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Re: <nettime> John Naughton on Shoshana Zuboff: 'The goal is to automate
James Wallbank on Sun, 27 Jan 2019 08:35:08 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> John Naughton on Shoshana Zuboff: 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism


Hi Carlo,

I'd suggest that your response doesn't acknowledge the fluidity and adaptability of capitalism, which is just one framework to manifest a desire to gain advantage and control. If you ban targeted advertising, that doesn't mean that advertisers will go back to "regular" advertising.

It means that advertising will morph into a different and almost unidentifiable practice. In fact, it already is. We see that advertisers mobilise social media "influencers", and we may sense (I certainly do) that supposedly "public service broadcasting" has been subverted. Imagine a circumstance in which the people who were advertisers are invisibly infiltrating every part of life, with techniques that may be impossible to distinguish from other cultural activity.

An advertiser can intervene at any part of the communication process. For example:

* If they're blocked from putting product placements into films, they can write films themselves. * If they can't get media channels to feature their planted messages, they can produce their own channels. * New foods, new fashions, new music, new rumours, new words, all can be engineered to render recipients (who become participants) more suggestible and more aligned with a particular way of thinking.

Some global producers are now so pervasive that they don't really need to advertise ANY SPECIFIC PRODUCT. The message "Got a problem? Buy something!" is enough to be to their advantage.

The key resistant mechanisms are education and critical thinking. In other words, for each individual to get smarter, to be more able to evaluate influences, and to gain greater agency over their own life. Of course, the mechanism of education itself is under information-attack - education is replaced by training, information replaced by disinformation, history is replaced with propaganda, truth is replaced by faith.

Resisting the mechanisms of surveillance capitalism on an individual level is completely feasible. There are numerous tactics to generate digital disinformation that disguises an individual's tracks. However, these may be pointless - not only do they expend energy, they also don't intervene at the contextual scale.

I have to say, I'm hopeful, but not optimistic. Unless a critical mass of individuals do manage to get smarter, we may be living in an age in which the very notion of individual, autonomous human consciousness is coming to an end. Each of us may be increasingly absorbed into a collective cultural/media matrix in which independent thought is simply not a thing. Welcome to the hive.

I shouldn't worry that much, though - because (fortunately) sea-level rise, energy crisis, ultra-nationalist revolution, soil degradation, pandemic, accident, fire, flood and famine will obliterate the group-mind and save independent thinking... at the cost of a few hundred million lives.

Happy days!

James
=====

On 25/01/2019 20:14, carlo von lynX wrote:
On Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 09:00:33PM +0100, Patrice Riemens wrote:
Well, as I understood Shoshana Z, the pb is that you cannot, in the
current dispensation, legislate something that would destroy the
very basis on which today's version of capitalism is based. Making
data gathering illegal is not a tweak, it's system(ic) change.
That's an interesting "fatalistic" perspective. Let's discuss it.
I don't see a reason why it should be so difficult to go back to
where we were 15 years ago:

- Booking targeted advertising becomes illegal/impossible, so you
   go back to do regular advertising.
- Since the whole industry does the same, your competitors have
   no advantage over you.
- If your business model was profoundly unethical, you go out of
   business. That is intentional.

Transition within months, mostly painless.
That's my estimate, and I'm usually good at these kind of estimates.
Just like a predicted that GDPR would not achieve anything substantial.

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