I read Josh Chin’s February 7, 2018, Wall Street Journal article “Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal: Police are donning the devices as hundreds of millions of Chinese begin traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday” while working on my book manuscript of THE MISSISSIPPI DIVIDE, the first in a proposed near future sci fi book series. My immediate thought was that, by the time the first book is published, many of the sci fi elements of it will already be reality.
The Journal article begins:
BEIJING—As hundreds of millions of Chinese begin traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday, police are showing off a new addition to their crowd-surveillance toolbox: mobile facial-recognition units mounted on eyeglasses.
China is already a global leader in deploying cutting-edge surveillance technologies based on artificial intelligence. The mobile devices could expand the reach of that surveillance, allowing authorities to peer into places that fixed cameras aren’t scanning, and to respond more quickly.
I’ve been working out how, in my fictional near future sci fi universe, dissidents could move around without having the proper identification. Thus this part of the article is particularly of interest to me:
The devices have already helped railway police at Zhengzhou’s East Railway Station capture seven people wanted in connection with major criminal cases, and 26 others who were traveling using other people’s identities, the paper said. China monitors train and air travel, and sometimes people who are facing punishment for infractions will try to get around travel restrictions by using a borrowed identity.
While the technology is probably useful in catching criminals, it could also make it easier for authorities to track political dissidents and profile ethnic minorities, said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International.
I’m pretty sure that the idea I’ve come up with for getting around this problem in THE MISSISSIPPI DIVIDE is realistic. But who knows? Tomorrow there could be an announcement of another innovation in 24/7 surveillance monitoring of citizens.
The person who alerted me to this Journal article said perhaps it was time for him to read George Orwell’s classic novel 1984. Actually, it may be time for all of us to be worried about 24/7 surveillance — and not just in near future sci fi universes.
Click here to read about Book 1 of THE MISSISSIPPI DIVIDE.
P.S. In a Lyft ride I took this week the driver had items for sale in his car, including condoms. I thought this was such a good idea that it inspired me to add the following paragraph to my science fiction novel THE MISSISSIPPI DIVIDE:
Natalie sat in the individual unit of the Uber two-movicle en route with Mark to a chemical supply store. She stared at the hanging pocket holder of diverse small items available for sale in the movicle. Her eyes passed over the tissue packs and the aspirin tins to the individual condoms. In sex education class she had practiced with her classmates unrolling condoms onto bananas although she herself had not yet had sex. She did know these were the new condoms – the green ones that turned red if, when pulled on, there was any interference with full protection.
© 2018 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. Phyllis is available by skype for book group discussions and may be reached at email@example.com
Her Kindle fiction ebooks may be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller — and her Kindle nonfiction ebooks may also be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller