Could China’s Facial Recognition Tech Shame Jaywalkers?

Technology has many faces to it and used in a variety of ways in the United States as well as in other countries.  One such technology is known as facial recognition and is currently used in Apple’s iPhone X as a security measure to unlock a user’s smartphone.  Now, it has been recently reported that the traffic police in China are beginning to use this technology to identify jaywalkers and then immediately issue fines in the form of a text message; however, could this method of law enforcement be successful in the United States?

Recently, writer Chris Baynes wrote an article that Chinese police are starting to use technology to crack down on those who violate law ordinances such as with jaywalkers.  While this may seem like something that could only occur in a futuristic Science Fiction movie, authorities in China have already been using a different form of technology against those who would flout rules of the road.


Using Technology to Shame Offenders

Before coming up with the idea of using facial recognition technology to go after law violators, another form of tech was being used to go after these criminals with the assistance of artificial intelligence.  Authorities in Shenzhen have been targeting those who have disobeyed the strict road rules of the southern city by shaming and publicly naming these individuals.  This is being done with CCTV cameras that have been equipped with AI that can recognize these law breakers; once identified, their faces can be seen on a government website as well as on big screens at crossings.

Currently, the company that is responsible for this technology is negotiating with social media firms and mobile phone carriers regarding the development of a system that would alert jaywalkers using instant messaging once the cameras catches them; the violation is when individuals cross a road that is outside of pedestrian crosswalk that is marked at an intersection.


Wang Jun works at Shenzhen-based AI firm Intellifusion, where he is the director of marketing solutions and told the South Chin Morning Post that “jaywalking has always been an issue in China and can hardly be resolved just by imposing fines or taking photos of the offenders.  But a combination of technology and psychology… can greatly reduce instances of jaywalking and will prevent repeat offences.”

Can Shaming Jaywalkers Work in The United States?

Normally, police and citizens alike would welcome innovative ways to help reduce the amount of crimes that occur daily as well as to prevent terrorist attacks.  Writer Thorsten Severin reported last December that Germany was considering to make a change in the law that would allow law enforcement to use surveillance techniques on potential criminals and terrorists through house and car alarms.  However, would citizens in the U.S. agree to allow police to use facial recognition to publicly name and shame people whose crime is jaywalking?


While in our current political and social climate that policies and ideas that were once considered unlikely to occur now has become a reality, it would seem highly unlikely that the system of surveillance that Chinese police are using would be acceptable in the United States.  Considering how Facebook users are furious over how the company has been accused of violating their privacy, it is difficult to imagine this form of artificial intelligence to become acceptable. 

After all, who knows in that span of being able to send a text message how compromised that smartphone becomes to having other information on it becoming accessible?  What about the possibility of the system being hacked and then individuals could be targeted at random to suddenly have access to placing a virus on the smartphone using a text message? 

While this combination of artificial intelligence and facial recognition to automatically issue a fine through a text message may work in China, the probability of this being used and accepted in the United States would be very low to not at all, unless you were watching a science fiction movie.