Social Credit Systems: Interesting but I Do Not Want to Know You That Well

by Brian Riley 0

Just about everyone our age read George Orwell’s dystopic view of the world in 1984 if they graduated before that year, but is it coming true in China? Moreover, what about the US?

  • Have you ever heard the saying that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with?

  • It is quite possible that someone in the Chinese government is intimately acquainted with the idea.

  • Over the past several years, the country has been working to quantify the trustworthiness of every citizen in China.

  • A bit like a financial credit score, only applying to how much stock we can put in a person’s character, the idea is that using big data and A.I. algorithms to analyze trustworthiness can lead to a new era in upstanding

You can find the gory details here, but you probably won’t like it.  Imagine trolling your Facebook pages for the kind of people you knew.  The washed out high school quarterback, now selling used cars on Main Street.  Or the thrice-divorced prom queen is now working at the Waffle House as a waitress.  Too much data.  Too invasive to permit.  And, who gets to use the data?  Local Chinese police?

  • Or as the original proposal for the system, titled “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System,” put it: “[Such an initiative] will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious.

  • It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

The vision is much broader than just taking payments.

  • In addition to more mundane areas like whether you pay your community charge on time, the system’s reputational algorithm will also factor in your choice of online friends.

  • That person who complains about how the government is doing its job could suddenly cost you some serious social cred.

  • Befriend too many wrongthinkers and you could quickly find yourself classed as a wrongthinker too.

My credit record is a definite performance indicator. There are business reasons worth knowing that I am in year 29 of a 30-year mortgage, have A+ credit at top-tier issuers, and use less than 5% of my available credit.

As for building a social record on my friends, hang on.  You will probably meet some pretty unique characters.  Think about yours!

Overview by Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

Read the quoted story here