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Dystopian Surveillance in Chinese Classrooms – AI and Drones

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Imagine you’re a Chinese student gearing up for the gaokao, the grueling college entrance exam, which can make or break your future. You’re already feeling like cattle being herded into the exam room when you notice the buzzing overhead. Nope, it’s not your anxiety peaking—it’s a drone. And not just one, but an entire AI surveillance system designed to catch cheaters.

Welcome to the dystopian world of Chinese education, where your every move is monitored by the eye in the sky. The Chinese Communist Party has taken the phrase “big brother is watching you” to an entirely new level. It’s not just about preventing cheating anymore; it’s about maintaining absolute control over the herd.

The gaokao, China’s make-or-break exam, sees over 13 million students stressfully trotting into exam centers, eyes wide with a mix of fear and resignation. To ensure no one steps out of line, provinces like Guangdong and Shandong have deployed an “artificial intelligent patrol system.” This Orwellian technology processes massive amounts of surveillance video to detect even the slightest hint of cheating. Think you’ve got a slick way to outsmart the system with hidden earpieces or tiny cameras? Think again. AI is trained to spot every twitch, every suspicious movement, and send alerts faster than you can say “Gaokao.”

The dark comedy here is that AI isn’t flawless. It still needs humans to double-check its alarms. So, essentially, we’re herding students with a high-tech shepherd and a backup human shepherd to ensure no lamb strays fromthe flock. It’s a perfect blend of man and machine, working tirelessly to keep students in check.

But it gets better. Imagine the invigilators, once tasked with merely walking up and down the aisles, now transformed into tech-savvy overseers. They receive AI-generated alerts on their tablets, rushing to the scene of the suspected crime like a SWAT team responding to a high-stakes situation. “Student 27 looked left for 2.5 seconds too long! Investigate immediately!” And off they go, ready to catch any potential cheater red-handed.

The stakes are incredibly high. Since 2016, cheating on the gaokao can land you in jail for up to seven years. That’s right, a desperate attempt to pass a test can turn you from a student into a criminal. The government isn’t just herding students; it’s branding them like cattle, ready to be punished if they dare deviate from the path set out for them.

And let’s not forget the drones. Hovering above like mechanical vultures, they scan the exam centers with an unblinking eye, capturing every detail. In some places, facial recognition technology ensures that no impostors slip through. Fingerprint scans are just the cherry on top of this surveillance sundae. The lengths to which the authorities go to maintain control are both impressive and terrifying.

It’s almost funny, in a dark way, how technology has evolved to keep students in line. From metal detectors to cellphone signal blockers, and now AI and drones, each advancement represents another layer of control. The message is clear: study hard, obey the rules, and maybe—just maybe—you’ll get through unscathed.

Yet, amidst this high-tech spectacle, one can’t help but feel the dehumanizing effects. Students are no longer individuals striving for their future; they’re components in a massive, monitored machine, their every move scrutinized by an omnipresent authority. It’s a grim reminder that in the pursuit of order and fairness, the Chinese Communist Party has created an environment where students are treated less like people and more like pieces on a chessboard, moved and controlled to maintain the status quo.

So, as you sit there under the watchful eye of AI and drones, remember: in the grand scheme of things, you’re just another cow in the herd, trying to navigate the pasture without stepping out of line. The government might catch every whisper and glance, but the real tragedy is how it has turned the quest for knowledge into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, where the odds are always in favor of the house.

And remember, China has ambitions for spreading its way of life around the world. Is this what you want for your children? Or the kind of surveillance you want at your job, or in your house?

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