China’s Citizen Score Creates An Orwellian Social Rating System

Hand of a businessman holding the fifth star on a dark background.

An episode of the dystopian sci-fi series, Black Mirror, is becoming a reality with the implementation of China’s social credit system. Though still in its nascency, China’s citizen score will become mandatory by 2020, affecting citizens’ abilities to get jobs, access the internet, and travel, based on the way the government deems their behavior.

The Chinese Social Credit System

It’s voluntary for now, but once it decides on the best algorithm, the Chinese government will obligate every citizen to abide by a set of rules that will dictate their ability to access services within society. There are currently eight companies competing to build this platform which will be enforced by the country’s massive surveillance apparatus.

There are already a number of users who have voluntarily signed up for the program, in hopes they may be rewarded, or at least immune to punishment when the system is mandated. Some believe the program will benefit society as a whole, while others fear their children may suffer if parents’ social scores become a factor in deciding which schools they can attend.

AliBaba is one of the top contenders for the interface, as its mobile payment app, AliPay, is used by roughly 520 million citizens. Its interface, Sesame Credit, is similar to a FICO credit score, but instead of having your financial behavior affect your ability to take out a loan or credit card, Sesame Credit would affect one’s ability to get into certain restaurants, travel, or even go on a date with someone.

The score can be affected by a number of behaviors, including what you say on social media, smoking in public, jaywalking, or getting into disputes with others. These behaviors are then translated into a numerical “sincerity” score and entered into the system.

Some of the citizens who have already signed up say they enjoy using it and that it has influenced them to be better members of society. They say they’re more conscientious about their behavior in public and the way they treat others.

But those who see how eerily Orwellian the system is, warn that it is a type of gamified social obedience, where a point system is made to feel like a competition that subversively allows for authoritarian social control.

When you also add the fact that the system permits what others say about you to affect your score, the premise of 1984 becomes all too relevant, creating a system where everyone fears their neighbors’ perception of them. This self-policing network effect is a typical strategy of oppression, but with a social credit score, it becomes amplified with less effort from the government.

Keeping with the gamification of the pilot program, rewards have been offered for those willing to subject themselves early. Faster check-ins at hotels, car rentals without a deposit, and shopping loans have been gifted to early adopters.

 

Enforcing China’s Citizen Score

So how does the government monitor its citizens in order to know when to dock them points for any number of minor infractions? With an omniscient surveillance system composed of millions of cameras and a universal database of every citizen.

Known as the Dang’an System, the government maintains a unique dossier on every citizen in the country for the duration of their life. This file can be accessed in seconds by a highly advanced surveillance system complete with facial recognition software. And its omniscience is ever-increasing through the use of machine learning.

Citizens are not allowed to view the personal files the government has compiled on them since their birth – to do so would be a severe violation of the law, disobeying the party and putting one’s standing as a citizen in jeopardy.

The technology is used ostensibly for security threats, ensuring citizens’ public safety. Though it is also used to shame people for minor transgressions, displaying one’s photo on a large public screen for infractions such as jaywalking, followed instantly by a text message delivering a fine.

The technology has also been promoted to its citizens by selling it as an ostensibly convenient tool for daily life. Citizens only need their face scanned to order food at vending machines, check-in at the airport in seconds, or gain access to Wi-Fi.

But much like the credit score, these apparent conveniences are a façade for the more insidious reality behind the technology; that the government is watching and ensuring every one of its citizen’s behavior.

And it goes beyond traditional surveillance methods of CCTV observation in public places. The next phase that is already underway, includes police officers wearing body cameras and glasses equipped with facial recognition software that can identify suspected criminals and threatening gestures. These body cams are even fitted with a wide-angle, fisheye lens allowing for “720-degrees” of recording range.

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Social Credit in a Free Society

Some argue that the Chinese social credit is tantamount, or a better alternative to the FICO credit score in the U.S. In China, there isn’t a national financial credit score, so conducting business or attaining a loan can be difficult, if not impossible for many citizens. With a social credit score, there is at least some foundation for judging one’s trustworthiness – or so the argument goes.

Add to this the fact that the surveillance state has been a part of Chinese life for a while now, with online behavior strictly monitored, in addition to a longstanding history of public surveillance. But normalizing surveillance doesn’t make it any less oppressive.

On the other side of the world, it could also be the case that a similar surveillance state is well underway in democracies like the U.S., albeit in a more elusive way.

