The current wave of citizen scoring begs the question: why now? It was very clear that the digitization of government data did allow for such practices as early as in the 1970s. It was, technically at least, possible for public authorities to engage in citizen scoring forty years ago in countries that did have a NIN, such as Denmark or France. No major piece of legislation entered in force that would have made citizen scoring easier, so that it would be hard to argue that a change in the legal systems caused these new practices.
The fears of Black Mirror’s Nosedive episode are irrational. On the one hand, an all-encompassing citizen score would be impractical and useless. Because it would aggregate dimensions that are unrelated to each other, and because it would be extremely unlikely for an individual to score evenly across all of them, a comprehensive citizen score would merge information from different areas that would even each other out (to take an extreme example, a jailed criminal might be positively viewed by prison personnel because of her good behavior).
On the other hand, most experiments with citizen scoring nowadays aim at reducing the number of political options that can be publicly debated, for governance through numbers does not allow for political debate. This political project does not require a ubiquitous score for all citizens but only for those with the least power or those who might challenge the political order. As Antonia Hmaidi (2018), an economist, said of the Chinese social management systems, the very concept of a single score is utterly useless. By merging inputs from all possible sources, the resulting number cannot be used for any purpose.
Spieldauer: 19 Min.
hrsg. von: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb
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