One of the bleak scenarios in Black Mirror is about to become reality in China. By 2020, the country plans to install a social credit system, effectively rating people’s lives and their actions #mobilemagic
In three years, expect to see Chinese citizens rated for their social behavior and judged as trustworthy or not based on the same principle. Their spending habits, the way they take care of their family and the manner in which they accomplish their duties will be heavily monitored. The rank received afterwards will be public knowledge. The SCS will then affect their chances of getting a credit or their children’s educational opportunities.
Until then, China is extending an invitation to private companies to implement SCS. China Rapid Finance, partner of Tencent, and Sesame Credit, a subsidiary of Alibaba, intend to test it already. Since they have some impressive databases already, including the one from WeChat, a very popular messaging app, you can imagine the number of lives they can investigate and the sort of correlations that can be made.
Ideally, this system would encourage people to manage their investments better and improve their debt activity. But let’s face it – with so much information at the disposal of individuals in positions of power, do we really think they would stop at that objective? Maybe people would act more responsibly (knowing they’re monitored) and they’d put extra effort in building a perfect image… but whose standards would they comply to?
The answer is some arbitrary ones established by a dozen of individuals, as flawed as the rest of society. In today’s free world though, this is bound to fizzle out quickly.