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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 This will be a long review, so let me summarise it with tweet like succinctness The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is Black Mirror for people who hate fun I definitely mean that as a compliment It synthesises and analyses a wide range of ideas I ve come across in leisure and work reading during the past few years, mostly in articles online As fragments, those ideas filled me with concern and confusion Combined into the clear and systematic structure of a book, they fill me with dread, but This will be a long review, so let me summarise it with tweet like succinctness The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is Black Mirror for people who hate fun I definitely mean that as a compliment It synthesises and analyses a wide range of ideas I ve come across in leisure and work reading during the past few years, mostly in articles online As fragments, those ideas filled me with concern and confusion Combined into the clear and systematic structure of a book, they fill me with dread, but the alleviation of confusion is very powerful Zuboff sets out a convincing and shocking analysis of the recent turn global capitalism has taken towards intensive data gathering, behavioural prediction, and pervasive surveillance While I think it could have been equally effective at slightly shorter length, that is probably influenced by the unwieldiness of the hardback I got from the library I really appreciated the measured pace and excellent explanations Zuboff coins a number of useful descriptive phrases, nonehelpful than that in the title The vagueness of late capitalism has always irritated me surveillance capitalism has a punchy accuracy Zuboff is a great writer, with a consistent ability to identify key points without becoming reductive or sensationalist Surveillance capitalism s ability to keep democracy at bay produced these stark facts Two men at Google who do not enjoy the legitimacy of the vote, democratic oversight, or the demands of shareholder governance exercise control over the organisation and presentation of the world s information One man at facebook who does not enjoy the legitimacy of the vote, democratic oversight, or the demands of shareholder governance exercises control over an increasingly universal means of social connection along with the information concealed in its networks.Zuboff centres her overall enquiry into surveillance capitalism on three fundamental questions who knows Who decides And who decides who decides The answers are disquieting, to say the least It amazes me that so many people I know seem unconcerned about the amount of data the big five tech companies Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft,have about them and how it is used Not only do these firms have fardata about us than we can readily understand, its individual value is irrelevant in comparison to the value of it all in aggregate Zuboff uses the term economies of scale and scope for this Big data is valuable because machine learning models require vast amounts to produce useful results For work reasons, I recently taught myself data mining and basic machine learning in R It was alarming to realise how easy to use yet fundamentally opaque big data analytics are Neural networks aren t really analogous to human brains in structure or function The real similarity is that in neither case is it known why you get the result you do Moreover, like human brains, neural networks makes mistakes However their mistakes are very different to those of humans, and generally depend on how much data they ve been trained on and what forms it took.Zuboff does not discuss such technicalities If you want an introduction to machine learning, I suggest this youtube video She is, rightly,interested in the data that google and others gather to feed machine learning models, which then predict our behaviour in order to sell us stuff Once limited to your computer, the imperative to gatherandbehavioural data increasingly invades daily life via the internet of things The very idea of a functional, effective, affordable product or service as a sufficient basis for economic exchange is dying Where you might least expect it, products of every sort are remade by the new economic requirements of connection and rendition Each is reimagined as a gateway to the new apparatus, praised for being smart while traditional alternatives are reviled for remaining dumb It is important to acknowledge that in this context, smart is euphemism for rendition intelligence that is designed to render some tiny corner of lived experience as behavioural data Each smart object is a kind of marionette for all its smartness , it remains a hapless puppet dancing to the puppet master s hidden economic imperatives.Zuboff is especially good at explaining how it came to this how big tech seized a specific historic moment when neoliberal economics, the war on terror, and advances in information technology converged The big five s tactics for avoiding regulatory control or even admitting what they actually do are set out chillingly well While all this has certainly been discussed before, it is expressed especially well here A slew of short articles over years are hard to distil sense from, whereas this book sets out the situation with admirable clarity Chapter eleven lists characteristics that have allowed surveillance capitalism to take root, despite the fact that the Western population consistently claim to value privacy The range and