Have you seen the British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror? If yes, you probably thought: “My God, it definitely could have happened in real life.” They use a mobile app that tracks your life and leaves a score on how you behave. For example, speeding or arguing with someone would drop your score. As a result, banks may refuse to give credit. Can you imagine that some cities in China already do that?!

Many programmers wonder how to build a social network that will bring real benefits to people. Inspired by the black mirror movie “Nosedive,” how could a social network that scores you look in the EU? Is that a good business idea? Could it become a 1Billion business? Let’s find out!

Nosedive: Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1

Maybe soon, we may live in a new reality where much of our lives depend on how others evaluate us. Your social rating has a tangible effect on the opportunities and luxuries you can afford. Your rating determines your social class, but it also affects more tangible aspects of your life, like:

– rent;

– work;

– medical treatment;

– dating opportunities, etc.

The action depicted in the famous Black Mirror TV Show rarely occurs in the distant future. Mostly, the only actual difference you can notice is the unique technology that is highlighted in the episode.

Lacey Pound lives in a world where friends and strangers can rate you on a five-point scale. They use technologies built into their mobile phones and “smart lenses.” This technology affects not only everyone’s daily lifestyle but also their position in society. People with a rating below 2.5 points are in the lowest class. Lacey, who fiercely wants everyone to like her, currently boasts an impressive rating of 4.2. She lives with her boyfriend Ryan, whose rating is lower because he doesn’t care about his social appearance. Their rental period is about to expire, and Lacey dreams of moving to another place. Lacey learns that her rating must be 4.5 points or higher to get a luxury apartment. And that is where the adventures start!

Could you imagine such a situation in our reality? In the meantime, all this already exists. Yes, we don’t have AR Vision implants that show everyone’s rating. But this technology is already adopted in a few cities in China. 

Social Credit System in China

The social rating divides all Chinese residents into four unequal castes:

– Class A citizens have the full range of rights. 

– Category B has fewer rights. 

– Class C citizens have even fewer rights. 

– Class D is an absolute pariah, an analog of the untouchables in the Indian caste system.

China’s Social Credit System is a very ambitious initiative. The purpose is to create a database that tracks the behavior of individuals, companies, and governments. For positive public actions, participants receive a reward, and they are penalties for a low rating.

That is possible to increase your rating; a person needs to:

– donate blood;

– do volunteering;

– collect garbage separately, etc.

Of course, losing rating points is much easier than acquiring them.

The databases are managed by:

– Chinese economic planners;

– National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC);

– People’s Bank of China (PBOC);

– country’s judicial system. 

The Chinese government is experimenting with video surveillance and real-time data transmission data collection. They collect most of the data from traditional sources:

– financial;

– criminal;

– government records;

– existing data from registry offices. 

A good rating will lead to a reward, while a low rating can lead to punishment. Unreliable individuals may face some restrictions affecting different areas: 

– loans;

– travel by plane or rail;

– education. 

What will happen if they approve the Chinese social credit system in 2023? Will they transport China to a world of violent dystopias? 

How could a social network that scores you look in the EU? 

We have experienced a lot of fear of technology. If we live in a dystopia now, we seem to cope well with it. “Black Mirror” shows technological progress, which uses extreme scenarios to make us think about what we should do in the future. Is it possible to introduce a similar system in Europe?

The purpose of the system is to increase transparency for society. But it also serves as a government tool for controlling almost all aspects of our lives. The social credit rating usually provokes anger among Western commentators, and many of them think the social credit system looks like an authoritarian government. 

The social rating system is based on two pillars:

– First, it is the ubiquitous penetration of the facial recognition system. 

– Second, it is a presence of a person in many databases–banking, medical, police, which exchange information with each other in real-time.

Artificial intelligence technologies allow the processing of large amounts of data at a top speed. It is very tempting for the state to have analyzed information about the life of citizens, and it helps to understand what is happening to society, what its needs are, and what needs to be changed.

There is a great temptation to divide people into specific categories. For China, this path of social differentiation is understandable. But in other parts of the world, using a social rating system is unusual. It is an ambiguous solution that carries many hidden risks. And above all, it is the risk of losing personal freedom and the right to choose.

A person can slide to the bottom of the social pyramid without committing a single illegal act. Now the criteria of integrity are determined by laws. But by introducing a social rating, you can find yourself at the bottom of the pyramid. This is one of the most terrible risks.

Introducing any, even the most progressive innovations, always causes different opinions. This also applies to introducing social monitoring–there are pros and cons. Such social monitoring can be helpful for:

– planning;

– prevention of offenses;

– diagnosis of diseases.

There are psychological risks in the social rating system, and there are also substantial technological risks because the system is imperfect. Besides, the legal system is being pushed into the background. Are people in Europe ready for this?

The Future of Social Network

The most valuable categories are happiness and health. Are they determined by the class to which a person is assigned? No one can give us the benefit of being healthy or happy. And where is the measure of what will make us happy? One needs a lot of money to be satisfied, another needs the opportunity to make global decisions, and the third needs to create.

A person should be able to choose, and we should not violate it. You can sacrifice some freedoms, but you cannot deprive people of the right to choose. This is a significant psychological moment.