A school in China has become the first to deploy artificial intelligence in a surveillance system of school children intended to ensure that they are paying attention in classes.
The South China Morning Post reports that one child has said that he "daren't let his mind wander" as a result of the new system, which uses cameras to gauge enjoyment, interest and all-round engagement in the school's lessons.
"Using this system we can see which classmates are concentrating in class and whose mind is wandering," said the school's headteacher Ni Ziyuan.
The same database also checks attendance so it can spot anyone playing truant.
Since the school has introduced these cameras, it is like there are a pair of mystery eyes constantly watching me, and I don't dare let my mind wander
The school is keen to point out that the system is as much about ensuring that the teachers are doing their best too, and footage could be used in staff training.
One pupil, who seems almost pleased with the enforced concentration he has had to invoke, said: "Beforehand in some classes that I didn't like much, sometimes I would be lazy and do things like take naps on the desk or flick through other textbooks," a student was quoted as saying.
"Since the school has introduced these cameras, it is like there are a pair of mystery eyes constantly watching me, and I don't dare let my mind wander."
He suggested that everyone's concentration has improved.
The Chinese government is known for its love of high-tech surveillance and censorship techniques, and is already working on a system of facial recognition that will identify anyone from their ID card photo within just three seconds.
Compare that to the UK where 98 per cent of Met Police facial recognition searches is said to have got it wrong.
It's thought the Chinese system has already caught a number of citizens, many of whom have committed such heinous crimes as jaywalking.
The issue, therefore, is the morality of allowing the same system that is used to catch criminals to monitor children. Perhaps they should be put in homes; indeed, everywhere to keep the whole of society on the straight and narrow?
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