if google/ You Tube (same guys!) knows it’s you (the commenter) that’s looking at the video’s comments. Check this out for your own comments, people!

Parzival xydki • 6 days ago
I agree with you 100% having listened to stories my German grandfather told me about his WWII experiences, including being a POW in a US camp for two years inside of France.

Ariovistus • 14 days ago
Is the number 19 some kind of message about AI? 19 hijackers on 911 and now 19 years later we have covid-19. If the message is too esoteric or complicated, few people would get it, but a simple explanation is that ‘A’ is the first letter of the alphabet and ‘I’ is the ninth letter

stvjns Ariovistus • 4 days ago
Thanks for that wonderful connection!

Akshobya Ariovistus • 6 days ago
I live in room 19. My last house was no 19

Ariovistus Akshobya • 5 days ago
That’s good, Akshobya, because we can test my theory that AI is attempting to reveal itself through the number 19. Are you a human being or AI software?

MattCoppola • 14 days ago
The virus is FAKE!!! END OF STORY!!!

Jandre • 15 days ago
Hold onto Love, Compassion and Empathy for as long as you can.

Sofa_King • 15 days ago
It is clear as day that this ‘someone’ is using China as a patsy… but man oh man are they are great patsy, people hate China

Fed-Up • 15 days ago
The plan……..
1. lie about everything….then
2. Just blame Hitler and Nazis….

Brutal Honesty marketapley • 15 days ago
Thanks for posting this…
Vagabond your chatroom/comment section is woke a.f.!

Arby • 14 days ago
They’re using the covid crisis, says Whitney. Does she take the position that the pandemic is real? Because it wasn’t. It was manufactured for dark purposes and that is the ongoing crisis.

5D or Bust • 14 days ago • edited
Isn’t the purpose of giving children SO many vaccines is to destroy their immune systems so your body as an adult can’t fight a damn thing….and you will require/need vaccines. to survive. AND all these tests for antibodies, to know if you ‘had’ covid 19….I trust NOTHING. Smokes to get a needle into you. Don’t fall for ANY of it. Trust NOTHING what these people are saying or promoting to do.

Animal-100 • 14 days ago
First; The Supercriminal Socio-Psychopathic Genocidal Megalomaniacal – Communist jew; “presi-puppet” Eisenhower coined that particular “counter-intelligence term” in order to deflect the blame for the entirely criminal and treasonous actions of the Executive and Other Officials on a “Nameless Entity.” The terms; “deep state,” “intelligence sector” and a “menu” of other similar “counter-intel terms” serve the same purpose. Do they ever “name” names? Once in a while they “offer up” a “fiat culprit” which is only later pardoned by the current or next degenerate presi-puppet anyway. They call it a “president’s warning to the people,”…? The People WERE at that time, and STILL ARE Classified as: ENEMIES OF THE STATE, Directly by the Actions of Eisenhower and Every One of the Following Degenerate Communist presi-puppets. Second; Eisenhower, like all the rest, since the “Supreme-Criminal” Communist-jew Roosevelt, (Rosenfeld) annually reauthorized the Emergency War Powers under the Emergency Banking Act of 1933. Though the Emergency War Powers have changed slightly in reauthorization timetables and, became progressively worse in recent years, Americans (except US INC employees) still remain Classified as: ENEMIES OF THE STATE! Third; Eisenhower is noted in the WORLD OF REAL HISTORY as Directly Responsible for Uncountable Needless US military deaths; The Support and the Installation of Communism and Communist Fiat-democracies in Europe and elsewhere; The Producer of Entirely False Propaganda Films during and after WW II; The Genocide of, and Wonton Barbarity perpetrated on millions of White Europeans, including the slavery and Deliberate Starvation of Prisoners of war and Civilians of Europe and, numberless other hideously criminal and duplicitious actions. Known as; “The Terrible Swedish Jew” by his classmates at West Point, and according to official records; Eisenhower was the major player behind the Patton Assassination and also is “on the record” as stating he; “Hates Germans.” Evidently, this “Hater of Germans” obviously “Loved” their technology and ideas so much he adapted and introduced them into America. Fourth; What never should have happened, and was only due to the “Writers of False History” to begin with; It’s way past time to stop praising this Degenerate Supercriminal Extrordinaire and his entirely false and diversionary terms and tactics!

