As China’ government vastly expanded its domestic surveillance, a new generation of Chinese companies are making and exporting that sophisticated technology to countries around the world at ever lower prices. The camera and artificial intelligence systems are promoted as crime-fighting tools that increase public safety. But, they can also be used to monitor and control anti-government dissent – a feature particularly attractive to authoritarian rulers. China is lending other governments the money to buy the systems from Chinese firms.
Class discussion: Does seeing a lot of surveillance cameras on streets and in buildings make you feel safer, a little creepy or both? How can surveillance systems be used to control a nation’s citizens? Do you act differently when you know you might be watched or recorded? Could human mistakes or faulty artificial intelligence programs endanger innocent people caught on camera? Do you trust police and government intelligence agencies to always protect your safety and civil rights? Has technology eliminated personal privacy? Can you do anything about it?