The New York Times's chilling multimedia package on China's use of "smart city" tech to create an open-air prison

Originally published at:


Welcome to The Village.



The checkpoints are often staffed by Uighurs who are complicit in the oppression of their neighbors – there just aren’t enough Han Chinese in Xinjiang to accomplish this kind of artisanal, hand-crafted retail oppression.

It may be more sinister than that. Consider a parallel case:

“The Judenrat constituted a form of self-enforcing intermediary that served the German administration for controlling larger Jewish communities in occupied areas.”

Arendt argues that it wasn’t just a matter of manpower, but much greater efficiency for bringing about the Nazi goals. This is, presumably, one of the main reasons why Eichmann in Jerusalem was such a contentious book.


Ha ha ha ha ha!


open-air prison

Yes, we are attempting this here in the good old USA.


The one thing I never understood about 1984 is how many watchers it took to keep everybody under surveillance. I mean, sure you have cameras everywhere, but you couldn’t possibly have a watcher for every ordinary citizen. Maybe one per hundred at most, before the payroll becomes unmanageable. Sure, modern technology might make our panopticon more efficient, but still the vast majority of cameras are unattended.

Maybe they serve their purpose anyway.

1 Like

Chinese companies are earning a fortune selling this surveillance technology. They make it sound like a sci-fi miracle allowing the police to track people with laser precision.

Methinks fortunes are generally not made by accurately specifying a technology’s dismal performance in real-world circumstances.

Complete destruction and refurbishment for the public good… Why do I hear an echo of AOC?

The problem for the populace is you can’t tell which camera is live at any point in time. So you have to assume they all are. I’m thinking of operate conditioning, in which occasional feedback is actually more effective than constant feedback.


I’m always reminded of this Mick Farren article when it comes to surveliance and state power.

1 Like


The authors make the point that China sells its surveillance tech around the world as a “scalpel,” but in Xinjiang, it is a “sledgehammer” – an overwhelming show of force that is intended to instill terror to such a degree that even attempting to evade it is unthinkable.

That… and seeing the people of Xinjiang as nothing more than lab rats.

1 Like

Yes, like the Panopticon prison design.


This isn’t (primarily) about catching every act in real time. It’s about making a record. When you silence dissent, you are focusing on a small segment of the population. With all this surveillance, you can target this segment, going back months or years and identify every questionable act he’s ever committed and person he’s met with (acquiring more targets). Going forward, you can glean every detail of that individual’s life, and use it in official or unofficial ways to silence him.


Orwell makes it clear that only the party members were under such scrutiny. The proles weren’t worthy, they had gin. And as far as how many watchers you need, wasn’t the figure for the Stasi somewhere between one in five and one in three?


Like… one third of the population was spies? I assume that omits children, but it’s still terrifying. We PC police have a lot of work to do!

Come on, tech-destroying solar flare!

Yes, I’m aware of the chaos that would cause, not just to the surveillance industry, but we are barreling toward a dire need for some kind of reset.

‘reset’ is a pretty odd way of saying ‘deaths of millions if not billions of people’…