Author: Nicola Darke
Is Coronavirus-19 the catalyst for a UK or even global social credit system? And if so, what would that mean for our productivity, adaptability, freedom and health? The current crisis exposes how moral and social conditioning, high surveillance, low choice, low power and total disconnection from meeting human need leads us dangerously close to losing our freedoms and capability.
This is a ‘hot topic’ and one which is currently evolving. The below are my views and questions on current happenings, and a reflection on how it interferes with our rights as human beings and the power we hold to be productive, high performing individuals. Some things may be a bit provocative, but if we don’t question and debate then we don’t really think, and then we don’t change.
This crisis offers us the magnifying glass of China to join the dots between some currently disquieting issues, which raise the question of what we mean by public interest and public health – if we are to live productive, free and healthy lives. The answer is very simple. People need to know their innate needs and capabilities.
From a human perspective… The markers of a free society? Individual choice, agency, privacy, freedom of speech… The drivers of productivity? People who can perform at peak, think differently, adapt and are a well workforce who can indeed ‘get to work’. These capabilities are dependent upon those freedoms. For example, personal power, or agency, is key for adaptability. When you know what humans need and how that impacts our capability to function, you must then focus on the rights associated with those needs. How’s that working for us under the current system?
Vast data ownership is knowledge; knowledge is power and control, if you use it. Most individuals have their own data, and whatever they have access to through the public domain. If they run a company their company will have data too. But comparatively, Big Tech and Governments have lots of data about lots of people. This asymmetry tilts power dynamics.
That’s what enables China to run a Social Credit system. That’s the Chinese government’s national reputation system where each citizen is ranked according to ‘good behaviour’. If they don’t behave or are deemed ‘untrustworthy’, they can be locked out of society and basic services rather abruptly. The moral code? Determined by the government. Data to inform how you score is fed in from all sorts of companies. Your recourse if you disagree? Just note that you gain points for praising the government and lose points for criticising it. No disagreeing then. Gulp. Here’s a ‘fun’ infographic and an excerpt from another article as it is a good insight with examples:
In certain areas of China, call a blacklisted person on the phone and you will hear a siren and recorded message saying: “Warning, this person is on the blacklist…” When a blacklisted person crosses certain intersections in Beijing, facial-recognition technology projects their face and ID number on massive electronic billboards. Beijing-based lawyer Li Xiaolin was blacklisted after a court apology he gave was deemed “insincere.” Unable to buy tickets, he was stranded 1,200 miles from home.
Here in the UK, the government has chosen the Chinese firm Huawei to support our 5G network (part of it). There is a question as to how vulnerable we would be to Huawei having the ability to harvest our data. There is much debate and criticism of the Government’s plan to keep information safe by keeping Huawei out of the ‘core’ of the network. It’s said by many that this is based on out of date cyber security models. So are we opening ourselves up to being part of a social credit system even if not run by our government? Due to the government’s concern over China’s handling of information re Coronavirus this is under discussion, but very much still on the table.
Regardless, we’re all getting 5G. Whether we like it or not. There is a rapid global roll out underway. Why? We don’t in any way need it. Products and services should be rooted in meeting human need (real Design Thinking) – not just marketed that way. There’s no need for 5G, apart from to support the new products tech companies want to sell. Hyperconnected products able to gather more data and track people all the time. It’s entirely unnecessary. Business functions well and fast enough (and if it doesn’t the internet isn’t the reason). How fast do we need to download a film? yesterday? and why, precisely, do we need more devices and all our devices connected? Who does this really benefit?
It’s global and it’s in space… that means even if I don’t want it, I can’t opt out, there’s no escape, even though my human rights and needs include choice and privacy. What vast amount of data will be gathered through hyper connectivity by those Big Tech companies who our governments are lobbied by and have sold the 5G networks to rather hurriedly? Is there, by chance, a desire to exert more power over those subject to all of this? To take a step towards our own social credit?
The top applications for AI (as listed in an Informa industry report) are video surveillance, IT operations and monitoring management, customer service Virtual Digital Assistants, and Voice Recognition. Apart from the virtual digital assistant, those are all about tracking people. And if you think companies are responsible with your data think again. Look at Clearview AI scraping data from facial recognition which people don’t know is being used. Look at the examples in China…
In the UK, they rolled out facial recognition cameras in Stratford, London last year. What was the need here? Facial recognition is being justified as law enforcement. No note to the public to let them know their face is being captured. It’s ok though, it’s ‘pubic interest’… is it? Perhaps with satellites in space having increasingly better clarity and drone capability we can just zone in on situations as and when needed, not monitor everyone all the time.
