China wants to ranks individuals and organizations by social data


China has many things in abundance, namely people, but there are many things that China and Chinese society are lacking in, such as trust. Chinese people simply don’t trust each other, or corporations, or the government. Nobody. In order to fix this, the Chinese government is working on a new “social credit system” that ranks individuals and organizations based on their moral and social history. 

A lack of trust between individuals has long been as a problem for Chinese society—in a national poll in 2013, less than half of citizens said that “most people can be trusted” and only about 30% said they trust strangers. The trust deficit has played out in the country’s many food scandals, and has made life difficult for some of its most successful companies. During Alibaba’s early days, the primary concern of many potential investors was how the company could get buyers to trust sellers they would never meet. Alibaba’s solution was to set up Alipay, an online payments service that held buyers’ money in escrow. It worked, but didn’t exactly engender an outbreak of trust in Chinese society. The trust deficit doesn’t just apply to commerce: Chinese media has long pondered why potential Good Samaritans routinely see victims of accidents, hit-and-runs, or savage beatings in public, but do nothing to help. The Chinese government is now pushing forward one potential solution to the problem by creating a “social credit system,” a sort of ranking regime that would give organizations and individuals a score based not only on their finances but on their social and moral history as well.

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