As societal awareness of ubiquitous AI-enabled surveillance increased in the years following President Xi Jinping’s 2025 Made in China initiative, public agitation against a perceived loss of privacy began to stir unrest. In response, the government switched to a more direct approach — one that quells any suspicions of government intent by deliberately rendering personal tracking devices as cute.
Assuming the disarming form of a cuddly house cat, this mass surveillance apparatus is known as the Mao Pengyou (“Cat Friend”), an autonomous companion drone issued to every GBA citizen in 2037. Each Mao maintains a comprehensive record associated with its assigned individual. Maos are also equipped with a cyberbrain that wirelessly transmits information to the Red Cloud, the government-monitored memory bank.
Each companion drone functions as a repository of experience and activity, as well as a means of continuous government reconnaissance. This project elaborates how an elderly individual and her Mao occupy and interact with the future metropolis.