The Extra Credits video series has a great segment on Sesame Credit, the Chinese government's public-private "reputation economy" that uses your social media postings, purchases and known associates to assign you a public score rating your citizenship and reliability.
As EC points out, the private suppliers to this system give it a particularly sinister character: Tencent, the Chinese company that operates one of the largest social media networks in China as well as owning large stake in many western games companies; and Alibaba, the giant electronic retailer that is even bigger in China than Amazon is in the USA.
By gamifying the system, the politburo will get citizens to police each other -- making sure that their friends and relatives aren't engaging in conduct that brings down their scores. It's a kind of cost-effective, soft, "positive reinforcement" that shortcuts the usual popular anger created by heavy-handed policing -- the social equivalent to the 50 Cent Army, who backstop China's censorship system with astroturf comments that undermine the credibility and reputation of anyone who raises questions about fairness and corruption.
The system is voluntary now, but the politburo says it will be mandatory by 2020. Already the participants in the "game" are behaving in precisely the way that the politburo wants them to: by policing the people on their friends lists, evincing politically palatable beliefs, and making purchases of the sort they are directed to make.
The Chinese media report on a man called Zhao from Xi’an who took revenge on his noisy upstairs neighbors whose boy wouldn’t stop jumping on his ceiling by buying a “building shaker” — a gadget that thumps your shared walls until your neighbors capitulate — and leaving it on while he went away for the […]
It’s been a decade since Yahoo got raked over the coals by Congress for helping the Chinese government spy on journalists and dissidents, some of whom were then arrested and tortured.
Companies in the EU and China have been caught offering to commit fraud to launder sales of mass surveillance weapons to Al Jazeera reporters posing as representatives of autocratic regimes under sanction for gross human rights abuses; these weapons would allow their users to target and round up political dissidents for arbitrary detention, torture and […]
Bamboo has lots of uses beyond just being panda food. Things like bikes, roads, scaffolding, and musical instruments are made from the fast-growing grass. But unless you are participating in a tropical-themed LARP, you probably wouldn’t want a shirt made from bamboo stalks. So why do bamboo bed sheets make any sense? Because yarn extracted from […]
If you want to work in tech, but don’t have any desire to code web apps to help businesses sell things to other business, you might want to consider a career in cybersecurity. Judging from the apparent complete infiltration of Russian hackers in American cyberspace, it seems fair to speculate that there’s a major shortage of […]
All moms are different. But all moms like getting flowers on Mother’s Day, and that’s a fact (not, however a fact we can document in any fashion.) Instead of getting chewed out for forgetting to call her on the second Sunday of May, you can take care of it ahead of time with Teleflora’s flower […]