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China's super camera can pinpoint specific targets among of thousands of people (abc.net.au)
118 points by SQL2219 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments

Every single time the topic of surveillance or heavy-handed governance comes up, I'm surprised to see how nobody brings up the fact that it's always one-sided:

They can see you, but you can't see them.

This is tyranny.

The people in power can do anything anytime anywhere they want and you'll never know, unless other people in power tell you about it.

There is an ever deepening divide in our society and eventually the people on the lower side will never be able to touch the people on the upper side, and if there's ever a global catastrophe, we'll be left behind to fend for ourselves.

It is somewhat one-sided, but not completely:

Citizens for example have been able to track the classified X-37 missions due to advances in optics and technology.

Electronic files have made it easier for whistleblowers to exfiltrate large amounts of data. That would likely be much more difficult with physical files.

It is much harder for governments to hide their behavior now that every citizen has a high-res camera in their pocket capable of real-time streaming to a wide audience.

It is much easier for citizens to communicate and organize. Even if the government backdoors popular communication apps, mesh networking and endpoint encryption are still possible (I.E. Firechat).

Yes, we need more government transparency and openess. They can see us, we should also be able to see them.

In a way technology can help us. Technology can help democratize survaliance.

How about no surveillance and other such "solutions" in need of a problem?

You essentially trying to stop technological progress, that is not realistic imo.

Well, I believe that we should be totally able to stop technological progress, and not have autonomous "technological progress" for the sake of progress.

We should have targeted progress, in the areas we want to improve and which is beneficial, and not in other areas, which is not beneficial or has negative externalities or adverse second and third order effects...

The same way governments try to control e.g. nuclear proliferation.

Here's an example: would you be ok with a nuclear-equivalent technology that could be made by anyone in their homes, with simple materials and be able to e.g. wipe out an entire city? Surely, it would be a technological and engineering progress. But just as surely as that, I'd rather we regressed technologically and prohibited access to the materials etc, than have that be available to every idiot, madman and bigot.

Now, you might say that "it's impossible", but I don't think so. In a democracy nothing should be impossible, and political and cultural action could be made to curtail certain technologies.

That's not unlike Kurwzeil and Musk, notable technologists, warning against AI singularity...

Sure, its possible but do most human want that? I doubt it.

Imo, Technological progress is mostly driven by natural human desire.

Personally, I want technological progess and willing to work hard to make sure it happen. That includes technology that makes survaliance better and easier.

The issue with privacy is imo, instead we try to hide the information, we should fix whatever it is that make us suffer when the information become public.

No surveillance without a warrant.

If you do not know what you are specifically looking for you should not be looking.

Attempting to make this illegal isn't going to work. Even regular people have this kind of power now. A modern cellphone camera with a good vantage point and some decent software has sufficient optics and resolution to track thousands of people. Check out the zoom capabilities of Huawei P30 as an example.

>Attempting to make this illegal isn't going to work. Even regular people have this kind of power now.

They might have this kind of power, but they don't have enough scale and other power (p.x. state power) to matter as much as a state or company like Google doing it...

And if it's illegal they can always be busted for using it, and their private surveillance results could be automatically rejected as court evidence for anything, making them even more useless except for e.g. blackmail or something (still illegal).

How do you ensure no one is using surveillance without a good surveillance system?

With a good "gets thrown to jail" system if they're found to be using surveillance.

If they can use surveillance and keep it forever secret and with no public artifacts from it shown, let them do it...

I've heard it called "Sousveillance"

They can see you, but you can't see them.

Not to dispute your very valid point, but the second half isn't as true as you think.

Whenever I hear about these kinds of things I always think about when they put a gigapixel camera on a little airplane above Baltimore and flew it around all day every day. Being able to just retroactively track cars and people had such shocking power. https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-baltimore-secret-sur...

Just traveled to China and to my surprise it was more Orwellian than I anticipated. Despite all of our problems in the US, I'm still proud to live in a Democracy and a free society.

I took down my outdoor security camera after the trip.

