China is turning sci-fi policing films into reality.
In the 2011 CBS show Person of Interest, reclusive computer scientist Harold Finch builds an artificial intelligence system called “the Machine” that compiles and analyzes troves of data to predict murders. Finch and his henchman, John, then chase down the perpetrator and prevent the crime. Public security officials in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang, it turns out, are turning that fiction into fact.
An enormous data-driven program that pulls from health records, financials, vehicle checkpoints and police reports to identify individuals likely to commit crimes in China’s politically sensitive northwest region has just been revealed. Launched in 2016, the “big data” policing initiative in Xinjiang is one of many law enforcement initiatives the country is launching, drawing on its growing capabilities in the fields of AI and robotics.
At Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Taser-wielding robots patrol crowds of tourists. While the robots negotiate their own path along designated routes, the Tasers are activated by an officer controlling the bot remotely. In Zhengzhou, the capital of China’s central Henan Province, similar police robots that look like armless Daleks roam the high-speed train station. They use facial-recognition software to help officers identify suspects, interact with customers and answer their questions. Police officers at the station wear facial-recognition sunglasses, developed by Beijing-based tech company LLVision, which pick out fake IDs and identify wanted criminals. And in the central metropolis of Wuhan, the Ministry of Public Security has teamed up with tech giant Tencent to develop a fully automated police station driven by the latter’s AI technology.
A drone operated by the traffic police patrols a highway in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, during the three-day May Day holiday in 2016
These technologies, which could help fix weaknesses in China’s public security infrastructure, have also sparked concerns of misuse. But they highlight key factors helping China pull ahead in the use of AI in policing. The country, which recently declared its goal of emerging as a global leader in AI and robotics, is channeling heavy investments in these fields. And as a single-party state, it can marry that technology with policing while facing fewer questions than its democratic counterparts.Also at OZY:
“While a number of countries, including the U.S., boast the technological capabilities China is integrating into law enforcement, political considerations make it difficult for these countries to follow suit,” says Kam C. Wong, a former Hong Kong police officer and professor emeritus at Xavier University. The use of AI in policing does happen in the U.S., but it usually requires extenuating circumstances, he says....MUCH MORE
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Related, last April's "Meanwhile in China: "City installs water-spraying poles to stop pedestrian traffic violations"".