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181 Shoshana Zuboff: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Surveillance capitalism is the new economic order, where companies exploit personal data to predict and control human behavior.

Shoshana Zuboff: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism


"The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" is a seminal work that exposes the dark side of the digital economy, showing how big tech companies have turned personal data into a lucrative commodity. Zuboff argues that surveillance capitalism is a new economic system that relies on the constant monitoring and manipulation of human behavior for profit. The book traces the history and evolution of this phenomenon, from the early days of online advertising to the present day, where companies like Google and Facebook have become global powers with almost unlimited control over our lives. Zuboff warns that this new form of capitalism poses a grave threat to individual freedom, democracy, and human dignity, and calls for a radical rethinking of our relationship with technology.


Title: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Author: Shoshana Zuboff

Publishing Year: 2019

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Length in hours: 24 hours and 16 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Surveillance capitalism is a new economic system that relies on the exploitation of personal data to predict and influence human behavior.
  2. Big tech companies like Google and Facebook have built vast data collection and analysis systems that give them unprecedented power and control over our lives.
  3. The rise of surveillance capitalism has serious implications for democracy, individual freedom, and human rights.
  4. The architecture of surveillance capitalism is designed to be opaque and difficult to understand, making it difficult for users to fully grasp the implications of their digital lives.
  5. A new social movement is needed to challenge the power of surveillance capitalism and demand greater transparency and accountability from tech companies.
Shoshana Zuboff: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

5 funny quotes

  1. "Data is the new oil. It's valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc., to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so, too, with data." - Clive Humby
  2. "The best way to keep a secret is to never have one." - Michael Cohen
  3. "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." - Alexander Graham Bell
  4. "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
  5. "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Surveillance capitalists learned that the most efficient predictive signals come not just from monitoring but also modifying behavior."
  2. "Surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data."
  3. "The digital future can be our home and we can choose to make it a democratic and civilized one, but only if we start now to build this new terrain on our old values of individual and collective rights, trust, and accountability."
  4. "The goal of surveillance capitalism is not merely to shape our behavior but to control it."
  5. "When we are trapped inside an unprecedented logic that cannot be reasoned away, that logic must be exposed and challenged."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the benefits of personalized services and targeted advertising with the need for privacy and individual autonomy.
  2. Navigating the tension between technological progress and human values, such as democracy, free speech, and human dignity.
  3. Balancing the power of big tech companies with the need for democratic accountability and transparency.
  4. Addressing the challenge of regulating the digital economy, which operates across national borders and is difficult to monitor and control.
  5. Overcoming the fear of being left behind in the digital age and finding ways to participate meaningfully in the new economy without sacrificing our values and principles.

5 examples

  1. Google's search engine, which uses personal data to provide personalized results and targeted advertising.
  2. Facebook's data collection and analysis system, which allows the company to target users with highly specific ads and content.
  3. Amazon's recommendation engine, which uses data on user behavior to suggest products and services.
  4. The Chinese government's social credit system, which assigns citizens a score based on their behavior and uses this score to restrict their access to certain services and opportunities.
  5. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data of millions of Facebook users was harvested without their consent and used to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Referenced books

  1. "The Circle" by Dave Eggers 
  2. "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr 
  3. "The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires" by Tim Wu
  4. "Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe" by Roger McNamee 
  5. "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies" by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee 

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"The best way to keep a secret is to never have one."

Shoshana Zuboff: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
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