Where did you go? I've only been to Bejing, Shangahi, Nanjing, and Hanzhou. They seemed like normal large cities. I didn't see police anywhere. I walked around the cities no problem. Road the subways no issues. Ate lots of yummy food. Went shopping, walked malls, went to mom and pop stores. Bought stuff at covenience stores. Went to bars. Went to museums. Went to several night clubs. Went to China Joy, video game trade show that seemed a lot like Gamescom but more sexy. I literally saw nothing oppresive. The most was that Google Maps being bad and I don't read enough Chinese to use Baidu maps. Used a HK sim last time I went (can order online) but my day to day experience like a pretty normal life would be in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, or London except the of course the cities are full of Chinese people with Chinese inspired architecture etc.. I did see lots of poverty, especially outside the big cities.

Note I am not defending Chinese. Just shocked at how different our experiences were. Plenty of youtube travel videos or videos of Shenzen or other cities that look similar to the experiences I've had.

I went to SH and Beijing. what year did you go? Things may be different now, or under Xi. My Grandparents went in the 80s, and Beijing was made up of dirt roads.

I'm currently in China on a vacation. A few days ago, I was watching TV in my hotel room and CNN was broadcasting Trump's UN speech live. I tuned in as he was talking about China and the trade war. Everything was normal until he said "we're closely monitoring the situation in Hong Kong." Right after he finished that sentence, the channel cut to black for few minutes and came back when he moved on to Iran.

Also, fun fact, HN is blocked here.

Would you mind be more concrete? I’m curious what part is surprising from your travel experience, assuming you are just a regular traveler/tourist (i.e. not journalist)

* "Security Check" - Airport style security everywhere even on the subway.

* Cartoons - Authoritarianism was wrapped up and packaged with cute police cartoons https://www.google.com/search?q=china+police+cartoon&sxsrf=A...

* The Red Armbands - Communist party volunteers, in the subway, and in the community keeping watch https://bitterwinter.org/red-armbands-are-watching-you/

* Passport check at sensitive locations and to buy a train ticket. To get into Tiananmen Square I needed a passport, I was denied entry to my train and separated from my group because the passport number didn't match my ticket

* Police everywhere. Literally everywhere

* I saw a a mosque surrounded by security cameras. They didn't even hide its surveillance.

* I was watched everywhere, except the great wall - but I was told cameras are being constructed there too. The feeling I had was like being in the forest of District 12 of the Hunger Games, I felt free there.

* Signs in the Hotel warn you that you DO NOT have a right to privacy, and you must register your passport or state ID

I have noticed that whenever one brings up concrete examples of Chinese state surveillance, oppression, or bad behavior, people come out of the woodwork with examples of how it is “no different” than the other western countries. There seems to be a pattern of attempting false equivalence on every subject that paints China in a bad light.

Is that because the West is acutely self-critical? Or is there something else going on here?

Well, like most of what he's saying also applies to lots of places I felt safe and free in. Like Japan has police (non-threatening) everywhere, requires you to carry your passport with you, has cameras everywhere and yet I felt safe and free and generally anxiety free there. I was taking photos with a long lens of the subway trains! In the UK, you'd be questioned for that. In the US, I don't know. Could go any way.

Egypt under Hosni Mubarak near the end was notably different. There'd be heavily armed soldiers everywhere in all black. Unexplainable trucks of soldiers going everywhere. Locals wouldn't talk about certain places. I haven't been to China myself but my parents have and we've all been to Egypt and their impression was that the big cities were pretty much like a big European city or something like New York.

If it gives you any faith that my opinion isn't some Chinabot, I still remember The Economist's Red Moon Rising issue as frightening. I just think they're probably very good at keeping the authoritarianism inconspicuous and therefore more terrifying.

I don't deny your experience but this could be one of those Rashomon like situations where we all look at the same thing and come away with a different picture. And if it wasn't actually in your face then it'll discredit any argument about China's authoritarianism when people go there and see a prosperous happy people instead.

This is likely because people argue false equivalence in just about everything in there lives.

