As China spreads its economic footprints across multiple continents with The Belt and Road Initiative, and exercises more and more control over the lives of its subjects via a combination its Social Credit Score system and vast surveillance state, it appears Beijing’s Big Brother has run into an issue that needs to be addressed to achieve world domination… inaccuracy!
Facial recognition systems are becoming more and more mainstream and accepted by an increasing number of ‘average joes’ around the world as the cost of security (or just ease of life). The problem is, as we detailed previously, for some segments of society, it is wildly inaccurate.
Specifically, after Oakland and San Francisco voted against the use of facial recognition, Rep. Tashida Tlaib claimed that “the error rate among African-Americans, especially women,” was 60 percent.
During a test run by the ACLU of Northern California, facial recognition misidentified 26 members of the California legislature as people in a database of arrest photos.
But China’s tech behemoths have taken the process of training their algos on non-white faces to a whole new level.
As The FT reports, a deal between Chinese facial recognition company CloudWalk and the government of Zimbabwe means the latter will send data on millions of African faces to the Chinese company to help train the technology.
“African states tend to go along with what is being put forward by China and the ITU as they don’t have the resources to develop standards themselves,” said Richard Wingfield, head of legal at Global Partners Digital, a company working on human rights on the internet.
Perhaps somewhat shockingly, The FT reports that over the past few years, Chinese surveillance infrastructure has swept across regions from Angola to Zimbabwe. For example, earlier this year South African company Vumacam installed 15,000 surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities in Johannesburg, supplied by Hikvision.
In August, Uganda confirmed the nationwide installation of Huawei surveillance cameras with face recognition capabilities. Similarly, the Singapore government plans to install facial recognition cameras on its lampposts, a contract that Chinese start-up Yitu has bid for, according to local reports.