Here we see how woefully inadequate our human rights are for this digital age. Freedom immediately bottomed out through the invasion of privacy and removal of choice, all in the name of… speed and convenience, or ‘sufficient public interest’, which most human ‘rights’ are caveated by. As with the morals of social credit; who is determining ‘public interest’? because public interest should represent human need.
Is 5G global roll out in the public interest? Because it’s not driven from human need and in fact is untested as to its safety. With 2G and 3G carcinogenic, I would say testing is in the public interest. (Even then, we realise scientific studies paid for by companies tend to come out in favour of the companies… even Ofcom, who tested 5G re radiation, is funded by the government and the industries it regulates.) There are many reasons why it needs further testing and Switzerland has halted its 5G roll out as such.
For example, 5G (or wireless communications at 60Ghz) has an extremely high oxygen absorption rate – ‘Google’ or ‘DuckDuckGo’ it. What this then does is change the spin on the oxygen molecules. To be precise it changes the spin of the electrons of the oxygen molecules. These electrons enable chemical bonding, and their spin effects magnetic fields. Now, oxygen and magnetic fields play a pretty big part in life on earth, foundational in fact, and no companies responsible for rolling out 5G have tested what this does to people or other living organisms (if i’ve missed it please send my way). The test is a live one right now. At what point in the design sprint was it ok to exclude public health? I’d say this is in the public interest.
To recap, we’re getting something which has a reasonably high probability of being bad for our health, we have no say in the matter and it supports/is essential for hyper-connectivity and more data farming to manipulate, sell to and manage us with; possibly by China as well as our own country.
So, on public health; what does CV-19 offer us in terms of power and how is it connected to 5G and data? To start, here’s just a few stats because we all like to make data driven decisions… (taken from Information Is Beautiful), there are currently 2089 deaths per day from Coronavirus. For comparison, there are 1027 deaths a day from seasonal flu, 2216 from pneumonia, 2110 from HIV/AIDs and 3014 from tuberculosis. Annual deaths in the UK from seasonal flu range from 1,692 to 28,330. We are now (mid May) and we’ve hit the 30,000 mark.It’s estimated that this is likely to pan out as 2 x worse than a bad flu year.
But the numbers are unclear. If you die of something else but are deemed to carry CV-19 you can also be logged against the CV-19 death toll numbers. In the UK if anyone dies of natural causes, within 28 days of being tested for CV-19 but in the absence of a confirmed CV-19 diagnoses, the doctor can still log them as CV-19 using their ‘judgement as to whether the disease caused, is assumed to have caused, or contributed to the death’. So you tested someone 28 days ago and have not seen them since, they die of natural causes – like a heart attack say – and you can still log them as having died of CV-19. That feels awfully loose.
We are apparently under equipped to treat those needing it in hospitals and therefore social distancing to slow/reduce the spike and save our healthcare system. Please also note that during the UK ‘spike’, at the London Nightingale hospital, kitted out with aprox 4,000 beds ready to go, no more than 20 beds were used. However, The Office of National Statistics has published stats showing there’s a sharp increase in non-CV-19 related deaths compared to under ‘normal’ circumstances. Take a look at the graph in this article showing the ‘additional’ non CV-19 deaths compared with the CV-19 deaths. There’s been a drive to protect our health, but more people have foregone treatment and died. Is this justified, is this necessary?
I am not trying to make light of an intense situation for us all, but suggest it is being handled in a way which unnecessarily diminishes rights and freedoms. Now, I appreciate comparison is inaccurate and not always even possible given varying complexities of infrastructure, societal behaviours and national health etc between different countries and global locations, but there are other routes we could have taken. We could have, say, followed Japan; who immediately closed to incoming people from China, shut some schools and staggered commute times. The country still ran like clockwork, rush hour trains rammed and restaurants full, with death rates very low. They had a brief lockdown which asked for voluntary stay at home and businesses to determine their own set up. Singapore; even better and is one of the safest places to be with around 20 people dying to date. Sweden, no lockdown at all as yet. The culture of these though is already one of conservative/respectful behaviour. Interestingly, whilst the US shut down incoming footfall from China pretty early – which garnered much media kick back, there were job postings in the US for quarantine control officers in November. What, if anything, did some people know then?
Whilst these stats provide perspective, the fear which is being propagated in the media does not. The Channel 4 news the other week stated that “Boris needs to be anxiety inducing – because that’s the way to change people’s behaviour”…
That’s one way, if you want to inhibit people’s capability. When you are in a state of fear and stress you become very easy to control. Biologically, fear and stress make it very hard to think clearly, make decisions, and act in progressive ways. Quite literally bits of your brain shut down and it can be paralysing. When in this state we revert to ‘primitive’ concerns of survival. Human organisms progressively cycle through a range of capability states – safety, function and variety, in that order. Stress keeps you in the safety/survival state.
