The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
By Shoshana Zuboff
Published by Public Affairs; 1st edition (January 15, 2019)
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.
From the Author:
I have dedicated the last twelve years to observing and analyzing the quiet emergence of a fundamentally anti-democratic new economic logic that I call surveillance capitalism. The digital future has been hijacked by this rogue capitalism that now owns and operates the internet. There is a lot of work to be done if we are to build new bridges to a digital future that we can all call home. We deserve a digital future that amplifies human rights, individual sovereignty, and other requirements of a free and flourishing democracy. From 2011 through 2018 I wrote a comprehensive book on this subject: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. It was published in Germany in October 2018 and in the US on January 15, 2019.
In the gathering storm of worldwide outrage toward illegitimate tech power many people are finding their way to my book. I want to thank my readers and others who have engaged with my podcasts, articles, interviews, radio shows, lecture events, films, videos, and tweets! We are a growing vanguard of young and old who share a sense of righteous indignation and a demand for action. “Let there be a digital future,” we say, “but let it be a human future first.”
The stage is set for the big work of 2020 and the decade ahead. If we are to bend the arc of the digital back toward the light, we need public education, democratic mobilization, and political leadership. We need the creativity and courage to revitalize our frameworks of human rights, laws, and regulations for a new epoch. This next decade is pivotal. It’s all hands on deck. I look forward to meeting many more of you on the road ahead.
About the Author:
Shoshana Zuboff joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1981. One of the first tenured women at the school, she was the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration. In 2014 and 2015 she was a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Her career has been devoted to the study of the rise of the digital, its individual, organizational, and social consequences, and its relationship to the history and future of capitalism. She also founded and led the executive education program, Odyssey: School for the Second Half of Life.
Shoshana Zuboff has also been a frequent contributor to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Recent essays include “The Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism,” March 2016; “Disruption’s Tragic Flaw,” February 2015; “The Digital Declaration,” September 2014; “The Digital Economy: Human Factors,” July 2014; “Dark Google,” April 2014; “The New Weapons of Mass Detection,” February 2014; “Obama, Merkel, and the Bridge to an Information Civilization,” January 2014; and “Be the Friction: Our Response to the New Lords of the Ring,” June 2013.
From 2003 to 2005, Shoshana shared her ideas on the future of business and society in her popular monthly column “Evolving”, in the magazine Fast Company. From 2007 through 2009 she was a featured columnist for BusinessWeek.com. Her work has been showcased on CNBC, Reuters International, and the Today Show as well as in the BrandEins, Fortune, Inc., Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, CIO, The New York Times, The Financial Times, and many other news outlets. She has been heard on over 200 radio shows, including top coverage on NPR’s Marketplace, TechNation, Sound Money, Morning Edition, BBC, and the BBC World Service.
From the author’s website:
- Reviews and Features
- Podcasts and Radio
- Films and TV
- Recent Articles
- End-of-Year Honors
- #1 on Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019
- “The Surveillance Economy” – Season 4: Episode 5
IRL: Online Life is Real Life
Published: February 4, 2019
– In her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Harvard Business School’s Shoshana Zuboff argues that tech companies — like Google and Facebook — collect so much personal data for profit, that they’re changing the fundamentals of our economy and way of life. And now these companies are learning to shape our behavior to better serve their business goals. Shoshana joins Manoush Zomorodi to explain what this all means for us.
We then explore whether or not it’s time to end our relationship with corporate spies. OG advice columnist Dear Abby gives us some tips to start with. We chat with philosopher S. Matthew Liao. He asks if we have a moral duty to quit Facebook. Alice Marwick explains why most people won’t leave the social network. And journalist Nithin Coca tells us what it was like for him to quit both Facebook and Google. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t easy, but he has no regrets.
- “You Are Now Remotely Controlled: Surveillance capitalists control the science and the scientists, the secrets and the truth.”
The New York Times, January 24, 2020
By Shoshana Zuboff