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My hero is western tween born to rich emigres from fictional country, inspired by Romania. His parents escaped in the west, before demonstrators toppled the regime and took quite a wealth with them.

The tween is mysteriously transported in time, back in the late 70's, where the secret police arrests him, and due to his physical resemblance, they bring him to his grandfather, the feared chancellor.

The tween tells his grandfather that in a decade or so, Warsaw pact will fail and the mob will hang the regime including him for all the atrocities they've committed. The grandfather believes him, but tells him to keep quiet, the regime must control the population.

The tween suggests using the Chinese social score system to decrease number of atrocities.

Basically government keeps a credit score on every citizen which is decided by the actions of you and your friends and family.

If you do things that government considers good it goes up. On the other hand if you listen foreign radio stations, protest, distribute anti-government literature etc it goes down.

Also if you keep company with low rating people they will drag down your rating. And if your family are rebellious types, you either reform them or report their every move to keep yourself in government good graces.

People with high ratings have perks such as better medical care, access to credit, faster bureaucratic procedures, bonus points on university entry exams etc.

People with low ratings are punished by banning them to buy trains, they're queued lowed for medical care, can't by anything on credit, limited at number of jobs they could hold , limited at education opportunities etc.

The main idea is that people will self police themselves, so people will ostracize troublemakers with low ratings, doing the secret police dirty work to keep their perks.

Could social score system be implemented without internet and with IT technology from the late 70's?

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    $\begingroup$ Actual Romanian here, actually lived in the specified timeframe. What makes you believe that this wasn't actually the case? It was not called "social score", it was called "dossier", but the rest matches. The only element you missed is "social origin" -- "healthy social origin" means descended from poor people, and contributes to a good dossier. Good dossier -- advancement opportunities, good tickets to a seaside resort, accelerated allocation of a car. Bad dossier -- hard life. Yes, people self-censored. Atrocities were rare, at least from the 1960s to the early 1980s. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 7 '18 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ The element of innovation in the proposed Chinese social score system is not the social score in itself -- this exists in all countries; in capitalist countries it's called "credit score", in Communist countries it's called "dossier", but it's the same thing. What the Chinese bring new is using modern IT to extend the elements captured in the dossier to all aspects of life, and to make the score available to a very wide set of service providers. This was necessary because China functions as a market economy, and the traditional Communist centralized "cadre department" was not enough. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 7 '18 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ Dossiers were not kept for everyone; they were generated when needed (e.g., a person applies for a promotion, or wants to enter certain sensitive schools), and then kept and updated when needed again. This was the task of the Cadre Department of the Communist Party. As for how they knew who were buddies, I'll tell you a joke from those days. Joke: What is a Romanian? A thief. What are two Romanians? Two thieves. What are three Romanians? Two thieves and an informer. Realistically, they knew because (to quote a poem) the Party is in everything, in those which are and in those which are not. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 7 '18 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ TenAli, do you want to rewrite your question? If no, @AlexP might as well turn his first comment into an answer. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 7 '18 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Mołot. This sounds like it's been answered. Paper (or similar) filing systems may be inefficient compared to relational databases and the Internet, but the world used them with considerable (and often devestating) effectiveness for hundreds if not thousands of years. Human governments have been keeping tabs on its population since, well... forever and such files have been the staple of conspiracy/espionage stories almost as long. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 7 '18 at 23:17
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In non socialist nations and throughout history, there was a "social score", which was an informal system of rating people by their behaviours and actions compared to the somewhat arbitrary social norms of the society by their own peers and community members.

People could be ranked based on their real and apparent wealth (and attempts to change your ranking on that scale could see you derided as "Nouveau Riche" or a social climber (depending on who was rating you). The expression "Keeping up with the Joneses" also describes that sort of behaviour.

Other expressions common in Western society also are ways of applying social rating to people. Coming from "the wrong side of the tracks" or "the bad side of town" also implies social and economic class and behaviour from people from there. "That kind of girl/boy" describes an individual against a moral framework, and other kinds of descriptors can also be described.

The real lesson here is people will pretty much instinctively create and use some sort of social credit system to rate others. The primary difference in Communist/Socialist/Fascist states in the past was there were severe legal consequences to not having a good "social rating". The primary issue with the current concept as the Chinese government seems to want to apply it is the ratings and consequences can be automated, done in real time and the data bank is national, not just implicit in the memories and behaviours of people in your town or community.

If the social credit system being implemented in your fictional world is to work, the "social norms" which people are being measured against will have to be considered carefully by the central authorities, and the implementation will have to be through social cues and stigmas (much like you would not want to be associated with someone from "the wrong side of the tracks") to drive behaviours towards what is being deemed "proper" and "normal".

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree that having "bad score" in premodern societies did not have legal consequences. If you had bad score it would you be the one accused of witchcraft and hung from the nearest tree, the one to be jailed when someone goes missing, your crimes would be punished harder, anyone employing you would be shunned by the community... $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Jun 8 '18 at 13:23
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It probably could be. What people forget is that while the internet as we currently know it didn't exist, computer networks did exist. ARPANET was created in 1969 to connect computers in the United States as a pre-cursor to the internet. Here, you could have a system that isn't fully automated, but allows a government and officials to keep track of the social credit of different individuals based on how good/bad their social standing is and record it on a more primitive proto-internet. There would be a blacklist that would prevent people from getting certain services or products if they have a low-enough social credit score that comes up on the computer system (not being able to fly, can't receive items on credit, banned from certain high-end stores, etc.). The system can be quickly double-checked by multiple government officials with paper copies to back up the system. This could also be helped by early machine learning algorithms since the first Support Vector Machine learning algorithm was invented in 1963.

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What sort of computing power do you have?

If you want it on anything like the scale of the Chinese one, you would need to be able to communicate and collate information on a grand scale. If you have a dossier in This Town, what happens when you finagle a trip to That Town? How quickly can the information travel?

More to the point, you have to gather the information, which will be vastly harder. China, like many other Communist countries, used social origin as the chief point before computerization -- that is, how did your ancestors live? How useful is that as a gauge to your actual danger to the regime? But it was what they had. Most of them used denunciations because surveillance requires more workers than there were people to watch over; East Germany was particularly flagrant. That leaves you open to false denunciations; an actual traitor could denounce those who suspected him and grow rich on rewards. Also to missed denunciations because the danger is a popular person. Why, third parties can inform on the old grump who thinks that charming young man is a danger.

While they will, of course, not be adverse to false positives in themselves because the regime is more important, enough false positives cause serious problems in society, both because competent people are kept from vital work, and because people come to regard a bad score as like being hit by lightning, horrible but not under control.

And they will have vast problems with false negatives.

So, you can have points of similarity but not the full thing.

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A system like that can be implemented anywhere you can collect taxes. In most times, people lived in very rural communities where you can't get lost in the crowd, so to speak. People always had to go to church and there was always a whisper network. There was no anonymity and a family who moved to your town were seen as outsiders for generations. Mind you, the only people who really had power tended to be people who owned land, anyway.

If you want to implement this in decent sized cities you're gonna need more filing cabinets and maybe leverage the welfare/social security system, but that's it. That's how everything was done in the 70s: taxes, the draft, law enforcement, you name it.

Rereading this question, though, it seems you're trying to keep the regime from failing with this alone. It's actually a far more broad issue that's got a lot of moving parts. Keeping your heel on the rabble is easy compared to not getting poisoned by the CIA or going bankrupt, for instance.

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