Surveillance Capitalism – Definition:
- A new economic order that claims human experience as free raw material for hidden commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales;
- A parasitic economic logic in which the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new global architecture of behavioral modification;
- A parasitic economic logic in which the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new global architecture of behavioral modification;
- A rogue mutation of capitalism marked by concentrations of wealth, knowledge, and power unprecendeted in human history;
- The foundational framework of a surveillance economy;
- As significant a threat to human nature in the twenty-first century as industrial capitalism was to the natural world in the nineteenth and twentieth;
- The origin of a new instrumentarian power that asserts dominance over society and presents startling challenges to market democracy;
- A movement that aims to impose a new collective order based on total certainty;
- An expropriation of critical human rights that is best understood as a coup from above: an overthrow of the people’s sovereignty.
These days we have to accept that fact that we are being recorded almost everywhere you go. No place is safe anymore, except within your private home and even then there are devices that even you may not be privy to unless you’re up on the latest tech news. Your cell phone is recording you, you computer screen is recording you, shower head in the bathroom, even your toaster can be a recording device. And with the onset of the internet of things, well, being recorded will be taken to a whole new level. Even more concerning is that despite you as an outer person maybe recorded who knows the devices that made its way into your body, therefore, your personal bio-metrics are being recorded, heart pacer, neurotransmitters, nanotechnology used to investigate what maybe wrong within your body, even optical devices are available on the market. Yes, we are moving more and more into surveillance capital where the all-seeing eye is inside and outside of your body. Seems a little creepy? Well yes, it is, especially if you had no idea those recording systems where there in the first place. Even more creepy – who’s on the other side of that device? Government? Your parents? Friends? a jilted lover? medical researchers? academics? the list could be very long. Not to scare you even more but those device not only have the capacity to record your “person-hood”, what will they do with the information is just as concerning? how long will the information be kept? What if they don’t like what they see?
Human rights are slowly being eroded and no one either seems to care or they remain ignorant of the surveillance capitalism machine slowly working its way quietly logging information, personal information, cataloging and filing – saved for a rainy day – who knows the information found might be used against you to keep you in line. Most recording devices are harmless. Let’s take for example robots. We all know were moving into an era where robots will soon be included our spaces and there will be all types used for a variety of functions. The ones that are humanoid meant to look and act like humans, one has to wonder; where did the architects get their information to create a humanoid robot that acts, speaks and thinks like you. The information is coming from all the recordings; heart rates, optical, movements, synoptic pulses, blood flow, digestive system, the working of sexual organs and the reproductive system, facial expression, the gate in their walk – all from recording regular humans like you and I. Some humans are directly used as subjects, others not so much but by observing behavior through the all-seeing eye. Behavior psychology is reaching a critical mass to the point that practices, by B. F. Skinner that were once banned by the profession are now revisited and used as a rule of thumb when observing human behavior today.
The machine of surveillance capitalism is so might that it need not abide by the laws of the land. That’s because the Grunches are hiding behind the scenes running the show and using the elites as puppeteers to get them to do their work for them. Its a concerted effort to ensure there place and legacy of power, for them and for their offspring. The elites are only happy to abide by the Grunch’s bidding as it will ensure them a seat of power when the system begins to change. Who are the Grunch? Old money. The ones who were here and operating for the past at least 100 years. The elites of yester-years (mid to late 1800s). They have witness the changing times over the years, and many have been responsible for these changes such as inflation, the Great Depression and all other depressions after that, organized crime, real estate, our two great world wars and all other wars, climate change – you name it. And in order to survive the next wave of climate change be it financial or environmental [or anything else], rest assured the Grunches have a plan. They’ve been working on it for decades.
Generally there are two schools of thought when it comes to climate change. First and foremost, everyone does agree about the changes in climate there is no doubt about that. However the divide appears in what to do about it. What available solutions do we have to answer the call when the situation becomes dire. We cannot control mother nature, although some have strive to do, and we know despite whatever happens planet earth will survive. This is not the first time Earth has experience a drastic change in climate affecting all inhabitants on the earth. Think; Ice Age? And look earth is still here doing her thing as she always does. Earth has only one enemy and that’s nuclear weaponry – not sure if she can survive that. However going back to climate change, I thought to establish why the Grunches would want employ the mass surveillance capitalism machine and for so long. By establishing their reason will put into perspective why they feel the need to operate above and beyond the law to reach their outcomes. And again by establishing the reason we’ll have a better understanding for the intrusion and conduct ourselves accordingly in our daily lives because – yes – this does affect you and me and everyone else – today – and its always been that way for quite sometime. By the end of our conversation, the question I will ask that only you can answer, or at least must form an opinion, will be: does the end justify the means? and what’s the measure to find the answer. We need to think about this question because, one of these days, the rest of the world will wake up to what the Grunches and the elites have been up to and even they will be on trial for what they have done and are doing. It’s a lot to go through so it’s advisable to think about this question today onward: Does the end justify the means?
