Chongqing city, China, is about to get a giant Orwellian surveillance network of half a million cameras that will spy on (sorry, act to prevent crime in) areas like street intersections, parks, and neighborhoods. Cisco is rumored to be one of the key pieces in the network supplying, basically, the networking tech itself--the grease that'll make the whole integrated shebang work. But there's a fine line between "preventing crime," using totally off-the-shelf Cisco gear, and re-purposing that same "Peaceful Chongqing" network of cameras to spy on the population. Here's how all that other tech could work:
Recognizing Faces, Any Which Way You Can
The same surveillance grid that monitors for, say, traffic buildups or a break-in to a store at night could easily be adapted to actively surveil the public. All it would take is hooking up a face recognition system to the network, hooked to a public ID database (which China most certainly has). Add in algorithmic alarms to identify if two politically "questionable" people were meeting, or even if they were seen in what may be deemed as the wrong location, and it's very powerful. This kind of technology is rapidly becoming feasible: Witness the fuss kicked up when Facebook instigated it for photos in its social network, and the fact that Google has had the capability to automatically identify faces in the billions of pages it crawls for its search indexing--but has refused to implement because of fears of abuses.
With enough computing power at its disposal, there's no reason the government of Chongqing couldn't try and recognize every single face the camera network sees.
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