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    China’s ‘mind-reading’ porn detection cap takes censorship to new levels



    Researchers in China have come up with a new and elaborate way to detect porn for the purpose of censorship. The helmet-like device can detect spikes in human brainwave patters when the watcher is presented with pornographic imagery.

    Porn has been illegal in China since the People’s Republic was formed in 1949, so censorship is a pretty big player over there, if you weren’t aware already. AI bots have, for some time, been set loose on the web in a bid to detect and flag any indecent imagery found. ‘Porn appraisers,’ or jian huang shi, the majority of whom are women,¬†are also in position to help catch what the AI misses, but a lot of things still slip through these barriers and filter out to the porn-starved general public.

    As such, China isn’t satisfied with its current censorship tactics. That’s according to Interesting Engineering (opens in new tab), which brought the South China Morning Post (opens in new tab) article to our attention (via Hackaday (opens in new tab)).

    In order to improve and automate the censorship that is already going on, Beijing¬†Jiaotong University researchers developed the ‘mind-reading’ helmet, which looks more like a shower cap covered in wires, to maximise the efficiency of it’s current efforts. It’s able to detect pornographic imagery with high accuracy, and is even able to filter through potentially detracting brain waves caused by emotional states, low energy levels, and random thoughts.

    The research participants consisted of 15 male volunteers, aged 20-25, who I’m assuming were shown ‘straight’ porn (homosexuality is legal but still widely frowned upon in China (opens in new tab)).

    Researchers note that the technology worked almost every single time participants were presented with explicit imagery. However, it did trigger some false alarms. Researchers blame the 80% accuracy on a inadequate levels of training material.

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    It’s assumed that these will be tools to help porn appraisers do their jobs more effectively; rather than clicking through hundreds of images a day, assigning them either a pass or fail on the horny scale, they can be shown a bulk of images in quick succession, and the computer will use their brainwave data to do the rest.

    It’s sure to make their process faster, but there are concerns over what new, invasive laws could spring up around brainwave monitoring when using the web. Right now there is no law against using devices like these, nor is there a law to govern the kind of data that can be collected by them.

    Orwellian nightmares aside, my theory is that the device’s 80% accuracy wasn’t down to overly complex imagery or a lack of training material. I feel like it could’ve had something to do with the fact that, in order to comply with the current porn consumption laws, participants had to be shown already censored images that frankly wouldn’t have excited a bull in heat.

    That might have had something to do with it.



    As seen on PCgamer

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