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  • October 09, 2018 05:15:39 PM
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The blog occasionally discusses digital marketing and AI. But it mostly discusses laws that impact the way we use technology.

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Facebook shared your data with others – secretly

A recent investigation by The New York Times indicates Facebook may have given access to more data to other companies than it told everyone about.   Is it possible that Facebook has been cheating on millions of its users worldwide and also governments and investigating agencies? A recent investigative report by The New York Times clearly points […] The post Facebook shared your data with others – secretly appeared first on Technology services...





Breaking trust?

A recent investigation by The New York Times indicates Facebook may have given access to more data to other companies than it told everyone about.  

Is it possible that Facebook has been cheating on millions of its users worldwide and also governments and investigating agencies? A recent investigative report by The New York Times clearly points Facebook has been sharing more “intrusive access to users’ personal data” than it told its users or governments about.

Worse still, Facebook may have been doing this for years now.

TL; DR

  • Facebook told users and government authorities that it has, without user consent, either not shared data of its users or has stopped sharing data.
  • Some of the large corporates that have benefited from this data-sharing include Netflix, Microsoft, Amazon, Sony and Yahoo. 
  • Facebook may have used used unfair means to justify this sharing of info.

The New York Times investigation 

On December 18, 2018 The New York Times published a well-researched article about how Facebook has been handling users’ data. As per the post, there’s a huge gap between what Facebook tells its users and authorities about the way it shares users’ data and the way it actually does

Apparently, Facebook has been giving access to its users’ data to some of the largest companies in the world.

Companies that have had access to Facebook users’ data include Amazon, Bing, Sony, Netflix, Spotify, Royal Bank of Canada, Yahoo… Needless to add, this access appears both illegal and unethical.

The list of companies that had access to Facebook users’ data reads eerily like Fortune 500.

What data different companies had access to under special arrangements with Facebook

The New York Times investigation showed that Facebook had made several deals with over 60 brands of smartphones, tables and other devices to let these makes have access to Facebook users’ data. Here’s a list of what kind of data was available to some of them (note that all this, without users’ permission, was illegal):

  • Microsoft’s search engine Bing to see names of friends of almost all Facebook users, without consent from users
  • Netflix was allowed to use/read/delete Facebook users’ private messages
  • Amazon was given access to users’ name and contact information through friends
  • Yahoo was allowed to view streams of friends’ posts (Facebook claimed this was stopped much earlier, but this happened this summer)
  • Spotify could read/write/delete users’ private Facebook messages
  • Sony could obtain users’ email addresses through their friends
  • Royal Bank of Canada was allowed to read, write and delete users’ private messages
  • Yahoo could view real-time feeds of friends’ posts for a feature that Facebook claimed to have stopped in 2011
  • Apple was given the power to hide from Facebook users that its instruments were asking for users’ data
  • Rotten Tomatoes had access to data from a Facebook feature that was discontinued
  • Yandex, the Russian company that is into search engine and ecommerce, enjoyed access to Facebook data
  • Huwaei, the company that was marked as a security threat by US intelligence, enjoyed special privileges since Facebook listed it as a partner

Why Facebook’s data sharing is serious

Essentially, Facebook allowed the companies mentioned above, and many more, access to users’ data without express permission from users.

Not only that, it appears Facebook had not been fully honest in what it disclosed to authorities. 

The biggest reason it is unfair and unethical (and possibly illegal) is this: the companies that were given access to Facebook user’s data were termed partners and were accorded special status. As a result, they were not subjected to extensive privacy program reviews. 

In other words, Facebook seemed to have relaxed its rules for these companies.  

Here are some other reasons why Facebook’s sharing of data is unfair and unethical:

  • The data shared is used upon the users themselves in the form of redesigned products or commercials. Either way, the “stolen data” reduces free choice of users.
  • The models, used by Facebook and Google, begin by assuming that secretly using data is the only way to make money and that no one would pay for their services. 
  • Siphoning away users’s data is a lot like driving a car without license – just because you have access to a car (data) doesn’t mean you can drive it without the right authority (user consent). Even if you’ve hurt no one, you’re still guilty.
  • It is bringing to life our fears that the moment you step into the online world, you kiss goodbye to your privacy. 
  • Facebook does not provide any auditing services of its partners. As a result, it cannot ensure if the right to be forgotten is to being followed the right way.
  • Once the data is out of hands of Facebook and into the hands of third-parties, the data collector (Facebook) ceases to have any control over the data. As a result, how the data will be abused becomes unpredictable.

How is Facebook defending its actions

Facebook spokespersons are not sitting silently; they have been issuing their own versions of the truth and offering justifications and explanations. 

