ZHENGZHOU, China — In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station.
中国郑州——在中国城市郑州,一名戴着人脸识别墨镜的警察在火车站发现了一名海洛因毒贩。
In Qingdao, a city famous for its German colonial heritage, cameras powered by artificial intelligence helped the police snatch two dozen criminal suspects in the midst of a big annual beer festival.
在青岛这座以德国殖民时代遗留下来的传统而闻名的城市,警方在使用人工智能技术的摄像头的帮助下,在当地的年度啤酒节上抓获了20多名犯罪嫌疑人。
In Wuhu, a fugitive murder suspect was identified by a camera as he bought food from a street vendor.
在芜湖,一名涉嫌谋杀的在逃者在从街头小贩那里买吃的时被摄像头认了出来。
With millions of cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a high-tech authoritarian future. Beijing is embracing technologies like facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people. It wants to assemble a vast and unprecedented national surveillance system, with crucial help from its thriving technology industry.
靠数百万台摄像头和数十亿行代码,中国正在建设一个高科技的威权主义未来。中国政府为了识别和跟踪14亿人民,正在欣然采纳人脸识别和人工智能等技术。政府希望在中国蓬勃发展的技术产业的帮助下,建立一个规模庞大、规模空前的国家监控系统。
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“In the past, it was all about instinct,” said Shan Jun, the deputy chief of the police at the railway station in Zhengzhou, where the heroin smuggler was caught. “If you missed something, you missed it.”
“以前基本上都是靠我们的经验和直觉,所以漏了的话那就漏了,”郑州火车站派出所副所长单峻说,那名毒贩就是在这个火车站被抓到的。
China is reversing the commonly held vision of technology as a great democratizer, bringing people more freedom and connecting them to the world. In China, it has brought control.
中国正在扭转对技术的一种普遍看法,人们曾认为技术是一个伟大的民主化工具,给人民带来更多的自由,把他们与世界联系起来。在中国,技术带来的是控制。
旷视科技公司雇员在北京办公室内。
旷视科技公司雇员在北京办公室内。 Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
In some cities, cameras scan train stations for China’s most wanted. Billboard-size displays show the faces of jaywalkers and list the names of people who can’t pay their debts. Facial recognition scanners guard the entrances to housing complexes. Already, China has an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras — four times as many as the United States.
在一些城市,摄像头覆盖了火车站,在那里寻找在逃犯。广告牌大小的显示屏上显示着乱穿马路者的面孔和无力偿还债务者的名字。人脸识别设备保护着住宅小区的入口。据估计,中国已拥有两亿个监控摄像头——是美国的四倍。
Such efforts supplement other systems that track internet use and communications, hotel stays, train and plane trips and even car travel in some places.
这些努力是其他监控机制的补充,中国已经在跟踪互联网的使用和通信、酒店住宿、火车和飞机旅行,有些地方甚至跟踪汽车旅行。
Even so, China’s ambitions outstrip its abilities. Technology in place at one train station or crosswalk may be lacking in another city, or even the next block over. Bureaucratic inefficiencies prevent the creation of a nationwide network.
尽管如此,中国的技术能力还是跟不上其追求的目标。一个火车站或人行横道上有的技术,在另一个城市、甚至在下一个路口可能还没有。官僚的效率低下妨碍了全国网络的建立。
For the Communist Party, that may not matter. Far from hiding their efforts, Chinese authorities regularly state, and overstate, their capabilities. In China, even the perception of surveillance can keep the public in line.
对于共产党来说,那可能并不重要。中国当局非但不隐瞒他们的这些努力,反而经常提到、甚至夸大自己的能力。在中国,仅仅是受到监控的感觉也能让公众守规矩。
Some places are further along than others. Invasive mass-surveillance software has been set up in the west to track members of the Uighur Muslim minority and map their relations with friends and family, according to software viewed by The New York Times.
