I enjoyed becoming more “woke” about surveillance capitalism after listening to Professor Shoshana Zuboff’s talk. She warns that Silicon Valley is amassing your data so Artificial Intelligence can subvert your rights, freedoms, and even conscious thoughts.

In her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (January 2019), she declares the problem surveillance capitalism as “a parasitic economic logic in which the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new global architecture of behavioral modification.” Surveillance capitalism originates in the unilateral claim to human experience as the source of free raw material for its hidden commercial practices, including the extraction of behavioral data, the fabrication of those data into predictions of human behavior, and the sale of those prediction products in new behavioral futures markets. Zuboff forces you to confront the individual, organizational, and social consequences of this digitally-born market form. She boldly reveals a stark reality where human autonomy and established human rights are challenged, while big tech is in the process of enabling new social inequalities that would develop new forms of economic and social domination.

Since the legal and economic frameworks (antitrust and privacy laws) are necessary but insufficient, the higher-order framework is social: the division of learning in society. The shift towards information economics means that the division of labor is subordinate to the division of learning as the axial principle of social ordering. So it boils down to 3 questions:

  1. Who knows?

  2. Who decides?

  3. Who decides who decides?

Below is the Recode Decode episode where Zuboff talks about similar topics about her new book and her studies on surveillance capitalism.

Lightly edited full transcript of Swisher’s conversation with Zuboff is here.