From facial recognition in the classroom to computers marking essays, China is wholeheartedly deploying new technologies into its education system(Credit: Screenshot SINA) In 2017, China revealed an ambitious masterplan to lead the world in both AI research and deployment by 2030. The roadmap not only looks to expand the country’s research and development of AI technology, but to also find broad ways to implement its use across all sectors of society, from industry to urban planning.

It has been revealed recently that several new technological innovations are now being tested in Chinese schools redefining how children can be educated in the 21st century. While the broader deployment of facial recognition software in the West is mired in controversy over concerns of accuracy and possible racial bias, China is leaping forward in public implementation with several recent stories highlighting how authorities are making use of the new technology.

A recent report from a state-run media source has revealed a high school in Eastern China is testing a new facial recognition system designed to analyze the engagement of students in a class room, in real-time. The “intelligent classroom behavior management system,” scans the room every 30 seconds logging both the behavior of the students and their facial expressions.

The system can identify seven moods, including happy, sad, afraid and angry, by simply analyzing a student’s face. A camera, perched atop the blackboard at the front of the classroom, also tracks six types of behavior: reading, writing, hand raising, standing up, listening to the teacher, and leaning on the desk.

It’s unclear what the ultimate goal of the technology is, but Zhang Guanchao, the school’s vice principal, is reported as saying the system is both helping track student attendance and assisting teachers in refining their teaching methods. While it is fair to say the technology could be incredibly useful in helping teachers optimize their classes to maximize student engagement, the system could easily be also used to surveil students and penalize those slacking off. Read more from…

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