Remember that episode of Black Mirror where the lady was obsessed with protecting and increasing her social score? It was kind of a forgettable episode except for the fact that it proved to be an accurate predictor of events taking place in China right now. China has a social credit system right now and will be expanding even further by 2020.
What was the outrageous theme of a dystopian fantasy, China embraces as their path forward. And the results are shaping up to be just as terrifying. Bloomberg reports, “Beijing to Judge Every Resident Based on Behavior by End of 2020.”
“The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get ‘green channel’ benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult.”
Under Communism where individual human rights mean very little, that last line looms as an ominous warning. What exactly does it mean in China to “find life more difficult?” Also, what are the benefits of being in the “green channel?”
Just days ago, a prominent businesswoman in China was falsely accused of jaywalking and publicly shamed. China was relying on facial recognition software for the identification. Unfortunately, it misidentified the picture of the person on the side of the bus as being that person jaywalking.
By the way, if jaywalking is a serious offense in China, what else could get you blacklisted? Hong Kong Free Press reported that “China ups cash rewards to US$86,000 for citizens who report porn.” It is unclear how such a system would even work. For someone to report it, they would have to have accessed it. And that would automatically put them under suspicion of viewing offensive material. No one in China wants to be on that list.
Illegal material could also just mean anything that is unflattering to the Chinese government. There is an entire generation in China that knows nothing about Tiananmen Square because the government finds the whole affair offensive. You don’t want to be caught talking or writing about it.
Bloomberg does not say how a person moves from the blacklist to the green channel. What happens if someone is caught in a minor violation. Do they have to wait in the long line at the DMV forever? Or is there a way to get back into the green channel? On the episode of Black Mirror depicting the issues with social scoring, the woman saw her score plummet after a series of unfortunate events. And there was no effective way back. Let’s hope China has worked that part out.