The ‘Nosedive’ episode in the ‘Black Mirror’ series introduces a world where people are rated on a 5-point scale. In this world, people rate each other after every interaction: a “good” interaction improves the individual’s rating, while a “bad” interaction lowers it. This system then in turn causes people to act overly friendly instead of being genuine in order to improve their rating. People with good ratings are awarded privileges such as being awarded priority for airplane tickets, while people with lower ratings are treated like second class citizens. This system sounds all too similar to China’s new social credit system.
Not one official social credit system has been put in place yet, but China soon plans to implement this system throughout the whole country. This system will work like the rating system in ‘Nosedive’ as Chinese citizens’ social scores can move up or down based on their behavior. Some things that lower these scores are posting fake news or anti-government content, protesting “illegally”, playing games too much, and driving badly. Some things that improve these scores are donating blood, engaging in charity work, and praising the government on social media. The Chinese government intends to punish citizens with low social scores by banning them from flying or getting on the train, slowing down their internet, banning them or their children from going to the best schools, etc. However, citizens with high social scores can be rewarded with priority for school admission and employment, tax breaks, and even shorter waiting time in hospitals.
To implement this system nationally, the Chinese government would need to gather insurmountable amounts of data on each individual, especially their digital data. This means that the government would dive into the privacies of people’s search histories, online chats, and e-commerce purchases. Therefore, it is likely that Chinese citizens will modify their behavior both online and offline just like in ‘Nosedive’.
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