If you’re a Black Mirror fan, you might very well remember the episode titled Nosedive, where people used their handheld mobile devices to give a rating out of five to almost every person they encounter. The episode showed how the protagonist Lacie faced problems as her overall social score went down. Lacie faced discrimination to the point that her best friend didn’t invite her to the wedding.
We have been hearing about a similar system being developed by China, with its first limited run starting in May 2018. If the big data-fueled system becomes full-fledged, the social credit of Chinese citizens would be a significant factor when they would want to avail services and benefits. According to the reports, the initial implementation would impose a ban on train and air travel. And this banning period could go up to a year.
It’s no surprise that it’s being compared to what was shown in the episode and how it may affect the society in real-life. But the Chinese government didn’t come up with this idea after they watched Black Mirror; its origin pre-dates the Netflix show.
In 2014, the Chinese state council issued the “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System.” It focuses on four different areas including “commercial integrity,” “honesty in government affairs,” “social integrity,” and “judicial credibility.”
In other words, the social credit score would depend on various things, such as criminal records, financial history, online activity, and much more.
However, China isn’t the first to implement such a system; numerous private firms already have similar credit score systems. But it’s the scale of the system that sets it apart. China would be giving a social credit score to a population of over 1.3 billion people. Moreover, the government is planning to go a step ahead an provide a credit score to businesses as well.
These nation-wide rating systems can give governments more control over their citizens, as they have access to every move they make. But it’s also said that such systems are designed to drive the economy and make people credible to the society.
China’s social credit is expected to launch at its full capacity by the year 2020. If all goes as planned, inevitably, the lives of the people would be a lot different.