Surveillance state advances?

The fast-moving development of artificial intelligence (“AI”) technologies offers much promise but also potentially peril. In particular, the multi-billion dollar industry of AI-driven video analytics is now infiltrating the surveillance camera systems used across the country, whether building security cameras, dashboard cameras, doorbell cameras, or other video surveillance mechanisms. Given the growing comfort with the problematic “internet of things,” many see these technological advances as increasing convenience and safety. It is important to recognize, however, that these accelerating changes could – without careful regulation – lead to the restriction or even virtual elimination of privacy and other fundamental rights, including the freedom of association, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of expression.

The American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) recently issued a Report that extensively analyzes the rapidly expanding video analytics industry. The ACLU’s Report reveals that AI developers are seeking to embed in video analytics the purported ability to identify the emotions, the attributes, the social contexts for behavior, and the wide-area patterns of movement regarding anyone captured by video. When combined with another form of AI-driven technology, facial recognition, video analytics raise troubling questions about the future of civil rights and civil liberties in the United States. In this time of increasingly contentious and vindictive national politics, the expansion of AI technologies could result in the retaliatory or otherwise discriminatory use of State authority – especially regarding members of disadvantaged groups.