Meow Meow Beenz or Nosedive?

China embraces the worst tropes of sci-fi dystopias with 'social credit score' system

By —— Bio and Archives--March 19, 2018

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China embraces the worst tropes of sci-fi dystopias with 'social credit score' system
Maybe you saw it in a creepy episode of Black Mirror called “Nosedive.”  Perhaps you remember it from a hilarious episode of Community called “App Development and Condiments.” It’s also appeared in various novel and comic book plots.  It’s the idea that everyone can (or must) use an app to rate anything and everyone - then those rating scores are used to limit your access to real-word privileges.

Someone doesn’t like your clothes? Sorry, that’s a deduction.  You got into a heated political argument with a friend? Well, they just downvoted you. Didn’t leave a big enough tip? Oops…your waitress just left a review that cost you a few points. Those with higher ratings will now enjoy benefits you will not. You’ll be denied service, your access to society will be limited, and you will be shunned by your betters. Have a nice day.


It is, in a word, terrifying.  Imagine not being able to dine at a certain restaurant because your rating is too low, not being allowed to purchase a home in a certain neighborhood because your politics aren’t in line with the area group think, or not being able to send your child to a certain school because an app spits out a “riff-raff” social score.  It’s a nightmare scenario that makes our already-broken credit score system seem positively benevolent.

...And guess what? China is about to make it law.

From Reuters:

People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.

Those found to have committed financial wrongdoings, such as employers who failed to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines, would also face these restrictions, said the statements which were dated March 2.

It added that the rules would come into effect on May 1.

The move is in line with President’s Xi Jinping’s plan to construct a social credit system based on the principle of “once untrustworthy, always restricted”, said one of the notices which was signed by eight ministries, including the country’s aviation regulator and the Supreme People’s Court.

China has flagged plans to roll out a system that will allow government bodies to share information on its citizens’ trustworthiness and issue penalties based on a so-called social credit score.

Fascist Chinese government is going to use this to target dissent or religious beliefs

A few of the examples given indicate actual wrongdoing, and no one’s going to get too terribly upset about that.  However, it’s easy to imagine such a system spinning wildly out of control. That’s because…

A: Obviously the fascist Chinese government is going to use this to target dissent or religious beliefs.

B: It’s easy to envision people using it to target others for trivialities, perceived slights, or political score-settling. 

Again, this is only China.  It’s not coming to the U.S. ...At least, not yet. It’s a safe bet someone at Facebook, Google, or Twitter HQ would love to see it happen, though. If you need yet another reason to despise our various social-media overlords, look no further.


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Robert Laurie -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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