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Shanghai metro to introduce facial and vocal AI

'What is my purpose?' You let people into the metro

At a press event, Alibaba and Shanghai Metro unveiled voice-controlled metro ticket machines and facial-recognition-capable turnstiles. The revelation was a part of an announcement of the two organisations' new partnership for enhancing Shanghai's Metro system with artificial intelligence. The new AI-driven tech could significantly streamline metro entry by cutting down on the large numbers of people befuddled by the current ticket machines and turnstiles.

No launch date has been announced for the new tech, nor has any intent to integrate these systems with payment options. In an interview with Shine, engineer Huang Yingon stated, 'For the time being we are considering providing convenience to those who are in need the most,' in reference to the facial recognition turnstiles first serving people who already ride the metro for free, like elderly, handicapped and other state benificiaries. Ali Cloud brand specialist Ren Zhitao also said, 'Although the technologies are mature enough to put into service, there are a lot of details that we need to sort out with the Metro.'

So those of us looking forward to less morning commute-related blood pressure spikes will have to wait, but probably not too long. At October's 19th National Congress, President Xi Jinping approved a plan to make China 'an innovation centre for AI' by 2030, starting with a 150 billion USD investment into the industry over the next few years. So we all better prepare for our number-crunching, voice and face recognising, automated metro overlords, taking us against our will to our lousy jobs.

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