Already, the beginnings of a truly Orwellian future in China are taking shape. Tencent is working with authorities to develop an “early-warning system” for predicting the size of crowds and their movement.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has said that so-called smart cities powered by his company’s computers and artificial-intelligence algorithms will make it possible to predict security threats. “Bad guys won’t even be able to walk into the square,” he told a Communist Party commission overseeing law enforcement last year.
What’s now clear is that the Chinese Communist Party has shown a remarkable ability, not just to control the internet, but to harness it to achieve its desired ends.
Chinese tech companies have little choice but to cooperate with it. Whether foreign tech companies go along for the ride is still an open question.