Have you heard of the ‘deadbeat map’?

Well, if you live in the Hebei province of China, you can use the ‘deadbeat map’ to find out if people around you are in the red.

The deadbeat map is a new program developed by Heibei’s Higher People Court that you can access through your smartphone.

It lets you see how many ‘laolai’ — that is, people who don’t pay their debts — are within a 500-meter radius around you.

If you are curious, this is what it looks like:

Source: China Daily

If you click onto one of the floating heads, you can get their names, partial address and the reason why they got on the map in the first place.


Why has China introduced the ‘deadbeat map’?

As China Daily  reported, the program is a way for the courts to ‘enforce our rulings and create a socially credible environment’.  The idea is to get people publicly shamed and pressured into paying their debts.

The program is a new tool part of China’s Social Credit System (SCS). If you are not familiar with SCS, it is very similar to the financial credit system. The main difference is that it adds all aspects of life to it.

That is, it not only looks at rating you in your ‘real world’ life, but also in your social and virtual life. Everything you say or do in person and online will be graded, even who your friends are or things you say in social media.

So far, there is not one universal SCS. Instead, many companies and entities are collecting data and rating citizens. The idea is that at some point the government will be able to put all that data together in one place and create one score for each citizen. The score will reflect how ‘credible’ the government thinks they are.

Get a low score and you could face restrictions in where you live, getting credit or even travelling. [openx slug=inpost]

China’s experiment demonstrates the power of combining big data and technology in one place, and how much it could affect your financial future.

In fact, we heard investor George Soros slam it in Davos’ World Economic Forum last week.

As he said:

I want to use my time tonight to warn the world about an unprecedented danger that’s threatening the very survival of open societies.[…]

‘Tonight I want to call attention to the mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes. I’ll focus on China, where Xi Jinping wants a one-party state to reign supreme.

It’s not the first time that Soros warns about totalitarian regimes using big tech.

In fact, he also talked about it during his Davos speech last year.

As he said back then:

Something very harmful and maybe irreversible is happening to human attention in our digital age. Not just distraction or addiction; social media companies are inducing people to give up their autonomy. The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies. It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called “the freedom of mind.” There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it. This may have far-reaching political consequences. People without the freedom of mind can be easily manipulated. This danger does not loom only in the future; it already played an important role in the 2016 US presidential elections.

‘But there is an even more alarming prospect on the horizon. There could be an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance. This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.

Big data and tech are playing a big part everywhere else too

We don’t think the danger here is limited to totalitarian regimes, though. In fact, big data and technology are playing a big part everywhere else too.

This comes as Facebook is looking to get even bigger by integrating Facebook Messenger with Instagram and Whatsapp.

From The New York Times:

The move has the potential to redefine how billions of people use the apps to connect with one another while strengthening Facebook’s grip on users, raising antitrust, privacy and security questions. It also underscores how Mr. Zuckerberg is imposing his authority over units he once vowed to leave alone…

‘The integration plan raises privacy questions because of how users’ data may be shared between services. WhatsApp currently requires only a phone number when new users sign up. By contrast, Facebook and Facebook Messenger ask users to provide their true identities. Matching Facebook and Instagram users to their WhatsApp handles could give pause to those who prefer to keep their use of each app separate.

People have willingly given tech companies their data. Big tech has been collecting it and using it to monetise it from advertisers.

They are even looking to collect more data. We are heading towards smart cities…smart homes…smart devices…

The truth is, that massive amount of data stored in one place, is immensely powerful. And could be stored to be used against you and restrict you in the future.


Selva Freigedo