Have you ever heard about the Social Credit System? Most Probably you must have heard this term in the news channels or on social media. This system is the most controversial policy that has been implemented in the second largest economy on the planet- CHINA!
Let me explain to you why this system is so controversial and why it may revolutionise the whole world that we are living in if it is implemented in a proper democratic way.
What Exactly is the Social Credit System?
The Social Credit System is a rating system in which Each Person would get rating points depending upon the good things and the bad things one does.
So, basically, if someone does good deeds automatically his rating would improve and that person would get incentives, discount offers, benefits of government schemes and many other things.
If a person does anything bad, his rating points will decrease and therefore he will be subjected to many restrictions and punishments by the government. Some of the restrictions include Not able to buy high-end phones or not being able to fly from an aeroplane.
How Does the Social Credit System Works In China?
China outlined this ambitious scheme in mid-2014 and vows to make assessments of all the citizens based on rating till 2020. It uses Mass Surveillance techniques and Big Data Technology to implement such a system for its 1.38 Billion People.
Let’s have a look at How this Social Credit System works in China…..
One of the first pilot projects was run in a small village of China having 3,000 Population and the result was astounding.
All People will start with 1000 Rating Points. Rules are quite simple to understand.
Do Good, Improve Your Ratings & Get Benefits!
Do Bad, Decrease Your Ratings & Get Blacklisted!
The Government Employee registers your rating into your database and this rating point is publicly displayed. So each and every person knows about the rating points. This System is very strict!
Let me tell you even a 50 points decrease in the social credits would result in getting banned from buying high-end phones, blacklisted into no-fly list meaning you would not be able to travel by aeroplane or by train.
Do you know what was the effect on this small village of 3000 people this social credit system did?
No Fights, No Robbery, No Burglary, No Defaulters!
Yes! This was stated by the officer from the village who was in charge of the Social Credit System there.
This System was also started in Rongcheng which is a county-level city in the Shandong Province in China. Its population is nearly 670,000. People there say that the behaviour of the citizens has improved socially.
The crime rate has also reduced significantly says its Citizens according to the Reports stated by Simina Mistreanu ( Foreign Policy Analyst ).
But wait, there’s a catch!
You know every Good thing comes for a price…
The Dangers of the Social Credit System!
This system is like a Game, but its a real game with real people. So that’s absolutely scary! Let’s see why?
This Sesame Credit system will also pull out data from your social media interactions, meaning if you are sharing or commenting posts that devalues or demeans the government policies or schemes or even talk about illegal things, your credit points will reduce.
For Example:- In China, it is a taboo to speak about Tiananmen Square Protests because it throws China in a bad light and show the world how authoritative the regime is. So no one talks about it publicly in mainland China.
Now imagine you talk about how bad China is or How bad this policy is, then automatically your ratings decrease.
Remember I told that these ratings are publicly displayed. These ratings will also be displayed on Social Media.
Now the catch is, if you are associated with a person that has a bad rating, eventually your rating will also decrease because you are associated with a person who has low credit score meaning that person has done something wrong.
This is where it goes absolutely crazy and dangerous!
People will start disassociating with the those who have low credit scores! People with low credit scores will also feel lonely and desperate to improve their scores.
I also told you that the main Player in this system was the Sesame Credit Owned By Alibaba Group!
It also monitors the purchases you have done through online stores. Meaning, if you buy something valuable, let’s suppose local agricultural products, then your score goes up and if you purchase any imported product that the system thinks its invaluable to the economy, let’s suppose shoes from Japan, your score goes down.
Why does the score goes down when we buy imported products? Simply because China wants their people to buy from local stores rather than from other countries.
This system is not yet mandatory but it will be mandatory for all citizens of China by 2020. There are reports that the restrictions will be tougher than ever when the system becomes mandatory. Some of the punishments that may include will be:-
- Slower Internet Speeds
- Restricting from high paying Jobs
- Banned from buying high-end products
- Blacklisted into No-fly list
This type of social credit system that China seems to have developed is very dangerous for any democratic society. But what will it take to improve this system to be implemented in each country in the world?
Mass surveillance can’t happen and not every citizen would like to know that Government is using their private data to use somewhere. Its a topic of debate where some people might agree and a vast majority would disagree with.
Data privacy is something we can’t control. Question is whether to share that data with the government to make policies.Social Credit System is the most surreal example of the Black Mirror TV Series! Click To Tweet
Watch this video and see what Chinese People think of this system.
They seem to be positive about the system but it needs to be improved and this system can’t be run in a democratic country unless it is improvised.