有些地方在技术上比其他地方走得更远。《纽约时报》看到的软件显示,中国西部地区已经建立起一个无所不在的人群监控系统,以跟踪穆斯林少数民族维吾尔族的成员,绘制他们与朋友和家人的关系图。
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“This is potentially a totally new way for the government to manage the economy and society,” said Martin Chorzempa, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
“这可能是政府用以管理经济和社会的一种全新方式,”彼得森国际经济研究所(Peterson Institute for International Economics)的研究员马丁·阔赞帕(Martin Chorzempa)说。
“The goal is algorithmic governance,” he added.
“目标是用算法来治理国家,”他补充说。
佩戴人工智能眼镜的洛阳警察。
佩戴人工智能眼镜的洛阳警察。 Reuters
The Shame Game
羞辱游戏
The intersection south of Changhong Bridge in the city of Xiangyang used to be a nightmare. Cars drove fast and jaywalkers darted into the street.
在襄阳市长虹桥南的十字路口曾经杂乱无章。汽车开得飞快,乱穿马路的人随时会冲上大街。
Then last summer, the police put up cameras linked to facial recognition technology and a big, outdoor screen. Photos of lawbreakers were displayed alongside their names and government I.D. numbers. People were initially excited to see their faces on the board, said Guan Yue, a spokeswoman, until propaganda outlets told them it was punishment.
去年夏天,警方在路口安装了使用面部识别技术的摄像头和一个大型户外屏幕。违规者的照片和他们的姓名和身份证号码一起上了屏幕。刚开始的时候,人们很兴奋地看到自己的脸出现在屏幕上,警方发言人关悦说,后来宣传机器告诉人们那是一种惩罚。
“If you are captured by the system and you don’t see it, your neighbors or colleagues will, and they will gossip about it,” she said. “That’s too embarrassing for people to take.”
“如果你被这个系统抓拍到了,你自己没看到但是你的邻居或者同事看到了,他们肯定会议论的,”那位发言人说。“这个对于咱们一般群众来说太尴尬了,是很丢脸的一件事。”
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China’s new surveillance is based on an old idea: Only strong authority can bring order to a turbulent country. Mao Zedong took that philosophy to devastating ends, as his top-down rule brought famine and then the Cultural Revolution.
中国的新监控方法建立在一种旧观念上:只有强大的权威才能给这个杂乱无章的国家带来秩序。毛泽东把这种统治哲学用到了毁灭性的极致,他的自上而下的统治带来了饥荒和文化大革命。
His successors also craved order but feared the consequences of totalitarian rule. They formed a new understanding with the Chinese people. In exchange for political impotence, they would be mostly left alone and allowed to get rich.
毛泽东的继任者虽然渴望秩序,但他们也害怕专制统治的后果。他们与中国人民达成了一种新的和解。只要在政治上无所行动,他们在大多数情况下就可以自由自在地去赚钱。
It worked. Censorship and police powers remained strong, but China’s people still found more freedom. That new attitude helped usher in decades of breakneck economic growth.
这个办法很有效。尽管中国的审查制度和警察权力依然强大,但人民仍然得到了更多的自由。政府的这种新态度帮助带来了几十年的高速经济增长。
Today, that unwritten agreement is breaking down.
如今,这个不成文的协议正在破裂。
China’s economy isn’t growing at the same pace. It suffers from a severe wealth gap. After four decades of fatter paychecks and better living, its people have higher expectations.
中国经济的增长速度不再像以前那样快。国内面临着严重的贫富差距。在经历了40年的收入增长和越来越好的生活之后,中国人民有了更高的期望。
北京,参观毛泽东纪念堂的游客在一根装有11个监视摄像头的柱子下面等待。
北京,参观毛泽东纪念堂的游客在一根装有11个监视摄像头的柱子下面等待。 Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, has moved to solidify his power. Changes to Chinese law mean he could rule longer than any leader since Mao. And he has undertaken a broad corruption crackdown that could make him plenty of enemies.
