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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Australia’s Curtin University wants ‘unethical’ AI study retracted


An Australian university is calling for a controversial facial recognition study by an ex-faculty member to be retracted by its publisher.

The study, which was co-funded by China, identified members of the Uyghur minority group using facial recognition software.

Curtin University, on the other hand, claimed that the study violated ethics guidelines by not obtaining informed consent from the subjects.

Wiley, the publisher, stated that it was reviewing the research again.

Wiley said in a statement that it had previously investigated the study and was “reviewing the matter again taking into account the new information provided by Curtin University.”

China has faced numerous allegations of abuse against Uyghurs, including accusations of genocide and forcible sterilisation of women.

Human rights groups believe China has imprisoned over a million Uyghurs in a vast network of “re-education camps” and sentenced hundreds of thousands to prison terms.

China has denied all accusations it has mistreated Uyghurs.


More on China and the Uyghurs:

Following an investigation by Australia’s ABC News into the study in 2019, human rights groups warned that facial recognition technology could be used to persecute minority groups.

Wanquan Liu, the study’s author, has since resigned and moved to a Chinese university. The BBC has reached out to him for comment.

Curtin University stated that the research was conducted without its permission and that it has since strengthened its oversight.

However, James Paterson, the chair of the Australian parliament’s intelligence and security committee, expressed concern.

“It does raise troubling questions about how this research was permitted to be conducted in the first place and how it went undetected for so long,” he told ABC News.

China-Australian ties have deteriorated in recent years, with universities a flashpoint.

Chinese pro-democracy students have warned of harassment if they speak out on sensitive issues, while Australia’s government has set up a taskforce to combat what it described as “unprecedented levels” of foreign interference.

In a move likely to raise tensions further, US President Joe Biden is set to announce a plan to share advanced technologies with Britain and Australia.

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