Meng Jianzhu. AFP/Getty.

China to Make Pervasive Surveillance, Predictive Policing a Reality

High-ranking Chinese security official Meng Jianzhu has unveiled plans to use AI technologies to better predict and ultimately prevent crime and terrorism. Analysts and privacy advocates worry that given China’s human rights record and lack of privacy protection laws, this could lead to a Minority Report-style regime of predictive law enforcement where groups and individuals can be targeted or even punished if the government perceives any predisposition towards criminal activity. More from The Independent:

Meng Jianzhu, the head of the Chinese Community Party’s central commission for political and legal affairs, said the government would start to use AI software which uses machine learning, data mining and computer modelling to predict where crime and disorder is likely to occur.

“Artificial intelligence can complete tasks with a precision and speed unmatchable by humans, and will drastically improve the predictability, accuracy and efficiency of social management,” Meng told colleagues at a meeting in Beijing on Friday.

He said security forces should look for patterns in data about terror attacks and build an analysis model to help authorities predict where the attack may strike, Chinese news website reported.

Meng also called for all elements of the Chinese state and the party to share data with each other and for renewed efforts to integrate surveillance footage systems across the country. Some of these technologies, such as facial recognition, are already in use in some Chinese cities. In Shanghai, traffic police reportedly use facial recognition technology to identify cyclists and pedestrians who violate road regulations.

Critics of the idea have already raised concerns about how Beijing’s use of new technology will allow to tighten its control over citizens.