What makes the second form of ratings both more potent and more banal, is the ease with which they can be created and used. Even more easy is the flexibility built into markets driven democratic systems for private parties to seek to strengthen their data driven ratings systems by algorithms that produce punishments and rewards depending on where on the ratings scale the object of ratings falls. I have spoken about the ease with which these ratings systems can be constructed, and can be converted into a proper social credit regime (see "Social Credit and Foreign Enterprises Along the Silk Road": Remarks prepared for a Lecture Delivered at the Institute for East Asian Studies Cologne, Germany October 2019).
All of this comes clearly into focus in the recent efforts by Harry, the current Duke of Sussex, to change the way that people think about traveling. To that end, the Duke has shown how virtually anyone, with access to economic and financial power, can dive into the ratings management arena and leverage the power of data driven rankings to change the behaviors of targeted individuals or institutions. That effort, of course, was not undertaken b y the Duke himself. He no doubt is far too busy to actually gather data, construct analytics, develop the ideologically based principles, and produce the ranking necessary to undertake this project. Rather, he serves as a nexus point around which those institution that might find such an enterprise useful (in every sense of the word) top do the work over which he presides. But that is the point! As long as one can aggregate the necessary factors for the production of rankings, anything is possible.
The rest is politics and one's placement on the hierarchies within the aristocracies of Western liberal democracy. And yet that also holds a second essential point of automated governance. It is this: while anyone (me included) can develop a data driven system of ratings with governance effect, the extent of that effect can also be measured. And the measure of that effect is in part a function of the power and authority of those doing the ratings. It is not enough, then, to be able to build a ratings scheme. It is also necessary to amass enough power (whether measured by influence, authority, control, or other measures) to induce stakeholders to pay attention and to believe that the ratings will have consequences for their own welfare (in the case of companies an effect on their ability to generate revenue; in the case of consumers their belief that ratings affect their place within the societal order they inhabit).
In the case of the Duke of Sussex's efforts, that involved "partnering" with key actors to create Travelyst, an effort to produce ratings related to the carbon footprint of travel. Note here the nexus of connection between the idea--sustainability--and the leading group which together effectively creates a regulatory joint venture that is vertically integrated for the production and utilization of data; which have the economic capacity to develop and operate analytics based systems, and which have the technical know how to design and broadcast the ratings. They each, and together, also have the capacity to produce the sorts of rewards and punishments necessary to convert a ratings into a social credit system (e.g., by adjusting the price of their services for individuals and organizations who conform to behavior standards as evidenced by increases in the positive value of their ratings). This sets the stage for an effective (within the ambit of its "jurisdiction") automated regulatory system. "We want to be the driving force that paves a new way to travel, helping everyone explore our world in a way that protects both people and places, and secures a positive future for destinations and local communities for generations to come." (Travelyst website)) But it also suggests the peril of behavior modification through ratings systems as politics where the proponent, himself, my be subject to criticism for failure to modify his own behavior.
The images above are all from the Travelyst website (with the exception of the picture from Oxfam's "Behind the Brands Scorecard."
How many points do you have, Harry? Private jet-loving Duke will launch eco-friendly holiday scheme with 'scoring system' to track carbon emissions... after he flies to UK next week
-Harry wants Travalyst to 'bring more transparency around carbon emissions'
-It comes after Harry and his wife Meghan were criticised for using private jets
-Duke is expected to visit Edinburgh later this month to help launch the scheme
-Harry will host a summit with 100 people from the tourism and travel industry
By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Published: 10:34 EST, 21 February 2020 | Updated: 11:22 EST, 21 February 2020
The Duke, who will return to the UK from Canada next week for the event, will share details of a prototype scheme to “bring more transparency around carbon emissions for individual flights” and make holidays as environmentally-friendly as possible.
The Travalyst project, which he unveiled in the summer, will be the first of several engagements in his 12-day visit to the UK, which will include a recording session with musician Jon Bon Jovi.
In a social media post yesterday, in which the Sussexes’ team mocked up a text conversation with Bon Jovi, Prince Harry hinted he would be joining in the singing on a single to benefit the Invictus Games Choir on February 28th....