impact of these characteristics certainly makes sense of how we got here lack of precedent, declaration as invasion, historical context, fortifications, the dispossession cycle, dependency, self interest, inclusion, identification, authority, social persuasion, foreclosed alternatives, inevitabilism, the ideology of human frailty, ignorance, and velocity The most novel part for me was an exploration of the philosophy underlying surveillance capitalism Since big tech aggressively avoids articulating such a thing, based on the spurious claim that data is totally neutral, this was especially interesting Zuboff labels it instrumentalism and contrasts it powerfully with totalitarianism Totalitarianism operated through the means of violence, but instrumentarian power operates through the means of behavioural modification, and this is where our focus must shift Instrumentarian power has no interest in our souls or any principle to instruct There is no training or transformation for spiritual salvation, no ideology against which to judge our actions It is profoundly indifferent to our meanings and motives Trained on measurable action, it only cares that whatever we do is accessible to its ever evolving operations of rendition, calculation, modification, monetisation, and control Totalitarianism was a political project that converged with economics to overwhelm society Instrumentarianism is a market project that converges with the digital to achieve its own unique brand of social domination.I particularly appreciated the link Zuboff made with behavioural economics and its rejection of the rationality assumption, while keeping all the other reductive and dubious assumptions of free market economics The nudge ethos of behavioural modification to optimise outcomes is entirely consistent with surveillance capitalism Whenever I ve read behavioural economics books over the years, the same questions come to mind first off, why are you so amazed to have discovered very basic psychology Secondly, whose behaviour are you nudging, why, and for whose benefit This idea of nudging or tuning behaviour is deeply unsettling and contains potentially massive hidden contradictions, quite apart from its ethical implications What if two companies in the big tech oligopoly try to push behaviour in different directions Surely the vague aspiration of making the world runsmoothly and efficiently whatever that means and for whom is in conflict with the anger and violence social media stokes in politics I was slightly surprised that only towards the end of the book does Zuboff broach the corrosive political effects of social media, such as the spread of fake news and an adversarial, reductive, and angry political culture In a way, she hardly needs to The prior chapters set this up well, by explaining the radical indifference that big tech has for the actual content it feeds to its users The only aim is to increase revenues via a business model of maximising attention and engagement on the platform s If divisive, dangerous, and totally inaccurate material gets clicks and comments, then that s good enough for facebook and google They take zero responsibility for the consequences this has on politics, culture, and society, despite profiting massively from them I m actually glad this wasn t mentioned earlier in the book, as it s so depressing that it would have pulled focus from the economic and philosophical foundations beneath the surface As has probably become clear, I consider this a deeply thought provoking and helpful book that has made my view of the world we live in a little clearer That is the pinnacle of what you can hope for in non fiction, in my view Nonetheless, I didn t agree with every word of it Zuboff treats surveillance capitalism as a successor to industrial capitalism, stating several times that the latter wrecked the environment and now the former is wrecking the human soul While I don t disagree with this, I think surveillance capitalism is also making it much harder to deal with the consequences of industrial capitalism which still exists as well Smart phones don t just manifest from the aether Action to deal with climate change has been derailed by reactionary populist politics and a false equivalency between scientific research and conspiracy theories The complex and long term nature of environmental problems is totally unsuited to the acceleration and superficiality of social media Moreover, surveillance capitalism is still capitalism, thus all about economic growth, increasing consumption, and wasteful energy use I think these links should have been acknowledged a littleMuch like financial capitalism, surveillance capitalism is a parasite upon industrial capitalism will it drain its host until they both die, I wonder I think the weakest material is in the final chapter, which considers how young people are growing up with pervasive internet surveillance that stunts their sense of self This isspeculative and lacks the rigor and conviction of the other chapters Which is not to say that I find the concept uninteresting or unimportant Here, though, it is treated as something of an afterthought The psychological effects of constant connectivity and a norm of performative content sharing, especially on children, deserve their own books Mixing macro and micro level analysis can be risky this is a macro book and that is its great strength It is salutary to compare The Age of Surveillance Capitalism with Paul Mason s Postcapitalism A Guide to Our Future, which I read in 2015 Mason covered some similar ground, but drew very