> * "Security Check" - Airport style security everywhere even on the subway.

Those were installed for the Olympics in 2008, I believe, when they feared terrorist attacks with foreign victims tarnishing their image. Nowadays they're still manned, but more security theater. I got all kinds of questionable stuff through the scanner, including an induction stove and a kitchen knife. No one ever bothered to take a closer look.

> * Cartoons - Authoritarianism was wrapped up and packaged with cute police cartoons

Police ≠ Authoritarianism. Most Chinese police officers are just doing completely ordinary police work.

> * Police everywhere. Literally everywhere

Sounds like you literally never left the touristy areas. China has fewer law enforcement personnel per inhabitant than most Western countries and heavy presence is limited to only a few important spots, like tourist attractions.

> * I saw a a mosque surrounded by security cameras. They didn't even hide its surveillance.

I've never seen a mosque without security cameras in Western Europe either. Mosques are prime targets for all kinds of hate crimes, so they're obviously going to use surveillance to protect themselves.

> * I was watched everywhere, except the great wall - but I was told cameras are being constructed there too. The feeling I had was like being in the forest of District 12 of the Hunger Games, I felt free there.

Next time you're in China, try taking the subway to somewhere out in the periphery and then just walk in a random direction for an hour or so. You're going to see a China that is much less surveilled, without police; a China that is dirtier, poorer and in a way more honest than what you see if you just tick off the famous tourist spots. You'll still be watched, of course; not by cameras, but by ordinary Chinese citizens who don't get to see a foreigner everyday.

I may be more sensitive to surveillance than others. I work in Tech, and I was fascinated by the sheer number of sheer number of Hikvision facial recognition cameras I saw.

Here is a picture of one set of cameras around the mosque, which did not seem normal to us. My cousin pointed it out and we laughed at the blatant violation of privacy we saw - saying they don't even hide the fact they are watching https://imgur.com/a/8WbFxBi

and I'm not sure its fair to say I stayed in tourist areas, I was an hour and a half outside of town, and we ventured into poor areas of SH.

I'm not sure how poor those areas really were if you still saw police and cameras everywhere.

Somewhere down here, for example: https://www.google.com/maps/place/31.031362,+121.472129/@31.... Not a lot of surveillance cameras in an area where people live next to open sewage ditches. (Those don't really stand out in the satellite image, so the location is only very approximate.)

> Airport style security everywhere even on the subway.

Why not? A Subway casualty could be much more serious than a single plane. It's thousands vs hundreds.

> They didn't even hide its surveillance.

They shouldn't, right?

Most of things you listed are done in a lot of countries. 1 & 5 are done in countries like US or France after terror attacks. China also have to deal with the islamic menace, so it's not surprising they implement 6. Passeport registration in hotels is probably done in most country of the world (at least all I visited). Cute police character is something totally normal in Asia (here is a Japanese example http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/fukei/foreign/kansiki/shomei.html). Camera are everywhere in every big city.

Finally, the only (scary) things really specific to China you list are the milice and the fact they clearly told you have no privacy right.

Except in Japan it really is just a cute cartoon. There is very little actual police presence and they rarely carry firearms or project a forceful posture.

Context really matters though.

Ah the first four things are pretty amusing to native Chineses, but I’d say for locals they probably never thought it’s related to any sort of oppression or censorship (they think the cartoon was cute and btw Chineses love polices around don’t ask why...). Upper class Chineses are more aware of surveillance and they have some countermeasures but most people don’t really care and even support it. Yes there were attacks before so many places in Beijing has absurd security control.

There’s definitely a privacy issue there but it’s close to impossible to raise the awareness of Chineses unless something drastic happens.

Edit: Perhaps I have a low bar of human right issues but those you described doesn’t seem like red flag to me

> * Signs in the Hotel warn you that you DO NOT have a right to privacy, and you must register your passport or state ID

This applies in the US too in most cities I’ve done business in. Some hotels don’t enforce the ordinances, but the hotel is supposed verify who is staying at the hotel, along with license plate numbers of vehicles the guest has. Also, I wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel that doesn’t check rooms periodically (at least once per week), as that is a recipe for meth cooking and hoarders bringing pests into the building and numerous other problems.

