Nicole (Yung) Au
Project role: Researcher
Nicole/Yung is a DPhil at the OII. Her research is interested in technology infrastructures and vertical/aerial surveillance.
Policymakers and international bodies are grappling with the rapid development and deployment of AI surveillance. Particular technologies, such as biometric systems, have received much public attention. However, the intersection of AI and government surveillance is much larger than this tip of the iceberg, with numerous existing and in-progress surveillance technologies that have been overlooked in public discourse and at an international level. These include the use of Generative AI for surveillance operation plans and simulations, the deployment of human-robot hybrid police, and the prototyping of various automated, sensor-based technologies for pervasive monitoring.
At the same time, there is a lot of hype surrounding these technologies, particularly about technologies that are still in the incubation stages. There is thus a pressing policy and governance gap pertaining to AI surveillance, and especially regarding the lesser-known developments.
Creating international standards for surveillance technologies has historically been difficult. Surveillance technologies have been a nebulous subject of regulation, often straddling between categories of violent and non-violent technologies, between military and civilian use. The legislation specifically on surveillance technologies are fragmented and often ineffective, with regulation often conducted instead through export licensing processes, or restrictive moratoriums on particularly harmful technologies. This project seeks to interrogate the legislative and justice foundations that currently exist through which AI surveillance technologies are regulated, their omissions and limitations, and the extent to which they are able to respond to future technological developments.
Despite the widespread harm already incurred and embedded by the surveillance-industrial complex, the developments on AI surveillance are occurring rapidly. What is this landscape that is unfolding? How do these developments fit, or don’t fit, within current legislative frameworks? And how does this all relate to the long histories of harm, oppression, and coloniality?