Life is imitating art again, folks.
The Chinese government is planning to launch a “Social Credit System” which will be used to evaluate the trustworthiness of citizens.
Wired reports that the system was first announced in 2014 and is voluntary for now but will be mandatory by 2020.
To create the social credit scores, the government has employed the help of large Chinese companies with access to massive swathes of big data.
The companies, which include messaging app WeChat, financial services and insurance company Sesame Credit and Alibaba’s AliPay are combining their data to rate citizens according to five main criteria.
According to Wired, these criteria are credit history, fulfilment capacity (the ability to honour contracts), personal characteristics, behaviours and interpersonal relationships.
“Someone who plays video games for ten hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person,” Sesame’s Technology Director Li Yingyun told Wired.
“Someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility.”
A true rebel would play video games all day in diapers just to mess with their heads.
Apparently, millions of people have already signed up for this and the Chinese government is incentivising them for doing so.
When users of the system reach certain point milestones, they get rewarded with perks such as faster check-in at hotels, access to cash loans and even faster processing of travel visas.
Those visas will presumably be useful when citizens try to escape the nightmarish hellscape of 2020s China.
Jokes aside, this is scary AF and sounds like Black Mirror meets 1984.
Fans of the former will remember the episode “Nosedive”, which included a social credit system not unlike the one China is developing.
Guess what? It didn’t end well (OK, so the main character was eventually liberated but at quite a cost).
This isn’t the first time Black Mirror has been prescient.
The show has been, uh, credited with predicting the rise of Trump, David Cameron’s business with a pig, hanging out with deceased loved ones and robotic bee drones.
Terrifyingly, there is a fourth season of Black Mirror coming soon. We should all pay close attention so we know what the near future has in store for us.