Not great for companies who want to innovate if your people aren’t functioning well, let alone able to think differently to adapt. Not great for individuals needing to pivot their career. Great for governments who want to justify themselves. Propagate a fear induced focus on safety and survival… “Don’t worry, the Government is here to look after you”. It is? This is a time old principle that we’re experiencing in real time.
Getting people used to these behaviours – of no social contact – under a state of fear and stress induced focus on safety and survival, feeds well into social credit. “Who’s a good citizen? Did you stay indoors like we told you to? No? Well then, a ‘black mark’ for you. Look everyone, see how bad a citizen that person is. They don’t care about your safety. You can’t trust them”. Ask yourself now, how did you feel about those who ignored the requests to social distance which lead to the lockdown and park closures? Their behaviour has limited your freedoms. Is that a sales tactic of the government – let us get annoyed at each other rather than the government? Divide and conquer. And as we know, it’s much easier to get annoyed over a keyboard or screen than it is face to face. Journalists have repeatedly asked Boris if he thinks people who are not social distancing are ‘immoral’. Do we need to blanket blame someone, or can we let each person make up their own mind about them. They may indeed be thoughtless, but equally, as mentioned above, the government could have planned ahead differently on this. There are multiple truths.
Getting everyone to be very obedient to one ‘truth’ (which is of course in the ‘public interest’) after a recent period of people fighting for democracy; with Brexit, the repeat vote in Istanbul, Hong Kong, Gillet Jeunes, etc and even extinction rebellion; is of clear benefit to those and the systems challenged and questioned. CV-19 is great for governments who want to flex their control muscle at a time when people are awakening to their individual power. Put people’s focus back to safety and survival so they can’t focus on individualism, independence and new constructs which challenge the current. Narrow and limit their focus of what’s possible. Give everyone a common enemy to tow the line behind.
Events banned, we are now being prevented from partaking in mass gatherings – our right to gather. A UK past prime minister, Gordon Brown, is suggesting we need a world government. More power in fewer people’s hands? Because it’s in the public interest? I don’t think so. In Hong Kong, those coming home (so called ‘new entries’ who may bring in the virus) will have to wear an electronic bracelet to track their movements (why not just test them at the airport?). Yet another behaviour to start getting people used to. More tracking, more control, with moral manipulation to make it easier. People 0 – China 1.
Think those things are necessary now? Ok, well, imagine a world government, how democratic do you think that would be, and do you think those people would hand their power back after? The legislation which is being passed now means what for our future? (UK legislation is initially tabled to run for two years; some ministers asked to reduce it to rolling 90 days). In the UK, there’s the ability to detain people with symptoms for 6 weeks. That’s a cough, runny nose or a temperature – which can be caused by so many other things. Hay fever? The ability to ban events – people’s right to gather, people’s right to protest, all wiped away because of ‘public health’? You’re saying it’s in my interest, not to be able to stand up for what’s in my interest?
Illness, as much as we may not like it, is common and overwhelmingly a result of the way we live. If we continue to live the way we do (largely as described in this article) it will only become more frequent. For it not to be so prevalent, we should be looking at building people’s immune systems with meeting their human needs, a fraction of which includes the basics of what I coach people on; quality nourishment, sleep, movement, mindset, community and, crucially, exposure to dirt/natural pathogens/illness – that is immunology. Not by fear induced stress to focus you on survival – not only does it make you easy to control but stress cripples your immune system (it’s a killer – a huge contributor to the main causes of death in the western world – dementia, heart disease, cancer, lung disorders (oh yes) etc). And not by telling you to stay at home and wash your hands, which will actually lower your immune capability. The psychology of being told to wait to be told what to do takes away any sense of agency and trust in yourself. Two things key for well and productive societies – for powerful people.