中国最高领导人习近平已采取行动巩固自己的权力。中国法律的改变意味着他可以统治中国的时间比毛泽东以来的任何一位领导人都长。他发动了广泛的反腐败运动,这可能让他树敌众多。
For support, he has turned to the Mao-era beliefs in the importance of a cult of personality and the role of the Communist Party in everyday life. Technology gives him the power to make it happen.
他转向毛泽东时代对个人崇拜、以及党在日常生活中的作用的信仰,来为自己寻找支撑。技术赋予了他实现这个信仰的力量。
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“ Reform and opening has already failed, but no one dares to say it,” said Chinese historian Zhang Lifan, citing China’s four-decade post-Mao policy. “The current system has created severe social and economic segregation. So now the rulers use the taxpayers’ money to monitor the taxpayers.”
“改革开放实际上已经失败了,只不过是没人敢说而已,”中国历史学家章立凡说,他指的是中国在毛泽东之后的40年的政策。“现在的整个社会体系和发展结构已经造成了很严重的社会分化和贫富差距,当局实际上是一直在用纳税人的钱监控纳税人。”
Mr. Xi has launched a major upgrade of the Chinese surveillance state. China has become the world’s biggest market for security and surveillance technology, with analysts estimating the country will have almost 300 million cameras installed by 2020. Chinese buyers will snap up more than three-quarters of all servers designed to scan video footage for faces, predicts IHS Markit, a research firm. China’s police will spend an additional $30 billion in the coming years on techno-enabled snooping, according to one expert quoted in state media.
习近平启动了对中国国家监控体系的一次重大升级。中国已成为世界上最大的安全和监控技术市场,据分析人士估计,到2020年,中国将安装近三亿个摄像头。研究公司IHS Markit预测,全球用于在视频画面中搜索面孔的服务器将有四分之三被中国购买。据中国官方媒体引用的一位专家的说法,中国警方在未来几年里将在提升跟踪活动的技术能力上再花300亿美元
Government contracts are fueling research and development into technologies that track faces, clothing and even a person’s gait. Experimental gadgets, like facial-recognition glasses, have begun to appear.
政府采购合同正在推动某些技术的研究和开发,这些技术可以跟踪人脸、人穿的衣服,甚至人的步态。实验性小装置,比如人脸识别眼镜,已经开始出现。
Judging public Chinese reaction can be difficult in a country where the news media is controlled by the government. Still, so far the average Chinese citizen appears to show little concern. Erratic enforcement of laws against everything from speeding to assault means the long arm of China’s authoritarian government can feel remote from everyday life. As a result, many cheer on new attempts at law and order.
在一个新闻媒体由政府控制的国家里,判断中国公众对这些技术的反应可能很困难。不过,到目前为止,中国的老百姓似乎没有表现出太多的担心。对从开车超速到人身攻击等各种违法行为的执法没有一致性,意味着在中国人的日常生活中,专制政府的威力似乎是很遥远的事。结果是,许多人对法律和秩序的新尝试欢呼雀跃。
“It’s one of the biggest intersections in the city,” said Wang Fukang, a college student who volunteered as a guard at the crosswalk in Xiangyang. “It’s important that it stays safe and orderly.”
“ 这是我们市最大的十字路口,”在襄阳十字路口义务执勤的大学生王富康说。“保证这儿的安全和秩序很重要。”
在上海人工智能初创公司依图的总部,一系列连接到人脸识别系统的摄像头在监控员工,跟踪他们在办公室内的动作。
在上海人工智能初创公司依图的总部,一系列连接到人脸识别系统的摄像头在监控员工,跟踪他们在办公室内的动作。 Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
The Surveillance Start-Up
监视初创企业
Start-ups often make a point of insisting their employees use their technology. In Shanghai, a company called Yitu has taken that to the extreme.