different conclusions that now appear remarkably naive The contradictions that he suggested would bring down neoliberalism are resolved by surveillance capitalism Mason wrote, and I agreed when I read it, that big tech s control over data was fragile and unsustainable I no longer believe that the past four years have seen consolidation and expansion of google and facebook s control over data Over the same period, it has become evident that such data can be put to dangerous purposes with a total absence of democratic accountability According to free market economic theory, the infinite supply of data should make it worthless Quite the opposite occurs, as data becomesandvaluable as its scale and complexity increases, because it can be used to make quicker andaccurate behaviour predictions, and to influence behaviour Certainly not in a free market, though Google and facebook are in unassailable economic positions Any company that tries to compete is bought by them The only threats to their dominance come from outside the market regulation, essentially Breaking up their monopolistic positions is part of public discourse, for example the proposals of Elizabeth Warren, a potential Democratic presidential candidate in the US As with oil companies, though, there is great reluctance to face the fundamental problem their business model Oil companies have no place in any world that takes climate change seriously, because we must stop burning oil Likewise, pervasive surveillance and data gathering have no place in any world that values privacy Reliance on secretive behavioural monitoring and modification should also stop, but a ban on them seems even further away than a ban on burning oil At present they appear inextricably linked with the internet, just as energy systems seems inextricably linked with fossil fuels In both cases, the two developed interdependently, but their linkage isn t inevitable The possibility exists of other energy systems and other forms of internet To my mind, the first step to imagining better is understanding the flaws in what we have.I ampessimistic and negative about social media than most people I know, quite possibly most people in general While it can have positive consequences, the fact that it is optimised by a handful of companies to take our data and sell us shit makes it fundamentally flawed The internet has a lot of potential to bring people together social media as currently constituted islikely to push them further apart I wonder whether Trump could have become president without twitter and facebook Frankly I doubt it The irony of my posting this on a social media site owned byis not lost on me this is how we live now The Age of Surveillance Capitalism takes the reader beyond the endless noise of twitter et al in an attempt to explain the underlying theory and structure of 21st century capitalism I found it an invaluable guide that solidified ideas I already had, as well as introducing new concepts and raising new questions Be warned I m probably not going to shut up about this one for a long while Probably best to read it now, so you can make up your own mind 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. I m giving this book 2 stars, in hopes that the surveillance capitalists atwill not recommend others like it to me In terms of research, this book deserves a higher rating It is incredibly thorough and well sourced But here is an example of a sentence the author, Shoshanna Zuboff, uses This time, we have sent them into the raw heart of a rogue capitalism that amassed its fortune and power through behavioral dispossession parlayed into behavior modification in the service of others I m giving this book 2 stars, in hopes that the surveillance capitalists atwill not recommend others like it to me In terms of research, this book deserves a higher rating It is incredibly thorough and well sourced But here is an example of a sentence the author, Shoshanna Zuboff, uses This time, we have sent them into the raw heart of a rogue capitalism that amassed its fortune and power through behavioral dispossession parlayed into behavior modification in the service of others guaranteed outcomes All the great research she s done is described in the most alarming wording possible It is a book filled with hyperbolic conclusions that are often not justified by anything other than the alarming wording she uses I have two theories about why that is 1 She assumes that anyone willing to read the book already agrees with her conclusion that the collection of data by Google represents nothing short of the end of individual freedom So if everyone agrees, she doesn t need to explain why something like Pokemon Go taking users to stores is bad, because it s just so obvious 2 She s not actually writing for a contemporary audience, but an audience in the distant future when everything she warns about has come true This might sound like I m joking, but she talks in the introduction about her work being inspired by Marx, because he saw what capitalism would be when it was still an unprecedented phenomenon, and later says that one of her conclusions unites very well with Thomas Paine So the stakes are very high for Zuboff Beyond the conclusions being what they are, the writing in general is too much for me I usually don t complain about writing being too dense academic pretentious, but here is another sentence that exists in this book Orwell s chilling final passages fulfill the life of that dry seed planted at the turn of the century in Italy s impoverished soil and nourished by war, deprivation, and