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Some aspects of city life, after all, remain just as true of contemporary Qingdao as they did to the s Greenwich Village in which Jane Jacobs developed her ideas, despite the gulfs of time, culture, and ideology that separate them. From their point of view, orderliness is paramount, because orderliness makes for stability, and stability makes for continued economic growth.
Seen in this light, order produced from below is not reliable enough to be trusted. It leaves too much room for chance. And worst of all, from the perspective of a party bent on perpetuating its control, it does nothing to prevent the possibility of contagious urban insurrection.
Social credit offers a salve to all these concerns. Each and every Chinese citizen would henceforth bear this index, in perpetuity.
This framing connects the system to a long Confucian tradition of attempts to bolster public rectitude. The means was certainly novel, though, yoking together advanced machine-learning systems, online databases, municipal CCTV networks, and the pocket-sized sensor platforms known as smartphones. Pushing far beyond the concerns for corruption, counterfeiting, and safety repeatedly invoked in its first few pages, the document ends up defining an order of control previous dynasties could only dream of.
The social-credit system was based explicitly on a familiar, Western model: the credit score.
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This one number—formulated by obscure means, by largely unaccountable organizations, then used as a gating mechanism by a profusion of third parties, mostly in secret—has become what it was never meant to be: a general proxy for trustworthiness. The Chinese genius, if you can call it that, was to take credit scoring as a tool of social discipline to its logical conclusion, building a formal public-private partnership around it. This move extends dominion across the entire range of interactions any member of modern society is more or less compelled to pursue by the very style and structure of contemporary life.
These disciplinary measures first reach individuals in the form of soft incentives, of the type familiar to Westerners from corporate loyalty programs. Citizens with higher social-credit scores enjoy discounts or upgrades on products and services, like hotel rooms or internet connectivity. Those who wear virtue on their sleeves further—perhaps by taking public transit consistently instead of driving to work, taking out the recycling regularly, or even denouncing a misbehaving neighbor—might enjoy new benefits, like being able to rent a flat with no deposit, or earning the right to send their children to exclusive schools.
Chinese Handwriting Recognition: An Algorithmic Perspective | SpringerLink
This hardly sounds like authoritarianism run amok, and to a certain degree, patriotic Chinese netizens are right to complain when Western critics conflate such nudges toward preferred behavior with actual tyranny. But the system provides abundantly for sticks as well as carrots. Once detected, the system promises to pass judgment on the things a citizen is and is not permitted to do, buy, or access. And with no recourse in real time, no ability to appeal, and nowhere to turn for help. The consequences are nontrivial.
What emerges is a marriage of database and truncheon—a vision of supple, gleaming technology at the surface of everyday life, working hand in hand with the oldest and most brutal forms of oppression, continuing their unbroken reign in the depths below. The Chinese state relies upon private enterprise to implement social credit and extend its tentacular reach.
As is common in Western-style credit scoring, these companies use readily observable and easily measurable acts as proxies for behaviors that are more abstract or harder to gauge. For example, a propensity to spend hours playing online games becomes an index of indiscipline in and of itself, even if the person playing them is debt-free and has a clean record otherwise. All of these qualities are factors in determining what score one is ultimately awarded.
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China learned to bind real-world consequences with such clunky, even laughable inferences from the West, where algorithmic credit-scoring systems can flag a tendency to fill out loan application forms in capital letters exclusively as a proxy for low reliability and creditworthiness. The state relies on its corporate partners to punish behavior it regards as problematic.
Private, commercial transactions—renting a car, reserving a hotel room, buying a plane ticket—become venues for state-directed punishment for nonconformity. And the activist Liu Hu was apparently ensnared by the system for undertaking political activity abrasive to the state. Share This Paper.
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Figures, Tables, and Topics from this paper. Figures and Tables. Citations Publications citing this paper. References Publications referenced by this paper. A new discipline of science-the study of open complex giant system and its methodology. A discrimination method of similar characters using compound Mahalanobis function.
Introduction to statistical pattern recognition 2nd ed. Keinosuke Fukunaga. A syntactic-semantic approach for Chinese character recognition Ju Wei Tai. A kind of relational attributed grammars. Casey , George Nagy.