Social distancing is a wonderful way to usher in many new methods for creating further data and power asymmetry. A cashless society, for one. A cashless, hyper connected society for another. So, it’s not just the data which tilts the power balance but the lack of anything tangible for you to have direction over. The ability for individual agency to be exercised ever diminished. Human rights and societal values are again inadequate and out of whack for this reality. How might the conversation go? “It’s in the public interest to go cashless. We’ve seen you don’t need it, and not using it has helped keep everyone safe” (survival mode again). If/as we proceed down that route take it a step further. “Why do you need a card, they’re also filthy, as we’re contactless, why not each of you have a chip in you? Then you’ll always have money on you without the need to even think about it”. Because you don’t need to think. The less of that the better. “Why do you need multiple bank accounts just for you – surely one chip is simpler? What have you got to hide, you’re trustworthy aren’t you? As we live in an object oriented world, it makes sense”. You are an object. “The chip can also send live biometric information to the World Health Organisation – we can’t let something like CV-19 happen again! It’s for your safety.” Imagine that reality under social credit, affecting your access to basic services and community. Imagine that under a world government. (More on this later.)
What about if the money’s not even yours to start with? Next up Universal Basic Income (UBI); so you’re given some money to live on… UK ‘printing more money’ and paying 80% of people’s wages is a great warm up for that. But, gosh, CV-19 is going to be tough for the economy… so more focus on earning enough for the basics to get by – survival mode forever more. Then UBI is more of a bone for the dog rather than enabling us to progress to further heights as a society.Much easier to know and control who has what and manoeuvre them as desired. Remove people’s power to create for and support themselves.
Whilst at home and money being a question mark, everyone is indeed trying to figure out how to start a home based business over the next few weeks or make their business work online. Just what 5G dependent, hyper connectivity based companies and products are keen on. More ways to monitor you, more ways to manipulate you, more new products and devices for you to buy. See, you need a digital, hyper connected 5G world so you can stay at home and not get ill. More time spent online, more faces on cameras, more data scraped and conversations tracked. More awareness of who is critical tothe government and their ecosystems. Google, Facebook, Zoom, Huawei, all tracking us and maybe fed into a government in the not too distant future, because it’s in the ‘public interest’. We must be kept safe from viruses, which if we continue the way we are will only become more frequent. Online footprints being created for people of all ages. Online playdates for your children? I grew up in the 80s and I could have easily not seen friends over the holidays for weeks. We can cope, even do well, without it. Human touch, however, is one of our essential human needs and key for our immune systems (as it releases oxytocin) which in turn feeds into productivity.
It’s only a matter of time before people get extremely frustrated and want to walk their own line through this. But if you break the rules you’ll be labelled and punished. Face on a billboard perhaps to keep others aware of you and therefore ‘safe’, just like in China. Have you seen the drone footage the Derbyshire police took of a couple and dog walking somewhere rural with hardly anyone else around? Shamed online (interesting capture and use of data) as the outing deemed ‘not essential’.
We’re allowed out once a day for exercise (even writing that gives me shivers) – if you’re able to walk in the middle of nowhere in an attempt to practice social distancing, isn’t that responsible? But, apparently, we can’t trust people to be responsible because they’ve not been equipped to be – that’s the problem with low individual agency societies where you control instead of enable. Some areas in China there are facial recognition cameras watching when you leave and enter your house.
Civil unrest is a concern in China, Italy it’s brewing… and how will that be dealt with? Police and military brute force? Italy (in March) had already charged 40,000 people with breaking quarantine rules. In the UK, c 200,000 people have phoned the police to report people who are breaching the COVID-19 lockdown, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council. In various countries and states, people are being encouraged to ‘snitch’ on each other. When we start down that path I would question if, rather than looking at health, you’re looking at dissent.
So let’s look at some of the commercials behind this. It wouldn’t be right not to touch on the stock markets… a huge consolidation of wealth, followed by a crash to build it right back up again in the ‘new’ areas that everyone needs to focus on. Happens time and time again throughout history, rinse and repeat. Who will benefit this time around – maybe Pharma, supermarkets and Big Tech (the only ones who are really open for business at the moment) – all lovely ethical organisations who are keen on meeting human need, proactive wellbeing and free speech. Don’t worry about that though, just do what you’ve got to to keep your pension – to survive – right?
Big Tech is doing very well in all of this and not just gaining more data from you but also determining what you can say. Whilst uploading some content to YouTube, I got this message; “IMPORTANT: Due to COVID-19, we will conduct fewer human reviews to protect the health of our extended workforce. Unfortunately, as a result we may remove content that does not violate our Community Guidelines”… but the humans are checking this online, aren’t they? So what has their physical safety got to do with it? Well it’s better than saying that you’re censoring posts… except they are now actually saying that. YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, has confirmed they are censoring content – “removing information that is problematic”. What are meant to be neutral platforms (which we already know are not, eg Google the second biggest funder to Hillary Clinton’s campaign) are now blatantly censoring posts because it’s in the ‘public interest’. Twitter has apparently banned the phrase ‘social distancing isn’t effective’ because it has the potential to stop people from social distancing. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on ABC said with reference to protests that they are “‘harmful misinformation’ and we take that down”. And who is determining what is harmful misinformation?… Do we really accept this? Any post should have a platform and if popular, rise to the top… even if it’s anti-government, for example.