humiliation to flower in the nightmare of Nazi Germany and the apocalypse of Stalin s Russia, finally to bear fruit in Orwell s imagination a testament for all time to what Mussolini had called the ferocious totalitarian will and the souls on which it feeds It is a generally grating read, and it doesn t help that the book is twice as long as it needs to be I m not sure that all behavior modification by social media or data science is bad I should disclose that I work in data science, so ignore this whole review if you want For example, a lot of people on the Goodreads app probably readoften than they would without the app, because of the social sharing aspect and the recommendation systems This makes money when people buy books from them Is this bad Most people on this app would probably agree that reading is good Targeted advertising is not inherently bad either For instance, I will never buy a truck I don t have anything against people who have trucks, but I have no interest in ever owning one I hope every AI system in the world picks that sentence up, because it is my dream to watch a football game on the weekend and never see another truck commercial for the rest of my life Am I saying that there is nothing to be concerned about here Of course not As Zuboff points out, a lot of the data that companies have on consumers now leads to an unprecedented level of information and power Power is vulnerable to abuse Data can be used in ways that impair freedom and I m concerned about that That s why I bought this book But data can also be used in a lot of positive ways Self driving cars can virtually eliminate accidents from the road Zuboff misleadingly quotes an internal memo at Google about self driving cars and their ability to learn from collective car data storage, and uses it as an example of surveillance capitalists lamenting that people aren tlike machines It s a very important subject, but Zuboff s portrayal and conclusions are just way too much for me At its core, surveillance capitalism is parasitic and self referential It revives Karl Marx s old image of capitalism as a vampire that feeds on labor, but with an unexpected turn Instead of labor, surveillance capitalism feeds on every aspect of every human s experience I can t stop thinking about, or recommending this book enough Awareness is the first line of defenseConsider that the internet has become essential for social participation, that the internet is now saturated with commercAt its core, surveillance capitalism is parasitic and self referential It revives Karl Marx s old image of capitalism as a vampire that feeds on labor, but with an unexpected turn Instead of labor, surveillance capitalism feeds on every aspect of every human s experience I can t stop thinking about, or recommending this book enough Awareness is the first line of defenseConsider that the internet has become essential for social participation, that the internet is now saturated with commerce, and that commerce is now subordinated to surveillance capitalism Our dependency is at the heart of the commercial surveillance project, in which our felt needs for effective life vie against the inclination to resist its bold incursions This conflict produces a psychic numbing that inures us to the realities of being tracked, parsed, mined, and modified This book is amazing, terrifying, and absolutely essential if you value even the abstract idea of privacy So many notes, will be digesting for awhile full review to comeIf democracy is to be replenished in the coming decades, it is up to us to rekindle the sense of outrage and loss over what is being taken from usthe human expectation of sovereignty over one s own life and authorship of one s experienceEveryone needs to read this book as an act of digital self defense Naomi Klein Das Kapital of the digital age Hugo Rifkind, The TimesMost Recently In Court, Facebook Blames Users for Destroying Their Own Right to Privacy THIS is the book I have been waiting to read on the new internet era It s a mix of Neil Postman, Marshall Mcluhan, and Huxely If I have one complaint, it s that she gets super carried away with metaphors and flowery language it was actually quite annoying But Zuboff takes a long view of history and situates the new era of surveillance capitalism within parallel trends in markets, culture, and law She makes some brilliant observations her comparison of surveillance capitalism with totalitar THIS is the book I have been waiting to read on the new internet era It s a mix of Neil Postman, Marshall Mcluhan, and Huxely If I have one complaint, it s that she gets super carried away with metaphors and flowery language it was actually quite annoying But Zuboff takes a long view of history and situates the new era of surveillance capitalism within parallel trends in markets, culture, and law She makes some brilliant observations her comparison of surveillance capitalism with totalitarianism was especially interesting Sometimes I think she overstates the dangers, but it s a nice and necessary challenge to the technoutopians and the denialists who claim that nothing is new She also challenges some of the older fears about the surveillance state She s not worried about state surveillance She s worried about the intrusion of markets into all of our private spheres I appreciated her references to Polyani and Arendt because it was useful to connect political totalitarianism and the great transformation of the markets into newer spheres |Download Book ☹ 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 A book about the encroachment