Technology Behind the Social Credit System and its Implications
There is one important technology that is behind this master system. That is Big Data Analytics!
Big Data Refers to the technology wherein a huge number of data sets are fed to the system to create analysis such as behaviour and predictive analysis. To get huge datasets ( information of citizens ) we need to dive in their personal information such as social profile, location, health records, shopping preferences, etc.
But to retrieve it means a breach of privacy. That is the most obvious obstacles regarding this system. However, if we keep out social media behaviour ( engagement ) and online shopping preferences out of the social credit system, the task to build a perfect social credit system gets a little bit easier.
Three Technological Giants, Google, Facebook and Amazon already have huge demographic statistics of billions of people around the world. They do provide demographic study for those who want to advertise ( advertisers) to publish their ads to the right people. But we all know they have much more data than that. But we already want to keep social media out of this crazy system.
Tencent and Alibaba, in spite of being privately owned companies, are giving out the personal data to the government ( even they deny this fact ) to facilitate their policies and systems.
Now think how much data Google, Facebook and Amazon must be storing! Gazillions and Gazillions of Data!
Its high time such Technological Giants be highly regulated and they must make sure they don’t provide private data to the government in the future, like the one happening in China!
Again this topic is debatable whether Google or Facebook shares the data with Intelligence Agencies of the countries like the CIA or the FBI.
How can the system be implemented for the rest of the world?
The type of social credit system that is being implemented in China is very difficult to practice all over the world owing to technical difficulties and political problems of each country.
No citizen would like to be spied by mass surveillance each second and to use their data for mining and building a super accurate algorithm for the social credit system.
So the Question is Can this Social Credit System be implemented in the rest of the world? Perhaps not like the one that is being developed in China but a more improved version that doesn’t mass surveil citizens and spy on the personal data from Social Media and Online Purchases.
We already have this system running, but it happens on a low scale. Simplest Example is high-speed tickets that we get when we cross certain speed limits.
We also have Credit Score which is a 3 digit number to determine loan and credit card approvals. Higher the score, higher is the possibility of getting a loan or a credit card.
These are some of the examples of rating system that happens on a low scale. But How about a rating system that integrates all of the activities that we do daily depending upon your good and bad deeds.
However, this type of social credit system must not monitor any social media activities, because if it monitors then it would be a violation of free speech and thoughts.
If by implementing this system, we get rid of some of the problems we face in our society, then this system would be indeed the most revolutionary of our generation.
As I said Before, We already use the concept at a lower scale with a different name, but it’s time to integrate all into a single credit system which would be much better off than the Chinese Social Credit System that we see today!
1) If someone builds a tree each year, his ratings would improve, thereby he would be entitled to incentives and discounts that government offers.
In this way, we can tackle our green cover problems.
2) If someone uses public transport for more than 30-40% of his rides in a month, ratings will get improved and the citizen gets the benefits.
This is called positive reinforcement approach.
Now for example 2, if we would have also made a rule that if someone fails to do 30-40% of his rides through public transport, then ratings would decrease and he would get entitled to many restrictions as we see how China does it.
But, China isn’t a democratic country. People don’t protest as we see often in democratic countries. In USA, India, UK, Europe there would be mass protests against the governments if we also try to make negative reinforcement as China did.
That is why this system must be modified. There should be some rules where negative reinforcement is necessary, like the ones who don’t repay loans but that doesn’t mean this negative reinforcement is implemented in each and every situation.
When the early version of the World of Warcraft games was developed, the developer set a rule that playing for more than 10 hours in a single day would result in decreased points.
This made the users frustrated and many users started complaining and the version was updated by a positive reinforcement approach later on to pacify the users.
This was just a simple game and the users were frustrated. Now, Imagine this applying to the real people with Credit System in mind.
China’s Credit System has many flaws and it cannot be implemented just as it is. Sure, the concept is great. We just have to improve the system wherein we should focus more on positive reinforcement approach. Positive reinforcement has been successful in many parts of the world. We need to build this epic credit system for the betterment of society.
China’s Credit System will roll out in 2020 in full phase. This System will go hand in hand with the super intelligent camera surveillance system that uses Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Both of these systems go hand in hand. Credit System is also a part of this Mass Surveillance System in China.
To replicate and improve such a vast system would be a daunting task for any democratic government. Let’s hope with the use of technological advancements, we would be able to make an improvised version of this system that we are seeing now in China.
Share your thoughts in the comment section and tell me what do you think of this system, whether it would prove beneficial for your country or not.
Don’t forget to share this article with your colleagues and let them know about this Controversial yet Astounding Credit System.