China’s high tech “Social Credit” system makes Orwell’s “1984” a reality

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the citizens are constantly reminded that ” Big Brother is watching you.” Big Brother heads a state where the “Thought Police”  persecute individualism and independent thinking.

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell

The citizen are under constant video surveillance. Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984, is doing his compulsory morning exercises in front of the TV. He stops exercising for a rest  and the two way video camera in his TV picks this up and the instructor urges Smith to keep up, humiliating him in front of the other exercising citizens.

Much of 1984, which was published in 1949 has proved apocryphal.

Such a system is becoming a reality in China.

The ABC reports

Social credit is like a personal scorecard for each of China’s 1.4 billion citizens.

In one pilot program already in place, each citizen has been assigned a score out of 800. In other programs it’s 900.

Those, like Dandan Fan who is very much the modern Chinese woman

and a marketing professional, she’s diligent and prosperous — in many ways she’s a model Chinese citizen., with top “citizen scores” get VIP treatment at hotels and airports, cheap loans and a fast track to the best universities and jobs.

Those at the bottom can be locked out of society and banned from travel, or barred from getting credit or government jobs.

The system will be enforced by the latest in high-tech surveillance systems as China pushes to become the world leader in artificial intelligence. Surveillance cameras will be equipped with facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking to cast a constant gaze over every citizen. Within years, an official Party outline claims, it will “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”

Dandan doesn’t object to the prospect of life under the state’s all-seeing surveillance network.

The 36-year-old knows social credit is not a perfect system but believes it’s the best way to manage a complex country with the world’s biggest population.

“I think people in every country want a stable and safe society,” she says.

“If, as our government says, every corner of public space is installed with cameras, I’ll feel safe.”

She’s also likely to benefit from the system as will her children.

The system has three categories. For anyone who falls into the bottom category of Untrustworthy,  there are flight bans and bands in high-speed train travel, exclusion from the mortgage market, exclusion from private schools, slow internet connection, exclusion from high prestige work, exclusion from hotel, and registration on a public blacklist.  Ultimately, so if people denied any of the social and economic benefits of Chinese society

The activities of your friends and families can also affect your Social Credit rating.

There is no appeal against your rating.

Within a decade, China will has become a digital dictatorship.



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