“Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how ‘trustworthy’ you are … in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are …”
You might think these are the opening lines from a science-fiction movie, but they’re actually the first words of an article in the Washington Post about China’s Social Credit System.
As creepy as this system is, what’s even stranger is that I predicted it.
In 2013, I began toying with an idea for a new novel. My premise was the imagined convergence of two social and technological trends becoming evident in the world. The first was the concept of objective Truth, with its transcendent foundations, slowly being replaced by subjective, immanent truth as determined by public opinion. The second was the proliferation of rating systems necessary to protect both parties of an online transaction. Given enough time, these trends could combine to produce a society in which an individual’s identity was defined by, and intimately linked to, the economy. Social rating would become the currency.
I released Consensus: Part 1 – Citizen in December of 2015, following it up with four more parts as well as an omnibus edition of the novel in July of 2016. I had no idea China was already planning to implement such a system. I thought I was writing fiction. Turns out … the truth is even stranger.