The New Legibility

The future of scoring (as in credit scoring) has been a recurring theme in meetings, discussions and
The New Legibility
By Changeist • Issue #15
The future of scoring (as in credit scoring) has been a recurring theme in meetings, discussions and not a few workshops we’ve been in this past year. The old school, simple credit score based a history of regular repayment of loans and other consumer credit products has come under pressure from two directions in recent years: the desire among financial institutions to offer debt as a product to tens of millions of new middle class consumers, and the emergence of dozens, if not hundreds of new behavioral data sources thanks to technologies such as the Web, smartphones and the IoT. 
Banks and even the big credit agencies in the West have been slow to recognize the shift to new scoring constructs, while Silicon Valley—and Chinese tech companies—have raced ahead to try and establish new ways to attach risk metrics to people. In doing so, as much “innovation” being thrown at creative redefinitions of risk as at legit assessments of financial creditworthiness. Social graphs, physical behavior, emotional response, favored driving routes, reading choices, vacation habits, gene maps, stress patterns in recorded call center interactions, and just about any other data stream that someone can attempt to correlate to someone’s definition of risk in some way are being fracked to find the killer metric.
Many people today perform for the system, attempting to make themselves legible to financial systems in particular. Getting a credit card when you’re young and paying the balance regularly to establish credit. Going to the same church as the bank manager. These are the old fashioned, but still relevant, ways of doing it. Watching which metro stations you travel to, carefully pruning your Facebook connections, being meticulous about what brands are visible in your Instagram pics, editing your searches. These are shifts toward the New Legibility that are already occurring at the edges, driven by FOLO, “Fear of Losing Out.” What will the next phase of the New Legibility entail? Optimizing your informal conversation? Bending your meeting schedule to only touch certain airports at certain times? Developing burner personalities? 
These are the types of speculative behaviors we’ve spent a lot of time exploring in the past year, in part because it’s already happening to us as individuals (I wrote “On Being a Data Puppet” last autumn to explore an aspect of this). Something tells me there’s much more of this ahead.

Activity Log
Three Short Futures: On Children, Data and the Internet of Things — Phase Change — Medium
Natalie takes up the baton in the first of an ongoing series of stories, Three Short Futures. In honor of Mother’s Day in the UK, she briefly explores data-shaped relationships between parent and child through three characters. We’ll be doing more of these, so keep watch.
Last week I wrote about Crap Future’s recent post, “Technological Dreams,” in which they explore the journey of a technology (particularly, the narrative journey). Nicolas Nova also provided some analysis, writing about how we might play with different loops branching off the main story. Natalie extended this thinking yet further, wondering how we might replay these tech dreams with different actors and plots, and think about what emerges. 
People Data Power | Stichting Gr1p
I’ll be a discussant in one of the afternoon roundtables at this event coming up on 21 March in Amsterdam. Join us. - Creative Intelligence
Following on from last summer’s Beta Beach, Futuro will look at “the future of the mind and body, the evolution of social content, digital entertainment, the age of artificially-designed and augmented experiences, and more.” We’ll be there, and I’ll be talking (most likely) about alternative AI futures. Get tickets early.
The New Legibility
I found this item, sadly, not the least bit surprising — that a group of researchers applied location and movement analysis to identify (well, corroborate a previous probably identification) of the artist Banksy. Several bits of this are unsettling, least of which is the rhetorical equivalence of graffiti with terrorism. 
Obligatory movie reference aside, the main difference between this story on Chinese behavioral profiling and that which we’ve seen in the US so far is the ease with which Chinese systems integrate at a national level, whereas the US (currently) sells its surveillance more at a municipal level. Both are in some state of integrating with private, corporate systems, however. ‘Minority Report’ reference herein. Go ahead and get that glass and a bottle of your favorite beverage.
And let’s suppose you post a photo online which you intentionally do not geotag, for any of a number of reasons. Google researchers are working on a way to undo that, and locate the image anyway. Let’s hope it’s opt-in. 
You are the robots - The Long and Short
Brett Scott looks at the shift from the age of personal banking to full-on algorithmic finance, where you are, in fact, just a number cloud.
Revealed: how facial recognition has invaded shops – and your privacy
The cozy marriage of crime prevention and marketing here is a good indicator of the flavor of future scoring. Warning: second ‘Minority Report’ reference inside. Drink.
Clearly, such systems are not fully baked yet, but this raises questions about how and when we will know they are. 
Escape Clause
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