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Life Imitates Art / Black Mirror: Nosedive

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A real piece of concept art of China's "Social Credit" system

"You could imagine a future where people are watching to see if their friends’ credit is dropping and then dropping their friends if that affects them. That’s terrifying."
Frank Pasquale, a big-data expert at U. of Maryland Carey School of Law

A life based off of social ratings from others' opinions is not sane, or safe. But...

  • Apparently the real life Chinese government is toying with plans to implement a "social credit" system plan for their people.
    • The episode is listed under "See also" on the system's Wikipedia page.
    • When asked about it, Charlie Brooker has said several things, like promising he "didn't sell the idea to the Chinese government" and that there's one main difference: instead of fellow citizens rating your behavior, the government monitors you through the internet and smartphones to rate your behavior. And then your friends can rate you.
  • Similarly, this article about Alibaba's "Sesame Credit" eerily reads like an alternate version, or effectively the entire plot, of Nosedive. To summarise: "[the system] will ensure that the bad people in society don't have a place to go." Awesome, China. Quotes from the article condensed into a Nosedive plot summary:
    "A scan of a bike’s QR code revealed a four-digit number that unlocked the back wheel, and a ride across town cost roughly 15 cents. Because of my middling score [(550)], however, I had to pay a $30 deposit before I could scan my first bike [...] a car rental company allows people with credit scores over 650 to rent a car without a deposit [...] people with scores over 750 could even skip the security check line at [the airport] [...] [Lazarus Liu] had reached 722, a score that entitled him to favorable terms on loans and apartment rentals [...] To see if I could do anything to pull my score up, I took a taxi one morning to a chic open-air shopping center outside Shanghai’s city center to meet with Chen Chen [and she] explained how to boost my score. "They will check what kind of friends you have," she said. "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." [...] [Liu Hu, a man blacklisted,] became, effectively, a second-class citizen. He was banned from most forms of travel; he could only book the lowest classes of seat on the slowest trains. He could not buy certain consumer goods or stay at luxury hotels, and he was ineligible for large bank loans [...] The way [the credit system] is designed, being blacklisted sends you on a rapid downward spiral. First your score drops. Then your friends hear you are on the blacklist and, fearful that their scores might be affected, quietly drop you as a contact. The algorithm notices, and your score plummets further [...] After I left China, I checked back in with Lazarus Liu [and we] talked about a new facial recognition feature called Smile to Pay."
    • Apparently it also gives higher-ranked people to opportunity to skip hospital lines, one of the worse things it is said to do in the episode.
  • The "peeple" app, which is basically lets you rate your friends. While created before "Nosedive" aired, a ton of its most recent reviews contain something along the lines of "Wasn't this a thing on Black Mirror?"
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  • Rate My Professor, something that's actually been around for ages, which has totally never caused any damage, ever.
  • The Alaskan government have banned the opportunity to post bail when arrested, replacing it with a social points system that will give the individual bail if they are ranked highly enough. It's promoted with the positives that more people who can't afford bail will be able to get it, and the rich but bad people won't.
  • Apple's face-scanning technology and TrueDepth camera is getting close to making the tech side of the moral reality.
    "Meanwhile, Black Mirror presumably got back to the work of its horror-based arms race, as the show continues to try to find a doomsday prophecy that tech giants might still view as a warning, and not a corporate benchmark for Q2 2018."The AV Club
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  • Uber has a rating system, where depending on the experience, both drivers and riders can rate each other 1-5 stars. How polite you are and how well you provide service will influence your score. Uber drivers' ratings are available through their profile, where riders can see how many stars they have, and the opposite for drivers looking at riders' ratings.


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