Hotels are not "supposed" to document license plates of guest vehicles in the US. No such law or ordinance requires this. If a hotel is doing that, it's for when you're parking on hotel property; most hotels charge for parking, or limit it to patrons. Most hotels don't check IDs when you check in, all they care about is having a credit card so they can charge you for "incidentals" like the aforementioned parking.

Yes, I thought it would be obvious that I'm referring to hotel guests having to disclose the license plate of the vehicle on the hotel property. And IDs are required at every hotel and it's stated on the websites of all the big chains. Either way, I've never seen a town's laws not require innkeepers to know who they're housing, which means checking IDs.

A quick google search shows many town ordinances such as this one:


>Guest register. Every innkeeper shall at all times keep and maintain on the premises of hotel a guest register in which shall be inscribed the name and home address of each guest and shall contain such guest's vehicle description and license plate state and number.

Your own link shows that such a requirement is at odds with the Constitution:

"On June 22, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in City of Los Angeles v. Patel that a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hoteliers to keep and maintain guest registries and to make them available to the police upon request violated the hoteliers Fourth Amendment rights. "

Yes, but the revised ordinance still requires a record of the information to exist. The crosses out portion is the one that gave any law enforcement the right to see it any time, but 9 times out of 10, a hotel is not going to refuse a police department’s request if they ask about someone staying at the hotel.

Hotels need to be on the good side of the police.

> This applies in the US too in most cities I’ve done business in.

That they note that you don't have a right to privacy is the only odd part. It's fairly common around the world to have to present your passport / passport details at hotels for their records. It's definitely not strange that China's hotels would require that.

Do the police show up if you don’t register in Other countries they do in China.

> Do the police show up if you don’t register in the United States?

I think that response is moving the goalpost.

I noted that it's common throughout the world that hotels often require passport details. Your response to that is to change the issue in question to the consequences of non-compliance and away from what you initially presented as the problem ("you must register your passport or state ID").

Goalpost? What is your goal? I was sharing my personal experience in traveling to China - being in a society with no notion of Human Rights, because someone asked.

Is your goal to argue? I don't get it.

>Goalpost? What is your goal?

His goal is to point out that you said "in China they tell you you need to register at hotels", and when he answered that that's the case in the US and other countries too, you expanded your question to "Does the police show up if you don’t register in Other countries they do in China".

That's normally called "moving the goalposts".

Now you're implying that they have some further motive, or just "want to agree".

Well, they wanted to point a flaw in your original argument (that implied it's somehow unique to China to have you register at hotels). Are they allowed to?

I’ve seen it in the fine print reserving the right to enter hotel room at any time. Police don’t need warrants for hotel rooms either.

More misinformation. Police most definitely need a search warrant for your hotel room, as they would for your home.


That's interesting, but in practice, since the hotel has the right to enter the room at any time, and no hotel is going to piss off the police department (whom they also rely on to remove troublesome guests), the hotel can just let the police in.


* "Security Check" https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/546564142.jpg?...

* Cartoons - https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91dnIHIQXfL...

* The Red Armbands - https://www.patriotguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/pgr_...

* Passport check - https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/05/who-lives-in-border-p...

* Police everywhere. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8G7XsjSzRo

* I saw a a mosque surrounded by security cameras. https://www.aclu.org/other/factsheet-nypd-muslim-surveillanc...

* I was watched everywhere - i could go on and on... PRISM, security cameras everywhere, Ring doorbell cams being given to cops, stingray, etc etc etc etc etc

* Signs in the Hotel warn you that you DO NOT have a right to privacy, and you must register your passport or state ID - Same in the US

at least China is open about it, and has tons of socialist policies so people don't die from poverty.


Personal attacks will get you banned here. Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules when posting to HN.

Got it. Sorry about that.

Any way to share what you felt ? are there videos that show "it" ?