初创企业往往会坚持要求自己的员工使用公司的技术。在上海,一家名为依图的公司将这种做法发挥到了极致。
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The halls of its offices are dotted with cameras, looking for faces. From desk to break room to exit, employees’ paths are traced on a television screen with blue dotted lines. The monitor shows their comings and goings, all day, everyday.
公司的办公空间里布满搜索面孔的摄像头。从办公桌到休息室再到大门口,员工的行动路径在电视屏幕上用蓝色虚线标了出来。监视器每天显示着他们这一整天的来来往往。
In China, snooping is becoming big business. As the country spends heavily on surveillance, a new generation of start-ups have risen to meet the demand.
在中国,跟踪技术正在成为一个大生意。随着中国在监控方面投入大量资金,新一代的初创企业已在为满足这一需求崭露头角。
Chinese companies are developing globally competitive applications like image and voice recognition. Yitu took first place in a 2017 open contest for facial recognition algorithms held by the United States government’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence. A number of other Chinese companies also scored well.
中国的公司正在开发出具有全球竞争力的应用程序,比如图像和语音识别软件。依图在2017年美国政府国家情报总监办公室举办的面部识别算法公开赛中获得了第一名。其他几家中国公司的表现也不错。
A technology boom in China is helping the government’s surveillance ambitions. In sheer scale and investment, China already rivals Silicon Valley. Between the government and eager investors, surveillance start-ups have access to plenty of money and other resources.
中国的技术繁荣正在帮助政府实现监控目标。在规模和投资上,中国已经可与硅谷媲美。在政府和热切投资者的帮助下,监控技术初创企业能够得到大量的资金和其他资源。
In May, the upstart A.I. company SenseTime raised $620 million, giving it a valuation of about $4.5 billion. Yitu raised $200 million last month. Another rival, Megvii, raised $460 million from investors that included a state-backed fund created by China’s top leadership.
今年5月,一家名为商汤的人工智能初创公司融到6.2亿美元,得到的估值约为45亿美元。依图上个月融到2亿美元。另一个竞争对手旷视科技从投资者那里筹集了4.6亿美元的资金,其中包括中国最高领导层建立的一个由国家支持的基金。
At a conference in May at an upscale hotel in Beijing, China’s security-industrial complex offered its vision of the future. Companies big and small showed off facial-recognition security gates and systems that track cars around cities to local government officials, tech executives and investors.
5月份在北京一家高级酒店举行的会议上,中国的安全行业体系提供了它们对未来的展望。大大小小的公司向当地政府官员、技术主管和投资者展示了人脸识别安全门,以及可以在城市各处跟踪汽车的系统。
Private companies see big potential in China’s surveillance build-out. China’s public security market was valued at more than $80 billion last year but could be worth even more as the country builds its capabilities, said Shen Xinyang, a former Google data scientist who is now chief technology officer of Eyecool, a start-up.
私营企业看到中国监控的扩建有巨大的潜力。中国的公共安全市场去年估值超过800亿美元,随着潜力的增长,其价值可能更高,前谷歌数据科学家、初创公司眼神科技的首席技术官沈昕阳表示。
“Artificial intelligence for public security is actually still a very insignificant portion of the whole market,” he said, pointing out that most equipment currently in use was “nonintelligent.”
“人工智能在整个安防市场里份额其实还是非常小的,”他说,并指出目前使用的大部分设备都是“非智能”的。
Many of these businesses are already providing data to the government.
许多这样的私营企业已经在向政府提供数据。
Mr. Shen told the group that his company had surveillance systems at more than 20 airports and train stations, which had helped catch 1,000 criminals. Eyecool, he said, is also handing over two million facial images each day to a burgeoning big-data police system called Skynet.
沈昕阳告诉与会者,他的公司在20多个机场和火车站安装了监控系统,目前已协助逮捕了1000名罪犯。他说,眼神科技每天还会向迅速发展的大数据警察系统“天网”提供200万张面部图像。
At a building complex in Xiangyang, a facial-recognition system set up to let residents quickly through security gates adds to the police’s collection of photos of local residents, according to local Chinese Communist Party officials.