Here are some of the explanations Facebook is putting up in its own favor:

  • Facebook has found no evidence of data abuse by its partners.
  • For most of the partners, Facebook was not required to ask for consent from users. That was because the partners were treated like extensions of Facebook.
  • Some data, Facebook says, was in case public data and sharing the data did not violate users’ privacy rights. 
  • Facebook had hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to evaluate its data handling practices and PwC has found nothing wrong.

Source

The post Facebook shared your data with others – secretly appeared first on Technology services news.


Social Credit System China Part 2: Implementation, Benefits, Criticism

In Part 1 of China’s Social Credit System, we covered the basics of the credit system of China. We talked about the weaknesses of the current credit system in China and compared the current credit score system in developed countries like US, Germany, Switzerland and so on. Next, we identified the 4 principles behind the […] The post Social Credit System China Part 2: Implementation, Benefits, Criticism appeared first on Technology services...

In Part 1 of China’s Social Credit System, we covered the basics of the credit system of China. We talked about the weaknesses of the current credit system in China and compared the current credit score system in developed countries like US, Germany, Switzerland and so on.

Next, we identified the 4 principles behind the proposed system and the objectives the system seeks to achieve. We ended with an infographic on the 14 focus areas of the system.

In this 2nd and final part, we talk about how the social credit system of China will be implemented, what are its benefits – from the point of view of the Chinese government – and what are the criticisms leveled against the proposed system.

Implementation of China’s Social Credit System (SCS)

The Social Credit System of China has the goal of establishing the basic structure of a credit system by 2020. That goal wishes to achieve objectives like:

  • Raise awareness and level of credibility within the society
  • Regulate efficiently the economy without compromising governmental control
  • Improve and perfect the socialist market economy
  • Make stronger the societal governance program
  • Bring innovations in the financial sector with digital governance
  • Control and direct the behavior of individuals and businesses

The time-line of the history and implementation of China’s Social Credit System can be roughly represented in the following way:

  1. 1997: The “Bank Credit Registry and Consulting System” is established.
  2. 2002: A report delivered by the then President Jiang Zemin calls for establishment of a social credit system.
  3. 2006: China’s central bank The People’s Bank of China(PBoC) establishes a Credit Reference Center.
  4. 2007: The State Council sets up an inter-ministerial joint conference for the setting up of the Social Credit System.
  5. 2010: The Suining county in Jiangsu, China, introduces a mass credit plan that tracks stuff like individual conduct, law abidance, compliance to laws and debt repayment and turns it into a score. Higher the score, better the credit-worthiness.
  6. 2013: China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) comes out with a blacklist of defaulting debtors. The list isn’t small – there are around 32,000 names.
  7. 2014: A plan with the title “State Council Notice concerning Issuance of the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System 2014-2020” is released.
  8. 2015:, The PBoC plans to licenses to eight private-sector companies to begin trial of the social credit system.
  9. 2016: An MoU is drafted between various Chinese bodies define roles and exchange information.
  10. 2017: The plans to hand out licenses to private-sector companies are dropped. The major reason cited is the conflict of interest or the lack of willingness of these companies to share their information with competing companies.
  11. May 2018: Individuals with poor scores are beginning to get denied air-tickets, high-speed train travel, luxury hotels and similar services and products.
  12. December 2018: A number of pilot projects are in operation across China but a single integrated system isn’t present – or at least visible.

