The Chinese government is working to create a techno-authoritarian state powered by artificial intelligence and facial recognition to track and monitor its 1.4 billion citizens.
The government has big plans to have a ubiquitous surveillance network, leading the country to becoming the biggest market in the world for video surveillance — $6.4 billion in 2016, according to estimates from IHS Markit Ltd. China already has 170 million security cameras in use for its so-called Skynet surveillance system, with 400 million more on the way in the coming years.
Last September, English-language state newspaper China Daily touted how police in Qingdao used facial recognition technology to catch 25 would-be criminals. In March, Beijing police began using facial recognition and AI-powered glasses to catch criminals — just a couple months after police in Henan and Zhengzhou began testing the glasses at train stations.
In Xiangyang, a giant screen was set up over a crosswalk to display the names and faces of jaywalkers and other lawbreakers that cameras caught at the intersection. And in December, China demonstrated its sophisticated “Skynet” system by having it track down a BBC reporter in just 7 minutes.
But all of these successes belie a simple reality: the surveillance tech is not nearly as pervasive or effective as the government or the media purports it to be.
Trader Georgi Bozhidarov