In this information age, there will be conflicting information and ‘fake news’. But if we want to live in a free society, determining what we believe should be up to the individual. Not dictated by government, Big Tech or ‘Health’ organisations. Enable, don’t control. To quote one of my favourites, Einstein, “Education is not the learning of the facts but training the mind to think”. If we say people can’t be trusted to make decisions, how do we and why should we trust those at the top to make decisions for us?
Pharma will of course profit and the race for a vaccine is on. The US has been working through some legal cases re compulsory vaccination over the last couple years which people have fought against. In Denmark there is emergency legislation passed which allows to forcibly test and treat those with CV-19, and includes the potential to forcibly vaccinate. This new law is in place to March 2021. Just like 5G, no choice or consent. Choice is a fundamental human right essential in a free society… consent is a cornerstone of medical ethics. Taken from the NHS website “The principle of consent is an important part of medical ethics and international human rights law.” I appreciate it might be emotive to mention The Nuremberg Code, but it is foundational to medical ethics. It states individual consent is essential, and not a result of intervention including coercion, overreaching, deceit etc. If you are propagating a fear narrative and scaring people into it, that would fall under that in my book. Don’t forget that the lockdowns are due to system overwhelm and lack of readiness to respond to a new illness, not because it’s not recoverable. Please revisit the numbers, many can have it and deal with it perfectly well without intervention. You can grow your immune system, you don’t have to vaccinate. But it is, or should be, your choice. Enable don’t control. But we’re not being enabled – no advice from the government on how to support your immune system. Stay at home, wash your hands and wait for a vaccine. That’s reckless and disempowering.
Connecting the dots between data and Pharma, take a look at Gates Notes where Bill Gates says when asked when things will go back to ‘normal’, he answers “when almost every person on the planet has been vaccinated against coronavirus.” He also talks about the eventual need for digital certificates to know who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t. Maybe not now, but if pandemics continue to arise, potentially a perfect social credit component to determine your ability to travel, work opportunities, social standing, health insurance… who knows?
In South Korea and China, they used everyone’s phones to see where they had been and when, which apparently slowed the spread, using a traffic light system to determine their mobility. You could be next in line – your phone and Google are tracking your movements 24/7. Apple and Google are collaborating on a phone app to track people to support the Government. In the UK a track and trace app is being tested in the Isle of Wight to then be rolled out nationally. Are we following a Chinese model of high surveillance? Where does the overreach stop?
Through the virus, we are starting to treat people like terrorists with the aid of tech and moral conditioning. Far from the human centric tech driven society we are supposed to be creating. If we’re so slow to let people out of lock down out of concern for everyone’s safety and wellbeing, why are we rolling out untested 5G and trying to push a first of its kind genetic vaccine (for a virus still being ‘characterised’) quicker than has ever been created before?
There is a potential cleaning inventory going on of old commodities. How that is determined should be driven by real public interest – by human need. Not economic need, or maintaining and growing power structures, which despite going under the guise of something ‘new’ like Big Tech or a world government, are out of date and far from human centric.
Maybe we come out the other side of this with full liberties restored, there’s no push for cashless, and a swathe of new 5G units won’t have popped up whilst we weren’t looking, but it’s the mental and behavioural conditioning that has taken place that really matters. Because we can change whatever we want to, if we want to. Until next time then… when the next crisis arrives, can we show up in a different way? Or will we be a few steps closer to China?
There are a thousand lessons to learn through this, but rather than us layer on further complexity as ‘solutions’, we must come back to the root cause and the root cause of most issues. Humans. When we know how we function as humans, have awareness of our needs and capabilities and can take responsibility for them, we function healthily, powerfully and adaptably. Public interest should be driven from human need, and all of the public should understand this enough to know what indeed is in their interest. To know what they need and is their right. This is about taking people out of survival mode and into fully capable mode. Enable don’t control; is what makes real economic sense. If we want adaptability, we must remove the fear. This is about enabling innovative and powerful people who are trusted to contribute to society – possible when the collective works towards human centric values.
But right now, a lot of things happening are about low choice, low power, high surveillance, moral conditioning and social credit. Welcome to China.
Despite my questions above, much good will and a refocusing of priorities has come out of this. How can you harness this in organisations, and channel it into empowered, adaptable and committed high performing individuals? There is much opportunity for business here to create the real future of work and industry. Please get in touch to explore.