Khechari Animal-100 • 4 days ago
That was a pretty good read.

Constructive criticism: I almost didn’t bother, because you didn’t separate it into more easily digestible paragraphs. You should drop the wall of text format, and separate into paragraphs. I bet more people would be willing to read it.

Anyway, nice write up.

cadu1995 • 15 days ago
DEVIOUS THIEVING JEW BASTARD PARACITES. https://israelpalestinenews…

ObsessiveCompulsive • 14 days ago
You are not beating them if you are competing for the same thing. This is the Jew’manji crew at it again. They need to go down the well

Hawkeye ObsessiveCompulsive • 11 days ago
Prove this is your “Jewish” racist thing?

danielktdoranie • 4 days ago
Real talk, and maybe I am missing something, but I don’t see how getting rid of the “legacy systems” is a bad thing. I guess I wouldn’t want these “legacy systems” forced out but for them to lose out in the marketplace of ideas.

Since COVID-19, with the exception to the loss of my freedom of movement, I feel my life has vastly improved. I can work from home, and thus get to spend time with my 5 year old daughter playing with her, and more importantly I am educating her EXACTLY how I want to educate her and not the state.

Paradoxically I have more freedom now and I am much happier. I don’t want to go back to my cubicle and I will fight it tooth and nail.

Hongster Hong • 6 days ago
My hypothesis is that there was an containment breach at Fort Detrick but by the time US CDC found out, containment was be too late, so they hatch a plan to infect China during the Wuhan military games to deflect blame. While US CDC can blame the deaths of the elderly on old age, they couldn’t with young people, so they blamed it on vaping. At the same time scapegoat COVID 19 for an impending economic recession (FED has been baling out the repo market in the trillion even before the outbreak).… That would also explain why US CDC refused test kits from WHO, delaying large scale testing until mid March 2020 so the virus spreads enough that it could no longer be traced back to Fort Detrick to allay suspicion.…

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yomamaluvsu • 6 days ago
I keep telling people that automation is coming. We have to rethink the way our civilization works. Automation is meant to make our work days shorter and less. It could take over the jobs that damage our health. The problem is that when you rethink this civilization you need to dump capitalism. Well we have a lot of corporations that want us to play our parts while they rule from on high and do what they please. The sad part is that they are run by criminals such as thieves and pedophiles. There are religious zealots pushing their agenda. We need people planning this that will respect human ingenuity and the freedom to think for ourselves without censorship. They don’t even care if we know the truth. They have plans to control that soon enough.

Khechari yomamaluvsu • 4 days ago • edited
“you need to dump capitalism”

What exactly do you mean by that?


Blue Sky • 6 days ago
Video is so slow, they might start controlling here too.

Dava Golin • 13 days ago
there are some many dots piled up on each other, dealing with so called conspiracies, leading to that foreign illegal apartheid nation…that you no longer need a line to connect because all these dots are so thick, connected. these elites have the perfect shield… Antisemitism and conspiracy theories! they hide their crimes and end all discussions with these 2 phrases.

