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I wrote a dystopian book in 2014, and now it’s come to life in China…

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As Seen On:
by Joel Ohman in Social Commentary

Well, this is awkward.

In 2012, I started writing what was to become the bestselling dystopian book, Meritropolis, and published in 2014 with a premise that everyone is assigned a numerical Score that decides their worth to society and whether they live or die. Now, just mere years later, it appears China likes how the first part of that premise sounds.

What could go wrong?

MeritropolisBook #1 – Meritropolis (buy on Amazon)

In Meritropolis everyone is assigned a numerical Score that decides their worth to society and whether they live or die. After a young boy is killed because of a low Score, his brother plots to take down the System.

 

 

Technically, the State Council of China first floated the citizen’s Score concept publicly in a paper titled, “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System” as far back as June 14, 2014, and after a lengthy trial period, the Chinese Government is now pushing to roll out the scoring system on a mandatory basis beginning in 2020 for every single citizen and legal person.

Of course, every dystopian nightmare starts out as a utopian dream. “The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. As the policy states, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”” (Source: Wired UK)

But it’s just like a credit score, right?

Not quite.

The Chinese government is currently in partnership with eight “private” Chinese companies, each of whom have a license to develop their own algorithms for evaluating citizens and assigning them a score. Many of these algorithms are closely-guarded company/state IP, but some of the various factors that have been admitted to include the following:

  1. Credit History – Do you pay your bills on time?
  2. Fulfillment Capacity – Do you keep your contractual obligations/promises?
  3. Personal Characteristics – Data associated with your cell phone number, address, and other Big Data indicators.
  4. Behavior & Preference – Shopping habits, length of time spent working vs recreation, other lifestyle and overall productivity indicators. This type of behavior is specifically “nudged” by the government to incentivize choices and habits that are in line with government values.
  5. Interpersonal Relationships – The friends you choose to associate with, likely also some type of reflection on the scores of those whom you choose to be around for any period of time. Here is where any communication related to the Chinese government is measured on a scale of “positive energy” to “negative energy”, with your score adjusted accordingly.

The last factor is key, and it’s easy to see how sharp delineations in society quickly emerge as “High Scores” shun “Low Scores” en masse lest their own high scores be jeopardized. Naturally, any “negative energy” directed toward the government’s policies, or even the scoring system itself, will quickly be met with a vicious cycle of sinking scores by everyone involved, and a large-scale rejection by the general public concerned that their own scores might be affected merely by association with this new leprous class. In a twisted sort of “mad despot” way, it’s a brilliant way to use natural group/crowd/herd dynamics against those who would dare to swim against the tide.

The only thing to do will be to just clap along with everyone else…

(Source: Wired UK, Fortune)

To read the bestselling dystopian book (that predicted it all?), click here to buy on Amazon: Meritropolis

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