Already a ten
This week in sounds-like-science-fiction-but-isn’t news, the Chinese government is testing systems that will record their citizens’ social and financial behavior to give them an aggregate score.
This social credit score will determine access to services like transportation, education, insurance, and loans. Some citizens, like journalists and lawyers, will be more closely monitored than others.
Sounds pretty terrible
Meanwhile, Black Mirror premiered it’s Netflix-funded third season with an episode called Nosedive in which every social interaction is ranked in a vicious Yelp meets Facebook nightmare. Your score determines where you can live, where you can go, who you can meet, and even what health services you can receive. It wasn’t a cheerful tale.
The proposed Chinese tracking systems would apparently start with people cheating fares, jaywalking, and violations of family planning rules. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought to myself how much better the world would be if we had a large computerized system tracking jaywalkers and issuing demerits.
Like a hall monitor, but from the Terminator movies.
Difficulties getting it started
The Wall Street Journal issued the very, very reassuring description that the proposed system will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”
While some parts of the system are being tested, the country is having trouble implementing a comprehensive way to aggregate data about 1.3 billion people. The Financial Times noted it is difficult for the government to even issue a more standard, credit-based score because of the low quality of data gathered.
So while they are currently limited by their algorithms and data-crunching technology, China has every intention of following their policies of internet censorship and data-tracking with, you know, assigning everyone a number.
If Black Mirror is predicting the future, we all need to buckle up.