The Russian State Social University is developing a social rating system called “We”. Students are invited to register on the platform, which is in currently in test mode.
We have all more or less heard that China has a social rating system. Allegedly, local residents are given a thousand social points almost at birth and then, depending on their actions, bad or good, the points become more or less. If you have a lot of points, you can enjoy all the benefits of civilization and get discounts; if you don’t have enough points, you won’t even dream of getting a decent job or getting a loan. In Russia, a similar system has also begun to be tested. It’s called “We”.
Improving the social landscape
There has been a lot of talk about the “cyberpunk we deserve” in recent years with the introduction of modern technologies into our lives and how technological progress can turn into a digital dictatorship. There was a lot of discussion about this when every nook and cranny in the globe is gradually surrounded by outdoor surveillance cameras that learn to read the faces of passers-by. Then the conversations continued during the pandemic and phobias regarding QR codes. Now that Russian-Chinese friendship is growing stronger day by day, it is the turn of the so-called social rating – a system of digital ranking of people, which is practiced in the PRC (and not only).
The creators of the “We” project are working on a system “that can be used by authorities at all levels and public organizations to implement prompt and objective social support for the population.”
Work in this direction started more than a year ago at Russian State Social University and involves collecting certain social information from respondents who take part in the study on a voluntary basis, having as a final deliverable the creation of “innovative practical tools to improve the social landscape and social engineering.
It all started with a proposal to “launch a social scoring project at an accelerated pace,” namely, “a quantitative metric of the social statuses and levels of citizens through social assessment procedures.”
The output data will be issued in the form of a two-component scoring code (SC), where both components will be two-digit numbers that determine the person’s social status (first) and his social level (second). For example, 47-29. Social status is a reflection of a kind of “merit” of a person, and the social level is the digitization of his “prospects,” as it were.
How does the “We” social rating system work?
The “We” project proposes to link a scoring code (social rating) with personal data, such as Individual insurance account number, Taxpayer Personal Identification Number, passport and phone number. Test participants must answer questions about various aspects of their lives, such as education, presence of children, sources of income, benefits, financial debt, criminal record, participation in public life, government awards, language skills and other parameters.
The “We” social rating system is based on the principles of a qualimetric platform that uses probabilistic and statistical assessment models similar to banking scoring systems. The developers compare it to the Chinese social rating system, where citizens are awarded points for charitable activities, political loyalty and other criteria. If you have a low rating in China, certain rights and opportunities may be limited.
The Russian “We” platform intends to assign each citizen a “two-component scoring code”, including “social status” and “social level”. These concepts are defined as a metric of accumulated qualities and characteristics of a person, as well as a quantitative characteristic of achieved results and potential in social terms, respectively. The system can be offered to banks and regional authorities.
Who needs a social rating and why?
The Russian State Social University says that social scoring is needed by any managers to rate and prioritize “any of their practical activities of a social nature.” Their main rule may be this: distribute attention from top to bottom of the list, compiling it in descending order of the scoring code. If allocated resources (time, money, attention) are few, clear criteria for their distribution are needed.
In the future, the system may become a “regulatory procedure”, after which most of the data will be loaded onto the platform from government information systems. That is, at the start of the project, your “ratings” can be seen by scanning a QR code, and in the future they will appear on your smartphone. At the same time, users themselves will not know what exactly the scores mean, since this information “should be disclosed to the general public.”
How social rating works in China
The Chinese rating implies a very deep integration of technologies, as well as databases – from purchases to credit history. And this, accordingly, requires a very large combination of private and public capital. Therefore, in China all this was done at the level of a political decision. The technology was developed by large companies like Alibaba, so behind the rating there is a lot of scientific and technical innovation work and billions of dollars of capital investment.
Any person is initially given a thousand points, and then they are reduced for some sins. If you don’t repay a loan or rent a car on time, or don’t care for your elderly parents, then 30-50 points are taken away from you. If you do something useful – donate blood or participate in community service – you get 50 points.
If you have less than 600 points, then a whole series of problems begin. For example, you cannot freely get loans, you cannot take out a mortgage at a normal rate, or discounted transport tickets.
There are a huge number of pros and cons, but the most important thing is that everything is based on large databases. There is still debate about how much the databases associated with the rating themselves can be controlled and safe for the state.
In China, people with a low rating cannot get a normal job, they are not given loans, they are not sold transport tickets, and they may be refused to rent transport, such as a bicycle. Points are deducted for participating in protests against the authorities, posting anti-government messages on social networks, spreading fake news on the Internet, and refusing to help elderly parents.
The social rating phenomenon has existed since the moment when man became an intelligent species, and “reflects the hierarchical structure of society that has always been.” Military ranks or civil service ranks can be considered social ratings.
It’s another matter when the social rating system takes on a national scale and becomes mandatory – this is already the path to dystopia
Society is not yet ready for this, and all this in the current situation will degenerate into 100% cyberpunk, no matter how good intentions the creators of such a system may have.
Unfortunately, many ideas are often created in order to serve the state, and as a result become a disservice. Therefore, this will eventually lead to increased social discontent.
The “Dive” episode of the Black Mirror series shows a society where each person has his own assessment, on which his capabilities depend. For example, those with a high rating are the cream of society, while those who receive a low score are forced to live at the bottom of the social pyramid.
If such a system is introduced and if it applies to everyone, it will instantly lead to the stratification of society, which is already divided into layers and strata, and with the help of a social rating system this will be highlighted.
Currently in China, social rating and ranking has become a metaphor for the use of digital technologies to suppress society and violate human rights.