A social ranking system featured in an episode of Black Mirror may become a reality in China. In Netflix's Black Mirror Nosedive episode, which was the first episode of the third season, the focus was on a fictional society where everyone rates each other on an app from a scale of one to five. A new "personal credit" system in China isn't too far off from this dystopian fiction.
In the episode, people give each other ratings for each social interaction. It shows how the social ranking system quickly turns into a burden by focusing on a woman named Lacie who lives her life trying to please everyone to receive a high rating on a social media app.
In China, the new, eerily similar “personal credit” system is linked to a mobile payment platform called Alipay, which gives users a three-digit “credit score” between 350 and 950 based on their personal behavior and habits. The similarities to the Black Mirror Nosedive episode continue: The platform tracks not only all of your spending habits tracked but also data based on your personal behavior. Those with higher scores are rewarded with perks. The system's algorithm will also consider what college degrees you have to contribute to your social credit number.
While most of us are used to receiving points or perks when we pay a bill or spend money at a store, this system will calculate a social credit score for you based on several factors, including the people you surround yourself with.
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Wired magazine reported about the social credit system in December and discusses how it may become a reality in China.
The system has existed since 2014 when China’s government established a nationwide social credit system for individuals, businesses and government officials. According to Wired, the goal for China is to have every citizen tracked by the system by 2020.
Did Black Mirror Nosedive episode predict the future?
Although the Black Mirror Nosedive episode is purely fiction, the way it showed how some people become obsessed with personal ratings in everyday life may have predicted the future in China and their social credit system. People may soon become more obsessed with their credit scores when there are other factors involved that go beyond paying bills on time.