Abandoned Carcass

by wjw on February 12, 2019

Shoshana Zuboff takes aim at surveillance capitalism.

. . . the digitization of everything was giving technology firms immense social power. From the modest beachheads inside our browsers, they conquered, Blitzkrieg-style, our homes, cars, toasters, and even mattresses. Toothbrushes, sneakers, vacuum cleaners: our formerly dumb household subordinates were becoming our “smart” bosses. Their business models turned data into gold, favoring further expansion.

Google and Facebook were restructuring the world, not just solving its problems. The general public, seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks, was clueless. Zuboff saw a logic to this digital mess; tech firms were following rational—and terrifying—imperatives. To attack them for privacy violations was to miss the scale of the transformation—a tragic miscalculation that has plagued much of the current activism against Big Tech . . . 

“Forget the cliché that if it’s free, ‘You are the product,’” she exhorts. “You are not the product; you are the abandoned carcass. The ‘product’ derives from the surplus that is ripped from your life.” The worst, though, is still to come, she argues, as tech giants shift from predicting behavior to engineering it. “It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us,” she warns; “the goal now is to automate us.”

Abandoned carcasses unite!  You have nothing to lose but the illusion that you are a living, breathing being possessed of free will!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexander Jablokov February 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm

I’ve always held that TED talks are an underappreciated threat to our mental cohesion, and am pleased to see someone agrees.

Etaoin Shrdlu February 13, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Even Noam Chomsky saw this back in the 1970s — “Manufacturing Consent”. The main differences between then and now are that now the ruling “masters of the universe” have much finer-grained control, and have seized the power to censor and remove from the public square anyone whose opinions they dislike, while allowing those whose opinions they like to shout from the rooftops. They’ve recreated all the aspects of the Maoist “Cultural Revolution”, where people who engage in physical assaults and racist diatribes are lauded as heroes, while the victims are viciously and relentlessly brutalized as white supremacists (even if they’re black, Jewish, hispanic, Asian. . . .).

See the Covington kids, the Philly Marines, the fully justified shooting of Josh Dukes by a couple he was chasing down to beat up along with the rest of his mob. . . .

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