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Social Credit

SkepsisSep 6, 2019, 1:11:03 PM


You may or may not be aware that in China there is a Social Credit system, which is used to decide if you are a good enough person. This system works much like a traditional credit score does in the way of permitting you credit to make purchases, the social score decided what you can do and even be punished for.

First implementation began in 2014 and is expected to be fully functional by 2020. This information shall be used to check whom will be permitted travel access. Plane, tickets and train rides, even down a taxi are subject to checking of your social credit.

The Chinese government is boasting about the social credit system, and now thus far they have prevented 2.5 million “discredited entities” from purchasing plane tickets; and another 90,000 people from purchasing high speed rail tickers in July.

The United Kingdom’s own YouTube sensation Paul Joseph Watson, outlined in his video “China’s TERRIFYING Social Credit” the everyday behaviors that Chinese citizens are having their credit scores lowered for engaging in:

Bad driving, smoking on trains, buying too many video games, buying too much junk food, buying too much alcohol, calling a friend who has a low credit score, having a friend online who has a low credit score, posting ‘fake news’, criticizing the government, visiting unauthorized websites, walking your dog without a leash, letting your dog bark too much.”

The number of people not able to purchase tickets for their means of travel is soaring, and as of November 2018 the number was at 6.7 million Chinese citizens who were already banned.

People all over the world, not just in China, are seeing similar actions take place, in recent times. PayPal will close the accounts of anyone it does not agree with on the political spectrum, and some of the big banks are closing accounts of those whom they do align politically with. JP Morgan Chase has already been seen doing exactly this. Investigative journalist James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas team; has released a disturbing and rather eye-opening video on the runaround that Chase officials, gave to Texas conservative entrepreneur, Enrique Tarrio about his canceled account. “Big banks” may very well be enabling America’s very own version of the Chinese social credit system in which the political dissent is identified, flagged, shunned, punished, and ultimately eradicated from functioning in society. In February 2019, the Texas Trump supporter received a letter from Chase Bank informing him that “after careful consideration,” the financial institution could “no longer support” his banking account. Mr. Tarrio is the President of the Miami chapter of the Proud Boys, and was labeled as a ‘far right extremist’.

Oddly enough, this was played out in the first episode of the third series installment of the popular British Television Series “Black Mirror”. In the episode titled “Nosedive”, we watched Bryce Dallas Howard slowly spiral into madness as her “Social Media Rating” was lower than her peers. Society in this episode’s timeline uses a technology where, through eye implants (Zed-eyes), and mobile devices, everyone shares their daily activities and rates their interactions with others on a one-to-five star scale, which affects that person's overall rating. One's current rating can be seen by others and has significant influence on one's socioeconomic status within the community.

How did a series on television predict what was about to come? The answer I suggest, is art imitating life. The concept of this is certainly not new, and dates back as far as Aristotle’s “Poetics”. The idea of imitation comes from the central concept of ‘Poetics: mimesis’, which is the relation of a piece of fiction to the world we all live in. In English, mimesis is translated as: mimicking, imitation, mirroring, copying, or the ideas of simulation and simulacre. This is was not some far out concept by wild sci-fi writers, this is quite noticeable in our everyday lives. We all watched as our Facebook accounts were getting friend requests, and others ‘liked’ our photos, tweets, and Instagram posts. Reddit has even included the ability to down vote a post, so if it is not seen as high quality by fellow Redditors you’d lose ‘karma’. Imagine now if this system of arbitrary likes and dislikes, is what is being used by the government to quantify your worthiness as a person to do basic activities in life? We may not be at the point of being denied travel, but we are seeing instances such as de-platforming on social media to silence voices that do not share certain views, as well as banking being affected by a person’s social worth; based on their political views, and so-called dissidence.

This very real scenario is currently playing out in the streets of Hong Kong. While some are not reporting on this at all, a few brave souls have set foot on the ground, to interview the citizens and learn why they are protesting. According to Alessandra Bocchi who was on the ground in Hong Kong a few days ago; there are five demands that the protesters are adamant about getting: Full withdrawal of the now suspended extradition bill; an independent inquiry into police brutality; withdrawal of criminal charges against demonstrators; retracting the government’s label of protesters as “rioters’; and universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kong’s executive which is currently approved by Beijing.

During the events witnessed by Ms. Bocchi, the protesters after being attacked with tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets; returned tear gas canisters with tennis rackets, tossed Molotov cocktails, and utilized lasers to confuse and thwart facial recognition cameras on the streets. Some cameras were even cut down, spray painted and destroyed, as Hong Kong protesters vehemently do not want social credit taking hold.

How long will it be before we are all under the “ever watchful eye”? Very soon, England has CCTV watching your every move at every corner. The United States is looking into rolling out a “social credit” style monitoring system also. The all-knowing figures who are gazing into the lives of every citizen, in every country; and our everyday passing behaviors will determine our status and worth in the world? Let us take a stern warning from Hong Kong, of what is to come if we continue down this road. Judgement, authoritarian tyranny and the utter casting out of citizens from society who are not deemed worthy, by the all surveilling government.