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Can’t Watch This: Chinese Scientists Develop Device That Sounds Alarm When Men Look at Porn

As pornography is illegal in China, artificial intelligence is being utilized by Chinese companies and authorities to identify questionable content in a kind of cat and mouse game of trying to eliminate it altogether.

A technological device that can “read a man’s mind” and determine whether or not he is watching pornography has been created in China, the South China Morning Post reported, citing the research team in Beijing behind the initiative.

The subject of the test reportedly wears a device on their head that can detect a spike in brainwaves caused by sexual content, which could speed up the task of censors trying to find indecent images on the Chinese internet.

In order to test the device, 15 male university students between the ages of 20 and 25 consented to wear it in front of a computer screen. An alarm sounded every single time a sensitive image appeared, according to the report.

Xu Jianjun, the director of the electrical engineering experiment center at Beijing Jiaotong University, who is a lead author of the research, published in the national Journal of Electronic Measurement and Instrumentation on June 13, told the outlet that the prototype device demonstrated that human-machine collaboration was possible “for bad information detection.”

As part of its fight against online pornography, the Chinese government uses a sizable workforce of so-called jian huang shi, or “porn appraisers” – professional censors that monitor movies and images shared on the internet or social media. But whereas human censors get tired rather easily compared to machines, the limitations of AI’s picture recognition algorithms lead to occasional mistakes.

According to Xu, the new technology is an effort to leverage the combined power of humans and machines to achieve more precision and efficiency.

Human eyes and brains still outperform robotic devices when detecting pornographic content, especially for photographs with a complex background, the researchers reportedly wrote, despite the recent significant advancements in AI. They discovered that even if a naked image flashes briefly on-screen among other photographs, people still tend to notice it.

And with the proposed technology, a jian huang shi could use the helmet to display a ton of pictures continuously till the censor blinked; they simply have to sit in front of a screen.

The new device, according to the report, may automatically adjust to a human subject’s brainwaves and filter out disturbances in the brain signal brought on by emotion, fatigue, or other ideas.

However, some misfires are indeed taking place. Although almost all of the pornographic content was detected by the device, it occasionally raised a false warning. And more to that, the researchers reportedly had to conceal the most delicate portions of a sample image in order to comply with Chinese regulatory constraints, which could have diminished the image’s visual impact. They also reportedly claimed that finding adequate training materials was another challenge.

No female volunteers participated in these tests despite the fact that many jian huang shi are women, leaving the topic of whether gender impacts the device’s function unresolved. So, more practice is reportedly required to increase the device’s performance, which had an overall accuracy rate of over 80%.

Some have reportedly raised fears that this new technology could lead to major ethical issues, such as privacy invasion.

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