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Truthstream Media’s Melissa Dykes reports on the imminent rollout of the Chinese government’s social credit system, in which a person’s reputation is scored on a scale of 350 to 950.

By 2020, 600 million CCTV cameras paired with Artificial Intelligence for facial recognition and gait recognition will be gawking at China’s 1.4 billion citizens. The integrated, data-vacuuming social credit score system will continuously monitor them for their obedience.

Each person will be tracked, rated and then rewarded or punished by the government with the help of its high-tech corporate partners. A massive, centralized database makes it possible for authorities and some private companies to identify nearly anyone by capturing their face.

A December 2019 law already requires all citizens to use facial recognition in order to sign up for Internet services or to get a new cell phone number and citizens are now banned from transferring their numbers to someone else. All the better to verify people online and assign them with their social credit score, which goes up and down throughout the day, based on digitally tracked- and traced behaviors that are analyzed by an AI.

It’s Big Data-meets-Big Brother, where every public interaction becomes a transaction, where points can be earned or lost. The goal is to nudge people towards good behavior and obedience to the Chinese Communist Party. The government says this system will “purify society”.

The backbone of the social credit system is a set of blacklists, reportedly more than a dozen of which exist at the national level. Punishable offenses include playing video games for too long or wasting money on frivolous purchases or posting unapproved thoughts on social media. People with higher scores will have access to nicer housing, improved healthcare, more travel options and better schools for their children. “Data is the new money.”

Similar systems are being rolled out across the world. As WIRED notes, most Americans have dozens of scores, many of them drawn from behavioral and demographic metrics similar to those used in China and most of them held by companies that give us no chance to opt out. In the US this past year, some insurance companies were approved to start evaluating customer social media feeds when setting their premium rates.

In 2012, Facebook patented a method of credit assessment that could consider the credit scores of people in someone’s Facebook network the patent described a tool that arrives at an average credit score for someone based on their Facebook friends and rejects a loan application if the average is below a certain minimum. Can you imagine a future where people are watching to see if their friends’ credit is dropping and then dropping their friends, if that would affect them?

In the past two years, we’ve seen Big Tech companies de-platforming, de-banking and de-personing people – myself included – using algorithms that are proprietary secrets, leaving de-platformees with zero recourse.

As Dykes says, “These high-tech tracking and tracing systems allow whoever’s in charge to define what ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’ behavior is and then attempt to modify people, whether [it’s] the Chinese government or major Silicon Valley firms…

“What happens when the game becomes so enmeshed in real life that no one is allowed to stop playing; where everything a person does in modern society, in every interaction both online and off is tracked traced and then rewarded or punished – and who gets to make up the rules of the game that we should all be forced to play by?

“…Just because we have technology doesn’t mean a system like this will prevail; that the whole thing isn’t setting itself up for its own demise. The only way a system like this can work is if the majority continues to go along with what has been put in place by a tiny elite minority.

“History has repeatedly shown there’s no greater tool for liberation than a system of total oppression – and just because it comes now packaged with the slick veneer of machine intelligence and high-definition video doesn’t really change that.”

Alexandra Bruce

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Alexandra Bruce

Alexandra Bruce

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