China and the US are moving quickly towards a networked dystopia. I'm calling it the "long night" akin in ominousness to the dystopia Hayek saw ahead in his Road to Serfdom.
The long night is an all encompassing online orthodoxy. A sameness of thought and approach enforced by hundreds of millions of socially internetworked adherents. A globe spanning orthodoxy that ruthless narrows public thought down to a single, barren, ideological framework. A ruling network that prevents dissent and locks us into stagnation and inevitable failure as it runs afoul of reality and human nature.
China's path to the long night is through a universal "social credit score" -- a public online rating like seller ratings on eBay or product ratings on Amazon, but for people. A system that will be fully operational by 2020. However, unlike eBay/Amazon ratings or FICO's credit score, this rating won't be limited to rating a person's economic transactions. It will be a rating based on everything a person does. Worse, bad rating will negatively impact every aspect of your life. For example:
- "The State Council has signaled that under the national social credit system people will be penalized for the crime of spreading online rumors, among other offenses, and that those deemed “seriously untrustworthy” can expect to receive substandard services.
- “They will check what kind of friends you have. If your friends are all high-score people, it’s good for you. If you have some bad-credit people as friends, it’s not nice.”
- This score “will ensure that the bad people in society don’t have a place to go, while good people can move freely and without obstruction.”
Unsurprisingly, a social scoring system is already being used as a tool of authoritarian oppression in China. A recent report by the AP shows how similar ratings are being used by the Chinese government to repress the Uighurs in Western China:
A document obtained by U.S.-based activists and reviewed by the AP show Uighur residents in the Hebei Road West neighborhood in Urumqi, the regional capital, being graded on a 100-point scale. Those of Uighur ethnicity are automatically docked 10 points. Being aged between 15 and 55, praying daily, or having a religious education, all result in 10 point deductions. In the final columns, each Uighur resident’s score is tabulated and checked “trusted,” ″ordinary,” or “not trusted.”
However, low scores in this system don't just degrade your access to services. People who score low are arrested and sent to ethnic reeducation camps so they can learn how to become real Chinese citizens.
Uighurs study “Mandarin, law, ethnic unity, de-radicalization, patriotism” and abide by the “five togethers” — live, do drills, study, eat and sleep together.
PS: December's Global Guerrillas Report will be out this week for patrons. It will cover the three ways the US, like China, will end up in a Long Night. I'm also trying out my first podcast this month. I've edited an interview with David Patrikarakos, the author of War in 140 Characters as well as some audio analysis of recent systems disruption in the US.