When ‘Black Mirror’ becomes reality: China is implementing a rating system

When ‘Black Mirror’ becomes reality: China is implementing a rating system

Dystopian reality

Site: Samantha Ledlin

It turns out we’re a lot closer to ‘Black Mirror’ than we thought, with China planning to rate it’s 1.3 billion citizens (and it’s already begun!)

Black Mirror has always stood only minutes away from our current societal interactions, tackling the potential sinister and macabre effects of the way we consume technology in hour-long episodes. It's a reflective social commentary presented as a fictional dystopia. The genius of the show comes from how close the events that unfold come to reality; upon watching you can hear yourself saying "wow, this could actually happen one day." Now, it turns out it really is, with China's plan to implement a rating system for its 1.3 billion citizens.

According to SBS, the credit rating system will essentially allow Beijing to monitor and shape the population's behaviour using a set of rewards and punishments. If you comply with the system, you can say goodbye to airport ques and house deposits, but refuse and your class as a citizen will fall dramatically. Sound familiar? This system freakishly mirrors (pun not intended) 'Nosedive', the season three episode of Black Mirror where the population's social class is based on a tech rating that is constantly changing based on daily interactions. So far, eight companies and over 30 municipalities within China have been approved for pilot testing of the scheme.

In China, one public tool by the name of Sesame Credit determines a user's score based on their shopping behaviour and their proactivity in paying off debts. Those with high ratings avoid airport screenings, can purchase online and receive without paying in advance, and will have hotel deposits waived. One system avoids financial factors completely, allowing users who recycle their rubbish to have better access to bank loans. But just as the good are rewarded, those who do not comply or have a low score will be publicly shamed. SBS reports that in some cities jaywalkers will have their face put onto billboards, and more sever punishments include having job, school and travel applications denied.   

The Chinese Government aims for the social credit system to be mandatory by 2020. This is all feeling just a little bit too real :/

Fun fact: did you know Black Mirror is titled just that because of the reflection you see of yourself in the TV / computer screen when the display goes dark? Mind blown. 

When ‘Black Mirror’ becomes reality: China is implementing a rating system (фото 1)

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