The 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 our behavior.
In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism. The stakes could not be higher: a global architecture of behavior modification threatens human nature in the twenty-first century just as industrial capitalism disfigured the natural world in the twentieth.
Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new “behavioral futures markets,” where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new “means of behavioral modification.”
The threat has shifted from a totalitarian Big Brother state to a ubiquitous digital architecture: a “Big Other” operating in the interests of surveillance capital. Here is the crucible of an unprecedented form of power marked by extreme concentrations of knowledge and free from democratic oversight. Zuboff’s comprehensive and moving analysis lays bare the threats to twenty-first century society: a controlled “hive” of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit–at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future.
With little resistance from law or society, surveillance capitalism is on the verge of dominating the social order and shaping the digital future–if we let it.
Table of contents
1. Home or exile in the digital future
I. THE FOUNDATIONS OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM
2. August 9, 2011: Setting the stage for Surveillance Capitalism
3. The discovery of behavioral surplus
4. The moat around the castle
5. The elaboration of Surveillance Capitalism: Kidnap, corner, compete
6. Hijacked: The division of learning in society
II. THE ADVANCE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM
7. The reality business
8. Rendition: From experience to data
9. Rendition from the depths
10. Make them dance
11. The right to the future tense
III. INSTRUMENTARIAN POWER FOR A THIRD MODERNITY
12. Two species of power
13. Big Other and the rise of instrumentarian power
14. A utopia of certainty
15, The instrumentarian collective
16. Of life in the hive
17. The right to sanctuary
18. A coup from aboveAcknowledgements
About the author
Detailed table of contents
From the editor
“Everyone needs to read this book as an act of digital self-defense.” — Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, Shock Doctrine and No Logo, and Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University
“No zippy one-liners from me, except to almost literally beg you to read/ingest this book” — Tom Peters author of In Search of Excellence
The 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 us.
The heady optimism that defined 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 future?
Shoshana 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.