of tech firms and global capital into our private lives With data mining and machine learning capital is closing in on the last spaces that belong to us our private lives and thoughts If that sounds creepy and totalitarian it is With money to be made on our thoughts, behaviors, and inclinations silicon valley is using computers, smartphones, smart homes, and sensors to map out every thought and behavior we have to maximize profit It also seeks to shape our behav A book about the encroachment of tech firms and global capital into our private lives With data mining and machine learning capital is closing in on the last spaces that belong to us our private lives and thoughts If that sounds creepy and totalitarian it is With money to be made on our thoughts, behaviors, and inclinations silicon valley is using computers, smartphones, smart homes, and sensors to map out every thought and behavior we have to maximize profit It also seeks to shape our behavior for maximum revenue as well The players are known but how they operate is veiled They know everything about how we operate but we know little about their secrets This asymmetry ultimately makes them powerful and reduces our power It is the difference between master and puppet If that sounds bad to you it gets worse all of this is happening with little pushback from a slow moving public or democratic governance The thing about a book like this is it highlights what we feel is happening already That creepy ad after you click on a website that follows you around for days Or visiting a spot and some other influencer marks and tries to sell something related to your movements It is not the totalitarianism of a dictator but it the totalitarianism of a tech monopoly that holdsandof the cards and knows your every move A few years ago I read Yuval Noah Harari s book Homo Deus, a whimsical look at our looming technological dystopia Harari s book struck me as being happily resigned to the end of human freedom and indeed the end of humanity as we know it This book could be described as the pessimistic and despairing counterpart to Harari s work It goes over many of the same themes the predictive power of Big Data, the loss of human freedom and the intrusion of surveillance technology into every corner of our A few years ago I read Yuval Noah Harari s book Homo Deus, a whimsical look at our looming technological dystopia Harari s book struck me as being happily resigned to the end of human freedom and indeed the end of humanity as we know it This book could be described as the pessimistic and despairing counterpart to Harari s work It goes over many of the same themes the predictive power of Big Data, the loss of human freedom and the intrusion of surveillance technology into every corner of our lives These things are all genuinely bad and troubling Having said that I found the authors analysis to be somehow overly bleak There is a fundamental trade off in having a free service like Google Maps We get powerful, unprecedented assistance in navigation In turn, they get our data which they use to refine their models of predictive human behavior This probably isn t fair once you understand the full scope of what you are losing and maybe we should all demand a new modus vivendi The book fails to describe it as a trade off however Instead it is depicted as us being literally conquered and enslaved by a foreign force, repeatedly analogized to the conquest of the Tainos by the Spanish conquistadors This hyperbole is woven throughout the generally dense prose of the book There is tons of information here It doesn t necessarily say much that will be new to a relatively informed audience I found this a bit disappointing given the breathless reception that the book has received The repeated invocations of philosophers and renaissance poetry also felt a bit overwrought.Having said that, I am in sympathy with much of the book s argument We definitely have regressed to some sort of feudal economic arrangement, even while retaining the minds and desires of modern people No wonder so many feel unhappy, despite their relative material wealth The ubiquitous presence of sensory and data tracking equipment is setting human beings up for something unimaginable Every movement, thought and impulse is on the way to being tracked and recorded in a powerful predictive text that can only be read by our new tech industry overseers We are on the way to becoming laboratory rats in a maze designed to fine tune our behavior, mainly for the purpose of controlling us and extracting our wealth Every new gadget and app, often given for free or sold at cost price, is a new spy intended to capture as much behavioral data as possible You don t need to enjoy the author s lurid prose to see that her words contain some truth.Are there any solutions here Only a vague gesture towards the need fordemocracy While that may be true I found it to be a predictable and somewhat lazy way to conclude the book I feel it is not right to hammer out hundreds of pages of dire information without even formulating a plausible solution Yes, the problems are articulated are real and critical As the author acknowledges though, the tide is so overwhelming most have resigned themselves to drift along its course How do we counteract this feeling of resignation That would be a significant question to answer.Were it possible I would give this book 2.5 stars of out of five I would recommend any of the numerous essays about this subject out there, as well as Harari sengaging overview 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