Reputation Economy Dystopia: China's new "Citizen Scores" will rate every person in the country

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Wow, this seems ripe for attack. It seems like it would be relatively easy to impersonate someone and drive their score into the ground.

That said, the idea though that people are flaunting how conformist they are is just alien to me.


What an awful system.

Imagine if here in the US, Canada, and UK, citizens were inextricably linked through their national ID (with no method of opting out) to a private company’s arbitrary metric of “creditworthiness”. That score would, of course - because we’re not communists, be administered by three shadowy, private, profitable, and 100% unaccountable companies who would refuse to update or correct errors in their reports and scores and would have the gall to charge citizens to see what information is being held about them (against their will).

Imagine if these completely arbitrary and often incorrect scores were used to determine whether people could get jobs, housing, insurance, etc. etc. - all things which have nothing at all to do with whether that person is a fan of revolving debt.

That would be awful, wouldn’t it?


Reminds me of an app? I just read about (here - first news link I found, which quickly spiraled off into the dark place) - but if we think the associated tracking information building up around is isn’t going to produce the same result, we’re fooling ourselves.

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“the government has announced that it will be mandatory by 2020.”

Fun Fun FUN!


So it is like one of those reputation scores on some forums? Can you down vote others? Mandatory executions or reeducation for scores below a certain threshold? Assigned important positions for high scores? Naturally I assume you get higher scores for “right” thinking and “correct” activities.


This is different from credit scores in several ways, I’m sure.


Now, I have to admit, I thought that I’d seen “lawful evil” before; but damn China, you just knocked it out of the park.


This is so hilarious that I dare not read any further lest I sully it with facts rendering it less funny.
Honestly I do not wish to know any more. It’s beautiful.


Theresa May must have the most massive wide-on for this idea. Fuck, she must be jealous.


Isn’t this eerily similar to the reputation economy at the center of Daniel Suarez’s Freedom™ (the sequel to Daemon) which all the techno-libertarian fanboys were agog over a couple years back?


My wife and I have barely ever used credit cards in our lives, and we were both fortunate enough to get through college debt-free. We both make good incomes and are pretty frugal with our spending. (Didn’t buy a new car until age 32 when we had cash to pay for it, etc.). As a result, when we decided to finally buy a home a few years ago we found out that neither of us had a credit score at all. As a result, we couldn’t get a loan from our bank or credit union despite having a very substantial down payment saved up. They only did FHA-backed loans. That really ticked me off. A government benefit (FHA backed loan) that’s only available if some private entities assign you a magic number that’s based on some proprietary formula that even the government doesn’t know. And they’ll only assign you a number once you borrow money, whether you need to or not.

In the end, we worked out something with relatives instead. So happy ending for us; we managed to opt out of the whole system. But I’m well aware that most people aren’t as fortunate as us. Avoiding credit cards and student loans just isn’t an option for most people, frugal or not. Which really sucks.


Whuffie? :smile:


This really gives me the creeps… But.

Chinese civilization has been around for some 4.000 continuous years, depending on how you count it. It’s way older than ours and for most of recorded history, it was also way ahead of us in technological and societal development. Only in the last 200-300 hundred years did the western barbarian whippersnappers with their coal, planes and rockets zip ahead. They have their own system of doing things - and it involves a lot of pressure on individual conformity to the perceived needs of the whole.

To me, as a Westerner, this sounds horrible and dehumanizing - but then again, I was brought up and indoctrinated with the myth of Individualism. So this (together with, perhaps, India) is one instance where I’m rather coy about patronizingly lecturing another civilization on how to run things.

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The principle is pretty much the same. Some banks reportedly even mine one’s social graph to assess creditworthiness of people by creditworthiness of their friends. So if you have broke friends, good bye decent mortgage rate.

The data used for the scoring are the biggest difference. The underlying principles, and some of the data collecting methods, are the same.


There may have been more continuity, but just as the current Hellenic Republic is not the same as Mycenae, the three-quarter-century old People’s Republic of China is not the same as the Zhou dynasty. Keeping the same writing does not mean the culture has been static - or should be static.

Besides, most of history anywhere is not something I would want anyone subjected to. I don’t like trying to use our ancient traditions like divine right of kings, serfdom, or patriarchical households to justify changes. Let’s not pretend the Chinese past is somehow any better an excuse for dehumanizing innovations.


And yet we claim cultural heritage of Greek philosophical and political ideas, such as democracy…

I’m not saying the situation is the same. I’m just saying they have their own (proven) way of dealing with things and our recipes might not always be the best for their purposes. What bugs me is that we always automatically assume that we are the ones who got this civilization thing right and every deviation from our prescribed path is therefore wrong - when the claim is in practice based predominantly on our mastery of ballistic missiles, not our compassion, fairness and altruistic kindness.

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Now why did I immediately think of Big Biz?


I’m saying that’s a mistake starting from treating them all as a single “they”. It’s easy to wave off things by saying the Chinese have their own proven way, but that comes from treating them all as one amalgam, rolling it up as a “civilization” without different people or changes in it.

The truth is that like any large society, people in China have tried different things, and they have worked for some people and not for others. Sure, let’s not arrogantly presume “our way” is always the only one, but let’s also not arrogantly overlook when something only works if you define that ignoring this second group.