One television show that I am a major fan of is a show called Black Mirror. Specifically, there is one episode called NoseDive that I am a major fan of. One of the reasons I enjoy this episode so much is because of the number of similarities I see between this episode and our society today. Each of the citizens in this apparent Utopian society receives a score based on how well they behave. If they smile, hold the door open for others and put hang out with certain groups of individuals their social score increases. If they partake in activities that are full of vice their social score will decrease (smoking, aggregation or hurting others physically). This has fascinated me because often the people with the higher social score received numerous benefits such as larger and more beautiful homes, well-developed networks and other various perks.
This system is likely to become a reality in China according to many articles I have read on the subject. With this new social credit system smoking in a smoke-free zone or idling one’s car for extended periods of times could lead to a reduced social score. One of the big differences from the episode of NoseDive was that it only records negative behaviors and everyone starts off with a perfect score. Anyways, the consequences of having a lower social score could mean fewer discounts from internet providers, the slower application process to travel to other countries or more difficult getting into certain educational programs.
Like in Nosedive, the lead women found it quite difficult to navigate through day to day life with a lower social credit score. She couldn’t get into certain events, access the home of her dreams, or get a ticket to travel to the destination. She was treated as a sub-class citizen because of the negative behaviors she took on. This is going to roll out next year in China and I believe it is important to look at the benefits and disadvantages of this system.
I personally am not a fan of the system, and while it does aim to have good intentions I believe eventually people in power can abuse the different regulations. Corruption always finds a way to seep into the government. One concern that I have for this system is if it were to branch into the inability to go to certain national parks in the country, obtain certain gym memberships or even not allow one to own a pet. I also think it is important to consider challenging the system and to see if there are more effective ways to approach good behavior rather than having a score. Naturally, if one treats others well and behave well one will get treated well in exchange. The same is for the opposite. I don’t think it should be up to a government or a system to dictate whether we are good citizens or not. If there is illegal behavior, then that crosses the line and the individual should be given an adequate trial and sentence.
While China is an authoritarian country, I think it is important that we look and do our best to look into and advocate against this system that will be implemented over the coming year. Having a limit on freedom restrains creative thinking and dampers the ability to innovate. While I do understand why the Chinese government would like to roll this out, in the long run, I am confident it will cause needless tension between the citizens and the government which wastes both time and energy.
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