Rating systems and individual branding are becoming incorporated in many aspects of our lives, recognizably in service industries, but also through big data use for targeted advertising and surveillance. The NSA has its eyes on the communications of every citizen, and it likely has its own dossier similar to the Chinese Dang’an system.

In many ways, the user-generated content that fuels social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide ways for us to rate each other’s lives based on whether we approve of our friends’ and families’ actions. And when we want colleagues to vouch for us in the professional world, we turn to platforms like LinkedIn.

Attempts have been made to create a single, centralized app that rates users’ overall social credit in the U.S., though it was quickly shot down, in part due to poor functionality, but also because our society isn’t ready to blatantly accept a system like that. Even if we have already accepted it unknowingly.

But could there be a way to implement a system like this, that draws from the sentiment of those in China who feel like they are becoming better citizens from a social credit rating?

In a capitalist society that drives its citizens to be self-interested, competitive, and greedy, could a social credit system that rewards good behavior create something that is a net benefit to society? If it left out the Big Brother aspect where small infractions were constantly punished and instead only good deeds were recognized, a social credit incentive might not be so bad.

In fact, this concept has been proposed in the form of rewarding citizens for volunteering their time, being socially responsible, and doing things that are civically engaging. Working together to help others in the community such as the youth, disabled, elderly, and the economically disadvantaged could only be considered in improving one’s credit score.

Could something like this work without having to implement the contrasting, negative side? If this continuous rating system is inevitable, it might be cogent to consider ways in which it could be spun to become a positive force in society, rather than the dystopian nightmare Orwell once envisioned.

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Mass Media Mind Control

I have had wide and varied interests since a very young age and have loved learning all of my life. Simply, I believe life should be lived as a great adventure of growth and learning in every way. In science, my interests started in crystallography and minerals and progressed through the several branches of science into politics, philosophy, religion and all things esoteric.

What is Mind Control?

In the late 1980s, the most interesting research I began exploring was on mind effects or, more popularly, mind control. My interest grew out of the misuses of the information released in the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s dealing with the CIA programs in this area. At the same time, the positive possibilities for these new technologies were also exciting. Stimulating optimum human performance, accelerated learning, meditation, relaxation, and focus could all be improved. In fact, even so-called altered states could be enhanced or even stimulated. The most fascinating possibilities, however, were even more startling.

The idea that perhaps we could stimulate what is now referred to in some literature as “anomalous human capability” or, in the past referred to as ESP or extrasensory perceptions, may be possible.

In fact, this may be the next evolution of humans on earth as many of us are acknowledging and science is proving.

Control of the Mind and Body

The predominant brain wave frequencies indicate the kind of activity taking place in the brain. There are four basic groups of brain wave frequencies that are associated with most mental activity. The first, beta waves, (13-35 Hertz or pulses per second) are associated with normal activity. The high end of this range is associated with stress or agitated states that can impair thinking and reasoning skills. The second group, alpha waves (8-12 Hertz), can indicate more relaxation. Alpha frequencies are ideal for learning and focused life form energy. The third, theta waves (4-7 Hertz), indicate mental imagery, access to memories and internal mental focus. This state is often associated with young children, behavioral modification and sleep/dream states. The last, ultra slow, delta waves (.5-3 Hertz), are found when a person is in deep sleep.

The general rule is that the brain’s predominant wave frequency will be lowest, in terms of pulses per second, when relaxed, and highest when people are most alert or agitated.

What is Entrainment?

External stimulation of the brain by electromagnetic means can cause the brain to be entrained or locked into phase with an external signal generator. Predominant brain waves can be driven or pushed into new frequency patterns by external stimulation. In other words, the external signal driver or impulse generator entrains the brain, overriding the normal frequencies, and causing changes in the brain waves. Changes in brain waves cause changes in brain chemistry; which then cause changes in brain outputs in the form of thoughts, emotions or physical condition.

As you are driven, so you arrive – brain manipulation can be either beneficial or detrimental to the individual being impacted depending on the level of knowledge or the intentions of the person controlling the technology.

Is it Possible to Train Consciousness?

Consciousness training is also a big theme in cults, religious organizations, and others pursuing the “new age.” Science has now gained a greater understanding of how the mind and brain work so that what used to take years, or even decades, to achieve, can now be mastered in weeks, days or even minutes. For instance, in 1996 a method and apparatus for the use in achieving alpha and theta brainwave states and effecting positive emotional states in humans were developed.

