Here’s why China’s new social scoring system matters to Americans
October 12, 2018 (The Public Discourse) – Imagine East Germany on steroids and you have the People's Republic of China today. Instead of legions of citizen informants spying on their colleagues and family, advanced information aggregation technology does it for you, logging your every move – from the superficial to the deeply personal. The data is then plugged into a psychometric scoring system that impacts your credit, job prospects, and every other measurable aspect of your value and potential as a member of society. China's social credit scheme may appear bizarre and abstract to those far away, but it's very much real. The mandatory program started in 2014 and is being implemented for millions currently. It will be fully operational by 2020 and is being run through a patchwork of municipal government authorities and private technology companies contracted to the government. Westerners might comment "surely, it can't happen here?", but the truth is a lot more disquieting.
The Chinese Scoring System
As recently reported, "under the social credit scheme, points are lost and gained based on readings from a sophisticated network of 200 million surveillance cameras – a figure set to triple in eighteen months." Various factors affect the social credit scores, including what those you associate with do and say. If your relative criticizes the government, your score goes down. If the government considers your behavior to be satisfactory, your score goes up, eventually resulting in exclusive advantages such as travel, airfare, dating site advantages, loan access, discounts on bills, improved job prospects, and priority on university applications. You can sink fast and become a low-ranking citizen, too: "jaywalking, late payments on bills or taxes, buying too much alcohol or speaking out against the government, each cost citizens points." Penalties are also levied for playing video games too much, posting "fake news" (Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg just applauded), overspending on unnecessary purchases and drinking too much. Ironically, posting too much on social media can also cost you serious points.
If you fall too low in your ranking you can be barred from air and train travel, have your social media accounts shut down, have your internet specifically targeted to slow down your connection speed, have your kids excluded from applying to private and prestigious schools, and be shut out of various elite occupations such as working in major banks, government jobs, and jobs requiring government approval (which in China is a lot of jobs). Public naming and shaming is another punishment: you'll be on a blacklist as well, in case any employers or associates started getting too easygoing about the system. What if your job involves holding the powerful accountable? Chinese journalist Liu Hu found out the hard way after his reporting turned up government corruption (surprise, surprise). His social rating plummeted, and he was arrested, jailed, and fined. His social media accounts were nixed, and he now can't travel by train or plane. Employers are hesitant to go near him.
The Western Third-Party System
The West recently had to contend with the intersection of free speech and private corporate technology monopolies with the banning of Alex Jones from YouTube, Twitter, PayPal, and many other platforms, ostensibly for breaking the respective services' terms of service. Voices on the Right and non-mainstream Left have been shown the door and hounded by social media giants. Some conservatives have defended the bans under the reasoning that private companies can do what they wish (at least it is not the government). What started as a small patter of censorship with the ouster of Brendan Eich from Mozilla, for example, for donating in support of upholding traditional-marriage via Proposition 8 in California, has now become open technological monopolization of acceptable speech. But, to be fair, the Western corporate censorship and technological control grid is still child's play compared to that being rolled out in China.
While Edward Snowden certainly demonstrated the global extent of the US surveillance state, the American elite have not yet openly implemented anything on the level of the Chinese social scoring system. Instead, Americans are leaving the steady encroachment on rights to come from the private sphere and the deluded tech bros of Silicon Valley – for now. Technological-extremists like Sean Parker of Facebook who brag about how they will become "immortal overlords" by way of transhumanism will serve nicely as the useful fools of the hubris and increasing control of technology over our lives.
However, in China those running the social credit system don't need to focus on self-aggrandizement since they are encoding the system of social control with ironclad algorithms that will last far beyond human lifetimes. The Chinese system is being built on an existing history of authoritarian oppression that has already sunk deeply into acceptance in popular consciousness. In China you have an out-of-control technocracy buoyed by billions from its unfair global trade strategy and currency manipulation implementing a system for full domestic control. The implications are staggering. Think of it as beta-testing for the world government. When the warm and fuzzy feelings fade and the velvet glove comes off, it's likely there's an iron fist underneath and there's a good chance it likes squashing anyone who steps out of line without much fanfare or media coverage at all.
