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China Rolls Out 'Social Credit Score' System (cbslocal.com)
76 points by contourtrails 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

My mother in law is already paranoid, warning us not to talk about certain topics with her. Scary stuff.

I should point out that my MIL is a completely apolitical person who worked in the Chinese government for her entire career, spending most of that time just helping poor people, without a shred of corruption. She has nothing to worry about, doesn't care about politics, and even she's paranoid about this.

Do you know what should be more paranoid? No body in China are publicly paranoid about it, at least I didn't notice anyone does on domestic websites.

On websites which out of censorship though, is another story, of course.

Yeah, because you'll get penalty points... One step till 1984.

Nice thing is you can use this in an offensive manner too.

Japanese forums have been raided by Chinese trolls in the past. Now the Japanese just post a statement about Tienanmen square and poof, no more Chinese attendance, as the Great Firewall starts blocking...

Interesting times.

I wonder why the Chinese internet is still even connected to the Internet (other than for cyber-warfare).

Well, let's not forget that a significant percentage of the "decentralized" bitcoin mining network, operates out of China[0].

Currently BTC.COM[1] and AntPool[2] combined make up 42.5% of the network and both are both owned by Bitmain, a company headquartered in Beijing.

ViaBTC[3] is also a Chinese mining company operating out of Shenzhen and has 10.1%. I'm not going to bother checking the rest since that's already 52.6% of the network controlled by 2 companies under 1 authoritarian regime.

[0] https://blockchain.info/pools

[1] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/BTC.com

[2] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/AntPool

[3] https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/viabtc

I wonder why I haven't heard that repeated more often. That is not good.

Interesting, I guess someone could use this to evict Chinese players from a game using that.

If i where a dictator, i would punnish whoever pitched this as a traitor- after all- now you are cut off from all true information, you get the perfect soap opera- no matter how the people feel, until the day the fluffy thunderclouds around you decide its time for a chain reaction.

How this could seem to anyone in power a good idea- i will never know.

Its intended purpose has little to do with monitoring.

This starts Orwellian and end Huxleyan, in that a generation or two in, the majority of people's perception will be altered. They have no access to dissenting thought and their critical thinking skills are as dull as a doorknob.

This is about thought control.

So many methods where tryied, but when the great cycle of strife comes back with force, i sincerely doubt that 'social' credits will prevent hunger riots. Other people cant judge you if you eat them first.

Yea the number of unpublicized civil disobedience (protest, whatever) in China is pretty staggering. China media doesn't pick up on it for obvious reasons, Western media I guess is only interested when they can fit it into their narrative (e.g. 6/4), which isn't the case for relatively uninteresting protest at random factory or whatever. I mean you see some on Western news, but it's like 10 strikes/protests a day on average, and we don't see the scale of it here.

When you see that, it frames a lot of the party's actions and you see why (maybe you don't agree with it still, whatever). Basically scared shitless of a mass uprising, and trying to keep enough of the fires out, or at least mildly smoldering instead of rating.

Is it fair to say this is objectionable mostly due to the government enforcement of one "score" per person?

After all, we have a "karma score" here on HN and we think it's great... in part, presumably, because it's opt-in and it doesn't follow you around.

Is there a middle ground? As in, an identity service that offers this kind of "trustworthiness score" across services but it's opt-in and you can have as many "identities" as you'd like. You could use a high-trust real-name identity with certain online accounts like banks but also have the ability to use throw-away identities for anonymous browsing and commenting? If such an identity protocol included some kind of cryptographic chain of proof as a way to validate the trustworthiness, it could be quite useful.

Or it doesn't merely apply to you? If you're score is too low, guess what? You're kids is not going to be allowed to go to good public schools. Want to do private instead? They won't let you in unless you're score is good.

Yeah you could limit the system to only the most critical of citizen interactions (where capital moves between them). Maybe it could be like a credit score or something.

Does anyone believe that this is only for citizens? It wouldn't be that hard to extend a score for the rest of the world. Your online profile could very well affect your travel.

Is there a way to check this score somewhere somehow when outside of China? My family in-law is Chinese but I just do not hear anything about this from them.

It will be interesting to see how YC helps with this as their investment and relationship with China deepens.

(see: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16919952)

Update: my account has just been throttled and I cannot make further comments:/

I wonder about the after market to identify and target 'low scoring' individuals.

Reminds me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJg02ivYzSs

Which has a concept of "social score".

Which countries are likely to emulate or avoid this type of system?

Given enough time and depending on how this works out I don't think it is an impossibility that this will eventually be implemented in western countries.

One might object that no sane people would allow this, but we're already allowing mass surveillance. After 9/11 we allowed legislation that is basically one massive infringement of privacy. All it'd take is gradual implementation and some kind of "starter event".

Someone already came up with a Yelp for people app, called Peeple. Thankfully the backlash made it pretty clear there was little, if any, support for the concept.

Now just add in some "basic income" and...

Chinas NEP is over.

This is just scary.

Sounds straight out of Black Mirror

Is this really such a bad thing for developing countries ? In India, for instance , powerful people use twitter to call for rape and murder of their opponents regularly and politicians justify rape. These are just a small minority of people -- however they are extra-ordinarily vocal and their "free speech" scares all the decent people.

Of course , Social Credit score has no place in western liberal democracies but maybe Social Credit score is not a bad idea for developing countries where ignorant people outnumber educated people ,where depraved medieval traditions still hold sway.

The potential for abuse of a "social score" system seems even higher in countries without strong liberal-democratic traditions or an educated voting population. Politicians in India already abuse their oversight of the police to sidestep the legal system. (The classic case of the "son of the MLA" who commits a crime and gets acquitted because of his father's political power.) It would be easy enough to reduce the social scores for opponents or critics of the politicians in power. Hell, there have been arrests in India based on Facebook posts. Not to mention virtual mobs threatening vocal citizens on Twitter. At least these instances are visible. Someone could silently add some bogus stuff to your "social score" file, just like credit reports can contain false information. A "social score" system would just replicate corruption and illiberality on a large scale. From the perspective of those in power, it would be a good way to control people.

You do make a very good point about the potential for abuse. My vision for this would be be a dispassionate system -- driven by AI and untouched by politics-- that could create/assign the social score. A model could be created by the science community with inputs from the legal system.

Technology just encodes the ethics of the creator, so we can't hope for apolitical technology.

If this isn't just another tool used by the powerful to the oppress the weak then it will be a milestone in human history.

The rich and powerful in China have nothing to fear from this.

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