Citizen Scores . . . Sigh

I was going to give the big data credit profiling posts a rest. I was sure more interesting updates would justify a post of a different sort.

Then along came the news that China has developed a new score that rates creditworthiness and, ummm, good citizenship. This first piece delves into the concept itself. Here is a relevant excerpt:

In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance. Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse.

Then take a look at another writer’s take on how gamification plays into such scoring. For example:

[A] committed government program could apply deep social pressure towards conformity while giving the appearance of lightening up on oppression and encouraging transparency.

I actually think this news is an important and timely development. It’s distant enough from the western world and a bit more extreme than American trends toward more comprehensive scoring against big data. But sometimes, looking outside our own borders to critique extreme actions forces us to see ourselves differently.

It really is time to re-imagine the credit score model. The beauty of modern data science is it lends itself to more than the (initially) favored approach of black box profiling. We can do it!

–LaVonne

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