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Re: <nettime> John Naughton on Shoshana Zuboff: 'The goal is to automate
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 27 Jan 2019 09:52:50 +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



James is right, I think, in believing Carlo's argument does not account for the rapid, 'liquid' change advertising, and the current economic dispensation in general has undergone at an ever increasing speed over the last decade. But what I liked most in his post is that it provides a splendid plea for what in French is called 'la decroissance', de-growth. And de-growth, save massive, and generally very unwelcome political intervention (Maduro's Venezuela anyone?), can only be achieved at the individual level. Think of 'there is war, but nobody goes there'. Along and aside James' (imminent?) collapse-based view that things will change anyway I would add the observation that a still minute, but ever increasing number of people are switching to a different lifestyle, often in communities of sorts, within and outside cities. Society as a whole is still a very long way of weaning itself from manipulated consumerism, and the collapse-as-a-process has already started for real, yet there is a chance that something good will come about if, again, manipulated, unnatural individualism can be reverted into solidarity, mutual aid, and peer support. Yet another French concept/discipline we might well embrace: the 'entraidologie' (the theory of mutual assistance). And of course, more DIYT (Do It Yourself, Together) instead of relying on outside, big business sources!



On 2019-01-27 08:31, James Wallbank wrote:
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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