I still have to write a blog post, so I'll try to follow up when I do

Please do. I, also, want to read it.

super cool, I second the other commentor

come on. there are enough ring security doorbell cameras alone siphoning down data that if Amazon doesn't have a system like this under contract/NDA from the US government, it's probably well into the RFP process. that or it was developed in the US originally and stolen then rebranded.

or maybe they'll just steal the tech via NSA/CIA? no better way to evaluate your adversary than dogfooding their tech.

I worry that widespread camera tracking is an effective route to determining identities of otherwise anonymous online accounts. If you can work out times when people are unlikely to be posting content online (e.g. because they are seen carrying bags of shopping) you can gradually, through process of elimination, work out who is the real identity behind some online account, or at least some probability. For example, if I make some number of posts on hacker news, every person who has an 'alibi' at the time of a post cannot be a candidate for the true identity of the account.

I don't think they do anonymous accounts there (AFAIK). Social media needs to be connected with real ID, in any case the most popular, WeChat is connected to your phone number, and people link it to their CCs to pay for everything (I saw a lady selling baked potatoes from a pull-cart, the cart had a QR code which buyers can scan on WeChat to pay her)

Or just monitor their network links.

I guess you could set up timers that post with some delay to confuse such systems.

If the state is going to those lengths, you would need to make sure your automated posting before/during/after web activity is similar to real activity. So you can't just POST a request at a certain time.

It would be possible to write a learned program to simulate browsing habits. It is ironic, in a way, that you would need to track yourself, to avoid tracking.

Looks like they copied our ARGUS system, which can be mounted on drones to cover entire cities 24/7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARGUS-IS


I argue that if the US doesn’t keep up with this technology then a lot of towns are going to buy this kind of tech. What if somebody told the police that they can identify problematic people (for any convenient definition of problem) during a protest, even if they came from out of town?

Also look up the "Gorgon Stare" and ARGUS-IS. We have these cameras already.

How often are 10000 people miling around in American towns?

My colleague and I had a discussion about the world going down the drain.He argued that it was never as bad as it is now. I disagreed with him,as I think people had so many 'we had enough' moments since the beginning of the humanity,that I see no reason why 5,10,15 or maybe after 40 years someone in China or the USA will say 'Screw this' and it will eventually snowball into another revolution,which will take all these CCTV cameras and social profiling to hell.

What if they’ve already profiled that person and they are in jail already?

I think the worry with this new form of authoritarianism is that it will be so good no one will have the chance to stop it.

I had these thoughts as well, especially about advanced AI,which can go far beyond of what nowadays machine learning is capable of. Yet, if mass dissatisfaction is big enough, a lot of things cease functioning, introspectively of how strong they are. However I agree with the sentiment,that it will most likely be much harder than it used to be even 100 years ago.

Exactly, there is no precedent for this

There are many uses for the technology that don't violate civil rights. We can finally catch dangerous or intoxicated drivers on highways who cause accidents. Just because the tech is Chinese doesn't automatically disqualify it from serious consideration.

There are also many ways for the tech to be used that obliterates all forms of liberties and civil rights, and unfortunately it takes just one bad actor for any goodwill to disappear. Making the world Orewellian is never a good option because even the power to rebel against the systems of control is removed.

“500 megapixel, 5 times the resolution of human eyes”: wrong. The resolution of human eyes is around 576 megapixels. https://curiosity.com/topics/how-many-megapixels-is-the-huma...

Please correct the title to:

"China's super camera can pinpoint a specific individual among thousands of people"


Democracies will follow. It'll be marketed for anti-terrorism purposes and slowly expand until it's automatically sending citations to people who commit petty "crimes" like jaywalking and not picking up their dog's poop.

You should elaborate why that is bad and provide different examples. Many people would say it's actually good if there's less dog poop and that small rule breaking should be followed by proportionately small punishments instead of selective enforcement or letting better cheaters get away with things.

