Every once in a while you'll see a news story about the currently-in-trial Chinese Social Credit Score. It promises to use data from social networks, traffic cams, credit agencies, and (presumably) many others to produce a score that gates various elements of Chinese society. Lose too many points to traffic violations? Now you can't buy plane tickets.

This is a strange new thing, so there will be lots of different opinions about it. But the most common, at least in the news coverage, is that this is creepy, and the aggregation of this data doesn't really have a legitimate use.

Yeah, it's a little creepy, sure. No more creepy than facebook, though, not really. Who cares if you know when I ran a red light, if you know the private things I said to people close to me? And there are risks associated with putting all that data in the same place. And political statements being taken into account makes the number less useful for private interactions (I don't care about someone's politics, I care about whether they'll rip me off).

That last point is maybe the most important to me. I carry enough shame and dread about my relatively innocuous past that I don't think people are entitled to hide their past transgressions. The idea of someone keeping track of a summary of your moral character and presenting that summary as a number seems extremely fair to me – it doesn't peddle gossip, it doesn't promise you are precisely who you were, it just calculates. I care that there's only one Social Credit Score, though.

If I ran an airline, I might only accept people above a 118 on Virtue's Reward, which focuses largely on non-monetary social responsibility, which makes sense when you're trapped inside a tube with someone. But you want to sign a multi-year business deal? I'm looking for a 4000 or higher scoring on TradeAcumen, they have amazing credit scoring based on the structure of the deal you're proposing, very solid. Want a babysitter? You'd be a fool to pay anyone without a B+ on Community Wisdom. And if I thought a service was giving bad advice, paying attention to things I don't care about at all, I would use another.

Of course, right now we just have credit scoring, which is regulated in weird ways that don't really e.g. protect privacy. The only things the regulations do is something that I think the market could do better – for instance, why on Earth would I use modern credit scores, when they are so lazy about people providing proof to correct the record? Yet, because of the regulations, I suspect, I've not heard of other competitors.