[imagesource: Kevin Frayer / Getty Images]
It’s tough to know what is the daftest conspiracy theory going around, because there are so many to keep track of.
Right up there with the best of them is Bill Gates using a virus vaccine to inject a microchip into humans for tracking purposes, which is something that 50% of Fox News viewers, and 44% of all Republicans, believe.
The mind boggles.
What the sane among us do know is that China has been using a variety of tracking methods on its citizens for years, and now the eastern city of Hangzhou wants to take things a step further.
Imagine a smartphone app that has access to your medical records and assigns you a daily score based on your preconditions, recent checkups and lifestyle habits — how much you’ve drunk, smoked, exercised and slept on any given day can all affect your points total, boosting or lowering your ranking.
That “health score” will be embedded in a digital QR code accessible on your phone, ready to be scanned whenever needed.
Sounds like something out of a dystopian sci-fi movie, but that’s exactly what Hangzhou’s government envisions for its 10 million-plus citizens.
During the worst of the pandemic, the city made use of a “health code” app to identify high-risk residents, and ensure efficient contact tracing for anyone who tested positive, and now its keen to expand on that system.
There has already been pushback from concerned residents, but a meeting last week of the Hangzhou Municipal Health Commission suggests plans are going ahead:
An image demonstrating the design of the proposed system posted on the commission’s website shows the daily health score will range from 0 to 100, corresponding to a color in a gradient from red to green.
The score can be affected by your daily activities: 15,000 steps of daily exercise will increase your score by 5 points, 200 milliliters of baijiu — a sorghum-based Chinese liquor known for its high alcohol content — will lower your score by 1.5 points, five cigarettes will cost you 3 points, and 7.5 hours of sleep will add one point to your score, the demonstration shows.
Five cigarettes in a single day? Sheesh, living the high life. I’m sure there are many in South Africa that would give consent to have their everyday life monitored in exchange for five loosies.
Companies and residential committees may also be given a “group health score”, based on employee health, annual checkups, and the number of people with chronic illnesses within the group.
Whilst the government didn’t indicate whether participation would be compulsory, the city of Hangzhou has already implemented a system that uses data to reward ‘good’ behaviour, dubbed the ‘social credit system’, which assigned residents a score based on metrics like how quickly they settle their debts, and how often they complete volunteer work.
Yikes – it’s all very Black Mirror.
No need to panic about Gates and his injectable microchip just yet, good people, but I do feel a great deal of sympathy for residents of Hangzhou.
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