By B.N. Frank
It may be the most horrifying moment in film, The Matrix – Neo learns that humans are being grown – without their knowledge or consent – for the sole purpose of being used as batteries for sustaining the operation of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
New book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism reveals that many businesses are offering free services to customers in order to collect their data for the sole purpose of selling it to 3rd parties. Much of this is also done without customers’ knowledge or consent. From Benton:
“Surveillance capitalism,” she writes, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioural futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behaviour.” Regarding the future of regulating surveillance capitlaism, Zuboff said, “Despite existing economic, legal and collective-action models such as antitrust, privacy laws and trade unions, surveillance capitalism has had a relatively unimpeded two decades to root and flourish. We need new paradigms born of a close understanding of surveillance capitalism’s economic imperatives and foundational mechanisms.”
Of course, there have been suspicions and accusations about this for years – many of which are still considered “conspiracy theories” despite definite proof that this actually has been happening all along. From Intellihub:
For years, conspiracy theories about smart phones listening to users without their permission to show them advertisements have abounded. While some researchers have shown this could happen, a first of its kind study just found something far more insidious. Academics at Northeastern University have just proven that your phone is recording your screen—as in taking video—and uploading it to third parties.
Maybe you aren’t concerned about your personal data being sold. What about when businesses sell kids’ data? From RevealNews
Facebook, once a darling of Silicon Valley, has faced heavy scrutiny over the last year as users and lawmakers take aim at its questionable handling of user data and the spread of fake news. These new documents raise even more questions for the company and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, about the methods employees used to make it one of the wealthiest tech companies in the world.
The company continues to deal with the consequences of their push for revenue growth.
Technology can be very beneficial. In some – but unfortunately not all cases – we still have choices on how much of our personal information we are willing to give up in order to use it. But how much are we willing to tolerate when we aren’t given the choice?