Smart cities are Noahide cities…88 already are online china does have them,

Palestine today during the pandemic…the Zionist criminals, spread terror with the virus and purposely put the Palestinians in infected living conditions, tainted water and food… the ones who do this and allow
this, will soon do this horrendous form of control and murder to all… it is already happening….IDF is training Police everywhere and it is not out of the kindness of heart. Was it them that did the world wide Covid-19? Are all the police departments that comply with trumps red flag laws…those mayors and governors that are anti constitutional already under Noahide? This is the fault of those sold-out TRUMP Evangelicals, same as the so called Christians in
early America, who stood silent, when the native American Indians were murdered by genocide.. blankets given them infected with small pox. Soon we all will be Palestinians. NO REAL LEADERS. All to comfy and soft! meanwhile, the IDF has be practicing on the Palestinians since 1913. The IDF have been training The police and Military. trump
has been giving Police surplus military weapons & equipment. so most will just give up or die in a lone stand offs IN there homes. IF IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN IT SHOULD HAVE A LONG TIME AGO. sadly this will be an outdoor prison…like Palestine…history will be wiped and like Palestine, uninformed people will say America?… there never was a America… JUST LIKE MANY SAY TODAY ABOUT Palestine. people better start getting / staying in shape and learn the many
other methods to protect themselves other than guns….

Arby • 14 days ago
I am enjoying the discussion but I’m leaving it (at 28:56), on principle. I am appalled at Mint Press’s coverage of covid 19.

Arby • 14 days ago
Well, The transnational capitalist class is not happy with the abundance that it has. It seeks returns of between 3% and 10% on its investments. The financial giants invest in each other (because they are seen as safe) but needs to grow and collectively they control 41 trillion that they want to invest.

There are various interrelated agendas rolling out here. The (self-righteous) scumbags who gave the masses neoliberalism and austerity, so that could prosper, is now about to give them neoliberalism on steroids. Areas, Peter Phillips (who contradicts himself) notes in “Giants” that the TCC is targetting include vaccines, war, as well as the usual pesticides and tobacco and other evils. They don’t care, as Phillips notes, ‘how’ they make money. But Phillips thinks that they are earnest when they claim to care about poverty etc.. Go figure.

Arby • 14 days ago
I have a problem with Whtiney Webb because I have a problem with Mint Press which has helped spread the ‘harmful’ fear and panic over covid 19. I don’t care how many shows she appears on. Right is right. Wrong is wrong.

Arby • 14 days ago
Ryan wrote that when he was a kid. He was better than me.

5D or Bust • 14 days ago • edited
Understand this point very clearly. With all this techy crap to monitor you….will also have the capability to end you. Yep, drop you like 4 point buck during hunting season with a big gun….and they don’t even have to be in your presence. … and with the finesse that AI robots have, ‘Clean up in aisle 4’ over the PA….robots will show up to take your body away. What an ugly world they want. We are nothing more than meat suits to parasite from and dispose of like kleenex.

Buy land, build and gate. Thank you for the content. I appreciate the matter a fact approach.

cadu1995 • 15 days ago

cadu1995 • 15 days ago

cadu1995 • 15 days ago

Comments to Second Video

caiseejc • 7 days ago
Almost everyone she named are from a certain Judaic Tribe…coincidence???

Returnofdarkages • 7 days ago
I agree with her but I wonder whether it’s more about them working together. I’m not sure that this is a war against China but more a unity. Belt Road.

caiseejc Returnofdarkages • 7 days ago
Agreed! Seems like competing against China is just an excuse.

NaTsArIm • 6 days ago
this usa vs china is bullshot, over and over the people in power praise china system , they want china type government in usa and world wide . tired of the sleepers who think they have a clue

Night_Terrors • 6 days ago
I don’t trust this guy. He’s either dumb as a box of rocks or acting dense in order to obfuscate the message being presented by this woman.

HDRCFX_Cotswolds • 7 days ago
9-11 The Hoax Theory: FAKE NEWS, ………What did you think he was talking about….. Elvis, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster..

IV. Chinese Tech Landscape Overview (NSCAI document): EPIC-19-09-11-NSCAI-FOIA-20200331-3rd-Production-pt9.pdf

One Reply to “Techno-Tryanny: How the US National Security State is Using the Coronavirus to Fulfill an Orwellian Vision (Whitney Webb article and interviews)”

  1. I am being tortured 24/7 in Weymouth and Hull MA since 3/2017. My name is Tara Moore

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