We are used to look to China for worthwhile ideas from its long cultural experience but now we can turn to it for a glimpse of the future.
One impressive phenomena in China is the society-wide use of WeChat — a form of Facebook Plus.
You can use it to phone or message, to pay bills, to get credit, to transfer money and to buy almost anything. It is fast leading to a world where credit cards and cash are outdated. Face recognition is beginning to replace pin numbers and passwords.
However all the information and images provided voluntary are available to the government and assist it in knowing where everyone is and what they are doing.
Of course, this has social benefits beyond convenience and seemingly low cost. It helps to prevent crime and trace criminals. 13,930 jay-walkers were identified in Fuzhou City within ten months by using the face-recognition system. Whether jay-walking is seriously criminal can be debated but the same method will be used to discover who are attending meetings not sanctioned by the government. For example, any group of more than three people praying in a place not registered for that purpose is illegal. The same applies to political gatherings.
In countries like Ireland, so far it is mainly big business who benefit from the voluntary offering of personal information and images but China provides an example of what the future has to offer.
Another reason for taking an interest in what is happening there!