I think an implicit assumption behind fears from surveillance systems is that our society relies on small rule breaking all the time and human judgment is needed to smooth out the rough edges and be flexible. If 100% enforcement becomes the norm, the laws need to be much more precise with many more exceptions and clarifications.

The other issue of course is that many laws are not written according to normal people's interests, so their 100% enforcement would harm society.

> our society relies on small rule breaking all the time

Precisely. And individually, we all have different ideas of which are acceptable to break regularly, which we're generally indifferent about, and which should be considered absolute.

The prospect of absolute enforcement sounds great when used against something you agree with, like failing to pick up dog poop.

Probably not-so-great when used to enforce one of the rules you personally break regularly. I'm sure you can think of several, and I might only agree with half.

> If 100% enforcement becomes the norm, the laws need to be much more precise with many more exceptions and clarifications.

I think it's the opposite. We need fewer laws with less precision. Too many laws are effectively "How not to be a dick all the time or endanger other people." But what constitutes being a dick or endangering someone is often more situational than a bright-line "Never do X."

Nevermind that we have so many laws it's impossible for anyone to be sure they haven't already broken one today.

> "Nevermind that we have so many laws it's impossible for anyone to be sure they haven't already broken one today."

I'm sure there is a good middle ground that can be reached. The more we automate, the less we leave ambiguous. Because even though ambiguity enables us to be civil towards one another in the form of understanding "context", it also allows a lot of genuine bad behavior to occur and also inevitably leaves loopholes for bad actors.

I want to share a story that I feel demonstrates how there is no good middle ground in trying to create an environment of Absolute Law Enforcement Through Mass Surveillance and Automation.


Once upon a hypothetical time, beyond the statute of limitations, I was on a motorcycle and made a perfectly safe but illegal pass of another vehicle. Not at all dissimilar to this video[1]. As I completed the perfectly safe pass that negatively affected no one, the driver of the passed vehicle sped up, crossed the solid center line to get beside me, then quickly swerved into the space I was occupying. After failing to force me to crash, they harassed me with their vehicle until we got to a place where I had the opportunity to turn to get away from them, where they then swerved at me again, tried to force me to stop... and I finally, hypothetically, decided to raise my jacket and make my legally carried firearm visible. They immediately, and quite dangerously, turned around and fled.

Now, that's just the setup. Put aside for a moment whatever you think about motorcyclists in general, motorcyclists ignoring road laws, road ragers, guns, self-defense, "instant justice", and then read on.

I shared this story on a forum related to the nearest city, a place with a rapidly growing super-Liberal techie hippie population surrounded by pro-Trump people. The VAST majority of the responses were that I should have anticipated that reaction, that I incited it and deserved it, that my breaking of a road law was equivalent to attempted vehicular manslaughter. Several people claimed to have reported me to law enforcement. They specifically wanted me "brought to justice" and couldn't care less about the other person.


That's what I think of when you suggest there's a good middle ground. Some people think attempted vehicular manslaughter is ok and that an instant extra-judicial death sentence is a reasonable punishment for making an improper pass.

The people behind China's Social Credit system surely think it's a good idea, that they're finding a good middle ground, that tying it in to mass public surveillance and automated detection of certain public crimes will make their society better.

If you disagree with the Chinese system, how can you possible believe that another society can manage to do it better? Especially if you're in America, which has its own rich history of using State power to oppress groups of people? Particularly of groups we'd call Dissidents were they in a different country.

To me, this is the slippery-est of slippery slopes. The State can't be trusted to find a good middle ground and the people are even worse. It's the stuff of 1984-brought-to-life-and-was-actually-optimistic nightmares. The beginning of a new "First they came for the..." poem.

[1] https://reddit.com/r/motorcycles/comments/d8ppzc/first_of_al...

I know. Pretty scary!

I actually believe China is the playground for the future, unfortunately.

This is literally the pushback had against the NWO has always been for me. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I was fascinated with cyberpunk in culture, ideas etc. I knew that’s where the future was going to be - but being young and naive, it was always “it would so cool if...”

Playing cyberpunk games, etc got me into computers.

I suspect that sort of techno-curiosity and infatuation with tech is what brought many of us to the industry.

I’ve helped build tracking and spying systems my whole career under the guise of “data”

That dystopian reality of every single thing you do, see, seek has spread like a cancer into every aspect of our lives.

Heck, there are even stories (I haven’t confirmed their veracity) of people being attacked by governments for attempting to be totally off grid.

It is completely impossible to detach from the system.


I recall when we used to talk about Eschelon in the 80s and 90s and nobody believe our crackpot conspiracy theories then.

But now the we are many generations beyond the original Eschelon, it’s been hyper-normalized, and there is nothing you can do about it, because-fuck-you-that$-why

So, I don’t have any “whataboutism” - many brilliant minds have been exploited for authoritarian profits, and you can’t escape the world we have all worked to create through evolving technology.

Don't fool yourself, the West has it too but we don't publish it. (And anyway look at cctv in london)

London, the 6th most surveilled city of the planet. https://www.comparitech.com/vpn-privacy/the-worlds-most-surv...


high tech surveillance in the US has been going on for a while, the mentioned book by Arthur Michel is a recommended read.

China's not been communist in anything but name for a loong time. Nonetheless, it serves as a nice testing ground for policies eventually implemented by the West as well, sadly.

I don't know how down voting people can be confused about the truth of your statement. They can obviously give up communism in all but name and still retain authoritarianism and all the secret police, labour camps, informers etc that go with it.

China is literally selling their surveillance tech (with backdoors of course) to Western local government... https://theconversation.com/amp/is-chinas-social-credit-syst...

I am so frustrated about how HN is now full of whataboutism on the China issues.

It is actually a real issue and not just from the tech side of things. For example, have you seen what is happening in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam because of China? Do some searching about the infrastructure China is building, and taking over in these countries. I've seen it first hand, it is nuts. Zero care for the environment, local culture, etc... total mess.

China has a different, competing development model than us.

What is the difference between “perspective” and “whataboutism” to you?

Last time I saw this on HN it actually wasn't too bad there were some people trying to defend the CCP in a thread about Hong Kong and almost every pro CCP comment was flagged and had a response.

But in the real world it is super frustrating, was having a conversation with someone the other day that was trying to to make that exact kind of whataboutism with Apple and Huawei. They just did not see it as categorically different, no matter what you believe apple can and has done, that Huawei is essentially owned by the CCP [1]


>people trying to defend the CCP in a thread about Hong Kong and almost every pro CCP comment was flagged

so just to play devils advocate here, say someone is Chinese and wants to post on HN and has a pro-government view of his own country, which is quite common, you're saying they don't even need to bother posting?

It's always interesting to see where the tolerance of opinion ends.

The least biased comments should be from people who have lived in China for a year or more but are from the United States. There are plenty of people who have done that.

Anybody with that kind of background care to comment on whether or not china is actually an unliveable totalitarian regime where your rights are constantly trampled on, on a daily basis?

Sorry my anti-procrast was on so I couldn't reply sooner!

> say someone is Chinese and wants to post on HN and has a pro-government view of his own country, which is quite common, you're saying they don't even need to bother posting?

I don't think I am saying that and I don't think that what I described implies that.

If pro CCP comments are flagged, downvoted and responded to, that doesn't mean pro CCP commenters don't have the ability to or _shouldn't_ post a defence of their own country. In fact for people to downvote, flag or respond to pro CCP comments requires that they bother posting a defence of the CCP harvesting organs [1], beating up HK protestors [2][3][4][5], ethnically cleansing the Uyghur [6], or implementing a social credit system [7] - in the first place.

I suppose this comes down to how we define tolerance and disagreement. I think that downvotes, flags and responses are signs of disagreement rather than intolerance. While upvotes are signs of agreement.

Should a pro CCP commenter feel bothered to post a defence of their own country? If what makes them feel bothered to post is when people are likely to agree with their defence, then no. However, if what makes them feel bothered is just their belief that anti CCP comments are wrong about something, then of course they should still feel bothered to post their defence because nothing about flags, responses or downvotes stops one from holding a belief. But their posting of that belief doesn't mean we have to agree with it [8].

