It took just seven minutes for the police to catch him.
Last year, BBC correspondent John Sudworth visited Guiyang, the capital city of the Guizhou province in southwest China. The city extends 3,100 square miles, with around 4.7 million people.
Sudworth was on a special assignment to find out whether the Chinese law enforcement really could find anyone, anytime.
The local police have a digital photo archive of every citizen in the city. And police have access to CCTV cameras everywhere. Many of the systems supporting these cameras use artificial intelligence (A.I.) for facial recognition. China is building what it calls “the world’s biggest camera surveillance network.”
China leads the way with this technology. The network already has around 200 million CCTV cameras in use, and it aims to add another 400 million within three years.
The systems track everyone. They can match your face through relatives, friends, the places you visit, the car you drive, and where you work. And when they aren’t recognizing individual faces, they can still parse people out by age, ethnicity, or gender. And these cameras are placed throughout the city, keeping a watchful eye on everyone’s every move.
If you’re like us, that sounds like a huge invasion of privacy. But the city’s police claim they want to keep their citizens safe by preventing criminal behavior. For citizens with no criminal record, police say their cameras will slide right by. But if your face pops up on a camera and you’re registered as a person of interest – look out.
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When the system recognizes a face, it alerts the nearest authorities.
And it’s proving to be effective.
In April 2018, China’s CCTV surveillance system caught a suspect known as “Mr. Ao” attending a concert. He had driven 50 miles with his wife to see Chinese pop star Jacky Cheung in Nanchang. He was at a concert with 60,000 other fans.
Cameras located at the concert entrance identified the 31-year-old, who was wanted for alleged economic crimes.
As police grabbed him in the middle of the crowd, Mr. Ao reportedly said that if he’d known how extensive the surveillance system was, he would never have gone.
It’s not the first time that Chinese police have used facial recognition to capture a suspect. But in Guiyang, Sudworth wanted to see it in action for himself.
Invited inside the high-tech police control room, he saw the technology system put to the test in real time.
After adding his photo and name as a suspect to the police database, Sudworth hit the streets to see how long it would take law enforcement to find him. Starting near the city center, he began walking toward the local bus station. After getting out of the car, he counted three CCTV cameras on the first bridge he encountered. There was no point in trying to hide. He saw cameras everywhere.
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It could make your fortune
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From there, he headed toward the bus station. Cameras identified his face while he entered the building and sent an alert to nearby police. As he strolled through the building, chatting with his camera, he noticed the authorities circling around him. Uncertain if they were in on the joke, he decided to surrender and walk off quietly with the police.
The whole exercise took just seven minutes.
We know this sounds like something out of some futuristic movie, but innovative technologies like facial recognition are now becoming mainstream. And they’re changing the way we run our lives.
Many of you may already use facial recognition on your smartphones. The Galaxy S9 from Samsung and the iPhone X from Apple both carry this feature. You can use it to unlock your phone or to confirm your identity to make financial transactions more secure.
Facial recognition is just one application for A.I.. And as we have seen in China, it can be used to make streets safer.
But A.I. is more than that…
Think about all the A.I. systems just in your phone… They’re what help music apps like Apple Music, Pandora, or Spotify know what songs you like. The technology embedded in the app keeps track of what you listen to and analyzes the characteristics of other songs to create a similar list.
Netflix does the same with your movies. Amazon does it with books and other products you buy. Google places ads in front of you for products that may interest you based on your past searches.
A.I. makes machines smarter. And it is becoming big business.
In 2018, the A.I. market was worth around $9 billion, according to research firm Statista. By 2025, estimates put that number at almost $90 billion, 10 times higher.
A.I. Is Driving Opportunity in Health Care
A.I. and machine learning are already playing critical roles in medicine… particularly in imaging.
There are more than 250,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. this year. Pathologists have to analyze thousands of X-ray and MRI images looking for tiny, subtle details on each photo. It’s an almost impossible task. And missing an important detail could mean the difference between life and death.
Statistics show that they only get it right about 70% of the time.
In 2011, engineer Krista Jones found a lump in her breast. She had to rely on human analysis to treat her rare kind of cancer. She went through four years of scans, ultrasounds, biopsies, and surgeries. It seemed that a double mastectomy was the only answer for her.
That is, until 2015, when she found a doctor who took a different approach. He used big data and machine learning to spot her tumors and treat them directly with radiation therapy.
This plan of attack not only stopped her tumor growth but has also kept her cancer-free since August of last year. We love stories about people beating this awful and deadly disease. It proves that technology is literally saving lives.
And no one can say it better than Krista herself in an article from Quartz…
I was thankful for the A.I. that saved my life.
When it comes to diagnosis and treatment, A.I. will radically improve the quality of treatment for patients… and the productivity of doctors. In other words, it will make doctors better at saving lives.
Machine learning, deep (machine) learning, and artificial intelligence are intertwined fields of computer science. Both machine learning and deep learning teach computers to think like humans. This is the technology that helps with tasks like speech-to-text on your smartphone or image recognition in your online photo album.
Machine- and deep-learning technologies allow software to adjust and improve over time by using large training datasets. The training data allow the software to learn context, so that it has a basis to learn.
It’s the same learning process a person goes through when he learns something new. And for radiologists, this is great news. A.I. will allow their software to identify abnormalities in CT and MRI scans that are too small to spot with the human eye.
As we said earlier, the A.I. business is growing at an exponential rate. It’s all part of Big Data. Research firm McKinsey estimates that Big Data, which includes machine learning, and analytics will become a $100-billion-a-year business in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). That offers huge upside.
Christian Olsen focuses on the most important innovative and disruptive technologies around the world today as the co-editor of the Stansberry Innovations Report. He finds companies operating within these trends that provide investors a safe way to invest, yet offer large upside potential. Christian has expertise in quantum computing, satellite technology, biotech software, genetic sequencing, cancer research, and infectious disease research.