How AI is used as a surveillance tool in Singapore?

Singapore, officially known as the Republic of Singapore, and one of the major commercial hubs in the world is known for its largest financial center and one of the busiest container ports in the world. It is known as the regional base for top Infocomm giants like Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Google, and as well as international technology startups. The global data management hub is also known to be connected to 15 active submarine cable systems where a total of 114 submarine cable capacity and also the region for more than 50 percent of the commercial carrier and neutral data center space in South East Asia.

So, as with modern technology, the state also focuses on security systems and the crime issues are tackled in a very serious way. State surveillance is very much ingrained in their day-to-day life. In the early 2000s, SingTel, one of the telecommunication firms in Singapore has been criticized for playing the role in mass surveillance but only little controversy is generated among Singaporeans where CCTV was used as a form of state surveillance to monitor social media and for lateral surveillance by peers.

In 2003, the outbreak due to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) led to the extension of state authority and political will for surveillance and social control. However, measures were enforced by the Singapore government such as blanket screening of visitors entering, school closures 8,000 people were placed under home quarantine which includes extensive video monitoring by a security company, 4,300 people were placed under telephone surveillance or electronic writs tags were issued for quarantine violators. The disease was controlled in three to four months and became a national pride for the state to handle the SARS adequately.

In my opinion, using surveillance tool not only combatted a deadly disease like SARS but also provided a solution to handle any forthcoming problems like pandemic or epidemic which are inevitable. Scenarios like coronavirus, where lockdown, mask and maintaining distance is crucial for mass to survive. It is definitive, surveillance tool would have been an added advantage and also with modification can lead to using it for new growth.

Source:-  Global AI Ethics: A Review of the Social Impacts and Ethical Implications of Artificial Intelligence.

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