The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

This book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff – The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, was recommended by Harari at the Athens Democracy Forum earlier this year. I bought this book, alongside the second one which he recommended for my husband, as a present. Naturally I wanted to read it too and I will read the other one as well.

This book is a must read. It’s not easy to read as it is written in an academic style. Furthermore, even if you take out the notes, it is still long at 525 pages. That being said, this is a masterpiece, well worth reading. She compares the surveillance capitalism to Hannah Arendt’s view of totalitarianism, she sees it in the context of Skinner’s theory of behaviourism. The book is not only a presentation of (big) data, but an insight in why it matters to care about surveillance.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

She talks about her experience and the last chapter, The right to sanctuary, starts with a moving account of why we need sanctuary and why surveillance is taking that away from us, with our accord. Do not forget that, in some situations, we are paying to be surveyed.

I was shocked by some of the things mentioned in the book and I’m going to give short extracts without placing them in context, as to entice people to go and read the book for themselves.

page 123: “quotes…political consultant…: We knew who… people were going to vote for before they decided.”

page 124: “… spend more lobbying than any other corporation – over $17 million”

page 215: “If all else fails, … are advised to induce a sense of inevitability and helplessness in their customers”.

page 235: “A dense, twelve-page privacy policy accompanies the bed.”

page 422: “These breadcrumbs tell a more accurate story of our lives than anything we choose to reveal about ourselves… record our behaviour as it actually happened.”

page 445: “I went into absolute panic mode.”

page 448: “in 2016… while the average adult check his or her phone 30 times a day, the average millennial,…, check more than ***times.”

page 458: “a kind of public condamentation”

page 508: “… has been a prominent beneficiary of the national home loan and foreclosure crisis… by accepting deceptive advertising from fraudulent operators who falsely promise unwary customers that they can solve their mortgage and credit problems.”

page 511: “… used his super-voting power [as in given by the shares they own in the company] to reject a share-holder proposal that would have required the company to report on its management of disinformation and the societal consequences of its practices, and … executives successfully thought back a similar shareholder proposal that year.”

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: Yes!!
Published by: Profile Books Ltd
Year it was published: 2019
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Politics & Economics
Pages: 691

About the author: Shoshana Zuboff is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor Emerita at Harvard Business School and a former Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.
She wrote three books: In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power; The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism (with James Maxmin); The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
Website & Social Media Links: shoshanazuboff



5 thoughts on “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff”

  • I have a feeling this is one of those books that could be angering, frustrating, and frightening… all at the same time. I’m not sure it’s what my frazzled brain needs right now! That said, I’ll still make note of it.
    Kelly recently posted…Little ShoppersMy Profile

    • It is exactly as you described it: angering, frustrating, and frightening. It’s bonkers that we accept the things we do. Offline we are protected by all sorts of laws and we don’t let businesses do a lot of things, but online is still the “wild west”.

  • Hi Anca,

    I may have to treat my husband to this book, as you have no idea how many times I have had ‘big data’ quoted to me, during one of our heated conversations about elections, Brexit, or Covid!

    Now you can see how we spend most of our evenings! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing, a great recommendation πŸ™‚

    Yvonne Xx

    • You can get it as a last-minute gift for your husband for Christmas, if you want to. πŸ™‚ If he is interested in this kind of topics he might like the book too. For me, this book is a must read by anyone who uses any kind of social media or google or any kind of smart devices.

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