Landing in Shanghai recently, I found myself within the middle of a tech revolution remarkable in its sweep. The passport scanner automatically addresses visitors in their native tongues. Digital payment apps have replaced cash. Outsiders trying to use folding money get blank stares from store clerks.
Nearby within the city of Hangzhou a prototype hotel called FlyZoo uses face recognition to open doors, no keys required. Robots mix cocktails and supply room service. Farther south in Shenzhen, we flew an equivalent drones that are already making e-commerce deliveries in rural China. Downtown traffic flowed smoothly, guided by synced stoplights and restrained by police cameras.
Outside China, these technologies are seen as harbingers of an “automated authoritarianism,” using video cameras and face recognition systems to thwart lawbreakers and a “citizen score” to rank citizens for political reliability. a complicated version has been deployed to counter unrest among Muslim Uighurs within the inland region of Xinjiang. But in China as an entire , surveys show that trust in technology is high, concern about privacy low. If people fear Big Brother, they keep it to themselves. In our travels along the coast, many expressed pride in China’s sudden rise as a tech power.
Read More: www.nytimes.com