The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
This book colloquium will discuss Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, her influential account of the challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, specifically, how the commodification of personal information threatens our core values of freedom, democracy, and privacy.
In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism. The stakes could not be higher: a global architecture of behaviour modification threatens human nature in the twenty-first century just as industrial capitalism disfigured the natural world in the twentieth.
Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new "behavioural futures markets", where predictions about our behaviour are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new "means of behavioural modification".
The threat has shifted from a totalitarian Big Brother state to a ubiquitous digital architecture: a "Big Other" operating in the interests of surveillance capital. Here is the crucible of an unprecedented form of power marked by extreme concentrations of knowledge and free from democratic oversight. Zuboff’s comprehensive and moving analysis lays bare the threats to twenty-first century society: a controlled "hive" of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit – at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future.
With little resistance from law or society, surveillance capitalism is on the verge of dominating the social order and shaping the digital future – if we let it.
The panellists will assess the issues raised and present their views on the book, before opening up the discussion for an audience Q&A.
Dr Christopher Decker, Economist and Research Fellow, Faculty of Law, Oxford
Denis Galligan, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford
Dr Ivan Manokha, Lecturer in Political Economy, Oxford
Praise for The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
— Zadie Smith