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  • Picture your life in a place where everything you do, what you buy, how you behave is tracked.

  • The government gives you a score, and the score is a measure of how trustworthy you are as a citizen.

  • And determines what you are allowed to do, like ever.

  • Boarding a train, getting a mortgage, all goes back to this score.

  • It's called social credit, it sounds like that show 'Black Mirror', but it's actually happening in China.

  • So how does that change you? Does it change you?

  • What does your life look like when your every move is watched?

  • The system's eyes are in Big Data artificial intelligence, and roughly 200 millions surveillance cameras.

  • And that's totally fine with Ou Yang Hao-Yiu.

  • She's 21, graduated from a good school with solid grades.

  • She's diligent, she is nice.

  • No surprise, she is a 752.

  • That's her rating with a private company working with the government on the algorithms with the social credit system.

  • The scores go from 350 to 950 and are based on habits and behavior.

  • Buy clothes or diapers, it's good; a lot of alcohol, too many video games, not so good.

  • Hao-Yiu's 752, put her a model citizen range and get her discounts and privileges, like using a share bike without a deposit.

  • She likes it, her friends do too.

  • They all have pretty high scores.

  • It's a mechanism like pushes you to become a better citizen, to build on a trust, especially on the Chinese market.

  • You are not going to be punished if you haven't done anything wrong.

  • I think that's the point, I think the system working as a warning or an alert to push people to be a good person.

  • And it's mandatory, when it goes national, social credit scores will be assigned to everyone of China's citizens for life.

  • And what's weird, it's that so many people seem okay with it.

  • It's complicated but China went from extreme poverty to economic giant pretty quickly, credit history system didn't grow at the same pace.

  • So people would default on loans and get away with it.

  • Adding scandals around fake food, tainted baby milk, counterfeit goods and what you've got is a big problem with trust.

  • So in 2014, the communist party called for a system to allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven;

  • while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.

  • The model is a place called Rencheng, it's in Shandong Province.

  • It's orderly, streets are spotless and cars slow down which is unheard of in China

  • Words like 'honesty' and 'credibility' appear on propaganda posters.

  • Display cases show pictures of Rencheng's most honored citizens.

  • You start with a thousand points, and you can print out your report anytime.

  • You lose points for things like jaywalking, littering, tossing cigarette butts or spreading rumors.

  • Cameras do a lot of the surveillance work but it's pretty analogue too.

  • Like posters that list the way you can gain or lost points.

  • And each night, local TV shows the surveillance highlights of the day.

  • And then there is Jiu Ai-Ni, she's an information collector, a paid enforcer who walks around and writes down deeds about her neighbors.

  • Like the man who carried the drunk person home, things like this are good deeds, she said.

  • But the farmer overheard swearing and being rude, yeah, bad deeds.

  • Her quota is 10 a month.

  • She likes the work, thinks the city is better for it

  • The thing about the social credit system is that there isn't one single system, not yet.

  • Different places have different rules.

  • What do you do if you have bad social credit?

  • Well for one, you talk about it on weibo which is like twitter.

  • There are forums for discredited people to vent and get advice.

  • In Chongqing, we hooked up with Huang Wei-Jun.

  • He had a business until he was sued by a client and Huang refused to pay 90 grand to settle it.

  • So the court put him on a social credit blacklist, and things got way worse.

  • He explains that being blacklisted means he can't buy airplane or train tickets.

  • When he tries, a message pops up saying he's discredited.

  • By the end of last year, blacklisted people were blocked from booking 22 million flights and 5 million high-speed train trips, and the list goes on.

  • Being discredited makes it hard to get a job, a loan, a hotel room or put kids in certain schools.

  • Then, there's the public shaming, photo galleries of blacklisted citizens;

  • there's even an app that shows who around you is in debt.

  • In China, being monitored is nothing new but algorithmic surveillance makes it possible to collect data to build detailed profiles of people.

  • Especially the ones not loyal to the government.

  • Of all the videos surveillance cameras on the planet right now, nearly half of them are in China.

  • Are people bothered by privacy concerns?

  • So we think a lot of cameras keep the safety, it's really good.

  • They're good things, and lots of people, we can accept it.

  • And cameras are getting smarter, so the information that comes out for my image, identifies that I'm female, middle-age, talks about whether wearing glasses, shape of my face.

  • AI is taking them next level, they can do more than just see, they actually understand who they are seeing.

  • So at what point can the technology go too much? Does it already?

  • People don't care about it, but if the technology alerts too much, for example cross the red line, that's not very good.

  • How far off are we from needing to draw those red lines?

  • It's very hard to say, I think maybe in that case, maybe 10 years or 20 years, 15 years maybe.

  • That's not very long, it's coming.

  • It's coming. It's coming.

  • Where does it all go?

  • HaoYiu isn't so bothered, her score is high, life is good and she's used to living most of it online.

  • Soon, her education and medical records and any run-ins with the law will factor into her social credit score.

  • And wherever she goes, someone will follow and ask 'Who can you trust?'

Picture your life in a place where everything you do, what you buy, how you behave is tracked.

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B1 US NBC credit surveillance social china system

A Look Inside China’s Social Credit System | NBC News Now

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    Fibby posted on 2019/08/12
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