Scifi is often predictive: a lot of the gadgets shown in Star Trek, for example, now exist. This is a good thing.
But recently I read an article that scared me: Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens. The Chinese government plans to launch its Social Credit System in 2020. The aim? To judge the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion residents.
Here’s an excerpt of the article on this scifi -sounding scenario:
Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit.
But now imagine a system where all these behaviors are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.
That is my idea of a dystopian nightmare, like a Black Mirror episode come to life. And apparently, this is to happen, in less than three years, to more than a billion people.
What do you think of this scenario? Do you think China would be able to successfully implement such a scifi -dystopia- like system? How would it affect their society? Is any other country likely to follow suit?
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