01 Feb I participated in a Social Credit System experiment: My Year in the Simulation Part 1
The way the world is set up, it wouldn’t function without people like me; people stuck in the cycle of poverty. With every high interest loan the banks provide, with every lottery company promising a chance at a win, with every check-cashing service, the monster continues to be fed. That’s the way life has always been for me and the good folks I grew up around.
I’ve worked a various assortment of odd jobs to help with my low income. I’ve done everything from chopping wood for families to driving elderly folks to the doctor to helping others rehearse for job interviews. So when I went to the Internet cafe to check my email, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to receive another odd job offer.
We would like to offer you an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. I am the director of a company named Osiris. We are currently working to assemble a group of people from all over the world for the experiment of the century! The experiment will last for exactly one year and is of great benefit to the participants.
How would you like to live in a tropical paradise island, with a fully furnished new home and a regular salary? And to top it off: you would get paid a hefty amount just for your participation!
If you are interested, please contact us immediately so that we may get you started on the interview process.
From everyone at Osiris, we hope to hear from you soon.
Dr. Pleitez, PhD. Director, COO XXX XXX XXXX
I didn’t have to think twice about it. I immediately called to find out how much exactly was a “hefty” amount of money. As it turned out, the amount was more than I could have ever imagined: $250 thousand big ones. This really was the chance of a lifetime for me. It was a chance for a different, better life. In retrospect, I should have known that there was something amiss. But poverty only offers advice in retrospect.
I was ecstatic when, after three full days of interviews, I was contacted by the Osiris team to let me know I had been chosen as one of the participants. As I prepared myself for the adventure of a lifetime, I had no idea what awaited me in that tropical island.
Before I get into my experience in the simulation, let me ask you a few questions:
How would you like to live in a world where you got what you deserved? Imagine a place, a society, where everything you say and do is not just evaluated but also rated by your government. In this world, everything you purchase, every movie you watch, every song you listen to, every friend you choose, every food you eat, every good deed, every bad deed, everything is subject to the rating system. If your actions are deemed to be good, then you get access to the best of everything. It doesn’t matter if you were born rich or poor, what maters is how you react to the world around you.
This is the simulation.
Before I knew it, I was sitting on a chair, under palm trees, in front of a stage that had a beautiful, pristine beach as a backdrop. Is this real life, I wondered. As I enjoyed the light breeze of the ocean, the colors of the sunset and a piña colada in my hand, a woman in a white coat took the stage.
“Positive reinforcement,” she paused, “Positive reinforcement and operant conditioning, that is why we are here. For a long time, humans believed that the only way to get things done was by scolding, screaming, fighting, war. But after thousands of years of evolution, we have found that, in fact, the opposite is true. Rewarding has proven to be far more successful in societies than punishment. Today, you join us, to prove that this can be done with society as a whole. Let me introduce to you my coworker, my friend and my apprentice, Dr. Pleitez. He will explain to you a little more about the world we have created here at the simulation.”
A round of applause welcomed a rather attractive man in his mid-forties, with thick black rimmed glasses, also sporting a white coat.
“Hi everyone, thank you for being here with us today. Without you, there would be no simulation. So on behalf of everyone at Osiris, I thank you. First and foremost, I would like to explain to you in layman’s terms what the simulation encompasses. The governments of eight countries have funded this experimental simulation. They want to know how beneficial it would be to implement a similar system into their societies in the imminent future. Over the next year, you will participate in a simulation of a social credit system. Every action you take will be monitored by Osiris, our highly advanced computer system, and then rated. Based on the rate of each action, your Citizen Credit Score will either go up or down, or in some cases, stay the same. In the simulation, good behavior is rewarded, something that rarely makes a difference in the real world. As an incentive, your good behavior will unlock more opportunities, more amenities, more access to the best we have to offer here on the island. We want to reward you for being a good standing member of society. The wrist devices we have given you will help us to better monitor your habits as well as allow you to keep count of your Citizen Credit Score.”