Technology adaptation in China’s SCS

Naturally technology will play a key role in building of the credit system. The success of the entire system is almost entirely dependent on how data will be collected, sorted and used.
Exactly what technology will be used – or is already in use – is not clear at this stage. And that is partly understandable: if the authorities were to expose everything, the risk of gamification of the system would increase manifold.
Nevertheless, there is some understanding of the technology deployed for China’s Social Credit System.
Cor-relational Big Data analysis: Powerful computational facilities are being used to collect, store, process and share data. These hi-tech infrastructure will also produce actionable insights and generate result using probabilistic capabilities.
Face recognition: About 200 million cameras will be (or are being) used to collect and improve facial recognition. Read more about how face recognition is being used China in this post.
Bio-metric identification: The bio-metric database is being constantly expanded. New data is being appended to existing state records adn corrections, where required, are being made.
License consolidation: Efforts are being made to use technology and consolidate multiple registrations of the same identity. Earlier, a business use do have one registration number for tax, another for benefits, another environmental clearance and so on. the authorities would like to turn all this into a single number.
ID card or Unique Numbers: Individuals as well as businesses are brought under the social credit system. There will be a 18-digit unified social credit score.
Honest Shanghai model: The local municipal government uses an app called Honest Shanghai. It allows people to see the credit scores of local businesses or also their own scores. While tere are no punishments for bad behavior, good behavior brings rewards like discounts, priorities in facilities and so on.
No anonymity: The government is tightening requirements so most forms of anonymous activity is slowly disappearing.
Benefits of Chinese Social Credit System (SCS)
For all the Orwellian labels put on the SCS, there are some strong benefits the system enjoys.
Here are some of the most remarkable benefits of China’s Social Credit System, at least form the point of view of Chinese government:
  1. Credit history: Unlike Europe or the USA, the usage of credit cards in China is modest and also very recent. As a result, people did not have a credit history – at least not very detailed or structured. The SCS is expected to create a detailed, reliable credit history of the people of China.
  2. Information filter: While governments across the world struggle to gag inconvenient news, China handles it the tough way. Li Hu’s writing and Liang Xiangyi’s eye-roll were not taken lightly. The SCS provides strong insulation against spread of dissent.
  3. Social order: China’s population is not modest by any standard. Establishing and maintaining consistent social order that is productive for the economy is something the SCS wishes to achieve.
  4. Tighter control: With the kind of punishment for SCS offenders not many would want to take chances. That helps China build tighter political control.
  5. Problem solving: The huge and diverse Chinese populace needs all the management and decision making tools avialable. The SCS will provide critical economic inputs and data for a planned growth that China’s communist government holds very close to its heart
  6. Administrative Efficiency: The SCS is built of digitization and informationalisation. Naturally it will improve administrative efficiency.
  7. Real time data collection: It is plain as daylight that the SCS will provide unmatched, real time data that can be used for efficient and timely problem solving.
  8. Integrated ecosystem: The various data collection tools the government deployed till date were at best fragmented. The SCS will provide s single ecosystem to collate all data meaningfully.
  9. Party Grip: The SCS smartly leverages people’s reliance on social media, travel, going out, luxurious items and so on. Because offenders can’t access these services, they toe the line. The SCS heals a serious problem with an apparently gentle punishment.
  10. Corruption Discouraging: The system may grow so strong that all public officials would be very scared of being corrupt.

Criticism against the Social Credit System of China

1. Arbitrary abuse: The SCS isn’t always clear what can hurt much. This makes the system susceptible to inequitable punishments, to say the least.
2. Fear of Associating: If your dad or your friend criticizes the government, your score will go down too.
3. Transparency issues: There’s little to tell you how you can improve your scores.
4. Personal choices: Individuals do not have much of personal choice – they must remain geared for the national agenda. For instance, you could be punished if you spend too much time on social media.
5. Political victimization: Li Hu is a scary example of what could happen with you if you are critical of the government. And this was before the SCS was in force. Imagine what’d happen after the SCS comes into force.
6. Gamification: There are debates on how difficult it would be to gamify the system. There are also concerns that the wealthy and powerful may be able to use their positions and find means of artificially improve their ratings.

 

Sources used include:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. IberChina
  3. Science Alert
  4. The Guardian
  5. Ms Samantha Hoffman’s writings

 

 

The post Social Credit System China Part 2: Implementation, Benefits, Criticism appeared first on Technology services news.


Interview with Michelle Urban of Marketing 261

“Marketers today must be part artist, part scientist” says Michelle Urban from Marketing 261. In that small phrase, she packs a lot of punch, as also what the future holds for marketing. From the days when marketing meant sending out fancy ads and offering great discounts, it has evolved into a craft, a complex profession with […] The post Interview with Michelle Urban of Marketing 261 appeared first on Technology services...

“Marketers today must be part artist, part scientist” says Michelle Urban from Marketing 261. In that small phrase, she packs a lot of punch, as also what the future holds for marketing.

From the days when marketing meant sending out fancy ads and offering great discounts, it has evolved into a craft, a complex profession with science and art in almost equal measures. Internet and its metrics and tools of measurement are fast making marketing an exact science.

On the other hand, the unprecedented changes that technology keeps bringing in our lives keeps marketing from becoming a predictable, hum-drum activity.

We spoke to Michelle to understand what she thought of brick-and-mortar businesses embracing the internet, AI, executive buy-in and a lot more.  Here goes: (Scroll down for an infographic.)

 

Marketing261-Michelle-Urban

We hear Content is King so often. In a crowded marketplace, how do you suggest bringing readers to your blog when everyone is producing a lot of content and when readers’ attention span is continually shrinking?

Don’t write for the sake of writing. Write only for your target audience. Write about how they can work through their challenges, pain points, and obstacles. Write about how they can reach their goals and how they can be more successful in their job.  Give them useful and practical content.

