Thinking Out Loud

May 30, 2019

A World of Social Credits

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:57 am

Yesterday Uber Technologies announced changes to its ride-share system insofar as it is affected by ratings that passengers give its drivers, and the drivers give the passengers.

It prompted the announcer on the talk radio station that’s on when I drive home to be reminded of an episode of Black Mirror in which every single interaction is tied to a rating system, including such trivial things as paying for your fuel at the self-serve station or picking up milk at the convenience store. People are constantly identified and the rating is quickly punched in at the conclusion of each transaction. Things like being a blood donor are obviously weighted higher for consideration of a person’s social credit score.

Early on in the episode, a woman goes to rent a car only to be told something like, “We only rent to sevens or higher.” She must then try to find away around the system, and my wife, who has seen the episode, says at that point the story gets darker.

I have always liked — and often used — the Max Headroom phrase “20 minutes into the future.” From my perspective, many of the things science fiction dreams of happening in a very distant future are often, relatively speaking, just minutes away from being reality.

Anything transactional in a goods-and-services sense always reminds people of the words of Revelation 13:

It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

When BankAmericard and MasterCharge (today’s VISA and MasterCard) were first introduced in the U.S. some Evangelicals claimed this was the forerunner of the mark of the beast. (The same, but to a lesser degree, in the UK with the introduction of Barclaycard.) It was a similar reaction when UPC barcodes were introduced — somewhere I have a prototype print of the circular type of barcode that was never used — and then the same discussion once again when microchips for dogs and cats were first made available.

But each of these discussions focuses on the how of the technology, but not so much on the what.

What if your ability to conduct transactions isn’t determined so much by how much is in your account or the limit of your available credit, but instead by other factors, such as the social credits? What if, like the woman in the TV show, you can’t rent the vehicle for reasons other than financial? Uber stated that below a certain point customers may stop having access to the Uber app. People were calling in with opening lines such as, “Hi, my name is Dan and I’m a 4.87.”

The talk radio hosts spring-boarded to a discussion of Uber and Lyft drivers refusing to take people to certain destinations. What if your car breaks down and your conservative fundamentalist Uber driver refuses to take you to Joel Osteen’s church? Or what if the atheist driver refuses to pick you up at Saddleback to give you a ride home? (And why are they working on Sunday?) What if the fish on the back of your car caused you to be down-rated by people you weren’t even dealing with at arm’s length?

I would argue that the potential for market disruption — not to mention blatant discrimination — here is huge, and the insidiousness of it makes the issue of bakers refusing to bake wedding cakes for certain customers look tame by comparison. 


Update: There’s a reader comment below that bears highlighting. The link is to a New York Post story from May 18th which begins:

Imagine calling a friend. Only instead of hearing a ring tone you hear a police siren, and then a voice intoning, “Be careful in your dealings with this person.”

Would that put a damper on your relationship? It’s supposed to.

Welcome to life in China’s “Social Credit System,” where a low score can ruin your life in more ways than one…

 

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October 15, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Sunset - Mark BattersonThis is another photograph in a continuing series by people known to readers here; this sunset was taken Monday night by author and pastor Mark Batterson.

 

On Monday I raked leaves and collected links; you could call it my own little feast of ingathering.

Paul Wilkinson’s wisdom and Christian multi-level business opportunities — “just drop by our house tomorrow night, we have something wonderful we’d like to share with you” — can be gleaned the rest of the week at Thinking Out Loud, Christianity 201 and in the Twitterverse

From the archives:
The problem with out-of-office email notifications:


Lost in translation: The English is clear enough to lorry drivers – but the Welsh reads “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.” …Read the whole 2008 BBC News story here.

August 22, 2012

Wednesday Link List

  • He didn’t originate it, but the above graphic was found at Tony Jones’ blog who discusses the topic-we-haven’t-done-here involving a fast food restaurant we-haven’t-named-here.  Tony has another link here, too. 
  • Our top link today is to one of the blogs by Camille who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and writes on how to be a blessing to friends with chronic illnesses.
  • No link on this one, but there’s a guy who comments on several blogs I read under the name Eagle, who came down with a mystery illness a few weeks back. It was so good to see how the blog community came together to encourage him and pray for him and keep one another updated.
  • We took a week off from the link list last week only to have Clark Bunch encourage his readers to visit the link list that wasn’t here. So from our Returning-The-Favor Department, here’s a link to The Read and Share file at The Master’s Table.
  • My wife and I find so many church-based ‘friendships’ are really task-based and disappear when the project ends or people change churches. So I liked this quote: “People frequently think they have friends at work—or church or the tennis club or any location where like-minded people gather—when in fact what they have are ‘work neighbors.’” The rest of the article is more for women and those middle-aged, but I liked that ‘work neighbors’ concept.
  • Worship leaders not only articulate theology but in a real way they also shape theology. So they really need to know of what they sing. Zac Hicks explores this with advice for both musicians and pastors.
  • Jim Henderson talks about the thesis of his book The Resignation of Eve in the light of a new report from Barna Research about the role of women in ministry.
  • Bring your church bulletin to a restaurant on Sunday and get a discount. Seems like a fairly typical promotion, right? Well, a complaint has been filed with the Pennyslvania Human Rights Commission for just that special offer.
  • In other protest news, the man who symbolically burned a box of cereal on the front lawn of General Foods died a few days later.
  • The replacement for the “Touchdown Jesus” statue on Interstate 75 is just about ready to be put into place; and this time it’s fireproof.
  • Did I mention Phil Vischer’s podcast lately? Seriously, you need to listen to one of these; you’ll be hooked on the series. Here’s the one where his guest was his brother Rob Vischer though honestly, Episode 13 is much funnier. So you have a choice: serious or silly.
  • Cross Point’s Jenni Catron guests at Outreach Magazine suggesting that in church leadership, red tape was made to be cut.
  • How small is our God? Richard Beck counterpoints the ‘Your God is Too Small’ rhetoric with a piece about finding the small-ness of God.
  • There are definitely more than five things belonging to the realm of mystery in theology, but for C. Michael Patton, these are the major ones. (We might use this at C201 today, too!) 
  • Twenty years after his death, Christianity Today provides a lengthy tribute to the influence of Christian musician Mark Heard.
  • Meanwhile, at a venue quite familiar to Mark Heard, The Choir performs a final song on the final night of the Cornerstone Festival.
  • And here’s a 5-minute recap of the whole event
  • If you find yourself in remote parts of Africa, James Brett wants you to know how to build a rocket stove.
  • Oops!-I-Said-It-Again Department: Pat Robertson stands by guys who won’t date a woman with three adopted international children because in Pat’s view they might grow up weird or have brain damage. Russell D. Moore goes appropriately ballistic in response. “This is not just a statement we ought to disagree with. This is of the devil.” (I think his co-host would be wise to quit after this incident.)(Pat’s not Russell’s; Russel doesn’t have a co-host.)
  • The oft-cynical Naked Pastor, aka David Hayward pledges his new blog will be the up-side to his popular blog’s rants.  And the blog Pastor Jeff’s Ramblings announces that he is shutting down the blog, and then, a day later announces the start of Pastor Jeff’s Reviews.
  • Below, one of several new panels at Sacred Sandwich:

July 25, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Click the image above to learn more about the comic book version of the book In His Steps, where the whole WWJD thing originated.

June 12, 2010

When a Man’s Home is not His Castle

When you run a business from your home, does the house then become a public place or is it still, at the end of the day, your home?

That’s the question a Human Rights Tribunal was to have been dealing with this week — the case was postponed to June 18 — in the Canadian province of British Columbia, as reported in the Vancouver Sun:

A British Columbia couple is in the “center of a firestorm” after refusing to provide accommodation to a gay couple have shut down their bed and breakfast despite doing major renovations on their home to facilitate the business.

“We’ve been harassed so bad we’re not running (the B&B),” said Lee Molnar, who lives with his wife Susan in the B.C. community of Grand Forks.

Their lawyer Ronald Smith said they are “devastated” but also feel they can’t continue to operate Grand Forks Riverbend Bed and Breakfast for fear they will be asked again “to violate their religious beliefs” by renting to a gay couple.

Smith is representing the couple in a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case scheduled to begin Wednesday, but it was postponed.

“They’re just a retired couple in Grand Forks who thought they would open their home to guests and here they are in the centre of a firestorm,” Smith said. “They’re a lovely couple. They don’t want to be thought of as discriminating, but they’re Christians who don’t feel they can violate their religious beliefs.”

The human-rights hearing, scheduled for two days this week in Kelowna, B.C., was postponed Wednesday after the lawyer for the gay couple — Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas — became ill. A new date has yet to be scheduled.

The hearing will rule on whether Eadie and Thomas, who tried to book a room at the B&B on June 18, 2009, were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation when they were turned away.

According to the complaint, Eadie called the B&B, spoke with Susan Molnar and reserved a room for the following two nights. He was told it would be cash only at $80 per night, which Eadie agreed to pay.

She took their names, Shaun and Brian, and the conversation ended.

About five to 10 minutes later, Lee Molnar called back and asked whether the pair were gay.

When Eadie said yes, Molnar replied “Then this is not going to work out,” according to the complaint filed in July 2009 by the couple.

In an earlier application to have the complaint dismissed, Lee Molnar stated “to allow a gay couple to share a bed in my Christian home would violate my Christian beliefs and would cause me and my wife great distress.”

…Read more: Here

What do you think?   Does the presence of the business render the entire house public, or do homeowners still maintain their rights to accept or reject guests for whatever reason?   To put it another way, do you throw away all personal rights and prerogatives to the use of your own residence when a portion of it has commercial application?

To read what others are saying, check out the over 300 comments on this story at CBC News.

Related item: Story/editorial at Lifesite News.

Related item:  The Edge in Boston likens the story to a similar British case.

(Mildly) Related item:  MacDonalds in France releases a gay-targetted television commercial.

March 6, 2010

One “Religion” Gets Preferred Advertising Worth Millions Daily

Their followers maintain religious devotion to their every pronouncement.  Their right to millions of dollars of free newspaper space around the world is never questioned, in fact many of those papers pay them for inclusion in their print and online editions.

These same media outlets are very cautious about granting space of any kind to Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith groups because that would be “sectarian” and they don’t want to be seen as promoting this or that religion.  So why is an exception made for this one group?

They, of course are astrologers and their daily encyclical is usually called “Your horoscope.”  Their belief system is secularized predestination — Calvinists, take note — believing that our lives are guided by the stars, in various ways, depending on the star (or Zodiac) sign in place at our time of birth.

My usual tongue-in-cheek reply to this is, “I don’t believe in astrology, but then again, we Geminis are natural skeptical.”

Kidding aside, why does one faith group get preferential treatment?   And how can any media outlet turn down any request from any religious group when they already grant one unfettered access to their readers?

Comments:  This is a piece about press discrimination or media favoritism.  Comments as to the merits of astrology will be deleted.

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