Big data and algorithms are changing the ways governments manage their social and economic programs, and these changes may take different forms in different social, political, and cultural environments. We engage with scholars from sociology, philosophy, law, and social sciences who do research on trust, credit systems, and public policy to examine the divergence and convergence of future governance systems in a digital age.
In stage one of this program, we focus on information gathering relating to the massive social experiment of “social credit systems”. Working with our partner Shandong University, we helped build a module on social credit and scoring into general province-wide surveys, which Shandong University conducts every year. The initial survey has been completed. The preparation of a survey report is under way. As a part of stage one, tapping into Shandong University’s extensive governmental resources, we also conducted the initial round of in-depth interviews with officials of two cities, which were the first batch of cities piloting the social credit systems. Stage two of the program will involve social scientists and policy makers to discuss and analyze the findings of the surveys and interviews. It is hoped that through such discussions and analyses, we develop deep understanding of multiple sources of governance and shed light on the evolving thinking and future directions of digital governance in China.