Write about how they can reach their goals and how they can be more successful in their job.  Give them useful and practical content.

If your readership is quickly skimming your content and bouncing off, your content is not geared towards their needs. When it’s not relevant or interesting chances are readers are not going to engage or return back. Make your content inspiring and educational to your target audience.

There are still a large number of successful, brick-and-mortar businesses that haven’t embraced the digital space. How do you think they should go about building their brand online and make sure their voice is heard, especially if even their customers aren’t frequent on the internet?

In this day and age, it’s silly for anyone NOT to have a website. Website show credibility and when done correctly, social credibility. All websites should be optimized for mobile and local search.

What are the three skills you rate as most important for a digital marketer in today’s world?

1. Be resourceful
2. Be part artist AND part scientist.
3. Be a risk taker

1. Be resourceful
2. Be part artist AND part scientist.
3. Be a risk taker

Businesses have begun investing in digital marketing, but there’s still some resistance when it comes to paying for tools and services that don’t directly lead to marketing  (e.g. SEO tools, email verification, analytics tool etc). How should marketers go about getting top-level executive buy-in for such matters?

Whether a marketer is asking for new tools, to sponsor an event, invest in new programs, or double down on an existing channel, the best way to get buy-in is by letting the metrics do the talking. Break down how the line item is going to help reach the company goal.

Executives speak one language and that is revenue. Provide the details that support the positive ROI. If you cannot show this, chances are you don’t need it.

Executives speak one language and that is revenue. Provide the details that support the positive ROI. If you cannot show this, chances are you don’t need it.

For the few industries that don’t expect too much of business coming from online inquiries (e.g. heavy engineering) in the next few years, how do you suggest they should go approach their online marketing efforts?

Your brand matters – bottom line. In today’s day and age, your brand needs to expand to the web in some way shape or form. If you’re in a field that is not web forward, chances are a potential buyer is going to be Googling something pertaining to your brand – the owners, the investors, the competitors. Having an online presence, like a website, can show credibility and social proof.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fast becoming a threat to many professions. How do you think marketers and freelancers can tackle that?

I can see many marketers using AI to increase their productivity. AI algorithms can help automate the repetitive tasks that many freelancers do on a weekly or monthly basis. This leads to increase productivity, which saves time and money.

Do you think customer loyalty will be a realistic goal to pursue over the next few years, given the enormous competition everywhere?

Yes, without a doubt. Companies should put their customers as #1 priority. This means building meaningful and lasting relationships with your customers and users.

Companies should put their customers as #1 priority. This means building meaningful and lasting relationships with your customers and users.

So even if they move away from being your customer, they can still help to promote your brand positively due to the great experience they had while engaging with your product/service. Always leave the door open for your customers to return to you quickly.

Infographic on marketing

michelle-urban-marketing261-interview-takeaways

About Michelle:

Michelle Urban is the founder of Marketing 261, a marketing shop for tech startups and small businesses. With a hands-on, get-it-done attitude, she and her team focus on executing measurable plans to get real results. For over 16 years, she’s built scalable marketing programs for demand creation, lead generation, customer advocacy, and engagement. A few of her clients include productboard, Rancher Labs, Layer, BetterManager, and more.

The post Interview with Michelle Urban of Marketing 261 appeared first on Technology services news.


Top 8 3D printing companies in India

As the industrial and academic ecosystem changes, the demand for 3D printers in India is rising too. With wide applications in academics, jewellery, industrial prototyping, medicinal implants and prosthetics, 3D printing is quickly becoming both widely available and widely used. 3D Printing is the process where liquid molecules, powder or granulated material is solidifed and […] The post Top 8 3D printing companies in India appeared first on Technology services...

As the industrial and academic ecosystem changes, the demand for 3D printers in India is rising too. With wide applications in academics, jewellery, industrial prototyping, medicinal implants and prosthetics, 3D printing is quickly becoming both widely available and widely used.

3D Printing is the process where liquid molecules, powder or granulated material is solidifed and joined to achieve the desired shape and size in three-dimensions. One of the most popular applications is Rapid Prototyping, where either a small part of a machine or a scale model is created using 3D Printers.

The following list of the top 3D printing companies includes those companies that manufacture and or distribute 3D printers. Most also offer 3-D printing services and some even conduct training programs for 3D printing.

Here is the list of the top 3D printing companies in India:

1. Divide By Zero Technologies

About: They developed their first 3D printer for internal use in May 2013 – and by August the same year, they received their first order for print service. Today, their client list has impressive names: Eicher, Saint Gobain, Hawkins, Mahindra, TVS… Their printers are classified as Desktop, Professional and Industrial, based on capacity, size, specifications and so on.  They develop their printers based on their in-house developed and patented AFPM (Advanced Fusion Plastic Modeling) technology.

