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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

As nation states roll out increasingly advanced and sophisticated surveillance networks, how we use them and the agenda of those who control them become increasingly important to understand.

 

It took Chinese authorities just seven minutes to locate and apprehend BBC reporter John Sudworth using its powerful network of CCTV camera and facial recognition technology.

 

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This wasn’t a case of a member of the media being forcibly removed from the country. The chase was a stunt set up to illustrate just how powerful and effective the Chinese government’s surveillance system can be. It’s a stark example of the type of monitoring that China has invested heavily in over recent years with the aim of helping police do their job more efficiently.

Such systems are also used in private organizations, for example to monitor workers and processes in factories, but government critics have warned of the potential for abuse in the hands of the state.

China has the largest monitoring system in the world. There are some 170 million CCTV cameras across the country, and that’s tipped to grow more than three-fold with 400 million more set to be installed by 2020.

 

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Beyond the sheer numbers of lookout points, China is harvesting information with a new-found focus on intelligence. The government also works with facial recognition and AI companies, such as Face++, which can pour through data to extract meaningful information such as faces, ages, registration plates and more.

The full video of Sudworth’s ‘capture’ is available on the BBC website.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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