Black Mirror has an episode in which we watch a woman slowly losing her mind as her social rating drops. It’s the most important thing in her life, as the higher the social rating a person has, the more they have access to, the better apartments they can get, the cars they can rent, the nicer restaurants, transportation — everything is based on this social scoring system.
It appears that China has made this terrifying episode into a reality. Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that in 2020, the Chinese government hopes to have the entire Social Credit System implemented. For example, they have said they want to “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it nearly impossible for the discredited to take a single step.” With over 200 million CCTV Cameras all over China, no one can hide. There is nowhere that the billions of citizens can hide, as the cameras are everywhere. Upon looking into this, I’ve stumbled across two people that are already subject to this scoring system. One is on the higher end of the spectrum, the other is at the very bottom.
In China, your score can change based on anything. From who your family is, who your friends are, your significant other. It can change based on what’s in your shopping cart, or what your career path is. and anything that you have or haven’t said about the government in the past.
Reporter Matthew Carney made it all clear by showing us the vast comparison between two citizens. Dandan Fan is a model Chinese citizen and marketing professional. Dandan is fine to be watched 24 hours a day. She has a high social rating, giving her access to VIP treatment everywhere she goes.
The surveillance cameras in China are going to be able to use facial recognition, geo-tracking, and body scanning, making it easier to check on every citizen. Some of these systems are already in order, one social system scores out of 800, the other out of 900. The higher the rating, the more VIP treatment, the citizens with lower ratings are likely to be locked out of society, with less access to schools, university, even bus systems according to Business Insider.
They even plan to use Smartphone apps to monitor day-to-day behavior. On top of that, they factor things like medical records, financial records, educational records, and state security systems into the ratings.
Buying alcohol could lower points, buying cleaning supplies could raise points. Imagine going to the store, and having a score hanging over your head. Imagine points being taken off or put on based on the objects you pick up. You read that right, the score is going to be updated in real-time. Every move you make is going to be judged by the Chinese digital dictatorship.
Your parents’ scores will impact your score by the time you are born. For example, if you are born to a family with lower social ratings, then upon birth, you will already be struggling. Luckily, Dandan’s partner also has a high social rating.
Dandan expected an exceptional life. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for all. Some 10 million people are already suffering due to their social ratings. Liu Hu is one of these 10 million. Hu is an investigative journalist, he uncovered corruption and solved serial murders at the hands of the Chinese government. Others see him as a traitor. Then, he was charged with a speech crime and lost a defamation case. He refused to pay the fine and publish an apology, therefore, his social rating has suffered — he is blacklisted due to this rating system.
He is unable to book train tickets as he is seen as a dishonest citizen and is blacklisted. Hu is legally unable to access high-speed travel. He lives in fear of his life and the lives of his family. He is unable to get off of this blacklist. He lost his career. He is unable to create or access social media accounts. Or even, publish any of his journalistic endeavors.
While this social scoring system has the potential to be an incredible idea, who has the right to judge others? Government workers and people with high power are the ones deciding who can and cannot do things in this country. In my opinion, this is a terrifying thought. What are your thoughts on the Chinese Social Scoring System?
Image via BlackMirror