Woesler - Society 5.0 in China

Martin Woesler 
Am Sande 5
21335 Lüneburg

Since 2015, Martin Woesler is Professor of Chinese Literature and Communication, Witten/Herdecke University. Before, he was professor with University Rome Three, Utah Valley University, the University of Applied Languages Munich, and he was visiting scholar/professor with Harvard University, Tongji University Shanghai, Peking Normal University, Nanking Normal University. Research interests: Contemporary China, Chinese Society, Transformations, Digitalization, Modern and Contemporary Chinese literature and politics, Political Literature. International conferences organized: World Conference of Chinese Studies, China’s Way, China and Europe, China’s Global Impact etc. Recent publications are: “Han Han Roughs Up the Literary Scene”, in: A New Literary History of Modern China, Harvard University Press 2017; “Online- und Blogliteratur in China“, in: Dianmo 4 (2011.7) 12:7-14

Forschungsprojekt - Society 5.0 by China's "Digital System for Society-Management" and its Computer Simulation Aspects

The Chinese government currently is setting up a software system to rule the nation (Digital System for Society-Management DSSM, officially called “social management”).

This project compares DSSM structurally with the old socialist system of a planned economy, which failed in real existing socialism, thus aiming at the difference between planning and simulating. It sketches the computer simulative aspects of the program and makes available Chinese sources not yet available to non-Chinese speakers. The simulation is taken as a narrative strategy and by this the project contributes to the duality of simulation and fiction. The investigation includes current Chinese Science Fiction writing, e. g. by Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang.

The project identifies factors of the failure (e.g. mentality of fulfillment, sugarcoated figures). It discusses (speculatively) the chance for a success of DSSM and possible consequences, both domestically and internationally. The main resource for the coming information economy is data. The project compares the societal system with Western systems and asks, how far Western data companies will buy data from China and therefore support the Chinese system. It also asks, how far Western societies may orient themselves towards the Chinese model.

Preliminary research shows that DSSM consists out of:

  1. 1. surveillance system and central data collection including movement profile, identity recognition, payments, communication (preferences, wishes, dreams, values and ideally thoughts – brain scanner experiments have started),
  2. 2. algorithmic and big data analysis,
  3. 3. an information system to inform (and manipulate) the citizens,
  4. 4. a motivating system (unconscious advertisement, sesame credit points for regime loyalty) and
  5. 5. a sanctionizing system including automatic censorship, detention, forced confessions/gag orders and death penalty (estimates of up to 10.000 executions per year) etc.

DSSM contains several simulations, especially to predict developments in the imminent future. It is a conscious advancement of the concept “Industry 4.0” (or, in the communication area Digitalization 4.0 (its economic part called “Made in China 2025”), following the media epochs of Oral Communication (1.0), Written (2.0), Book Print (3.0); cf. Luhmann, Baecker). It has the following characteristics:

  1. 1. artificially intelligent,
  2. 2. (ideally) completely automatic, decisions are made by algorithms based mostly on correlations, less on causes,
  3. 3. optimizes itself through learning,
  4. 4. communicates with users indirectly (system works best if unknown to the user, e.g. illness-probabilities are only discovered through correlation, not communicated), and
  5. 5. non-explicit, man-machine, machine-machine communication.

The legal framework in China and the centralization under party control fit massive data collection. DSSM is supported by education (incl. ideological warfare/propaganda) and guidance of citizens from preschool to death, including 10 percent of school classes, university courses and work time (at Party schools even for non-party-members starting from the rank of dean) being devoted to ideological indoctrination. Citizens are digitally externally controlled by means of pedagogy, psychological pressure and group dynamics (patriotism, competition to collecting points).