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Sure, here's some documentation on how to enable remote management in the Intel Management Engine, if it's supported:

[1] http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/vpro-amt-management-kvm,... [2] http://www.howtogeek.com/56538/how-to-remotely-control-your-... [3] https://communities.intel.com/thread/21261

The lack of independent audit of this chip and firmware is legitimate concern. But as you can see, if you obtain a fresh computer with access to the BIOS/UEFI, you have control over whether this functionality is enabled. If you don't have access to your BIOS/UEFI then you're correct that you won't know if it's on.

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