My book-review of ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ is published in Delphi. Zuboff makes clear how we fail to understand the exploitative business model that underpins our digital world and the immense techno-social challenges we are facing today. She makes a convincing case as not the technologies themselves, but the business model, behaviorist worldview and ideological principles that underlie our data-driven technologies are her central objects of analysis.
(1) Big Tech aims to create a computer mediated hive where our mutual visibility becomes the habitat in which we attune to one another, producing social patterns based on imitation that can easily be manipulated for guaranteed outcomes. Think for example of social media.
(2) The surest way to predict behavior is to intervene at its source and shape it. In modifying our behavior for profit without our awareness, surveillance capitalism shifts the locus of control over the future tense from ‘I will’ to ‘You will’, supplanting autonomous with heteronomous action, resulting in more automated behavior.
(3) Giving users ownership of their data will not give them power over the predictions derived from it. There is no point in owning data that should not exist in the first place.