By Sam B., Seventh Grade, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) has many upsides and downsides. Today, we are constantly watched. Newly developed technologies combine security and AI, a computer system that executes tasks once only possible by humans, such as facial and voice recognition, translating languages, and decision-making. 

Recently, the government of the People’s Republic of China positioned this technology on its streets to keep track of almost every civilian. Criminals ranging from heroin smugglers to murder suspects have been caught using this AI. However, this new technology invades people’s privacy; in fact, everything one says or does is recorded to a file. Such intense security and little privacy raise many questions, including: what does this technology mean for the future of AI around the world, and what does this mean for the future of China and its citizens?

One of China’s biggest motivations is to have complete control of its citizens. Robin Nesky, math department chair at Krieger Schechter Day School agrees.

“It is a means for the government to control people, and they truly are watching. They can tell who you are and where you are at every moment in time,” she says. “In America, we value our privacy, and we value our right to be places without people knowing, not necessarily for nefarious reasons.”

Americans’ freedom and privacy are invaluable, and, unfortunately, not everyone around the world has this luxury.

According to The New York Times, China has approximately 200 million cameras, four times as many as the United States, with plans to have 300 million by 2020. One place where the face ID technology is heavily installed is the intersection south of Changhong Bridge located in the city of Xiangyang, where there are reportedly an abundance of jaywalkers and speeding cars. In response, China installed its facial recognition cameras and a gargantuan outdoor screen. As punishment, anytime people break the law, their faces and government ID numbers are displayed on the screen. China’s solution to such minor crimes is public shaming.

This face ID technology concept has already reached the U.S through many companies. For example, the Ring Doorbells contain cameras, which can save data to refer back in time to see a person’s face or body. According to The Next Web, a technology website, the Ring Doorbell system intends to use Face ID in the near future and company leaders plan to coordinate with law enforcement and link video with a “watch list.” 

China is known as a private and secure country. The government and people of China are invested in their own business; however, they may be trying to spy on the United States. Stephen Gordon, a KSDS middle school social studies teacher, does not believe China is trying to influence other countries; however, its technology has made it to the U.S in some way or another. “They’re concerned about control and expanding their reach,” he says.

One concern for the U.S government is the 5G WiFi, supplied by Huawei, a Chinese company. According to Forbes and TechCrunch, 5G phone user data, which includes texting, video chatting, emailing and location information, is transferred to a receiver, which is easily hacked. Personal information is at risk of being distributed to foreign countries. 

Another Chinese-owned business known as Tik Tok, a viral social media video application, is raising red flags for the U.S government. On CNN, Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton stated that Tik Tok could be used as a spying agency. They added that the information could potentially be used in “foreign influence campaigns” to alter the results of the presidential election. The application has 177 million downloads, the second most in the world, trailing behind Facebook. China could be trying not only to implement this technology into its own country, but also to infiltrate other countries via AI. Potentially, they could then invade the privacy of other people around the world.

China has strictly limited citizens access to certain popular websites and applications. According to Travel China Cheaper, China has blocked Gmail (and the whole G Suite package), social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and much more. They have also made the New York Times, CNN, Google and What’s App illegal.

China’s AI facial recognition system is truly impressive yet terrifying. Technology is extremely advanced in today’s day and age and is projected only to keep getting smarter. As AI advances, it is likely to spread everywhere around the world.

This bionic eye is meant to represent how the government is always watching.  

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