Notes on Shoshana Zuboff talk at data and society on Surveillance Capitalism and Democracy

https://datasociety.net/events/databite-no-118-shoshana-zuboff/

Capitalism is bearing down on us in ways outside the economic domain, separate from us as workers.

The only name we have is the name they gave us, “users”.

In 1830s the binary of aristocracy and the lower classes (from bankers to paupers) gave way to a new consciousness, identity, of a laborer, out of a felt recognition of shared interests that were new in the world. Which became the basis for a new form of collective action that formed the basis of democratic movements which tethered industrial capitalism to the needs of society.

Is it our time now to emerge from this amorphous, interest-less definition of users, to identify our true interests — democracy, rebellion — and bind us and allow us to compel and harness the resources of our democratic institutions to control the excesses of this mutant form of capitalism, which i call surveillance capitalism.

It’s not really 700 pages! It’s 500 [odd pages] and one paragraph; that’s a long weekend folks.

Capitalism evolves by claiming things outside the market dynamic and bringing them in.

Industrial capitalism famously claimed nature. As real estate. Claimed work, what people did in fields and cottages, as wage labor.

“Surveillance capitalism follows in this tradition by claiming private human experience as a source of free raw material.” reborn as behavioral data. Combined with world-historical computational capabilities. To produce predictions of human behavior.

Markets in behavioral futures.

Very intentional about gathering data without our knowledge.

Our ignorance has been their bliss.

We have tamed raw capitalism and made it serve the public interest before; we can do it again.

She was thinking of democracy as a boulder that’s just there. Democracy is like the 1800s kid’s game where you roll the hoop, run after it, and keep it upright.

Collective action.

Collective action summoning the power of our democratic institutions.

We have opportunities for competitive solutions.

Opportunities for new kind of tech.

Doc Searls: Any alpha surveillance capitalists come to you and said “oh my god you got it right we need to revise all these things”? “No.”