Chinese scientists have developed a 500 megapixel facial recognition camera four times more detailed than the human eye that can identify individuals from crowds of tens of thousands in streets or at sports stadiums.
The development raises further civil liberty concerns about the rapidly advancing surveillance technology linked with artificial intelligence.
Dubbed the 'super camera', the technology was unveiled by researchers at China's International Industry Fair last week.
China currently has an estimated 200 million CCTV cameras watching over its citizens. For the past few years the country has been building a social credit system that will generate a score for each citizen based upon data about their lives, such as their credit score, whether they donate to charity, and their parenting ability.
Punishments and rewards that citizens will receive based upon their score include access to better schools and universities and restricted travel.
The current CCTV network is a central tool in gathering data about its citizens, but the cameras aren’t always powerful enough to take a clear picture of someone’s face in a crowd. The new 500 megapixel, or 500 million pixel, camera will help to remedy this.
The camera’s artificial intelligence will be able to scan a crowd and identify an individual within seconds. Samantha Hoffman, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told the ABC that the government has massive databases of people’s images and that data generated from surveillance video can be "fed into a pool of data that, combined with AI processing, can generate tools for social control, including tools linked to the Social Credit System".
In the UK, the Home Office has been trialing facial recognition technology despite opposition from campaign groups and police forces themselves.
South Wales police announced this summer that they would trial real time facial recognition technology and this month the practice was ruled lawful by the High Court.
The Metropolitan Police also admitted recently that they had supplied King’s Cross estate - an area of offices and shops - with images to enable facial recognition.