Awards:

1. World Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME) SME Excellence Award 2017

2. India Design Mark Award 2017 by India Design Council

3. 3D Printing World Award

4. IPF Industrial Excellence Award

Website: Divide By Zero

2. Imaginarium

About: Imaginarium India Pvt Ltd dubs itself India’s largest 3D printing company. And that doesn’t sound like an exaggeration, given that it has 20 Industrial 3D printers you can choose from. They pride themselves in the fact that product impacts medicine, engineering, jewelery and what not.

Website: Imaginarium

3. Brahma3

About: Their recently launched Brahma 3 Anvil is a versatile beast for 3D printing. It has a high resolution – upto 100 microns per layer – and works on LCD as well as with a computer. It supports a large variety of material including ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PLA (Polylactic acid, which is biodegradable). In case you forgot, PLA is a popular bio-plastic used in medical implants as well as for cups.

Brahma3 Anvil can print objects as large as 240mm x 240mm x 240mm. That’s about the size of a football!

Website: Brahma3

4. JGroup Robotics

About:Apart from offering 3D printers, JGgroup Robotics also offers printing services, 3D printing material and 3D printed products. Of the many printing methods available, its printers rely on Fused Deposition Modeling (popularly called FDM).  This technology uses thermoplastic filament that are heated and extruded. Each of these ultimately create a three dimensional object. They also offer online courses.

Website: JGroup Robotics

5. Stratasys India

About: Launched in April 2015, Stratasys 3D Printing Experience center is the the Indian arm of Stratasys global. It features both FDM and Polyjet technologies. According to the company websites, the Centre “exhibits Stratasys’ comprehensive range of 3D printing materials – PolyJet photopolymers and FDM thermoplastics.” Their objective is to help test new products and design finished products.

Website: Stratasys Global

6. Altem

About: Altem Technologies Pvt Ltd, head-quartered in Bangalore, uses Dassault Systems’ 3D Experience Platform to provide cutting edge solutions, mainly ENOVIA, CATIO, and DELMIA. Recipients of the Frost & Sullivan 2017 Award for innovation in 3D printing, Altem boasts of clientele in sectors as diverse as ng automobile, architecture, aerospace, defense, medical, consumer durable, electronics and so on.

Founded in 2010, Altem recently joined hands with ARTEC3D to sell 3D Scanners.

Website: Altem

7. Novabeans

About: Founded in 2014, Novabeans today has offices in Gurgaon, Delhi and Paris, in addition to over 10 resellers and franchisees across India. They are currently authorized resellers of brands like Littlebits, Ultimaker, LeapFrog, ColorFabb and so on. Novabeans runs a special program to provide 3D printers for schools, under its Novabeans 3D Printing for Education Program.

It runs e-Studios that caters to professionals and creative people who’d like to build models for courses, workshops etc.

Website: Novabeans

8. Think3D

About: Since the company is headquartered in Singapore, in this list Think3D will classify as a multinational with Indian presence. Founded by BITS graduates, Think3D also sells 3D Scanners and 3D Filaments in addition to 3D Printers, both desktop and industrial. It also offers customized training programs for schools selected for Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). Its client list appears to be the largest among all companies in this list, from Microsoft, Shell and Pepsico to Indian Navy and ISRO.

Website: Think3D

 

 

 

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Social Credit System China: A detailed study, Part 1

Google Social Credit System China and chances are most sites you check out will call it dystopian and Orwellian. They will tell you how intrusive the Chinese Social Credit System is and how it runs with little regard to data privacy. Is that really the truth? How bad is the Chinese Social Credit System? Is […] The post Social Credit System China: A detailed study, Part 1 appeared first on Technology services...

Google Social Credit System China and chances are most sites you check out will call it dystopian and Orwellian.

They will tell you how intrusive the Chinese Social Credit System is and how it runs with little regard to data privacy.

Is that really the truth? How bad is the Chinese Social Credit System? Is it unfair and too intrusive to the people of China? How does it compare with data collection policies and tools of some of the most developed democracies?

We made a detailed study of the literature available to answer these and many such questions. The result is our two-part post on Social Credit System China.

In Part 1, we begin by identifying some of the weaknesses of the current credit system in China. From there, we look at look at some of the basic facts of the new Social Credit System of China and identify the 4 principles behind it.

Next we take look at the credit score system in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and the USA. The post then analyses the objectives behind China’s Social Credit System. Finally, we conclude with an infographic on the 14 focus areas of the system.

