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Chinese facial recognition system confuses bus ad with a jaywalker

It illustrates one of the many issues with China's surveillance culture.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 22, 2018
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There are many criticisms you can level at China's growing reliance on facial recognition, including its absolute faith in technology: what happens if there's a false positive? Unfortunately, we just saw an example of that in action. Police in the city of Ningbo have taken corrective action after the facial recognition system at a crosswalk mistakenly accused famous businesswoman Dong Mingzhu of jaywalking because she appeared in an ad on a passing bus. As with any other detected offender in the area, it posted both Dong's name (incorrectly displaying her surname as "Ju") and government ID.

The police have since deleted the infraction and claim they've upgraded the facial recognition technology to "reduce the false recognition rate," although it's unclear just what they could have done to address this specific issue.

While commentators joked about the case of mistaken identity, it illustrates just what can go wrong with facial recognition technology even if you tolerate constant public surveillance. If there's a false hit, it can tarnish an innocent person's record -- and not everyone has the luxury of bus ads or an easily recognizable face to help clear their name.

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