We have seen some of the most bizarre usages of AI, by the Chinese surveillance system. Now, it appears like the tracking system is on an altogether new level.

According to AP News, Chinese authorities have started using “gait recognition” software which recognizes body shape and walking style of human beings to identify citizens, even if their face is covered or when they are walking with their back towards the camera.

Chinese AI startup Watrix developed the “gait recognition” technology, which is now being used by police in Beijing and Shanghai. According to Watrix CEO Huang Yongzhen, the AI system can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away.

Huang also said that it is impossible to fool the latest technology by intentionally limping or walking with splayed feet as the program analyzes different features of the human body, not just his/her walk.

The AI system uses footage from surveillance cameras to extract a person’s silhouette. Afterward, the video is uploaded to a software “which takes about 10 minutes to search through an hour of video”.

While the technology makes it easy for the police to identify thefts, the tech does raises some concerns regarding the privacy of the citizens. China has more than 170 million CCTV cameras for surveillance. If authorities are constantly recording videos of people under the disguise of finding defaulters, then it’s a serious case of privacy breach of ordinary people.

A Chinese columnist, Shi Shusi, while criticizing the gait recognition technology said “using biometric recognition to maintain social stability and manage society is an unstoppable trend. It’s a great business.”

Previously, it was reported that China would be using “Social Credit Score,” a  popular concept in the sci-fi series “Black Mirror” where people give a rating to each other to avail certain services and can get demoted to lower social status.

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