根据当地共产党官员的说法,在襄阳的一个小区,让居民快速通过安检门的面部识别系统能帮助警方收集到更多的当地居民照片。
Wen Yangli, an executive at Number 1 Community, which makes the product, said the company is at work on other applications. One would detect when crowds of people are clashing. Another would allow police to use virtual maps of buildings to find out who lives where.
制造该产品的一号社区公司的高管闻杨丽表示,公司正在研发其他应用。其中一个可以发现人群中发生的冲突。另一个应用让警察可以通过建筑物的虚拟地图找出谁住在哪里。
China’s surveillance companies are also looking to test the appetite for high-tech surveillance abroad. Yitu says it has been expanding overseas, with plans to increase business in regions like Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
中国的监控公司也在考虑测试海外对高科技监控的兴趣。 依图公司表示,它已扩张至海外,计划在东南亚和中东等地区增加业务。
At home, China is preparing its people for next-level surveillance technology. A recent state-media propaganda film called “Amazing China” showed off a similar virtual map that provided police with records of utility use, saying it could be used for predictive policing.
在国内,中国正在为人民准备更高级的监控技术。最近一部名为《厉害了,我的国》的国家媒体宣传片展示了一张类似的虚拟地图,为警方提供公用设施的使用记录,并称它可用于预测性警务。
“If there are anomalies, the system sends an alert,” a narrator says, as Chinese police officers pay a visit to an apartment with a record of erratic utility use. The film then quotes one of the officers: “No matter which corner you escape to, we’ll bring you to justice.”
“如果信息异常,系统就会预警,”一个叙述者说道,片中,中国警察来到一处有异常设备使用记录的公寓。影片引用其中一名警官的话说:“不管你跑到哪个角落,我们都会将你绳之以法。”
视频显示北京的人工智能公司旷视科技正在使用面部识别系统软件。
视频显示北京的人工智能公司旷视科技正在使用面部识别系统软件。 Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
Enter the Panopticon
进入圆形监狱
For technology to be effective, it doesn’t always have to work. Take China’s facial-recognition glasses.
要让技术发挥效力,也不必让它一直工作。中国的面部识别眼镜就是一例。
Police in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou recently showed off the specs at a high-speed rail station for state media and others. They snapped photos of a policewoman peering from behind the shaded lenses.
中国中部城市郑州的警方最近在一座高铁站向国家媒体和其他人展示了这种设备。一名戴着人脸识别墨镜的女警用它拍下很多照片。
But the glasses work only if the target stands still for several seconds. They have been used mostly to check travelers for fake identifications.
但是只有当目标静止几秒钟时,眼镜才会工作。它们主要用于检查旅行者的伪造身份证。
China’s national database of individuals it has flagged for watching — including suspected terrorists, criminals, drug traffickers, political activists and others — includes 20 million to 30 million people, said one technology executive who works closely with the government. That is too many people for today’s facial recognition technology to parse, said the executive, who asked not to be identified because the information wasn’t public.
一位与政府密切合作的技术高管说,中国的国家数据库中标记了大约2000万到3000万需要监视的人,包括可疑的恐怖分子、罪犯、贩毒者、政治活动人士和其他人。这名高管说,对于当今的面部识别技术来说,这个人数实在太多了。因为这一信息并未公开,该高管要求匿名。
The system remains more of a digital patchwork than an all-seeing technological network. Many files still aren’t digitized, and others are on mismatched spreadsheets that can’t be easily reconciled. Systems that police hope will someday be powered by A.I. are currently run by teams of people sorting through photos and data the old-fashioned way.
