I couldn’t let this one pass. China is about ready to fully launch a country-wide system to control citizens’ behavior. The London Daily Mail Online ran this article about China’s Real Life Black Mirror. “Black Mirror” is what western journalists are calling it in reference to a TV show by that name. If you aren’t familiar with it (I’m not), The London Daily Mail Online writes, “the Black Mirror episode Nosedive. Characters in the episode have a social score that updates in real-time as they perform actions deemed good or bad. China’s government has developed a similar system for its citizens.”
Set to launch in 2020, China’s social credit system to control all 1.4 billion citizens will ding them for things like fraud and tax evasion, which, honestly, happens pretty much everywhere. But they go on to ding people for other nit-picky things; smoking in a non-smoking area, buying alcohol or video games are a few examples. Part of the philosophy is to coerce people into “Buying Chinese.”
The system includes 600 million AI-powered surveillance cameras in its major cities. If you know anything about artificial intelligence, it’s pretty scary stuff. There have been instances of AI getting out of control on its creators who had to pull the plug before things got too far out of hand. For example, two AI-powered computers began communicating in English, but they quickly developed their own language. The programmers had no idea what they were saying and prudently shut them down before things got really weird.
Facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking technology are just some of the features of China’s comprehensive system. The government says it will “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” Medical, educational, and financial data will be recorded and evaluated.
Results? “Those rated ‘top citizens’ get VIP treatment at airports, discounted loans, waived deposits on hotel and car rentals and fast-tracking to elite universities.”
There are parts of it that would seem to be good goals; patriotic purchases, community service, financial responsibility, etc. But coercion is not the way. The only way to improve a society is to allow basic, personal freedoms, to give them a reason to be self-motivated instead of government motivated.
I should want to do community service, because I think it’s the right thing to do. I should be patriotic, because I truly believe in my country. I should want to be a contributing member of society, because that’s what my heart tells me to do, not AI-powered cameras watching my every move.
The answer, as always, is God. When we invite God into our lives, and He makes His home with us. He gives us His peace. We experience His love and are motivated to share His love with others by our actions.
China might be on the right track in terms of wanting to have its citizens always doing the right thing. Trying to control the smallest aspects of their lives isn’t the right way. If they really want to build a better country, they should not outlaw Christianity. They should promote Jesus as the best and only answer to whatever ails them.