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AI-powered public surveillance systems: why we (might) need them and how we want them

Catarina Fontes, Ellen Hohma, Caitlin C. Corrigan and Christoph Lütge

Technology in Society, 2022, vol. 71, issue C

Abstract: In this article, we address the introduction of AI-powered surveillance systems in our society by looking at the deployment of real-time facial recognition technologies (FRT) in public spaces and public health surveillance technologies, in particular contact tracing applications. Both cases of surveillance technologies assist public authorities in the enforcement of the law by allowing the tracking of individual movements and extrapolating results towards monitoring and predicting social behavior. Therefore, they are considered as potentially useful tools in response to societal crises, such as those generated by crime and health related pandemics. To approach the assessment of the potentials and threats of such tools, we offer a framework with three dimensions. A function dimension, examines the type, quality and quantity of data the system needs to employ to work effectively.The consent dimension considers the user's right to be informed about and reject the use of surveillance, questioning whether consent is achievable and whether the user can decide fully autonomously/independently. Finally, a societal dimension that frames vulnerabilities and the impacts of the increased empowerment of established political regimes through new means to control populations based on data surveillance. Our analysis framework can assist public authorities in their decisions on how to design and deploy public surveillance tools in a way that enables compliance with the law while highlighting individual and societal tradeoffs.

Keywords: AI; Surveillance; Dataveillance; AI governance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2022.102137

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