“I would also like to introduce you to a group of women and men who will be helping out Osiris to keep order in our simulation. They are the official Osiris Security Guard, or OSG.”
A group of guards dressed in black entered the stage in formation. We clapped, not ever knowing what these men were really there for.
“They are here to not only enforce the laws of the simulation, but also to protect all the resident participants of Osiris. Think of them as your very own police force. A friendly police force. They are also here to enforce one of our most important rules: while you are a participant in the simulation, you cannot speak about your real life outside of the simulation. If you break those rules, you will be ejected from the simulation without pay.”
“Now, with all this said, you may now turn on your wrist device and I would like to officially welcome you into… the Osiris Simulation. Be good, be kind and all will be aligned.”
And with those words, we all began our year in the simulation.
You know those Saturday mornings in spring when you wake up and you can finally feel the warmth of the sun through your window? The first hints of summer are finally here; the weekend is just getting started; your bills are all paid; you’ve got a little extra cash that you can spend on a good meal and a movie; life is good. That’s what every morning felt like that first month in the simulation. Everything was just perfect.
They were right about many things. Good behavior was a great incentive. In the real world, I would have never managed to receive so many promotions in such a short span of time. By the end of the second month, I had gone from working as the manager at the local coffee shop to an assistant at the Osiris central office. I managed to do all of this solely based on my good behavior. I was very impressed with how the system functioned.
I have to say, however, I did find some oddities in the simulation. For example, days seemed longer. There were no clocks allowed anywhere. Instead, we kept track of the day using our wrist devices. There was a wake up alarm. There was an alarm for breakfast. One for work. One for lunch. And, well, you get the drift. So throughout my time there, I never really knew what time it was. That being said, days felt very long. Not in a bad way. To be honest, the first couple of weeks, I wanted time to go slow because I was enjoying everything. Life had never been this good to me. Poverty was long gone and I dreaded the idea of going back to it.
Another thing I found different was the food. Everything tasted so much better than anything I had ever had before. After weeks of wonderful surprises in my taste buds, my conclusion was that poverty had not allowed me to taste the better things in life.
Aside from those two small details that only slightly bothered me, life was swell. But, as I’m sure you already know by now, perfect doesn’t last forever.
One day, while working at the office, a young man came in looking a bit disheveled. This was not a common occurrence in a place where everything was as pristine as the water that surrounded it.
“Hi, welcome to the Osiris central office, how may I be of service to you today?” I asked the man.
“I’m here because I feel that the local coffee shop is not providing fresh coffee,” he said, handing me some papers, “Here’s my official complaint. I was told I had to give an official complaint.”
“Oh, okay. Well these complaints are normally filed through the clerk’s office next door,” I said, handing him back his papers.
He pushed them away and said, “Can you please just take one second to look at my complaint?”
I examined his face. He looked worried, an emotion that rarely existed in the simulation. I agreed that a quick look at the papers wouldn’t hurt.
It was a complaint about the coffee tasting bitter. Nothing out of the ordinary. As I flipped through the complaint, a folded piece of paper fell on my desk. I grabbed it and was just about to hand it back to the young man when a group of OSG burst through my office.
“Hands up! Participant number 562, hands up!” One of them screamed.
The young man looked at the piece of folded paper in my hand, looked at me, nodded his head once and then made a run for it into another part of our building. One of the OSG man approached me and asked me to hand him the stack of papers that the young man had given me. After I handed over the complaint, the OSG officer evacuated the building.
As we stood outside, waiting for the OSG to come out with the young man apprehended, we were suddenly met with a horrifying surprise. We watched as the young man jumped from a fifth floor window, landing in a splatter of human chunks and juices in front of us. I had never seen a human skull crack before. It was the most petrifying sound. I can still hear the thing cracking like a coconut on a pavement. As I stood there, in shock and terror, I remembered what was tucked inside my fist; the folded piece of paper the young man had given me. Out of instinct, I immediately opened it.
I felt my heart in my throat as I read the note. In handwritten letters, it said the following:
T h i s i s NOT a s i m u l at i o n .
You have been here for 4 years.