You’ve been scored
As often seems to be the case, a couple of news stories popped up yesterday that, viewed together, point to a disturbing trend.
Imagine getting just a little too drunk one night and later finding out you were not just banned from the bar you were at, but from every bar in the country. And after you annoyed your Uber driver on the way home, you find out you’re banned from Uber worldwide, too.
A case that extreme is unlikely to happen based on these systems as they are, but the potential is there, and it shows how our behaviour will increasingly be logged and scored. Insurance is once application of this data, but there are plenty of others — some fairer than others.
Being banned by Uber might not seem like too bad a punishment, but that’s until you need a taxi in a town where Uber has all but wiped out the competition, and getting a rival taxi is near impossible.
You only have to look to China for how far this can go. The social credit system
being developed there aims to keep citizens’ behaviour in check by imposing sanctions on those who behave poorly and offering perks to those who behave well.
In a culture that puts common good above individual rights, like China, this makes some sense — even if we in the West may often view it as pure authoritarianism. But there’s no reason why we won’t see similar systems creep into American or European life.
A certain kind of mindset and political viewpoint would love to keep us all in check this way. They wouldn’t even need to be a nefarious dictator. For example, a ‘traditional family values’ politician may win votes on a platform that enforces those values through behaviour scoring.
There’s nothing to worry about too much here yet, but a future in which we’re scored for everything, and pay big for past mistakes that would otherwise have been quickly forgotten, may creep up on us before we know it.