In the 18th century, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham envisaged a theoretical “Panopticon” prison with one guard observing all the inmates, who were unable to tell whether they were being watched. Media reports have increasingly drawn parallels between Bentham’s panopticon and surveillance in China. These reports have noted various signs with apprehension: a pervasive use of facial recognition applications, surveillance systems, and plans for a universal social credit system.

China strives to be a world leader in new technologies, yet at the same time, it has created a cyber regime that may hamper Chinese innovation by making international collaborations problematic. Access to major overseas markets and research facilities will be hindered for some companies with a close association to the Chinese security apparatus.

An AI-powered Chinese dystopia faces many obstacles, including:

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Max Parasol

Max Parasol is a start up strategist, lecturer on China's AI policies and innovation ecosystem and avid blockchain tech stack watcher.