'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

This seems important. I think the scale of the problem we face is much bigger than we appreciate, and that the measures needed to decentralise the Web and prevent surveillance capitalism from automating human beings is going to be harder than I thought. Against this, making choice possible surely can’t be enough - see what you think after reading this, and maybe get the book.

This from today’s Observer is a must read IMO:


@happybeing I am a big fan of Shoshona Zuboff. I’d recommend this article too: https://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/the-digital-debate/shoshan-zuboff-on-big-data-as-surveillance-capitalism-13152525.html The important point for Solid is, I think, that regaining control over our data is only part of the problem, we need to also gain control over our attention and behavior and the corporations that harvest them. As long as entities can track and aggregate what we pay attention to and what we click on, and where we go with our smart phones and what we do in our smart homes, our entire existences are simply data points for someone to sell.


Thanks Jeff, and that’s from 2014!

EDIT: I thought I knew a bit about surveillance capitalism, but I learned a lot from the article @jeffz linked in the post above this one, including the crucial role of raising awareness of surveillance capitalism - to create ‘A New Declaration’ - and create the future we want rather than leave it to Silicon Valley ‘disrupters’ etc who have their own agenda.

I urge folk here to read A New Declaration by Shoshana Zuboff even if you think you know this stuff.

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Happybeing, Jeffz

You are both correct in your analysis - the problem (as described by Shoshana) is BIGGER than solely our own data footprint - its also the additional “user exhaust” (as GOOG calls it) we shed each time we browse.
BUT, Solid pods are an ideal start to address the serious problems we are only just becoming alerted to - “Surveillance capitalism” …

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Good luck with that. We are an unruly bunch


Thanks, such a good article. And very worrying.

From towards the end of the piece:

“For example, the idea of “data ownership” is often championed as a solution. But what is the point of owning data that should not exist in the first place? All that does is further institutionalise and legitimate data capture. It’s like negotiating how many hours a day a seven-year-old should be allowed to work, rather than contesting the fundamental legitimacy of child labour. Data ownership also fails to reckon with the realities of behavioural surplus. Surveillance capitalists extract predictive value from the exclamation points in your post, not merely the content of what you write, or from how you walk and not merely where you walk. Users might get “ownership” of the data that they give to surveillance capitalists in the first place, but they will not get ownership of the surplus or the predictions gleaned from it – not without new legal concepts built on an understanding of these operations.”

So how would a pod help with this problem if apps, and thus corporations, would still be able to gather info on you or your cohort? (Is that correct even? Asking as a complete layperson who is still trying to figure out what this Solid thing is.)


I liked @jeffz comments better! I thought this though was a good line from the article.

“We can engineer the context around a particular behavior and force change that way… We are learning how to write the music, and then we let the music make them dance.”

This particular problem to me is just a highly-evolved form of advertising that has grown faster than the rules containing it; but Solid has the potential to restore the equilibrium, and the future is somewhere between the two.
I had to skip through that article just in case I felt I was being subconsciously manipulated into buying the book from the link :slight_smile: