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Shoshana Zuboff

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

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    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Using Karl Polanyi’s lens, we see that surveillance capitalism annexes human experience to the market dynamic so that it is reborn as behavior: the fourth “fictional commodity.” Polanyi’s first three fictional commodities—land, labor, and money—were subjected to law. Although these laws have been imperfect, the institutions of labor law, environmental law, and banking law are regulatory frameworks intended to defend society (and nature, life, and exchange) from the worst excesses of raw capitalism’s destructive power. Surveillance capitalism’s expropriation of human experience has faced no such impediments.
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Radical indifference is a response to economic imperatives, and only occasionally do we catch an unobstructed view of its strict application as a managerial discipline. One such occasion was a 2016 internal Facebook memo acquired by BuzzFeed in 2018. Written by one of the company’s long-standing and most influential executives, Andrew Bosworth, it provided a window into radical indifference as an applied discipline. “We talk about the good and the bad of our work often. I want to talk about the ugly,” Bosworth began. He went on to explain how equivalence wins out over equality in the worldview of “an organism among organisms” that is essential to the march toward totality and thus the growth of surveillance revenues:
    We connect people. That can be good if they make it positive. Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide. So we connect more people. That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people. The ugly truth is that… anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.… That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in.… The best products don’t win. The ones everyone uses win… make no mistake, growth tactics are how we got here.26
    As Bosworth makes clear, from the viewpoint of radical indifference the positives and negatives must be viewed as equivalent, despite their distinct moral meanings and human consequences. From this perspective the only rational objective is the pursuit of products that snare “everyone,” not “the best products.”
    Alexey Terekhovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    We are the sources of surveillance capitalism’s crucial surplus: the objects of a technologically advanced and increasingly inescapable raw-material-extraction operation. Surveillance capitalism’s actual customers are the enterprises that trade in its markets for future behavior
    Alexey Terekhovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Surveillance capitalism’s products and services are not the objects of a value exchange. They do not establish constructive producer-consumer reciprocities. Instead, they are the “hooks” that lure users into their extractive operations in which our personal experiences are scraped and packaged as the means to others’ ends
    Alexey Terekhovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Google invented and perfected surveillance capitalism in much the same way that a century ago General Motors invented and perfected managerial capitalism
    Alexey Terekhovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    In the conquest of nature, industrial capitalism’s victims were mute. Those who would try to conquer human nature will find their intended victims full of voice, ready to name danger and defeat it. This book is intended as a contribution to that collective effort.
    The Berlin Wall fell for many reasons, but above all it was because the people of East Berlin said, “No more!” We too can be the authors of many “great and beautiful” new facts that reclaim the digital future as humanity’s home. No more! Let this be our declaration.
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Arendt, like Orwell, asserts the possibility of new beginnings that do not cleave to already visible lines of power. She reminds us that every beginning, seen from the perspective of the framework that it interrupts, is a miracle. The capacity for performing such miracles is entirely human, she argues, because it is the source of all freedom: “What usually remains intact in the epochs of petrification and foreordained doom is the faculty of freedom itself, the sheer capacity to begin, which animates and inspires all human activities and is the hidden source… of all great and beautiful things.”79
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Orwell reviled Burnham for his absolute failure of “moral effort,” expressed in his profound loss of bearings. Under these conditions, “literally anything can become right or wrong if the dominant class of the moment so wills it.” Burnham’s loss of bearings allowed him “to think of Nazism as something rather admirable, something that could and probably would build up a workable and durable social order.”78
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Orwell’s disgust is palpable: “It will be seen that at each point Burnham is predicting a continuation of the thing that is happening. Now, the tendency to do this is not simply a bad habit, like inaccuracy or exaggeration, which one can correct by taking thought. It is a major mental disease, and its roots lie partly in cowardice and partly in the worship of power, which is not fully separable from cowardice.” Burnham’s “sensational” contradictions revealed his own enthrallment with power and a complete failure to ascertain the creative principle in human history. “In each case,” Orwell thundered, “he was obeying the same instinct: the instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment, to accept the existing trend as irreversible.”77
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    I reject inevitability, and it is my hope that as a result of our journey together, you will too. We are at the beginning of this story, not the end. If we engage the oldest questions now, there is still time to take the reins and redirect the action toward a human future that we can call home. I turn once more to Tom Paine, who called upon each generation to assert its will when illegitimate forces hijack the future and we find ourselves hurled toward a destiny that we did not choose: “The rights of men in society are neither devisable, nor transferable, nor annihilable, but are descendible only; and it is not in the power of any generation to intercept finally and cut off the descent. If the present generation or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free: wrongs cannot have a legal descent.”75
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    I tell them that the word “search” has meant a daring existential journey, not a finger tap to already existing answers; that “friend” is an embodied mystery that can be forged only face-to-face and heart-to-heart; and that “recognition” is the glimmer of homecoming we experience in our beloved’s face, not “facial recognition.” I say that it is not OK to have our best instincts for connection, empathy, and information exploited by a draconian quid pro quo that holds these goods hostage to the pervasive strip search of our lives. It is not OK for every move, emotion, utterance, and desire to be catalogued, manipulated, and then used to surreptitiously herd us through the future tense for the sake of someone else’s profit. “These things are brand-new,” I tell them. “They are unprecedented. You should not take them for granted because they are not OK.”
