“Omigod”…”Oh Wow!”…”Yikes!”…such are the statements emanating from the Techonomy staff this morning upon reading this eye-opening expose of the current state of facial-recognition-technology-based surveillance in China. Do you want to have your photo flashed on a sign at an intersection? If not, don’t jaywalk in China. Leave aside what happens if you’re a dissident traveling in a new region. Note the URL text: “The All-Seeing Surveillance State Feared in the West is a Reality in China.”
The article is useful not just because it raises eyebrows about the potential for political and social control in China–which with such technology could be all-encompassing. It’s that this tech is coming to your hometown as well, and soon. How we understand, develop, tune, and regulate such technology will define the future of democracy and freedom, just to mention two minor matters. It will also, more certainly, help define the future of security, banking, shopping, and possibly social interaction. Your name, your social security number, your bank account number–all those will become increasingly irrelevant in identifying you to the government, and possibly even your employer, in coming years.
So clearly this is a must-read. If you don’t have a WSJ subscription, you should pay whatever you have to in order to read this one.