Friday, May 18, 2018 by David Williams
Facial recognition technology is now being applied to all sorts of things. Recently, a fugitive was arrested for unspecified economic crimes in China through the use of this technology, but the interesting thing was that he was caught while he was in the middle of a crowded concert – meaning his face was scoped out despite being literally surrounded by thousands of different faces. This approaches a level of scary that is so far unheard of in any other part of the world.
China has been developing and further refining its facial recognition technology for different kinds of purposes. Mainly, it’s being tuned for use in the apprehension of criminals or individuals who may simply be wanted by the government for one reason or another.
Now, the country’s use of such tech has hit the news due to the circumstances of the recent arrest. The man, who was identified only by his last name Ao, drove 90 kilometers (or 56 miles) away from Zhangshu – where he supposedly lives – to Nanchang to watch a pop music concert with his wife. Upon getting there, however, he soon was caught by Chinese police for unspecified crimes that he had committed. And the key to his arrest lies in the use of the powerful facial recognition system that can be accessed by the Chinese police force.
This facial recognition system was first established by China’s Ministry of Public Security three years ago, in 2015. Since then, it has been in development in conjunction with a Shanghai-based security company and has been improving slowly but surely. Now, it appears that it can be used to accurately identify individuals even when they are lost in a sea of faces. In other words, if you’re a wanted man in China, there will likely be no escape. (Related: Latest facial recognition software can identify you even if your face is COVERED, exchanging even more privacy for “safety”.)
According to a Chinese police officer named Li Jin, who was involved in the arrest of Ao, the whole thing was executed so perfectly that the suspect ended up being completely caught off guard. “Ao was suspected to be involved in an economic crime and was listed on a national online system,” he explained. “He was very shocked and had a blank face when we caught him.”
Ao himself said that he thought he had no problems watching the concert with his wife, who was a fan of the Hong Kong pop artist Jacky Cheung. He said that he felt completely safe being among such a huge crowd and never would have gone there in the first place if he knew that the police would have the ability to spot him from afar. Even using a mask wouldn’t have helped him, since China’s facial recognition tech can easily get around that at this point.
The level of efficiency of China’s facial recognition system is now downright terrifying. It could lead to the apprehension of fugitives and even end their existence entirely – since it would prevent them from being on the run for long, and allow the police to catch them quite quickly. But there could also come a point where the system is so trusted that any and all mistakes could be overlooked. It may be accurate and so far very effective, but it’s a system that was made by humans after all. And one mistake could end a person’s life, both literally and figuratively. The technology may keep getting better, and it’s up to humans to use it wisely.
Read more about similar technologies at work at Surveillance.news.