Every day that passes brings us closer to the dark technological existence our future Chinese overlords will force upon us. We’ve seen the Black Mirroresque social scorethat dictates people’s access to what society has to offer, but now the Chinese government has gone even further and even darker. They’ve graduated from Charlie Brooker to Anthony Burgess levels of dystopia. A test drug rehabilitation program is using VR to test whether drug addicts have really kicked their habit, or if they’re merely pretending.
The pilot program in Shanghai uses VR headsets to show addicts scenes of drug use and gages their reaction. VR headsets can track eyeball movement, but the test administrators use other accessories to monitor heart rate and rises in body temperature.
Local media in China is reporting this as a positive way to help drug addicts turn their lives around, but if you scratch under the surface, it is something else entirely. If you’re caught possessing or using drugs in China, you have to spend two years at a drugs rehabilitation center. People can leave early for good behavior, which means this new pilot program is an authoritarian way to keep undesirables off Chinese streets. If the pilot program gets a wider rollout, what is to stop the two year stay at the rehab center being extended if people are still exhibiting signs of addiction?
According to local media in China, the government is monitoring the program, and if results are significant, the program will receive a wider rollout. Scarier still, through the advanced biometric readings taken during testing, administrators should be able to cook up a “precise medical treatment”to deal with the drug addiction. Whatever that may be could be anybody’s guess, but you’d be forgiven if you searched your worst nightmares for ideas.
As Chinese society goes from “Black Mirror” to “A Clockwork Orange”, why aren’t other governments raising human rights issues when they deal Chinese delegations. The new British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was in Beijing yesterday, but rather than being held to account on his dealings with the Chinese, the entire British press concentrated on the fact he said his Chinese wife was Japanese. A gaff no doubt, but parts of the world are hurtling towards a techno-dystopian future, and nobody seems to notice what is going on.