China's "Iron Fist"
Many Muslims in China are already experiencing China's "iron fist" as unexplained disappearances increase and being a practicing Muslim becomes a life-threatening scenario treated as a dangerous mental illness by China's government. Recent reports state that up to one million Uyghur Muslims in internment camps are physically and psychologically tortured, forced to denounce and disobey their religion, compelled to sing Communist propaganda songs for hours per day, and rewarded or punished based on compliance. Young Uyghur women are also being forced to marry non-Muslim Chinese men, as the state seeks inroads to usurp and control any avenues of familial, cultural, and religious power outside its current domain.
The highest level of faith in Islam is called ihsan. It entails not just "believing" in God and His sovereignty, but having absolutely no doubt whatsoever that God sees everything you do and will judge you one day. The modern technocratic control grid spearheaded by China is a complete and brazen inversion of this theological concept. Instead of considering how God will see your actions and words, you must first consider how an all-powerful state technological control grid will see your actions and words. Even the outwardly religious citizen must first consider how their friendships, beliefs, and actions will be run through a computer system to determine their future societal salvation or damnation. China already exerts autocratic control over who can lead different religious denominations and what ideologies are acceptable.
Christianity in China doesn't get a free pass, either, with the government taking bold moves to establish greater control of Catholic and Protestants in the country who number around 60 million citizens. Some reports also say some Chinese churches have been getting Crosses burned and shut down. The Chinese government has also taken further steps by banning online sales of the Bible and calling for "the development of a Chinese-style Christian theology." Christians would do well to consider the words of 1 Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." This verse, among many others, promises that God knows us fully, and we will one day understand the extent to which this is true and significant for everything we do. This Scripture orients the believer to a life that considers our deeds and words in the context of a divine knowledge of our essence and potential that surpasses our own limited, temporal understanding.
China's Social System in America
The Luciferian magnates of Silicon Valley and Beijing want to know us better than we know ourselves in every respect. They don't want this power for our own ennoblement or guidance. They want this control in order to fully hamstring us as we run out our days trapped on their giant hamster wheel of economic and social exploitation. Amazon knows what you'll buy before you do and starts shipping it ahead of time in some cases, known as "anticipatory shipping." Do they just do this as cutting-edge business practice? Perhaps, but such a technological ability of predictive psychometrics is powerful beyond belief, particularly in the hands of gargantuan centrally-planned modern states. This is not about feelings or squishy concepts of human rights: this is about who controls the future and what they will work towards in that future.
China is leading the way to an inverted future of totalitarian technocracy full of entitled atheist social engineers running technology systems with borderline supernatural powers. Instead of a moral code based on divine guidance, people will be placed in a cosmic re-education camp and base everything from their social life to their job on what surveillance Skynet wants them to. Is it really so hard to imagine a future public face of the US spy grid that metes out social scores and compliance ratings to citizen users via a network of smart technology? A system that uses psychometrics and surveillance to analyse and "correct" consumers' political and religious behaviors is well within the realm of possibility down the road. These days it seems like powerful forces are trying to make the paranoia of Alex Jones look like muted understatement.
China's system is the current apex of social engineering elites who want to play God, or the Devil, and are far from joking around about doing exactly that. Those who value freedom of conscience and faith need to realize that the Orwellian Chinese system is not cartoonish hype: it's a real system coming soon to a country near you unless citizens become passionate advocates of the freedoms ostensibly upheld in Western political philosophy and the US Constitution. The ink will eventually fade into nothing if it continues to become just words, whether that erasure comes from dictatorial state infringement or out of control technology monopolies. The road to Hell is paved with Google logos and the Communist Chinese flag.
Paul Rowan Brian is a freelance journalist who writes on culture, religion and politics. He's reported for Reuters, BBC and Foreign Policy and contributed to The Hill, The American Conservative, The Federalist and The Week. You can find him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com.
Published with permission from The Public Discourse.