该系统不是什么无所不知的技术网络,更像是数码拼凑品。许多文件仍未进行数字化处理,还有一些文件处于不匹配的电子表格程序中,无法轻易进行协作。警察希望有朝一日可以把人工智能应用到这些系统中,目前它们由许多团队以老式方法对照片和数据进行分类。
Take, for example, the crosswalk in Xiangyang. The images don’t appear instantaneously. The billboard often shows jaywalkers from weeks ago, though recently authorities have reduced the lag to about five or six days. Officials said humans still sift through the images to match them to people’s identities.
以襄阳的人行道为例。图像不会立即出现。这个公告牌经常显示几周前的乱穿马路者,尽管最近当局已将滞后时间缩短到大约五到六天。有关官员表示,对图像进行筛选,为之配上人们的身份信息,这一工作依然由人工完成。
Still, Chinese authorities who are generally mum about security have embarked on a campaign to convince the country’s people that the high-tech security state is already in place.
尽管如此,一般在安全问题上保持沉默的中国当局已开展了一场宣传活动,以便令国民相信,高科技安全国家已经到位。
襄阳户外屏幕显示乱穿马路者的照片,配有他们的名字和身份证号码。这一措施旨在羞辱违反规则的人。
襄阳户外屏幕显示乱穿马路者的照片,配有他们的名字和身份证号码。这一措施旨在羞辱违反规则的人。 Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
China’s propagandists are fond of stories in which police use facial recognition to spot wanted criminals at events. An article in the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, covered a series of arrests made with the aid of facial recognition at concerts of the pop star Jackie Cheung. The piece referenced some of the singer’s lyrics: “You are a boundless net of love that easily trapped me.”
中国的宣传人员喜欢讲述警察使用面部识别技术在大型活动中发现通缉犯的故事。共产党官方报纸《人民日报》的一篇文章报道了在流行歌星张学友的演唱会通过面部识别技术抓获多名逃犯。文章引用了这位歌手的歌词:“你是一张无边无际的网,轻易就把我困在网中央。”
In many places, it works. At the intersection in Xiangyang, jaywalking has decreased. At the building complex where Number 1 Community’s facial-recognition gate system has been installed, a problem with bike theft ceased entirely, according to building management.
在许多地方,它是有效的。在襄阳的十字路口,乱闯马路的人已经减少了。据建筑管理部门称,在安装了一号社区面部识别门系统的小区,自行车盗窃问题完全消失了。
“The whole point is that people don’t know if they’re being monitored, and that uncertainty makes people more obedient,” said Mr. Chorzempa, the Peterson Institute fellow.
彼得森研究所研究员阔赞帕说:“重点是人们不知道自己是否受到监控,这种不确定性使人们更加顺从。”
He described the approach as a panopticon, the idea that people will follow the rules precisely because they don’t know whether they are being watched.
他将这种方式描述为一种全景监狱,也就是说,人们会严格遵守规则,因为他们不知道自己是否正受到监视。
In Zhengzhou, police were happy to explain how just the thought of the facial recognition glasses could get criminals to confess.
在郑州,警方乐于解释面部识别眼镜如何让犯罪分子认罪。
Mr. Shan, the Zhengzhou railway station deputy police chief, cited the time his department grabbed a heroin smuggler. While questioning the suspect, Mr. Shan said, police pulled out the glasses and told the man that what he said didn’t matter. The glasses could give them all the information they needed.
郑州火车站派出所副所长单峻说,他的部门抓住了一名海洛因走私犯。他说,在审讯该嫌疑人时,警察掏出眼镜告诉他,他所说的并不重要。眼镜可以为他们提供所需的所有信息。
“Because he was afraid of being found out by the advanced technology, he confessed,” said Mr. Shan, adding that the suspect had swallowed 60 small packs of heroin.
“因为他担心这个高科技手段能够知道他全部的这个作案经过,所以他最终就是直接交代了。”单峻说,并补充,这个嫌疑人吞下了60小包海洛因。
“We didn’t even use any interrogation techniques,” Mr. Shan said. “He simply gave it all up.”
“我们什么审讯手法都还没用,”单峻说。 “他就直接全部交代了。”