China’s quest for social control is now playing out in ways that should worry us all. That’s the argument of award-winning journalist Josh Chin who came to Intelligence Squared in February 2023 to tell the unsettling stories of the millions of people who live under the constant gaze of the Chinese security forces, armed as they are with increasingly powerful artificial intelligence.
Drawing on his new book Surveillance State, Chin explained how the Chinese government is weaving digital technology into every aspect of daily life from traffic patterns to food safety to emergency response. And he argued that this is a matter of global concern: Western governments encouraged their countries’ companies to sell China the technology it needed to build its surveillance state in the hope that economic and scientific engagement would lead to political reform. Not only did that plan backfire but now China is exporting its system to other countries such as India, Uganda, and Singapore.