Surveillance Capitalism

Maciej Cegłowski makes Pinboard.in. It’s one of my favorite places to put articles that I’m never going to read. He’s also a gifted writer and really thoughtful about the role of technology in society. I don’t know how to pronounce his name. Either of them.

He recently gave a talk about The Moral Economy of Tech in which he argues that social media is becoming a requirement of modern life, but using it is putting all of us in a bad spot: 

Companies that perform surveillance are attempting the same mental trick. They assert that we freely share our data in return for valuable services. But opting out of surveillance capitalism is like opting out of electricity, or cooked foods—you are free to do it in theory. In practice, it will upend your life.

The reality is, opting out of surveillance capitalism means opting out of much of modern life.

He then goes into “THE INEVITABLE LIST OF SCARY SCENARIOS” in which data is used against people. The scariest scenario being the one where we have to pay more attention to LinkedIn at international borders.

What we’ve done as technologists is leave a loaded gun lying around, in the hopes that no one will ever pick it up and use it.

I used to be in the camp of “I don’t care if anyone knows what I’ve checked out of the library,” but that was before we saw the extent to which crazy ideas could get crazy amounts of crazy people excited. Before Brexit and Trump and removing headphone jacks.