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{Download Ebook} × The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power ⚽ Everyone needs to read this book as an act of digital self defense Naomi Klein, Author of No Logo, the Shock Doctrine, This Changes Everything and No is Not EnoughThe 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 usThe heady optimism of the Internet s early days is gone Technologies that were meant to liberate us have deepened inequality and stoked divisions Tech companies gather our information online and sell it to the highest bidder, whether government or retailer Profits now depend not only on predicting our behaviour but modifying it too How will this fusion of capitalism and the digital shape our values and define our futureShoshana Zuboff shows that we are at a crossroads We still have the power to decide what kind of world we want to live in, and what we decide now will shape the rest of the century Our choices allow technology to enrich the few and impoverish the many, or harness it and distribute its benefits The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a deeply reasoned examination of the threat of unprecedented power free from democratic oversight As it explores this new capitalism s impact on society, politics, business, and technology, it exposes the struggles that will decide both the next chapter of capitalism and the meaning of information civilization Most critically, it shows how we can protect ourselves and our communities and ensure we are the masters of the digital rather than its slaves O ur lives are scraped and sold to fund their freedom and our subjugation, their knowledge and our ignorance about what they know.This is the kind of outrage that could be expected from a Berkeley or NYU sociology department, but seeing this from a Professor Emeritus of the Harvard Business School raises attention Zuboff refers to overthrow , the end of democracy as we know it, the reshaping of all human nature She turns to a metaphor of the Taino before meeting Columbus, as they were whollyO ur lives are scraped and sold to fund their freedom and our subjugation, their knowledge and our ignorance about what they know.This is the kind of outrage that could be expected from a Berkeley or NYU sociology department, but seeing this from a Professor Emeritus of the Harvard Business School raises attention Zuboff refers to overthrow , the end of democracy as we know it, the reshaping of all human nature She turns to a metaphor of the Taino before meeting Columbus, as they were wholly ignorant of the atrocities of war he was about to unleash upon them Surveillance capitalism , a term the author coined, is not all imagined It is still a term that can refer to the bargain that users make when they use free websites such as this The users of a website are not the consumer, they are the product, as their use data and product history is sold to big marketers or advertising firms Zuboff calls this behavioral surplus On Goodreads, this is benign I can talk about books with friends for free, and I get recommended new ones No harm done The problem lies in what is referred to as the internet of things household objects or new device which trackof the user s location and behavior Exercise equipment, thermostats, refrigerators, phones, mattresses, and doorknobs are connected to the internet All of this is sent to behavioral futures markets , and the general public simply does not know their personal information is treated this way Legal regimes on monopolies or privacy law do not encompass the current situation and who reads the terms of service anyway Zuboff is best when she does the work of journalism and digs through patent files and internal documents The antagonists of her story are Facebook and Google, and their grand ambitions in business jargon for human society But where Zuboff loses me is her exaggeration of their hold on society, of how much change they can carry out, and of how powerless most people are I personally share her skepticism, but not her inevitabilism , to use her term Where adblocking tools are powerful and widely shared and where targetted lists of consumer data can still be sabotaged see what happened to the Tulsa rally , advertising is not as powerful as is thought What makes me the most doubtful at present is Facebook s own scandal where it inflated by a significant margin the count of how many of its users visited its ads, and big companies can and do pull their money and go elsewhere If digital advertising really is so easily ignored, then why would big businesses bother with such a wide net at all While there are social costs to intrusive advertising and Zuboff is right to doubt, I admit things are as bad as she says Those ships have not sailed I was talking to a friend at work about this book and we agreed it was both very good and very long, perhaps even too long Sometimes, when you are at a symphony concert, the first movement will end with da da da daaaaaa and some people in the audience will clap, something that annoys all of those who know you are only meant to clap right at the end of the piece Like I said, this book is very long and in three parts and at the end of the first part I was getting ready to clap and thou I was talking to a friend at work about this book and we agreed it was both very good and very long, perhaps even too long Sometimes, when you are at a symphony concert, the first movement will end with da da da daaaaaa and some people in the audience will clap, something that annoys all of those who know you are only meant to clap right at the end of the piece Like I said, this book is very long and in three parts and at the end of the first part I was getting ready to clap and thought, hang on, there seems to be an awful lot of this left This book is disturbing and not just a little disturbing, I ve been thinking of ways to do without Facebook and Google that level of disturbing.I think a large part of the problem people might have with this book is the same problem a lot of people have with advertising I think most people think advertising might work on other people, other people being, by definition, a bit thick but to suggest it might work on them is close to the biggest insult you can offer them Sure they drink Coke but not because they want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, but because, you know, it tastes good People are so convinced they operate as free agents and that they know this because they base their decisions on a rational appraisal of the evidence before them, that the notion they might be influenced by advertising has to be rejected outright because it would undermine their self opinion and their notions of self worth All of which is particularly good news for the advertisers.The author starts this book with a story about her house catching fire and while she was waiting for someone to come put it out, she rushed about saving things The problem was that once the fire brigade arrived she was the thing they felt they most needed to save She had never been in a house fire before and so this unprecedented situation seemed much safer to her than it actually was This is the situation she says we are in with surveillance capitalism We have never had this level of surveillance before, we believe we are getting stuff for nothing google, facebook and so on but actually our lives are being used as the raw behavioural material that is being used to manipulate us in ways we can barely understand And it will only get worse And this influence isn t happening in ways we might think it is That is, this isn t about you writing to your mum that you have been thinking about buying a drone and then you getting lots of ads on your feed for places to buy drones Yeah, I m sure that shit happens, but it is nothing at all compared to what is really happening There is a lovely bit in this where she discusses poker machines and how they have been designed by psychologists to provide the perfect environment of reward so that it stops being about winning and losing, but about getting you to continue to play The longer you play, theyou lose But the environment has been constructed so as to ensure that even looking away for a second feels like a kind of loss And this is about as good a description of facebook or as someone I know calls it face crack as I can think of Except with facebook the rewards are to do with your own self esteem, so looking away is even harder And this isn t even the worst of it I ve read quite a few books on behavioural economics essentially it says that you can provide nudges to people and they will behave in ways that you want them to This is generally presented as something good like in Nudge itself, where people savefor their retirement if you construct a form in one way rather than in another Or the example changing the form for organ donation from opt in to opt out and the rates of donation increase accordingly You know, who is going to argue with that Saving for your retirement is a good thing, donating your organs is a good thing Except, the people who run facebook and google actually don t make their money from you donating your organs they make it from selling your behavioural data to people who want you to buy shit you don t need or who want to work out what frightens the shit out of you so they can get you to vote for Trump or for Brexit And they did And it works Even if you didn t vote for either of these, it still works Democracy doesn t work by shifting those at the ends of the distribution it works by shifting those in the middle But we are all left with the consequences 48% of the people of Britain are living with the consequences of what looks from the outside like holy JesusWhat the gathering and analysis of the dross of our lives aka data allows is the most disturbing and powerful means imaginable for influencing us and the worst of it is that we will not even know we are being influenced In fact, this I know you better than you know yourself is often presented as a feature of the new system you ll walk into a bar and the bartender will already know your favourite drink and might even have it ready for you Yeah, thanks for thatA lot of this book discusses notions of operant conditioning and therefore it is a reprise of something like Plato s republic except his republic was to be run by the disinterested philosopher kings, people uninterested in money and worldly goods, who were judged by whom to be the best and brightest and to be those worthy of organising society for the rest of us even of telling us lies to make our little lives feelcomfortable The republic we are entering with our eyes tightly closed is one where the philosopher kings have been replaced by the selfish and the greedy and we have given them the means to influence us in worlds they create and construct so that those worlds meet their own desires for us I ve always seen Plato s republic as a dystopia but what we are living in has no comparison It is terrifying beyond words I wish this book wasn t nearly so long I would recommend it wholeheartedly then You still do need to read it, though Sorry An important, albeit flawed, book Viewing the rise of Google and Facebook through the lens of sociology, this makes for some heavy reading as one swims among the book s unique vocabulary the will to will, division of learning in society, double movement, shadow text, extraction imperative, prediction imperative Eventually the phrases begin to make their own sort of strange sense, but it definitely feels foreign Perhaps I haven t read much sociology, so this failing may be my own An important, albeit flawed, book Viewing the rise of Google and Facebook through the lens of sociology, this makes for some heavy reading as one swims among the book s unique vocabulary the will to will, division of learning in society, double movement, shadow text, extraction imperative, prediction imperative Eventually the phrases begin to make their own sort of strange sense, but it definitely feels foreign Perhaps I haven t read much sociology, so this failing may be my own I do wish the book were written in simpler, less highfalutin prose.Surprisingly, there are no data at all in this book None I went in expecting analyses of the economic gains from Google and Facebook contrasted to some approximation of the social costs imposed by them Or of small businesses enabled by these platforms Or any economic analysis at all There s none This isn t that sort of book Google and Facebook s dispossession of people s lives are presented as obvious Showing a targeted ad based on a search or a user profile is apparently, to the author, something tantamount to stealing their very soul.The book s arguments are weakened by its purple prose Rivers of blood are not, in fact, flowing because of surveillance capitalism We digital natives are not, in actuality, being mercilessly slaughtered by Conquistadors Page, Zuckerberg, and Nadella the author explicitly makes this analogy over several pages I understand the author s desire to provoke astonishment and indignation but I found these hyperbolic passages less than persuasive.Despite the book s heft, there s much it doesn t cover There s no discussion of pre internet data brokers credit card companies and credit bureaus, anyone There s no consideration of the privacy controls that Google and Facebook offer much of the extraction imperative can be entirely turned off in each s privacy settings , nor that many valuable services are provided for free that do directly improve folks lives Nor any examination of other, far darker players in ad tech and social media There s no discussion of k anonymity, sparingly little of encryption, one fleeting mention of blockchain expressing disapproval that smart contracts subvert the fundamental human values imbued in the ancient practice of contracts The treatment of ML is decidedly non technical andakin to seeing ML as magic fairy dust than wrangling with its very real shortcomings surprisingly, ML fairness doesn t get a mention.The author ends by envisioning a nightmare scenario of B.F Skinner s wildest dreams where, like players in Pokemon Go, our entire lives become subject to the careful nudges and variable rewards promulgated by the high priesthood of data scientists carefully tuning the all knowing, all seeing machine learning system Prediction becomes control and the machines take over the human hive Ooo kay.All that said, this book is still worth the read, if you can stomach the hyperbole and dense prose and can exercise empathy toward the author s very real fears of seeing democracy and free society swallowed up by powerful corporations that tap into and manipulate human hopes and fears There is love poured into these pages, love of humanity in its culture and its unpredictable freedom, and that in itself makes the book worth the investment At the same time though, there s little love for Google or Facebook or technology in general and quite a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.Disclosure I am an employee of a big tech company, but the review above is solely my own opinion and not that of my employer I ve also tried to review the book without bias and through neutral eyes Paints a frightening portrait of the rise of mass surveillance since the start of the Information Age In ornate, often opaque, prose Zuboff charts the development of a new form of global capitalism that aims to surveil all facets of human existence and, using vast stores of privately held, ruthlessly gathered data, predict and modify user behavior to align with desired commercial outcomes.