Huawei employees worked with China's military on AI systems and internet surveillance

Projects included work for the Central Military Commission to extract and classify emotions in online video comments.

It pays to pay attention to details. Author credits on research papers reveal that employees of the Chinese technology firm Huawei have collaborated on AI and communications with China's military.

Responding to the news story, Huawei says the research was not authorized by the company, and that the employees did so on their own, which seems totally legit and not at all suspect.

The Trump administration recently blocked Huawei's ability to operate in the U.S., and has urged companies in the U.S. that do business with Huawei to break ties, in the interest of national security.

From Bloomberg:

Several Huawei Technologies Co. employees have collaborated on research projects with Chinese armed forces personnel, indicating closer ties to the country’s military than previously acknowledged by the smartphone and networking powerhouse.

Over the past decade, Huawei workers have teamed with members of various organs of the People’s Liberation Army on at least 10 research endeavors spanning artificial intelligence to radio communications. They include a joint effort with the investigative branch of the Central Military Commission -- the armed forces’ supreme body -- to extract and classify emotions in online video comments, and an initiative with the elite National University of Defense Technology to explore ways of collecting and analyzing satellite images and geographical coordinates.

Those projects are just a few of the publicly disclosed studies that shed light on how staff at China’s largest technology company teamed with the People’s Liberation Army on research into an array of potential military and security applications. Bloomberg culled the papers from published periodicals and online research databases used mainly by Chinese academics and industry specialists. The authors of the treatises, which haven’t been reported in the media previously, identified themselves as Huawei employees and the company name was prominently listed at the top of the papers.

“Huawei is not aware of its employees publishing research papers in their individual capacity,” spokesman Glenn Schloss said in a messaged statement. “Huawei does not have any R&D collaboration or partnerships with the PLA-affiliated institutions,” he said. “Huawei only develops and produces communications products that conform to civil standards worldwide, and does not customize R&D products for the military.”

China’s defense ministry didn’t respond to a faxed request for comment. Huawei Chief Legal Officer Song Liuping on Thursday reaffirmed the spokesman’s comments. “Huawei doesn’t customize products nor provide research for the military,” he told reporters in Shenzhen. “We are not aware of the papers some employees have published. We don’t have such joint-research projects” with the PLA.

Huawei Personnel Worked With China’s Military on Research Projects [bloomberg.com]