How would you like to live in a country where authorities track virtually your every move on camera and use facial recognition technology to both determine if you're a good guy or bad guy and develop a "social profile" of you, sort of like your credit rating?
According to this Washington Post article, that's exactly what may happen in China, where a pilot project to achieve that is underway. The idea of such total surveillance and invasion of privacy sends shivers up and down my spine.
The article says that artificial intelligence combined with a huge national bank of photos, should enable authorities to identify the “bad guys” who once might have slipped through the cracks.
Facial recognition is the new hot tech topic in China -- just as it is becoming a growing trend in the U.S. -- the iPhone X , for example. In China, banks, airports, hotels and even public toilets try to verify people’s identities by analyzing their faces.
But police and the security state have been the most enthusiastic about embracing the new technology, according to the Post, which further reports:
The pilot in Chongqing forms one tiny part of an ambitious plan, known as “Xue Liang,” which can be translated as “Sharp Eyes.” The intent is to connect the security cameras that already scan roads, shopping malls and transport hubs with private cameras on compounds and buildings, integrating them into one nationwide surveillance and data-sharing platform.
The effort will use facial recognition and artificial intelligence to analyze and understand the mountain of incoming video evidence; to track suspects, spot suspicious behaviors and even predict crime; to coordinate the work of emergency services; and to monitor the comings and goings of the country’s 1.4 billion people, official documents and security industry reports show.
At the back end, these efforts merge with a vast database of information on every citizen, a “police cloud” that aims to scoop up criminal and medical records, travel bookings, online purchases and even social media comments — and link them to everyone’s identity card and face.
A goal of all of these interlocking efforts: to track where people are, what they are up to, what they believe and who they associate with — and ultimately to assign them a single “social credit” score based on whether the government and their fellow citizens consider them trustworthy.
This is scary stuff. What if the Trump administration suddenly decided such steps are needed to root out terrorists or catch llegal immigrants?
It couldn't happen here, right? Don't be so sure.