In June 2014, the state council of China published an ominous-sounding document called “planning outline for the construction of a social credit system”. What if there was a national trust score that rated the kind of citizen you were?
Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay(or not). It’s hard to picture because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health tracking apps such as Fitbit.
But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your citizen score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating will be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage/loans or a job, where your children can go to school. It will determine the quality of the items that become available for you to purchase- or even just your chances of getting a date.
A futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control? No, it’s already getting underway in China, where the government is developing the Social Credit System(SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of 1.3 billion citizens. The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. For now, participating in China’s Citizens scores is voluntary. By 2020 is will be mandatory. The behaviour or every single citizen and legal person/company in China will be rated and ranked, whether they like it or not.