Part 2 will discuss how the system is being implemented. Besides, it will discuss the major criticism leveled against the system as also the benefits of the system.

Weaknesses of China’s existing credit system

By China’s own confession (see Rogier Creemers’s translation of the official Chinese document), their current credit score system is, at best, broken, inconsistent and far from comprehensive.

A credit score system, by definition, is both present and necessary in a country where people have the funds to purchase products through financing options and there are enough products to attract buyers. The way China was heavily loaded in its communist ideology, it was nearly impossible for the average citizen to get prosperous enough to afford consumer goods, housing, overseas education or expensive holidays.

Since then, a lot of things have changed and building a strong and reliable, nation-wide credit score system has become a major requirement.

Here are some of the major weaknesses in the older Chinese credit score system (and the ones that the new Social Credit System is trying to overcome):

  • Not modern: The system is unable to keep pace with the rapid economic changes sweeping China.
  • Flawed records: The data in the current system is inaccurate and flawed, which makes it unreliable.
  • Incomplete response mechanism: Punishments for trust-breaking or rewards for timely repayments are not proportional to the acts of trust-breaking or trust-building.
  • Weak protection: Information that exists on credit records isn’t properly protected and there is scope for both data compromise and data manipulation.
  • Laid back atmosphere: Society in general takes a laid-back view of commitments that are not honored and there appears to be inadequate sincerity.
  • Risk prone: With compromised service and quality levels, processes are highly vulnerable to industrial accidents, frauds and sale of counterfeit products.

Basic facts about the new Chinese Social Credit System

The roots of the new Social Credit System of China date back to 2014.

On June 14, 2014, an outline of what was to become the current Social Credit System of China was published by China’s State Council. The document was titled “State Council Notice concerning Issuance of the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014–2020)”.

Over time, the document evolved into what has today become the 3-year plan to build Social Credit System.

The government wants at least the basic model in place by 2020.

Companies that operate within China need a Chinese business license. This includes trade unions, social organizations, business enterprises, NGOs and so on. All these have been included under the social credit system. These entities will carry an 18-digit unified social credit code that the Chinese authorities will use to track such bodies. All information, including transgressions, will be reported to National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System.

The credit system aims to build a mammoth, centralized database of searchable files of every single Chinese citizen and organization. Each of these files will be a consolidation of data collated from public as well as private sources.

Given the size, geographic diversity and the difference in development in rural and urban areas, China’s plan is certainly ambitious, to say the least. Naturally, numbers and records alone are insufficient to pull this off.

One of the key forces China will use is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Surveillance, powered by 200 million CCTV cameras, will report events of various sizes that will be consumed by AI that will try and make sense of the images captured.

Following are the four principles of China’s Social Credit System:

  1. Government leading the way: Have the government show the path, including the role of the government.
  2. Fine-tuning the legal system: Establish appropriate laws and regulations and set up systems for credit standards.
  3. Planning and implementation: Implementation will be phase-wise, given the complexity and size of the social credit system.
  4. Identifying points for pilot launches: Choose focus areas from where to flag off models to aptly demonstrate the efficacy of the system.

A quick overview of credit score systems in some developed countries

As China gears to perfect its own Social Credit System, it might be interesting to have a quick look at the credit score systems in some of the developed countries around the world.

Here is basic understanding of how credit scoring systems operate in the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and the USA.

Credit score in United Kingdom

Three credit reference agencies dominate credit scoring process in the UK: Callcredit, Equifax and Experian. When you apply for any form of credit, data from these agencies is combined to get the larger picture of how sound a debtor you are.

To begin with, there’s data from previous lenders (if any), including how often you have applied for credit.

Having applied too often, especially in a short time could indicate you’re in serious need of funds, making you a high-risk prospect. Joint accounts are also covered.

Next, the data will include your court appearances, mostly to do with previous debt behavior and bankruptcies. Naturally, there will be mentions of whether you’ve committed frauds in past.

Finally, among other information, there will be information in your address, how long you’ve lived there and your voting eligibility status.

In exchange of a certain fee, you can also find what information these agencies hold against your name.

Credit score in Germany

The credit rating system in Germany is believed to have started at the beginning of the 20th century, when the Berlin Electric Company sold electrical appliances on installments only those people who paid their bills regularly.

Today, almost all credit scores come from the privately held SCHUFA Holdings AG, popularly known as SCHUFA scores, or just SCHUFA.

SCHUFA scores still remain the central. As would be expected, paying your bills on time and not stretching your credit limits lead to a healthy SCHUFA score. To ensure the system isn’t gamed, the exact method of how number in the score is arrived at is not disclosed.

