A Bloomberg reports says that a Chinese company named SenseTime raised an astounding $600 million in a recent fundraising round, doubling in the process the company’s value. More interestingly, though, is the fact that the company’s product helps the government spy on its citizens.
SenseTime specializes in facial recognition software. It is used to catch, and consequently fine, citizens for jaywalking. The company has become so successful in just a relatively short period of three years. Bloomberg also reports that: “If you’ve ever been photographed with a Chinese-made phone or walked the streets of a Chinese city, chances are your face has been digitally crunched by SenseTime software built into more than 100 million devices.”
SenseTime has, in fact, already entered into partnerships with Honda to work on “autonomous cars”, and telecommunications giant Qualcomm backed the company with the aim of putting facial recognition into the company’s smart devices.
The bigger implication not just for China but the world is that the company’s success is a crucial stepping stone towards China’s plan to dominate the field of artificial intelligence b 2030. China is also putting in place a social credit system for all citizens by 2020. Such will decide everything for its citizens from where children can go to school to whether they can leave the country. China can accomplish this best if they get tons of data.
The data-gathering has, of course, already started through tech sites like Alibaba and Tencent. SenseTime, it appears, has already joined them by publicly acknowledging that it is working with branches of local and federal government.
Bloomberg also said in its report that for certain, “SenseTime is a contributor to the world’s biggest system of surveillance.”
SenseTime is already planning to further improve its AI platform, build infrastructure and “open up new business opportunities.” It is expected then that SenseTime’s software will become more sophisticated and ubiquitous. Facial recognition is also quickly becoming so advanced that it can evade any attempts to outsmart it, to the detriment of privacy-concerned citizens.
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