Cindy Lin & Yuchen Chen
AI in Asia is not simply a technology for totalitarian control over society; rather they have been mobilized and campaigned by its users for contesting, negotiating, and even resisting authoritarian values and/or for ideals of social justice.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in Asia is not simply a duel between superpowers and the production of top-down, state-controlled technology. In this chapter, we show how AI systems in Asia are produced through careful negotiations of familial and kin relations between state and society. Moreover, AI and data-driven technologies are not solely mandated by the state to control and regulate citizens but are also a place to work out the future of politics in the region of Asia. In this chapter, we show how citizens and junior government engineers retool AI and data-driven technologies to both contest and leverage long-standing “Asian values” and familial relations held between state and society to achieve democratic ideals and address social problems. Through long-term ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Indonesia and China, we argue that AI and data-driven technologies are not simply tools to enact authoritarian governance in Asia as often-depicted in Western media but also techniques to intervene in oppressive social, political, and economic conditions and ideologies. We propose methodological recommendations that move beyond typecasting Asian societies as democratic and/or authoritarian in order to seek out a “situated ethics” that can regulate the negative implications of a data-driven world.