Book Review – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
Surveillance capitalists like Google and Amazon will do whatever they can to corner supply routes to data about us and our actions. In Zuboff’s lengthy book The age of surveillance capitalism, we learn about the strategic and often underhand means by which these data are captured, and the ‘instrumentarian’ ideology that provides the logic for this enterprise. Zuboff shows that the aim of advertisers and ‘people analytics’ advocates is to use our personal data to determine our behavior. At stake is free will and our ‘right to the future tense’. In this book review, I reflect on Zuboff ’s analysis of how Big Tech, as Big Other, is controlling our lives. I first highlight the prescience of the book’s arguments. I then compare aspects of the book with earlier tomes that were critical of new technology, to argue that taking a deterministic view of peoples’ relationship with technology may inadvertently support the hyped narrative that data analytics and algorithms are all-powerful.
AdNews. (2018). Facebook sued for ‘misleading’ advertisers on potential reach. Retrieved from https://www.adnews.com.au/news/facebook-sued-for-misleading-advertisers-on-potential-reach#7lotKyi4eVyiQvCs.99
Ball, K. (2019). Review of Zuboff’s The age of surveillance capitalism. Surveillance & Society, 17(1/2), 252–256. doi: 10.24908/ss.v17i1/2.13126
Kelly, S. & Noonan, C. (2017). The doing of datafication (and what this doing does): Practices of edification and the enactment of new forms of sociality in the Indian public health service. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 18(12), 872–899. doi: 10.17705/1jais.00477
Morozov, E. (2019). Capitalism’s new clothes. The Baffler. Retrieved from https://thebaffler.com/latest/capitalisms-new-clothes-morozov
Rokka, J. & Airoldi, M. (2018). Cambridge analytica’s ‘secret’ psychographic tool is a ghost from the past. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/cambridge-analyticas-secret-psychographic-tool-is-a-ghost-from-the-past-94143
Van Dijck, J. (2014). Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big Data between scientific paradigm and ideology. Surveillance & Society, 12(2), 197–208. https://doi.org/10.24908/ss.v12i2.4776
Copyright (c) 2021 Ella Hafermalz
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to the AIMS.