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    The critical role of public opinion explains why even the most destructive “ages” do not last forever. I echo here what Edison said a century ago: that capitalism is “all wrong, out of gear.” The instability of Edison’s day threatened every promise of industrial civilization. It had to give way, he insisted, to a new synthesis that reunited capitalism and its populations. Edison was prophetic. Capitalism has survived the longue durée less because of any specific capability and more because of its plasticity. It survives and thrives by periodically renewing its roots in the social, finding new ways to generate new wealth by meeting new needs. Its evolution has been marked by a convergence of basic principles—private property, the profit motive, and growth—but with new forms, norms, and practices in each era.72 This is precisely the lesson of Ford’s discovery and the logic behind successive episodes of revitalization over many centuries. “There is no single variety of capitalism or organization of production,” Piketty writes. “This will continue to be true in the future, no doubt more than ever: New forms of organization and ownership remain to be invented.”73 Harvard philosopher Roberto Unger enlarges on this point, arguing that market forms can take any number of distinct legal and institutional directions, “each with dramatic consequences for every aspect of social life” and “immense importance for the future of humanity.”74
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    The professor was an optimist and a tireless educator who believed that legislative and judicial action invariably reflect the public opinion of twenty to thirty years earlier.
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    It is precisely in recognition of this dilemma that Piketty refuses to concede defeat, arguing that even “abnormal” dynamics of accumulation have been—and can again be—mitigated by democratic institutions that produce durable and effective countermeasures: “If we are to regain control of capital, we must bet everything on democracy.…”
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Despite the democratic promise of its rhetoric and capabilities, it contributed to a new Gilded Age of extreme wealth inequality, as well as to once-unimaginable new forms of economic exclusivity and new sources of social inequality that separate the tuners from the tuned. Among the many insults to democracy and democratic institutions imposed by this coup des gens, I count the unauthorized expropriation of human experience; the hijack of the division of learning in society; the structural independence from people; the stealthy imposition of the hive collective; the rise of instrumentarian power and the radical indifference that sustains its extractive logic; the construction, ownership, and operation of the means of behavior modification that is Big Other; the abrogation of the elemental right to the future tense and the elemental right to sanctuary; the degradation of the self-determining individual as the fulcrum of democratic life; and the insistence on psychic numbing as the answer to its illegitimate quid pro quo. We can now see that surveillance capitalism takes an even more expansive turn toward domination than its neoliberal source code would predict, claiming its right to freedom and knowledge, while setting its sights on a collectivist vision that claims the totality of society. Though still sounding like Hayek, and even Smith, its antidemocratic collectivist ambitions reveal it as an insatiable child devouring its aging fathers.
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Should we grow weary of our own struggle for self-determination and surrender instead to the seductions of Big Other, we will inadvertently trade a future of homecoming for an arid prospect of muted, sanitized tyranny. A third modernity that solves our problems at the price of a human future is a cruel perversion of capitalism and of the digital capabilities it commands. It is also an unacceptable affront to democracy. I repeat Thomas Piketty’s warning: “A market economy… if left to itself… contains powerful forces of divergence, which are potentially threatening to democratic societies and to the values of social justice on which they are based.”68 This is precisely the whirlwind that we will reap at the hands of surveillance capitalism, an unprecedented form of raw capitalism that is surely contributing to the tempering of commitment to the democratic prospect as it successfully bends populations to its soft-spoken will. It gives so much, but it takes even more.
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    These developments alert us to a deeper truth: just as capitalism cannot be eaten raw, people cannot live without the felt possibility of homecoming. Hannah Arendt explored this territory more than sixty years ago in The Origins of Totalitarianism, where she traced the path from a thwarted individuality to a totalizing ideology. It was the individual’s experience of insignificance, expendability, political isolation, and loneliness that stoked the fires of totalitarian terror. Such ideologies, Arendt observed, appear as “a last support in a world where nobody is reliable and nothing can be relied upon.”66 Years later, in his moving 1966 essay “Education after Auschwitz,” social theorist Theodor Adorno attributed the success of German fascism to the ways in which the quest for effective life had become an overwhelming burden for too many people: “One must accept that fascism and the terror it caused are connected with the fact that the old established authorities… decayed and were toppled, while the people psychologically were not yet ready for self-determination. They proved to be unequal to the freedom that fell into their laps.”67
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Many have concluded from this turmoil that market democracy is no longer viable, despite the fact that the combination of markets and democracy has served humanity well, helping to lift much of humankind from millennia of ignorance, poverty, and pain. For some of these thinkers it is the markets that must go, and for others it is democracy that’s slated for obsolescence. Repulsed by the social degradation and climate chaos produced by nearly four decades of neoliberal policy and practice, an important and varied group of scholars and activists argues that the era of capitalism is at end. Some propose more-humane economic alternatives,63 some anticipate protracted decline,64 and others, repelled by social complexity, favor a blend of elite power and authoritarian politics in closer emulation of China’s authoritarian system.65
    Azizbek Mannopovmembuat kutipantahun lalu
    Instrumentarian power has gathered strength outside of mankind but also outside of democracy. There can be no law to protect us from the unprecedented, and democratic societies, like the innocent world of the Tainos, are vulnerable to unprecedented power. In this way, surveillance capitalism may be viewed as part of an alarming global drift toward what many political scientists now view as a softening of public attitudes toward the necessity and inviolability of democracy itself.
    Many scholars point to a global “democratic recession” or a “deconsolidation” of Western democracies that were long considered impervious to antidemocratic threats.59 The extent and precise nature of this threat are being debated, but observers describe the bitter saudade associated with rapid social change and fear of the future conveyed in the lament “My children will not see the life that I lived.”60 Such feelings of alienation and unease were expressed by many people around the world in a thirty-eight-nation survey published by Pew Research in late 2017. The findings suggest that the democratic ideal is no longer a sacred imperative, even for citizens of mature democratic societies. Although 78 percent of respondents say that representative democracy is “good,” 49 percent also say that “rule by experts” is good, 26 percent endorse “rule by a strong leader,” and 24 percent prefer “rule by the military.”61
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