“We Thought We Were Searching Google, But Google Was Searching Us”

Author SHOSHANA ZUBOFF says: Surveillance capitalism departs in many ways from the history of market capitalism, but in a fundamental way it is continuous with that history. We know that capitalism has evolved by taking things that live outside of the market, bringing them into the market dynamic, transforming them into commodities that can be sold and purchased. So, famously, industrial capitalism claims nature for the market; it is reborn as real estate, as land that can be sold and purchased. It claims work for the market, reborn as labor that can be sold and purchased.

So, surveillance capitalism continues this tradition, but with that dark twist. In our time, surveillance capitalism claims private human experience for the market dynamic as a free source of raw material that is translated into behavioral data. These data are then combined with advanced computational abilities to create predictions—predictions of what we will do, predictions of our behavior, predictions of what we will do now, soon and later. And these predictions are then sold to business customers in a new kind of marketplace that trades exclusively in human futures.

You can see Part 1 of her talk here.

Part 2 will be available tomorrow.