SCHUFA scores contain your past purchases, honoring of payment schedules (e.g. if you leased a car) and previous credit card history.

That said, there is some fair criticism on the extent to which SCHUFA scores are accurate, updated or complete. It could be one of many reasons why it’s not easy in Germany to get loans for high-ticket items like houses.

Credit score in France

Unlike the UK and Germany, France does not have a prominent credit scoring agency. That means when you apply for a loan, your bank will look at your history and relationship with them before accepting or trashing your request.

That also means that, to some extent, if one bank rejects your loan application, it might not affect your chances with another bank!

The Banque de France holds a list of defaulters and this information is available to financial institutions.

Credit score in Switzerland

You could say the system is a bit of a cross between that of France and Germany. While there’s Betreibung that tracks your credit behavior, it isn’t always used.  That way, banks can sometimes be on their own. Occasionally, it will behave like SCHUFA – it won’t assign any reason why it’s turning your application down!

The Betreibung tracks your bill payment behavior and your delaying on payments due can swiftly harm your reputation.

You can build your score by using your credit card and remaining timely on your payments.

Credit score in the USA

Unlike the United Kingdom, the US credit score system is expressed in numbers, which indicates the likelihood of the borrower repaying the debt.

Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are the three major credit score reporting bureaus in the US. They use what is called the FICO model.

While each of the three bureaus use the same model, the score reported for the same individual may vary depending upon which bureau prepared the score. That is the because different bureaus may carry different information on the same individual.

The FICO score relies upon payment history, debt burden, length of credit history, type of credit used and recency of credit inquiries (if the individual has made frequent credit inquiries recently, she might be in serious need of funds, which might go against her).

Objectives of China’s Social Credit System

China expects to achieve some game-changing goals with the proposed system it is so diligently putting in place.

Here are some of the major objectives China is pursuing through its Social Credit System:

  • Standardize and streamline businenss’ and citizen’s economic and social reputation and reliability
  • Make stronger the societal governance and introduce innovations to it
  • Build solutions to social and economic development problems
  • Control and navigate discourse that promotes the communist party and the nation’s ‘version of truth’
  • Meaningfully club data from government sources with that from private channels
  • Build and improve the state’s ability to pre-empt, predict, prevent and solve problems, particularly of social, political and economic nature
  • Improve the party’s understanding of finer aspects and situations with real-time data collection to build an informed decision-making mechanism
  • Build a culture of sincerity and reliability and thereby raise the credit-worthiness of the entire state

Infographic on the 14 focus areas of China’s Social Credit System

China-social-credit-system-focus-areas

 

Sources and references:

  1. Rogier Creemer’s translation 
  2. Samantha Hoffman’s report

The post Social Credit System China: A detailed study, Part 1 appeared first on Technology services news.


Everything you should know about China’s 3-year AI action plan

The Chinese government’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced its 3-year action plan for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2017. Over the past year since the announcement, experts have come to realize the plan is ambitious to the point of being scary. The proposals set in the MIIT 3-year plan are massive, far-reaching and […] The post Everything you should know about China’s 3-year AI action plan appeared first on Technology services...

The Chinese government’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced its 3-year action plan for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2017.

Over the past year since the announcement, experts have come to realize the plan is ambitious to the point of being scary. The proposals set in the MIIT 3-year plan are massive, far-reaching and comprehensive.

What are the goals of China’s 3-year plan for Artificial Intelligence?

Here are the major goals the AI action plan of China:

  • promoting industrialization
  • integration of a new generation of artificial intelligence technology
  • developing high-end intelligent products
  • improving the level of intelligent manufacturing
  • improving the public support system
  • promoting the development of a new generation of artificial intelligence industry
  • building a strong country and a network powerhouse to help transform and upgrade the real economy.

What does all this lead to?

Apparently, China is looking for major breakthroughs whereby it can accelerate industrialization and application deployment.

With this plan, China plans to dominate AI in particular and business and technology in general. But more importantly, it is looking for what it calls ‘Collaborative Innovation’.  That means China categorically is looking forward to combine production, education, research, SMEs, industrial ecology and government policy to come out a winner.

The system layout of China’s AI ambitions

Here is a graphical representation of China’s AI blueprint:

China-AI-gameplan

What all things are shaping up with China’s AI ambitions?

As one of the end-goals of the 3-year plan, China is looking forward to some genuinely smart products down the line. Here are a few of them.

Intelligent Aerial Vehicles

These vehicles will have to have completely automated cruise control. They must be fully capable of operating in highly complex environments. That means they will have a superior level of intelligence that will smartly avoid obstacles.

And no, they’re not vague targets.

These goals have been more specifically defined. For instance, China is aiming for 360-degree omindirectional perceptional avoidance and a precision of 0.005 degree.

Intelligent Home Products

This is where Internet of Things (IoT) comes into picture. A set of coordinated appliances, all smoothly integrated, will lead to the improvement of the overall quality of life.

These products will have intelligent sensors and should be able to conserve water and power consumption without sacrificing efficiency. Further, they should be safe to use and priced in a way to become articles of mass consumption.

The specifics? Achieve 90% penetration rates for smart TVs by 2020.

Medical Diagnosis Systems

While China’s healthcare spending, as a percentage of GDP, has risen from 3.7% in 1994 to 5.6% in 2013, services are still concentrated mostly in cities. In other words, there’s quite of a bit of stuff that remains to be done.

One of the key areas of China’s AI plans is medical imaging and diagnosis systems. The priority is making things streamlined and standardized. Next, AI must power diagnosis of the most prevalent diseases.

A key milestone, surprisingly, is speeding up the commercialization of medical imaging diagnosis support systems. That’s because the Chinese government both understands and acknowledges that private sector medical services are unavoidable, even in the communist state.

Numbers? False negatives must fall below 1% and detection of common diseases by these intelligent services must remain well over 95%.

Intelligent translation system

The bigger objective is to sharpen machine learning and apply it to translation. Currently, translation services falter beyond a point, in terms of accuracy and practicability.

The ambitious target is to further the application of high-accuracy smart translation systems. It will produce translation solutions that are extremely reliable. These translations services will be accurate in multi-language scenarios.

Target? By 2020, the intelligent translation system will have an accuracy of over 85%.

Intelligent video image identification

China is making giant strides in face recognition and is using a multi-pronged approach for that. Using big data and AI, it is not only improving face recognition to deliver social value but is also trying hard to dissuade dissent, prevent miscreants to stage protests and even punish erring drivers.

As a part of the AI plan by MIIT, China is driving innovations in fields as diverse as biometrics, video understanding and human-video integration. In other words, it is looking toward a future where cross-media convergence is an absolute reality. The 3-year plan in AI targets to achieve even image search, video surveillance, video summarization and improved resolution (read accuracy) from considerable distances.

If you’re wondering what goal it will serve beyond surveillance, the answer is an extremely robust credit and finance systems that will prevent frauds and reward high credit-score individuals.

Here’s the number: China plans to exceed 97% detection accuracy in face recognition by 2020.

Where does all this tie up?

The larger picture is offering policy support and funds, nurture talent, improve business environment, develop cutting-edge technology, establish technological leadership and dominate global business.

China is pursuing a complex network of objectives and understanding of China’s 3-year plan for Artificial Intelligence will be incomplete without understanding the associated goals.

One of the associated goals is “Made in China 2025” (MiC25). The MiC25 is a long-term strategic gameplan that China came out with in 2015, thus building over a period of 10 years. The MiC25 intends to, among other things, improve domestic content of core material by upto 70% by 2025. Many people see parallels between MiC25 and Germany 4.0.

The second associated or intertwined goal is the success of China’s Social Credit System. The Credit System is sometimes considered Orwellian, owing to the huge government surveillance in China, it is bringing and the degree to which it may invade privacy of individuals. The system calculates scores individuals and corporates.

Really intelligent AI

Experts might be seeing China’s massive AI initiatives as a comprehensive threat to the technological dominance that Europe and the USA have traditionally enjoyed. In that narrative, China was always a country that mass produced cheap goods and India was where you outsourced services at dirt cheap rates.

Suddenly, China is trying to change its own image. It is ready to don the mantle of technology leader the world over. Its push, investment and intent speaks volumes about what it intends to do.

The more data you feed your AI, the stronger it becomes.

The more data you feed your AI, the stronger it becomes. And with the millions of devices everywhere, data is hardly a problem for China.

There’s one more thing about AI in cases like face recognition.

Face recognition, to be fully reliable, must not just be fed huge amount of data. It must also be fed diverse data.

So if the Chinese cameras grow smart only by reading Chinese faces (Mongolian race), they may falter when they try reading other races, say Caucasians.

And China isn’t unaware of this. Against its multi-billion dollar investments in the African continent, it is getting one important return. It could be using this opportunity to train its camera AI recognize other races – in this case of Negroid origins.

The option left for the US and European countries is clear: a really smart AI, with algorithms so developed and complex they won’t have to depend on huge data, big data.

If the US or Europe can really pull that off, they could beat China at its own game.

But today, that seems like distant future.

China’s 3-year plan: A quick video overview

The post Everything you should know about China’s 3-year AI action plan appeared first on Technology services news.


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