Chinese companies have adopted artificial intelligence (AI) software to organize data collected on residents.
Over the past four years, technology firms in the country bought the program, known as one person, one file.
This includes SenseTime, Huawei, Megvii, Cloudwalk, Dahua, and the cloud division of Baidu.
The program is a way of sorting information that makes it easier to track individuals. This effort is amid the high demand from authorities who seek to upgrade their surveillance tools.
Accordingly, the system can learn independently. The files update themselves automatically as the software classifies data.
It could optimize the accuracy of file creation as the number of information increases. Moreover, it could still archive partially blocked faces and low-resolution portraits.
Several users wanted to monitor unfamiliar faces outside their area, such as schools. Then, most customers, such as police units, ordered it for more explicit security purposes.
Correspondingly, this new software improves Beijing’s current approach to surveillance. One limitation of the previous surveillance software is its inability to connect an individual’s details to a real-time location.
The Chinese government explained that its surveillance is crucial to combat crime. The use of AI software in monitoring has been a key to its efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Moreover, the country aims to become one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance technology networks.
This target would place millions of cameras in public places. In addition, this would increase the use of techniques such as smartphone monitoring and facial recognition.
Meanwhile, human rights activists accused the country of infringing privacy and unfairly targeting specific groups, like the Uyghur Muslim minority.
Experts also mentioned a wide range of challenges that can complicate implementation. For instance, bureaucracy and cost could lead to a fragmented and disjointed nationwide network.
Huawei, SenseTime move on AI Software
From 2015 to 2020, China blanketed its cities with surveillance cameras. Eventually, the development and adoption of the “one person, one file” AI software began around the same time.
Last year, Huawei, SenseTime, and 26 other businesses filed patent applications with the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Consequently, the companies requested file archiving and image clustering algorithms.
Huawei mentioned that smart cameras would become more popular in the future. Furthermore, it anticipated the number of captured facial images to grow trillions per year.
Nevertheless, activists worried as the technology could create archives of Uyghur faces. The AI software could also pull information from the individual’s social media accounts.