Fresh juice


Olympics to integrate AI surveillance and analytics

As the 2024 Summer Games in Paris approach, the International Olympic Committee is making bold moves to leverage artificial intelligence for everything from security monitoring to athlete development and competition judging. However, the planned AI integration is proving controversial, reigniting privacy debates around mass surveillance technologies.



At the forefront of the IOC's AI strategy is the authorized use of AI-powered video analytics for security monitoring during the Paris Olympics. Approved by French legislation last year, the AI surveillance will analyze real-time video feeds across Paris, using advanced algorithms to detect potential threats like crowd movements, unattended bags, weapons and other abnormal situations or behavior.

While not incorporating facial recognition, the system can still identify and track individuals based on movement, clothing and other characteristics. Alerts are then sent to human operators to determine if a response is needed - a process the IOC claims will enhance security responsiveness compared to having humans constantly monitoring video feeds.

"We are determined to exploit the vast potential of AI in a responsible way," stated IOC President Thomas Bach. "AI integration could play a crucial role in preventing incidents like past bombing attacks or mass casualty events."

To prepare, the AI surveillance has already undergone testing at French football matches and concerts, with plans to monitor a network of 100 cameras across Paris during the Olympics. Law enforcement and transportation agencies are partnering on the rollout.

While the security use case is the most high-profile, the IOC also aims to apply AI analytics across the entire Olympic operation - from identifying promising youth athletes and personalizing training, to improving fairness of judging and scoring during competitions. AI could even monitor athletes' social media for potential harassment.

"We have to be leaders of change," Bach proclaimed. "AI will ensure the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and the relevance of sport."

However, not everyone is convinced of the ethics and merits of an AI-augmented Olympics. Digital rights groups like those headed by activist Noemie Levain are sounding alarms about privatized mass surveillance and algorithmic bias potentially impacting civil liberties.

"AI video monitoring is a surveillance tool that allows the state to analyze our bodies and behavior, to decide what is 'normal' or 'suspicious'," Levain warned. "Even without facial recognition, it enables mass control...the same principle of eroding the right to anonymity and freedom of movement that is happening in China."

She and others also question whether security is truly the primary driver, suggesting commercial interests from big tech companies may be a factor in the IOC's AI agenda.

As the Games draw nearer, the debate around civic rights and AI ethics in Paris is heating up. While the IOC believes AI can revolutionize the Olympic experience from security to fairness, citizen groups fear a surveillance state slippery slope that could leave a darker legacy than any gold medal count.

One thing is certain - all eyes will be on Paris in 2024, watching whether the AI-augmented Olympics unfold as a safety and technological triumph, or a troubling case study in overcorrecting post-9/11 security practices. The crossroads of sports and AI have arrived - for better or worse.

Share with friends:

Write and read comments can only authorized users