Since we are on the precipice and I’d even say we’ve missed the opportunity to halt the process of climate change, all we can do is focus on how will we survive climate change. The two schools of thought about what to do about climate change: first we have the scientists making their claims that are backed up by hard data over a period of time so that we may have historical references. The other school of thought runs along a theological line that God will come in at the nick of time and enact Armageddon as prophesied in the Book of Revelations in the Bible. It is safe to assume we are currently living in the days of what the Book of Revelations have prophesied. From a religious perspective are we to wait until we die, with the hope for an heavenly or earthly resurrection? Or continue to live waiting for celestial day of Reckoning, the second coming of Christ at Armageddon and until that time comes we must continue to ‘preach the good news of the kingdom…‘ (Luke 4:43) From a scientific perspective – we’re not waiting for that to happen and as such we are turning to machine technology to provide a future for ourselves through the use of body enhancements to survive earth’s new atmospheric conditions after the catastrophe, or to enable space travel to explore new worlds with the hopes of one becoming our new home for our species.
Today’s discussion will focus on the latter, the scientists perspective because the Grunches are using climate change, and surviving climate change as an excuse for their behavior, for creating and operating the big surveillance capitalism machine with the all-seeing eye. Remember they must always be in control of the money, the markets, the law, government, military you name it. It’s not what you are doing, it’s how you are doing it – who you are doing it to; and why – that matters, and does the ends justify the means? This is what the jury will be asked to consider during the the trial of the Grunches and the elites.
What are they doing with all this data? What products are they making that’s supposed to equip us for our new future?
In the Future of Humanity, author Michio Kaku predicts technological advancements classified as transhumansim. He speaks about manipulating our genes to expand and enhance to control muscle mass, using technology to sharpen our senses, using cochlear implants for hearing deficiencies, artificial retinas for the blind (or to enhance what we already have) and exoskeletons to strengthen the human body biologically to live on planets with greater gravity, atmospheric pressure, and composition, temperature, radiation etc. (See: NASA’s Twins Study–Results Published in Science Journal) “So far, astronomers have found a large number of Super Earths (rocky planets, within the habitable zone that might even have oceans). They seem likely candidates for human habitation except their gravitational field can be 50% greater than Earth’s. This means that it might be necessary to increase our muscles and bones in order to thrive on them.” Kaku continues to provide examples of “transhumansim” that advocates in the embracing of technological trends to enhance our skills and capabilities. We would have to do so in order to survive and flourish on distant worlds. Instead of being repulsed by technology or fighting its influence, transhumanists believe that we should embrace technology and relish in the idea that we can “perfect” humanity. They believe our current condition is a by-product of evolution and that our bodies are the consequences of random, haphazard mutations and to use technology to correct these “quirks”. Therefore, the ultimate goal for transhumanists is to create a new species, the “post-human”, one that will transcend humanity. To enact this plan, they’ll need a lot of data to make their little toys.
“Much of the thought behind transhumanism is that humanity is broken and needs upgrading in order to fulfill our true potential.” ~ Jason Thacker, Creative Director, Associate Research Fellow for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Instrumentarian -Google Glasses
In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, the author Zuboff claims that, “Individuality is a threat to instrumentarian society, troublesome friction that sucks energy from “collaboration”, “harmony”, and “integration”. She points to an article “The Death of Individuality,” by Alex Pentland where he insists that “instead of individual rationality, our society appears to be governed by a collective intelligence that comes from the surrounding flow of ideas and examples..It is time that we dropped the fiction of individuals as the unit of rationality and recognized that our rationality is largely determined by the surrounding social fabric….” B.F. Skinner was the first to point to the death of the individual denouncing the autonomous self in exchange for the collective. Zuboff makes the observation, “In Beyond Freedom & Dignity, Skinner freely displayed his contempt for this most transcendent ideal of the Sartean age: the will to will oneself into first-person voice and action. Skinner argued that the differences between humans and other species are greatly exaggerated, and he would have found Pentland entirely justified in his rejection of the individual in favor of the distant, computer-mediated gaze. Beavers or people, the variance hardly matters once we shed the destructive fiction of individual autonomy. The surrender of the individual to manipulation by the planners clears the way for a safe and prosperous future built on the forfeit of freed for knowledge.” If that doesn’t scream human rights infringement, what will?!!
“What is being abolished is autonomous man – the inner man, the homunculus, the possessing demon, the man defended by the literature of freedom and dignity. His abolition has long been overdue…He has been constructed from our ignorance, and as our understanding increases, the very stuff of which he is composed vanishes…and it must do so if it is to prevent the abolition of the human species. to man qua man we readily say good riddance. Only by dispossessing him can we turn….from the inferred to the observed, from the miraculous to the natural, from the inaccessible to the manipulable.” ~ B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom & Dignity
TRANSLATION: Expect to be living in an “instrumentarian” society if you plan to make MARS [or any other planet] your new home after the affects of climate change. Living on Earth you can go rogue being an “individual” [if you can after present society is eroded], but going up and out there – you’ll need to ‘tow the line.’
“Few [data scientists] consider the social ramifications of their work with Pentland’s insight and conviction, providing us with an invaluable opportunity to critically explore the governance assumptions, societal principles, and social processes that define an instrumentarian society.” cautions Zuboff “My aim is to infer the theory behind the practice, as surveillance capitalists integrate “society” as a “first class object” for rendition, computation, modification, monetization, and control.” Zuboff explains that Pentland is somewhat of a high priest among an exclusive group of priests. To add, I suppose they could be priests to the religion – or a religious branch of – transhumanism.
Remember Google Glasses? Are they still on the market? Like the Fitbit, Google Glasses fits into the category of wearable devices – the devices that we know is recording us vs the devices that secretly record. Pentland is often referred to as the “godfather of wearables” and is also known for championing the Google Glasses. He predicted that wearable glasses “can extend one’s senses, improve memory, aid the wearer’s social life and even help him or her stay calm and collected.” Google Glass combined computation, communication, photography, GPS tracking, data retrieval , audio and video recording capabilities in a wearable format patterned on eyeglasses. The data collected – location, audio, video, photos, and other personal information- was transferred from the device to Google’s servers, “merging with other supply routes to join the titanic one-way flow of behavioral surplus….John Hanke described its familiar shape in the form of eye-wear as suitable for “the early adoption phases” of wearable technology in much the same way that the first automobiles resembled horse-drawn buggies. In other words, the “glasses” were intended to disguise what was in fact unprecedented. ” John Hanke continue saying, “Ultimately we will want these technologies, where ever they are on your body, to be totally optimized based on the job they’re doing, not on what is more socially acceptable at that first moment of creation, just because it reminds people of something they’ve seen in the past.” [emphasis added]
It didn’t take too long for the public to catch on to the gross invasion of privacy and those who wore the device called it “glassholes” while some businesses banned the glasses from their premises. Privacy advocates protested the “always on” but “undetectable” recording of people and places that interfere’s with a person’s reasonable rights to privacy and anonymity. “They warned of new risks as facial-recognition software is applied to these new data streams and predicted that technologies like Glass would fundamentally alter how people behave in public.” Even congress got involved summoning CEO Larry Page to appear before the committee to give his assurances on privacy safeguards for Glass.
“53% of Americans thought that smart wearables were “a change for the worse” including 59% of American Women“~ Pew Research, April 2017
Of course women would be upset, (see: Strong Woman II, subheading: Surveillance – Bill C51/59) it’s just another object to act out aggression /revenge – violence against women. At one point Google came out with to Livestream video-sharing app, enabling Glass users to stream everything around them to the internet in real time. It became controversial because many thought the service to be intrusive in the hands of any owner of the device. Livestream’s CEO responded by saying “Google is ultimate in charge of …setting the rules.” Sergy Brin then put his foot down to make it clear that any resistance would be categorically rejected when he told the Wall Street Journal “People always have a natural aversion to innovation.” [shaking my head..]
