Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Limited is aiding the Chinese police state in catching people who break the law, tracking criminals in real time in their new “smart city” of Hangzhou, home to 9 million people.
They are using video feeds and artificial intelligence, tracking things as petty as illegal parking in real time, putting the city under total surveillance.
Using hundreds of thousands of cameras located across the city and artificial intelligence, they were able to do a lot: for the people who control the city, not the residents.
However, the police state implications are the last thing to be mentioned by mainstream science articles covering the issue. They are falling for it: because if you disregard the immorality of the Chinese government and its laws, and the danger of total surveillance, traffic congestion is allegedly down and other aspects of city life are allegedly more efficient now. But does efficiency equal happiness for the people, or more profit for those who control the people?
Enthusiastically reported by New Scientist:
“The stated goal was to improve life in Hangzhou by letting artificial intelligence process this data and use it to control aspects of urban life. It seems to have worked. The trial has been so successful that the company is now packaging the system for export to other places in China – and eventually the rest of the world.
Using AI to optimise Hangzhou has had many positive effects. Traffic congestion is down, road accidents are automatically detected and responded to faster, and illegal parking is tracked in real time. If someone breaks the law, they too can be tracked throughout the city before being picked up by the police.”
If everything in your city was this tightly controlled, how would you be happy? How could anybody be happy in a “smart city?” Efficiency does not equal happiness. Life is not improved by efficiency, or even money necessarily. Human happiness cannot possibly be acquired at the expense of everything that a “smart city” would destroy.
Invasive laws in many countries are tolerable now, because they are broken without consequence. If you smoked cannabis illegally, and you would be immediately caught if you tried to smoke for example, would you be happy?
The founder of the company creating this “city brain project” is certainly not subject to the same surveillance that the residents of Hangzhou are.
He’s living it up, a billionaire who is trying to become a movie star. Recently headlines about Alibaba founder Jack Ma read “Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma is going to be a movie star next. Literally.”
An executive from this corporation had the audacity to speak of privacy as if it was some trivial, silly thing that only paranoid people need. “In China, people have less concern with privacy, which allows us to move faster,” said Xian-Sheng Hua, manager of artificial intelligence at Alibaba, speaking at World Summit AI recently.
A whole documentary was recently made about the technocratic future being constructed for the non-wealthy citizens of the world. This excerpt from it perfectly explains the dangers this article is trying to warn of.
For more information on technocracy, this video might inspire some ideas to research further.
(Image credit: Activist Post)