Modern Technology Applied to Business As Usual

A friend who lived in China a few years ago posted a frightening article to Facebook from The Atlantic, entitled “China’s Dystopian Tech Could Be Contagious.” Frightening, yes, but not unexpected.  The article details a “social credit” system fueled by information easily obtained from multiple high-tech sources, particularly the smartphone.

From the article: “Known by the anodyne name ‘social credit,’ this system is designed to reach into every corner of existence both online and off. It monitors each individual’s consumer behavior, conduct on social networks, and real-world infractions like speeding tickets or quarrels with neighbors. Then it integrates them into a single, algorithmically determined ‘sincerity’ score.”

It’s the high-tech, 21st century extension of the gatekeepers Gauss and I passed each day in 1981 who watched everyone who entered the university grounds, the Foreign Affairs officers who opened our mail, and the “concierge” at our apartment building who made sure all our visitors signed in when they visited us.

The Party has adopted the technology of Silicon Valley and put their own stamp on it. Don’t be surprised if the next move is to export it to willing governments in the West.

Read the full article here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/02/chinas-dangerous-dream-of-urban-control/553097/

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Concrete

An essay I wrote and accompanying photos of Xi’an have been chosen for inclusion in a book about Chinese cities called Concrete to be published this spring by The Shanghai Literary Review. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund publication. Click here to get a preview of the book (link includes a photo of Gauss’s from Xian, attributed to me). Don’t feel obligated to contribute, but if you’d like to, you’ll get a copy of the book and a couple of their journals as well.