Google Glass was quietly taken off the market for a couple years for upgrades. The company said absolutely nothing to acknowledge the public’s revulsion or the social issues that Glass had raised. “as more information trickled out of the corporation, it became clear that there was no intention of ceding potential new supply routes in wearable technologies, no matter the public reaction.” says Zuboff, ” Glass was the harbinger of a new “wearables” platform that would help support the migration of behavioral surplus operations from the online to the offline world…this time there would be no frontal attack on public space. Instead, it was to be a tactical retreat to the workplace – the gold standard of habituation contexts, where invasive technologies are normalized among captive populations of employees.” these employees are in the fields of manufacturing, logistics, field services, and healthcare who find it useful to consult a wearable device for information and other resources while their hands are busy. No mention that “Glass at work was the back door to Glass in our streets or that the intrusive surveillance properties of the device would , with equal certainty, be imposed on the women and men required to use them as a condition of their employment.”
TRANSLATION: When one route to a supply source encounters obstacles, others are constructed to take up the slack and drive expansions. Meaning, this device is pretty fantastic and I want to make my millions selling it to get rich no matter at what “social” cost!
Living in capitalist society where its all about the bottom line and profit margins, is it any wonder that data collection and surveillance have been monetized sometimes at the cost of human rights? Perhaps we move mover forward in implementing socialist values [i.e. New Green Deal] our attitudes towards earning a profit vs person-hood will take on a new dimension. Zuboff speaks about “Dispossession may be an act of “simple robbery” in theory, but in fact it is a complex, highly orchestrated political and material process that exhibits discernable stages and predictable dynamics. The theory of change exhibited here systematically transfers knowledge and rights from the many to the few in a glorious fog of Page’s “automagic.” It catalogues public contest as the unfortunate but predictable outcry of foolish populations who exhibit a knee-jerk “resistance to change,” wistfully clinging to an irretrievable past while denying an inevitable future: Google’s future, surveillance capitalism’s future. The theory that opposition must simply be weathered as the signature of the fist difficult phases of incursion…” [Emphasis added]
“Google’s spectacular success in constructing the mechanisms and principles of surveillance capitalism and attracting surveillance revenues ignited competition in an escalating war of extraction” for surveillance revenues. Facebook is the first and has remained the most aggressive competitor for behavior surplus. Wearable devices are the devices that we consciously buy into, literally, by going to the department or technology store to purchase a unit of a wearable device, but are unconscious to what lies behind the technology and the larger purpose that it serves – the Grunch. Now I haven’t bought one myself [and will never do so], however, I wonder what disclaimers come in the packaging for a wearable device? For example, if we want to sign on to Facebook or What’s App, we have to agree to some sort of terms and conditions by checking a box and clicking “I Agree“. Is the act of purchasing a wearable device mean that we “consent” to all this data collection, how much data will be collected? Who’s viewing it and for what purpose? Is the data secure [i.e. theft]? Is the data identifiable and easily connected to the individual? How will you dispose the data once it has been used for its purposes? and will the data collection remain in the confines of what’s described in the paperwork, meaning no “hidden agenda”.
“Pentland’s academic credentials and voluble intelligence help legitimate a social vision that repelled and alarmed intellectuals, public officials, and the general public just decades ago. Most noteworthy is that Pentalnd “completes” B.F. Skinner, fulfilling his social vision with big data, ubiquitous digital instrumentation, advanced mathematics, sweeping theory, numerous esteemed coauthors, institutional legitimacy, lavish funding, and corporate friends in high places without having attracted world backlash, moral revulsion, and naked vitriol once heaped on Harvard’s outspoken behaviorist. This fact alone suggest the depth of psychic numbing to which we have succumbed and the loss of our collective bearings.” writes Zuboff. And this is what I mean about the ‘day of reckoning” with the Grunches and the elites. It’s not so much of “what you do, it’s how you do it,” [who are you doing it to; and why] – and – “does the ends justify the means“?
My guess is that people aren’t repulsed so much about development of new technology provided if full disclosure of what software, hardware and the devices do, it’s exploitative functions [whether in the creation of the device or in the functions of the end user], loss of self, privacy, agency, autonomy and free will. Giving and receiving informed consent. Basically respecting the individual, skip all that, your creations will not be well received. It’s about respect for the end users, the dignity of your fellow human being. We didn’t create the Nuremberg Codes just for nothing. Does all that go out the window for the almighty dollar? Not everyone is ready nor willing to take on the devices of the future and corporate figures should not automatically assume it to be so, in fact, I suspect there’ll be a backlash where those will resort to low-tech in attempt to preserve their person-hood. Go natural, and go back to nature, live in the country, grow and eat organic foods, might as well while we still have it available to use – haven’t a clue what our environmental terrain would look like after climate change or a global revolt after the next financial crisis.