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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called "surveillance capitalism," and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior. Shoshana Zuboff's interdisciplinary breadth and depth enable her to come to grips with the social, political, business, and technological meaning of the changes taking place in our time. We are at a critical juncture in the confrontation between the vast power of giant high-tech companies and government, the hidden economic logic of surveillance capitalism, and the propaganda of machine supremacy that threaten to shape and control human life. Will the brazen new methods of social engineering and behavior modification threaten individual autonomy and democratic rights and introduce extreme new forms of social inequality? Or will the promise of the digital age be one of individual empowerment and democratization? The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is neither a hand-wringing narrative of danger and decline nor a digital fairy tale. Rather, it offers a deeply reasoned and evocative examination of the contests over the next chapter of capitalism that will decide the meaning of information civilization in the twenty-first century. The stark issue at hand is whether we will be the masters of information and machines or its slaves.


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excerpt surveillance capitalism's unusual products manage to be derived from our behavior while remaining in different to our behavior. Its products are about predicting us without actually caring what we do or what is done to us. 70 on 10/13/2019, 9:49:55 PM

references In the Plex on 10/13/2019, 9:51:55 PM

cites Googled on 10/13/2019, 9:53:36 PM

cites Bloomberg on 10/13/2019, 9:55:51 PM

quote "the physics of clicks" on 10/13/2019, 10:01:47 PM

quote "Privacy involves the choice of the individual to disclose or to reveal what he believes, what he thinks, what he possesses..." on 10/13/2019, 10:05:10 PM

excerpt The corporation is simultaneously created a new kind of market place in which its proprietary "prediction products" manufactured from these raw materials could be bought and sold. 94 on 10/13/2019, 10:11:33 PM

cites Model Ensemble for Click Prediction in Bing Search Ads on 10/13/2019, 10:19:05 PM

quote All of a sudden, we realized we were in the auction business. on 10/13/2019, 10:21:39 PM

references The Great Transformation on 10/13/2019, 10:22:16 PM

references : SSRN on 10/13/2019, 10:25:48 PM

excerpt Everything in the world was to be known and rendered by Google, accessed through Google, and indexed by Google in its infinite appetite for behavioral surplus. 142 on 10/13/2019, 10:32:03 PM

quote "the method quantifies rich aspects of behavior typically considered 'soft' information, making it legible to formal institutions. on 10/13/2019, 10:48:08 PM

cites Lending Startups Look at Borrowers’ Phone Usage to Assess Creditworthiness on 10/13/2019, 10:48:42 PM

excerpt Unstructured data cannot merge and flow in the new circuits of liquified assets bought and sold. 210 on 10/13/2019, 11:12:38 PM

excerpt Like the bank agents, Google wants us to accept that its rules simply reflect the requirements of autonomous processes, something that people cannot control. However, our grasp of the inner logic of surveillance capitalism suggests otherwise. Men and women made it, and they can control it. They merely choose not to do so. 226 on 10/13/2019, 11:26:35 PM

references What Vizio was doing behind the TV screen on 10/13/2019, 11:43:14 PM

references Affective computing on 10/13/2019, 11:48:17 PM

quote Without bearings, stirred by a nameless anguish, the words labor... The voice is born of risk: either lose oneself or win the right to speak in the first person. on 10/13/2019, 11:53:02 PM

references Beyond freedom and dignity on 10/14/2019, 12:02:16 AM

note impassioned defense of existing prejudice, albeit with a level of scholarship that does manage to probe deeper than the usual surface level analysis. on 10/14/2019, 12:06:07 AM

note On page 335-336, there is an interesting anecdote about Thomas Ford offering to pay a couples' car debt because he felt a human connection. Algorithmic contractualism eliminates this possibility. on 10/14/2019, 12:11:21 AM

excerpt Human replenishment from the failures and the triumphs of choosing the future in the face of uncertainty gives way to the blankness of perpetual compliance. The word trust lingers, but its referent in human experience dissolves into reminiscence, an archaic footnote to a barely remembered dream of a dream that has long since faded for the sake of a new dictatorship of market reasons. 337 on 10/14/2019, 12:13:43 AM

quote The commodity fiction disregarded the fact that leaving the fate of soil and people to the market would be tantamount to annihilating them. on 10/14/2019, 12:17:15 AM

cites The Planning Machine on 10/14/2019, 12:17:27 AM

excerpt Machine processes replace human relationships so that certainty can replace trust. This new assembly relies upon a vast digital apparatus, world-historic concentrations of advanced computational knowledge, and immense wealth. ... This assembly is a market project: its purpose is to fabricate predictions, which become more valuable as they approach certainty. The best predictions feed on totalities of data... 351 on 10/14/2019, 12:22:30 AM

excerpt Instrumentarian power has no interest in our souls or any principles to instruct. There is no training or transformation for spiritual salvation, no ideology against which we can judge our actions. ... Totalitarianism was a political project that converged with economics to overwhelm society. Instrumentarianism is a market project that converges with the digital to achieve its own unique brand of social domination. 360 on 10/14/2019, 12:30:36 AM

quote There is no virtue in the accidental nature of an accident. on 10/14/2019, 12:32:38 AM

quote The line between private and public is not fixed. on 10/14/2019, 12:37:01 AM

excerpt ubiquitous digital apparatus on 10/14/2019, 12:38:44 AM

excerpt Radical indifference... is a form of observation without witness that yields the obverse of an intimate violent political religion and bears and utterly different signature of havoc: the remote and abstracted contempt of impenetrably complex systems and the interests that author them. ... What passes for social relations and economic exchange now occurs across the medium of this robotized veil of abstraction. ... These methods reduce individuals to the lowest common denominator of sameness - an organism among organisms - despite all the vital ways we are not the same. ... [The apparatus] does not care what we think, feel, or do as long as its millions, billions, and trillions of sensate, actuating, computational eyes and ears can observe, render, datafy, and instrumentalize the vast reservoirs of behavioral surplus... 377 on 10/14/2019, 12:45:14 AM

excerpt Instrumentarian power ... is morally agnostic. If there is a sin, it is the sin of autonomy: the audacity to reject the flows that herd us into predicability. Friction is the only evil. 381 on 10/14/2019, 12:48:14 AM

references Reality mining on 10/14/2019, 12:53:45 AM

cites The Data-Driven Society on 10/14/2019, 12:56:54 AM

cites Social Physics on 10/14/2019, 1:00:23 AM

references on 10/14/2019, 1:11:37 AM


I'm still somewhat confused by Zuboff's framing -- even though she gets a lot right. How are Google's 'prediction products' bought and sold? Google sells a service to advertisers. This whole framing seems so close to describe what's going on yet I think there is too much desire to make this fit into a narrative about capitalism, which is getting in the way of the analysis. references The Age of Surveillance Capitalism on 10/13/2019, 10:16:29 PM

I could not disagree with this more! Even if the underlying motivations and incentives behind some phenomena can be understood and laid bare, that certainly does not imply that the process can be stopped. references The Age of Surveillance Capitalism on 10/13/2019, 11:28:49 PM

Alex "Sandy" Pentland via The Age of Surveillance Capitalism on 10/14/2019, 12:58:31 AM