Social Credit System

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Social Credit System

Postby Blue » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:28 pm

I heard about this "national reputation system" in China briefly somewhere but don't really know anything about it. I saw this post by Dr. Evil in another thread but I didn't want to get off topic there.

China is an "excellent" example of the surveillance and thought police state that people in the west fear is just around the corner. China is already there. They're going all out with tracking people and punishing them for not doing the "right" thing. There's cameras with facial recognition all over the place, police are wearing glasses with facial recognition systems built in and the social credit system is already up and running in some places. All kinds of databases are being connected, so doing something stupid, like getting a parking ticket, will have knock-on effects on all kinds of other things, like not being able to buy a train ticket or using certain services.

The scary part is that it might just work. If they get it fully up and running as intended the end result will be an automated system of self-policing. People who oppose the government will be marginalized, as other people start avoiding them because the system will lower their score just for associating with them, and if the system is tuned just right it will all happen automatically. Dissent will be crushed before it even becomes an issue.

And of course, if it is seen to work it will be very tempting for other countries to start implementing similar systems, starting with the more "benign" functionality, then slowly expanding it, one function at a time. Some US cities already have facial recognition camera systems up and running (thanks, Jeff Bezos), and London is riddled with CCTV cameras.

When they start connecting all the disparate systems you will end up with what you might call an emergent surveillance state. In China it will be in the name of social harmony, in the west it will be in the name of ad revenue, but the results might be very similar.

I read a short story recently by Rudy Rucker in Asimov's Sci Fi zine March/April 2018 called "Emojis" that expands on this but in a pretty benign and funny way. Here's a quote from someone who reviewed it:

It’s about how technology will change our social interactions. In this story, a man programs a nano-virus that infects a person connects to the internet and then overlays emojis over reality so the user can understand what they are thinking and feeling. It’s called the empathy bug. They call it a bug because it’s contagious, as the programmer finds out when he goes home and makes love to his wife only to find out she has caught his empathy bug. This raises a bunch of ethical questions–

I can see this being introduced in the US just like an extension of your social networks, only like totally more awesome! People would eat it up. They'd walk around with emojis above their heads that could not only be hacked into by government/police for "security reasons" but to set someone up with an ISIS or Illegal Immigrant or hell, Socialist emoji to get the public to respond accordingly.

Okay, maybe that won't have a chance to happen before the doomsday device goes off but we're always closer to the outlandish scifi stories than we think.
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Re: Social Credit System

Postby DrEvil » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:37 pm

^^Might be closer than you think. All the big tech companies are getting into augmented reality and betting on it being the next big thing. AR functionality is already built in to Windows, Android and IOS, it's only the hardware that's lagging.

There's already been some popular AR apps like Pokemon Go and Instagram filters, plus more functional things like real-time translation of signs, so the market is there if it's compelling enough, and once it can be squeezed into a pair of regular looking glasses emojis will be the least of our worries. Google using AI to look at drone footage is nothing compared to Google's AI literally looking out through your (and everyone else's) eyes.

If the technology becomes widespread I can see China going in all sorts of "interesting" directions with it. They're already world-class in AI (fun fact: they're combing through every scientific paper written on AI and getting patents on everything that isn't already patented) and working really hard to get ahead of everyone else.

Just imagine if the surveillance state consists of every single citizen's eyes, with AI analyzing everything happening in real-time, docking and awarding points depending on your behavior. Help an old lady across the street: 5 points. Littering: minus 5 points. Rude gesture: minus 5 points. Smiling and being cooperative with a police officer: 15 points. Paying your bills on time: 5 points per bill, with bonus points for early payment. Pay every bill on time for a year: 50 points. Seeing a crime and reporting it: 100 points. Not reporting it: minus 100 points. Etc.

The foundations of the system are already in place:

http://nordic.businessinsider.com/china ... ?r=US&IR=T
China's social credit system has blocked people from taking 11 million flights and 4 million train trips

- The social credit system in China has blocked people from taking more than 11 million flights and 4 million train trips.
- The social credit system is used to punish citizens for bad behaviour with numerous blacklists preventing them from travelling, getting loans or jobs, staying in hotels, and even limiting internet access.
- China intends to roll out a more comprehensive, national social credit system in 2020, which has gained comparisons to the show 'Black Mirror'.

China's social credit system has blocked people from taking 11.14 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed train trips.

The numbers, from the end of April, were included in a report by China's state-run outlet Global Times, but it is unclear what offences those targeted in the travel ban have committed.

China's Social Credit System is actually a collection of blacklists, of which there are more than a dozen at the national level. Each list is based on similar offences - such as misbehavior on planes and trains, or failing to abide by a court judgment - and determines the punishments individuals face, from throttling internet speeds to blocking loans.

While it's not made clear which list has had so many plane and train trips blocked, a former official, Hou Yunchun, is quoted as saying that the system needs to be improved so that "discredited people become bankrupt".

The blacklist Hou is referring to most likely involves debtors and was created by the Supreme People's Court in an attempt to make people comply with verdicts and repay their debts.

The court publishes the names and ID numbers of debtors on its website. They are banned from plane and high-speed train travel, and can't stay at four and five star hotels, send their children to expensive schools, book cheap hire cars, or make luxury purchases online.

Some provinces play a recorded message when someone tries to call a blacklisted debtor, informing the caller that the person they want to speak to has outstanding debts. And in May, a short cartoon with the photographs of debtors' faces began playing at movie theatres, on buses, and on public noticeboards with a voiceover that said, "Come, come, look at these [debtors]. It's a person who borrows money and doesn't pay it back".

The list of debtors launched in late 2013 with 31,259 names and within two weeks had been visited 180,000 times. By December 2017, 8.8 million debtors had been added to the list, preventing 8.7 million flights and 3.4 million high-speed train trips.

With nearly 2.5 million trips banned in the last six months, China has either cracked down on existing debtors' plane travel or many more names have been added to the blacklist.

Since the debtor list was first created, state-media reports repeatedly described it as the first step toward creating a China-wide social credit score, expected in 2020.

Until then, there are eight more pilot credit systems being trialed. One of these, Sesame Credit, is run by the Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial and deducts credit points off people who default on court fines.

Sesame Credit is one of the few systems that gives users an actual score, and it remains to be seen if China's national system will give every citizen a score.
"I only read American. I want my fantasy pure." - Dave
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Re: Social Credit System

Postby Blue » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:49 am

^^^
Oh yeah, Pokemon Go already happened. Google looking out through everyone's eyes reminds me of Christoph Waltz' character in Spectre where he has an army watching live feeds around the world from his base in the Sahara. Life imitating art thing.

China's Social Credit System is actually a collection of blacklists, of which there are more than a dozen at the national level. Each list is based on similar offences - such as misbehavior on planes and trains, or failing to abide by a court judgment - and determines the punishments individuals face, from throttling internet speeds to blocking loans.

While it's not made clear which list has had so many plane and train trips blocked, a former official, Hou Yunchun, is quoted as saying that the system needs to be improved so that "discredited people become bankrupt".

While one part of me thinks that kind of punishment would be appropriate for certain people, say to enforce court-ordered child support payments before allowing someone to buy a first class plane ticket, it's an outrageous intrusion of privacy. And what is the goal after the discredited people become bankrupt? To fill debtors prisons?

Thanks for the info Doc.
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