Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Lee Kah Wee
Site: Shenzhen, China
My thesis focuses on mass surveillance issue in digital age and new kinds of social structure that emerged as a result of the new form of surveillance. I research primarily on the technology called sesame credit, one of the most pervasive and ambitious form of digital surveillance that is now commonly practiced in china. Sesame credit is an app attached to ALIPAY and is kind of surveillance that every activity you do in the APP is given a positive or negative score. The score will affect your social welfare and accessibility to urban facilities.
The project Sesame Community I propose is to think about a new type of gov institution to shape the citizens’ behaviors to improve their social credit score. People‘s behaviors are measured by digital devices and distilled down into a score.
Through gamification mechanism, people’re motivated to behave in certain ways to improve their scores. It’s sited right opposite to the City Hall in Shenzhen. The sesame community and the city hall function as a pair of gov institutes. The city hall manipulates the city from top-down approach while the sesame community manipulate every citizen from bottom-up approach.
From the Panopticon in 17 century to the Sesame Community, control of behaviors has been exercised through different ways of spatialization at their times. Through projecting to the dystopian miniature world under digital surveillance, the Speculative Sesame Community serves as a social critique of on-going trend of the normalization and abuse of the digital surveillance in today's China.
Tech brings convenience and improve connectivity among people.
Meanwhile, our daily life is encoded into data stream. We are under control.
Window into the Soul
Through data analysis, it understand our emotions and thoughts.
Privacy becomes a new currency or commodity that is capitalizable.
Erosion of Privacy by Digital Surveillance
Nowadays, all of us are using many digital devices, software and websites. They become an inseparable part of our daily life. We enjoy the convenience that many things can be done with several clicks on phone or computer. However, since data penetrates into every aspects of the society, it’s inevitably to expose our life to digital technology. Personal information, location, preference and biometric data are shared with all the devices and software when using the services. Through data collection, digital technology imposes continuous and permanent surveillance on people.
location, preference and biometric data are shared with all the devices and software when using the services. Through data collection, digital technology imposes continuous and permanent surveillance on people. So, technology appears to be invented for our benefits, but at the same time, it has been a powerful tool to control us.
Sesame Credit - Control through Freedom
I research primarily on the technology called sesame credit, one of the most pervasive and ambitious form of digital surveillance that is now commonly practiced in china. Sesame credit is an app attached to ALIPAY and is kind of surveillance that every activity you do in the APP is given a positive or negative score. The score will affect your social welfare and accessibility to urban facilities.
Social welfares are the motivation for people to pursue higher score and social restrictions are the force to push low-score people to correct their misbehaviors. It sounds similar to some games where people try hard to get higher score or better ranking. Likewise, the social credit system is the gamification of life in real world. People’s behaviors are modified through the gamification mechanism.
Map the Value of Activities into Architecture
The spatial hierarchy of Sesame Community is established based on the value of activities. It’s reflected in two dimensions: height and depth. Desirable programmes are on higher level, closer to the central axis. It’s easy to access and the vertical circulation is
dramatized to encourage people to go there. Undesirable activities are on lower level, further away from the axis. People have to walk all the way to the ends to find the access to these spaces. And the vertical circulation is hidden to make it more difficult to access.
Heat-time Score Screening
Gamification Mechanism in Real Life
In the game of digital surveillance and behavior modification, Sesame Community creates the setting for the game. There are several key facilities to intensify the game experience in real life. The facilities make people be hyper concious of the realtionship between behavior and score.
The real-time score screening pushes people to pursue higher score under peer pressure. Therefore, people are actively players in the game set up by the state.
Propaganda Scheme - Hyperconsciousness on behaviors
The Sesame Community is not only a new government institute to train citizens’ behaviours, but also a live propaganda scheme to change citizens’ mind. People are indoctrinated to believe that they should behave in certain way.
In the training process, on one hand, they are molded into an ideal shape. On the other hand, it invades into people’s mind and change their value on behaviors.