Big Brother is here.
Came across these two stories out of China this week, and to be honest, I’m alarmed.
The first is a story from the South China Morning Post about Chinese companies using Brain Surveillance devices on their employees:
On the surface, the production lines at Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric look like any other.
Workers outfitted in uniforms staff lines producing sophisticated equipment for telecommunication and other industrial sectors.
But there’s one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company.
The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of the workers by manipulating the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress.
Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric is just one example of the large-scale application of brain surveillance devices to monitor people’s emotions and other mental activities in the workplace, according to scientists and companies involved in the government-backed projects.
Concealed in regular safety helmets or uniform hats, these lightweight, wireless sensors constantly monitor the wearer’s brainwaves and stream the data to computers that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect emotional spikes such as depression, anxiety or rage.
The technology is also in use at in Hangzhou at State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power, where it has boosted company profits by about 2 billion yuan (US$315 million) since it was rolled out in 2014, according to Cheng Jingzhou, an official overseeing the company’s emotional surveillance programme.
Yes, you read that right. “Emotional Surveillance Programme”.
But wait there’s more. CBS news is reporting that China is rolling out a “Social Credit Score”.
The idea is that if you do pro-social things, like community service and buying Chinese goods, your score goes up. If you do anti-social things like crime, tax-evasion or smoking in undesignated areas, your score goes down.
And what is the score used for? Well, if your score goes too low, you can’t buy property or send your kids to private schools.
And how is the government collecting all this data? Through millions of AI powered surveillance cameras.
I mean FFS!
Does this sound like hell to you? It does to me.
Cameras tracking everything you do, brain sensors tracking you at work. Oh my god.
What’s more, Australian academic Clive Hamilton writes a book on the shadowy influence of Chinese money on Australian politics, and not one but two publishers refuse to publish it?!? Out of fear of reprisals?!?
Now I know some lefty somewhere is ready to call me a racist and write a stingy critique to their local independent theatre company, but this is ridiculous.
And this isn’t about Chinese people. Race has nothing to do with it. This is about totalitarian states, not just in China, but everywhere.
This is about poor ol' Jon in Australia being scared out of his pants because we have god-like powers being given to a monkey-like species. What happens when robot-arms with AI targeting start flinging the poo? What happens then, Brian?
I think this really is crunch time for our species. It really hangs in the balance.
Either we sort our governance structures out now, and let technology usher in a golden age of miracle and wonder.
Or we stick with the crap we’ve got now and let technology deliver us into a living dystopian hell.
It really feels like this is the choice we’re facing right now.
The time is coming. Sitting on the fence is no longer an option.