Algorithms already control a substantial amount of what people do in their lives, and this could be expanding in the future.
In China, the future for social credit algorithms is now.
China has been using social credits over the past several years, as a type of surveillance. The Chinese are developing a system that will make it possible for those who are trustworthy to go where they need, and those who have poor social credit to not be able to do as much without a substantial amount of scrutiny. China hopes for this plan to be in place by 2020.
The social credit algorithms being developed in China will apply to officials and businesses. The goal is to end corruption and make sure that businesses are operating properly and safely. However, it is not merely organizations and officials who are being targeted with this technology — it may be everyone.
Social credits based on consumer habits.
Already, there are a number of companies in China that are creating and implementing social credit algorithms. In fact, one of the companies, Ant Financial, is using a system called Sesame Credit. This provides a “credit score” for individuals in China and it utilizes a secret algorithm to do so. People receive scores that are based on their interpersonal relationships and their habits as a consumer rather than their financial ability to pay for borrowed money.
When social credit algorithms take into account consumer behavior, purchasing something such as an entertainment item could result in you getting a lower credit score. When they take into account interpersonal relationships, your score could drop if you keep company with people who have a low credit rating.
The use of this type of social credit rating is not likely to stay just in China. There is a chance that similar systems could become prominent in the United States and other countries, as well.