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Recently I accidentally posted a political video to an acquaintance in China. I was excitedly sending something that mattered to me to everyone on my list… and unfortunately, that list included this classmate who was from China.  She deleted me from her list of contacts.

I don’t blame her, or find anything to be offended about in this action.  I shouldn’t have sent the post to her.  It was harmful to her social credit score.  In her country, I would be blacklisted already for having unpopular political beliefs.

This begs the question of just what is a social credit score? The Chinese have instituted an official Social Credit system.  What does that mean?  How does a Social Credit system work?  Or more precisely, how does the Chinese Social Credit system work? To answer these questions fully, you first have to understand how much technology has taken over their lives, and in understanding this, realize how it can take over ours too.

The first part of this technology takeover came through something like Facebook; people posting about their lives to their friends and family, and the personality profile quizzes that are oh so cleverly sent through it with all these little news feeds. “You’re a genius…”  if you know these facts, and do your friends really know you?  What movies do you like?  What music do you like? What restaurants do you go to?  What commercials have you seen? The answers to these quizzes not only build a psychological profile of who you are, but also answer all the personal questions that you might use for your security questions to reset your passwords. You do not know who has access to these things.  It turns out, that there are government agencies which have access to them.  It goes into your personal control file.

Building this up further, there’s the tracking of your purchases through the credit system.  That convenience of just asking for your list of purchases from your Credit card company to help you file your taxes comes with a steep price.  The credit card company transaction services, which are separate companies, can report to more than one master, or really, the Main master. They make money with no risk at all, and the employees make nice salaries. The reports of what is purchased and who is purchasing it go to many places.  Your personal life style is known, whether you want it known or not. We’ve all seen this show up in the form of ads that get sent to our phones and computers. This is also part of the decision making on how much you get charged interest for credit, or if you get credit at all.

Another piece of this technology takeover are the cameras.  Cameras in your phones, cameras in your computers, cameras at the traffic lights, security cameras on buildings, and in buildings, cameras in the parks, cameras at resorts, cameras outside of entertainment facilities, cameras at political events, and cameras in the schools. All of these cameras recording every mover you make, and every interaction between you and another human. Does this information ever help you? Maybe sometimes, for proof in court cases, when it suits the government to let you use it.  If it doesn’t suit the government, they simply tell you that the cameras were turned off in that area at that time.

The latest piece of this technology takeover is the facial recognition software which knows who you are when it’s recording you.  And the newest software which purports to know when you are lying (if you aren’t a pathological liar). Let’s not forget the audio files.  They can record you wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, if you are dragging your phone around with you, because those things can be turned on remotely by anyone with the knowledge of how to hack your wireless phone. Just think about it…. This technology knows when you are going to the bathroom, how often you go to the bathroom, and how long it takes to do it.   Now you combine this software into an AI system and it would figure out when you were a pathological liar, because it would be able to note when your actions did not match your words.

So, the technology exists to act as an individual life spy system. Someone got the bright idea (maybe as a result of studying the financial credit score, or people’s behavior when they get a Prius and try to maximize their gas mileage by adhering to the indicators of the most efficiency meters in their dash board) that if they assign values to everything we do, we could delineate the best kind of people and the worst kind of people (according to the desirability of a government).  We could tell people what their score was, and what kind of things result in a good score, and what kind of things result in a lowered score, and encourage people to behave in a more socially acceptable way.  “So what? What’s wrong with that?” you might ask.

In the first place, it’s a total invasion of individual privacy. Secondly, who gets to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t? Third, it would be one thing if the social credit score could flex and adjust to life changes, so at one time you might have a lower score, but later on you could build it back up to an acceptable level again; however, the Chinese have resorted to assigning some people to permanent black list status. No matter what you do, you will always be restricted.

That’s right. If you have a low score, the government decides that you have restrictions placed on you. In China, if your score drops too low, you can’t book a ride on a high-speed train, or travel to certain areas, or outside of your assigned area, or buy certain products, or live in certain places, or have access to some of the events going on… and the list of what can be allowed or restricted goes on and on. If you have landed on the wrong side of social acceptance, you get put on a black list. Once there, you can’t get off of it.

This method of social scoring will result in a new permanent underclass. Those on the blacklist will become, in all practicality, a slave society.   Those who naturally  behave in a manner which keeps their scores high, will move up, and even gain power.  This may not even be the same people that the traditional Han Chinese society believe should be in positions of power.  If this happens, it will present another challenge to the social structure.

Those who have a good enough score and are not always inclined to always doing what is socially acceptable; who want something that would lower their score, but don’t want to hurt their score, will simply ask (outside of range of their electronics) those who are already on the blacklist to procure it for them.  In this manner, they still get to do what it was they wanted to do, but it won’t show up in their social credit system.  It will create a bigger black market and more corruption, not less.

Last, but not least, some people who are doing well, but whom other members of society do not approve of having in charge of them, may even be forced into positions which would cause them to take a hit in their social scores.  Eventually, the corruption and the increased unhappiness resulting from this artificially imposed interference in the social structure will be the cause of a new revolution, instead of preventing it.

 

Ellen M Story, Ellen M. Lattz at emariaenterprises, llc. May 2018.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story, Ellen M. Lattz at emariaenterprises, llc with appropriate, and specific direction to the original content.

Is the Revolution over yet?

Tell Me When It’s Safe to Go Out Again

 

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