You’ve gotta give ’em credit. This is unequivocally impressive. Terrifying on a base and primordial human level. But impressive.
What I see on the holo-projection takes “invasion of privacy” and cranks it to eleven-thousand.
The GUI that Alan’s brought up shows rolling lists of collected data for all of the so-called ‘persons of interest’ in Ürümqi: most recent purchase transactions, educational backgrounds, work histories, call records, web-browsing activity, subway metro swipes, rental histories, music and video playlists, cabs called, everything.
On one of the tabs, I see that you can literally filter by “7-Eleven Visits.” Jesus. It’s all here.
“Oh, it gets even better,” Katherine says in a flat voice. “Go ahead, show ’em. We’re getting to the good part.”
Alan taps on a little red figurine who looks like she’s sitting in her apartment in front of what I imagine must be her computer and the entire holo-model zooms inside, into her bedroom there on the 40th-some floor of her building complex. It’s an incredibly lifelike render and even I’m stunned for a moment. It’s almost as if we’ve just stuck an ultra-high resolution camera into this woman’s apartment. The render’s quality is astronomical and easily clears the uncanny valley; it’s photorealistic.
“Via thermal imaging and x-rays from the outside, the system can reconstruct what’s happening indoors too,” says Katherine. “Now, in all fairness, some of the specificity’s interpolated. For example, the system doesn’t actually know if this rando’s couch is that exact shade of periwinkle blue. Once you get to that granularity, it’s just kinda guessing.”
“Good lord,” says Coleman. “This has gotta be illegal, right? You guys are able to just look in, on anyone, at any time?”
Chopra laughs. “Illegal? This is China, my man! Are you high?”
Looking at everything, I guess I’m honestly surprised that any of this surprises me at all. For years, we’ve known about deep fakes. And while I don’t really pay any attention, I know youngsters and their videogames have been growing increasingly more advanced every year. More realistic graphics, more lifelike models, constantly blurring the line between real and virtual worlds. It was just a matter of time until someone used the technology this way.
Vanessa’s presentation is definitely slick. Despite my moral and ethical reservations, I feel the seductive pull of the technology. What JFL’s assembled here in this basement is next-generation stuff– an application well beyond anything I’ve seen in the States. Not because America is behind technologically– obviously, we have 7G and fiber too. (America invented 7G.) But the CCP’s ability to operate with zero concern for citizen-privacy is immensely liberating and gives their technologists and scientists a much wider reign on how they can apply the same tech that everyone else also has.
Surprise, surprise, when you don’t give a chit about human rights, it turns out you can do a lot.