It’s already 1984 in China.
For the last year, the people of Hangzhou, China – a city of more than nine million – have had every moment of their lives tracked.
“City Brain,” an artificial intelligence system that interlinks with a city’s infrastructure was installed in October 2016, through a partnership with Alibaba and Foxconn.
In an effort to optimize Hangzhou and make urban life easier, the system tracked everything from robberies to traffic jams and learned the city’s unique patterns and needs.
Residents were also tracked through their activity on social media. Their commutes, purchases, interactions and movements were all learned and absorbed by the AI database.
“In China, people have less concern with privacy, which allows us to move faster,” Xian-Sheng Hua, an AI manager at Alibaba, said during a presentation at the World Summit AI meeting in early October.
And, according to New Scientist, the system works.
Crime, car crashes and rush hour traffic is all down. The system can predict traffic jams and adjust the traffic lights in order to avoid congestion before it begins. It can also keep track of criminals, making it easier for police to catch them. And it automatically notifies authorities when it detects so much as an illegally parked car.
The system is also hooked up to residents’ cell phones and can alert them of bad weather or traffic jams and offer safer routes.
City Brain has apparently been such a success that it’s already being packaged for other cities across China and, eventually, the world.
This story originally appeared in the New York Post.