Though, maybe in this case the mass downvoting of a single opinion is a genuine intolerance of opinion.

If so, then where the tolerance of opinion ends is far too late.

  - [1] https://chinatribunal.com
  - [2] https://gfycat.com/slimymetallicblackfootedferret
  - [3] https://i.redd.it/rrnd6wxb9li31.gif
  - [4] https://v.redd.it/vlvuyx4n1wk31/DASH_360?source=fallback
  - [5] https://v.redd.it/xs79vkkzojh31/DASH_360?source=fallback
  - [6] https://boingboing.net/2019/09/22/sundials-are-everywhere.html
  - [7] https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/1/18246297/china-transportation-people-banned-poor-social-credit-planes-trains-2018
  - [8] https://xkcd.com/1357/

It ends where it supports behavior that eliminates the ability to enable being tolerant. This isn't difficult.

there's plenty of intolerant views that are widely held, many religious say that are part of a healthy discussion if you want to hear everyone's viewpoints. It seems a little weird to brush off the opinions of hundreds of millions of people as 'it isn't difficult'. It's really difficult.

The intensity of disregard of political opinions concerning China hasn't anything to do with the opinions themselves, because I read way stranger stuff on HN every day. It's that it's an American website that puts much higher scrutiny on opinions held by perceived US adversaries.

Biases color this judgement so it is very hard to judge where it ends.

Im about to say something to illustrate this bias please think before you react. Additionally I don't actually believe what I'm about to say.

"The Holocaust wasn't that detrimental to society. This is just my opinion, feel free to disagree with my points in a civil way."

The statement is neutral and civil but the word Holocaust ignites an incindiary bias that has no basis in logic because the logic behind why isn't even stated yet. Theoretically such a comment should not receive any downvotes based on the premise alone, yet knowing how people are, it will get voted down.

Replace Holocaust with taxes, bitcoins, or a more neutral word and the votes will shift. This is the same kind of phenomenon that is affecting comments about the CCP. Your bias prevents you from recognizing what is civil and what is not.

I don't think your example is doing the work you think it is doing. Functionally it is doing something similar to what I am accounting for with the CCP, from the other end: "it's just my opinion man" is a hedge that attempts to reduce culpability for your statements and "feel free to disagree civilly" opens up an entire channel for you do disregard criticsm and many real forms of communication, if there is no clear standard on what civility means. Surely there can be one, but are you unbiased enough that you can follow it?

It is not about civility or incivility. It is about facilitating real and valid criticsm. Supporting a state with explicit censorship policies and a track record of suppressing riots with violence as well as an active monopoly on communication and payment channels, which results in a lot of leverage on individual behavior, is antithetical to this purpose.

Where the whatsboutism ends with the United States is that the United States has (thusfar) kept most criticsm-worthy acts on the record and still has no clear monopoly on the flow of information. It allows the existence of institutions that actively work against the policies of the government. That puts it on a relatively higher moral standing compared to the CCP as long as you care about such things as having a plurality of opinions. Where tolerance stops is where you support ending the game.

So aside from the 1984 aspects of this, I have some ideas on how this could be put to good use, specifically in ecosystem management.

Mount this to a drone and have it fly over a forest or a farm.

Have it count the insect population, say number of bees. Or insects in total.

Have it identify the number of a certain type of crop, tree, plant or whatever.

Connect it to (I don’t know the term for it) where it can determine the health of the plant or tree. Have it fly over wild areas and count the population of elk, deer, cattle, whatever.

Teach it to identify and map out potholes in roads automatically

Things of this nature.

Fuck facial targets in a stadium.

More like use facial recognition to identify religious and political minorities that disagree with you and round up those people and send them to the farm to count insects, plants, or whatever. When I think of this tech I think there would be no way for a spy to walk around a city and not be known. No more blending in with the crowd, not that I am even sure this kind of intelligence work takes place outside of the movies.

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