Two years later another patent was issued which could create desired consciousness states: In the training of an individual to replicate such states of consciousness without further audio stimulation, such states may be transferred from one human being to another through the imposition of one person’s EEG, superimposed on desired stereo signals and onto another individual, by inducement of a binaural beat phenomenon.

Is Thought Transference Possible?

This is interesting in that it speaks to the ideas alluded to earlier by the military in changing the memory of a person by imposing computer-manipulated signals which would integrate with the normal memory of a person. The possibility of abuse is obvious and the opportunity for personal advancement is also great.

Consider the possibility of gaining education by the transfer of data directly into the human brain by these new methods rather than the standard methods of learning. A serious consideration in developing these types of memory transfer systems will be the fact that they bypass normal intellectual filters – they are deposited into the brain as fact, without question or careful consideration. What happens when new information conflicts with existing information? Would it be possible to include hidden information meant to unduly influence things like religious beliefs, politics or consumption of goods and services or politics?

Ethical Questions Abound

The possibilities are immense and the ethical and moral questions surrounding these matters equally large. We can no longer avoid the debate; in fact, the debate is lagging far behind the scientific advancements. In the interim, there are some simple things we could all do to enhance our own, or our children’s, learning capacity by applying simple and available knowledge. For instance: “researchers at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at University of California, Irvine, have determined that 10 minutes of listening to a Mozart piano sonata raised the measurable IQ of college students by up to nine points.” This is a simple thing of great use to anyone seeking self- improvement as an example.

There are several articles and materials that speak to the various ways that these technologies can be applied and used beyond the scope of this article. Let’s get to the media applications.

The Use of Media

Radio, TV, the Internet, the power grid, cell systems or any other electromagnetic carrier can be used to carry a signal that will influence the behaviors of most people in close proximity to the signal. What such signals can do is cause a person, for instance, to drop into a light altered state. Like when people come home from work, sit in front of the TV and watch the nightly news feed. Within a few moments someone begins saying to you, “honey, dinners ready.” They hear nothing… they are no longer watching the “programming;” they are being programmed with the latest values, beliefs, and ideas being pressed into the consciousness of most people through media.

By oscillating a signal in a certain way, emotional states can easily be reformed so that the reaction to the advertising, political propaganda or “news” is as predicted by those generating it across the broad population as intended by them.

In other words, it is about control and manipulation. It is really very simple. People in psychology understand the Frequency Following Response (FFR). When applied to advertise or any other media, it is incredibly compelling.

Refined Control Tactics

Much more can be done with this technology in terms of the information density that can be sent in on such carriers. The objective of many military planners is to be able to even transfer thought and memory sets. These kinds of technology when applied to media particularly when coupled with mass surveillance of the population this allows those in control of such technologies to have profound effects on a highly individualized basis. This delivery system can be tailored to an individual person to have specific influences on that individual personality type and subtype.

The predictability of behavior for the target of the technology is so refined that is better at predicting an individual’s future behavior they could about themselves. Think about this for a moment.

Perpetual Worry as a Means of Imprisonment

Yet the simplest mechanism for inhibiting higher mind functions, peak performance, and anomalous human capabilities is to just keep people in a constant state of worry, agitation, and fear. Sound familiar? In these states, it is not possible to reach a higher state of awareness. These emotional states do not allow the brain to operate in a manner that will allow this possibility. Fear is the adversary and is at the root of the misuses of these technologies. The government fears an enlightened population where the light of truth shines within its darkest corners. An awakened population cannot be resisted by structures based on fear.

The Next Evolution of Humankind

After 40 years of research in the open literature and opportunities to meet and spend the time needed with the best bio-physicists in the world has allowed me insight into this area. During my time with the Lay Institute in Dallas, I put together a private conference on mind effects with some of the best people in the world. The surprise was not a story about controlling people and manipulating populations, although everyone agreed this was the case in the 21st century in so many ways. The biggest insight had to do with the next evolution of humankind.

Voiced first by the late sister, Dr. Rosalie Bertell, in her presentation about her belief that in what man was trying to create in electronics were already latent in every person waiting to be awakened. The theme was repeated in every presentation that explored the possibilities of reclaiming our birthright in terms of what we are as human beings and the endless possibilities that occur when we begin to recognize ourselves.

As we evolve and grow within the framework of this reality we also are beginning to recognize in the science of consciousness and what we know…we are more than we think, and we are beyond what we know. Together we change the world by fearlessly knowing that we each have all that we need to engage the world and are not alone in it. Our humanity is in fact our very salvation if we can recognize and alter our awareness.

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