Watch this Interview with Shoshana Zuboff, author of "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism"

Her hour long conversation with The Verge Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel is essential to understanding the commercial driver of today’s Internet. Or you can read the book of course, but that will take a lot longer. She lays it out there clearly enough for anyone to understand.


And of course it begs the question, do you know what you are trading off when you use these services? Are you asked for consent for all the data that is gathered and do you give it?

Her answer, in the interview is, “we don’t know and it’s not because we are stupid. It’s because they are designed for us not to know.”

In addition, she mentions a couple of consumer surveys where, when informed of what companies who sell “smart” devices actually do with their data, 70 to 80 % of respondents say they do not want it." So the business model is predicated on consumers not knowing. She mentions that doll, I think it was the Cayla (banned in Germany for being a spy tool), that monitors your kids in their rooms and says that, unbeknownst to consumers, the doll was gathering chunks of dialogue and selling that data to a CIA contractor to help them improve their voice recognition technology. So, whether you know it or not, your kid might be helping the CIA. I would think that this is something that as a consumer you would at least like to know about and agree to.

Related to the spying toys:

Not to go on and on here, but she also goes into the difference between a company gathering your data for the sole purpose of improving their service to you and taking that data and selling it in a secondary marketplace.

To go back in history, for decades now most privacy policies lay out how they will or won’t sell or give away your data but they may share it with their “partners.” In this context, partner can mean almost anything and they don’t have to define it. So it is about as airtight as running your air conditioner with the windows open.

For a while I used to think that the sheer mass of data on individuals would provide a kind of security in itself as it would be impossible to actually read/listen to and interpret all of those pieces of information. I thought that if everybody would just have access to all information, no one would have the time to act upon it or have a huge advantage over the other. But my view has shifted learning about the capabilities but also demands of big data analysis. There are tools in existence and development able to interpret the largest amounts of data so that they can be acted upon and at the same time such tools are not available to everyone even if the information would be. Companies with the capital, know how and computing power to use the available data so often even provided freely or by users unaware of it have a huge advantage over the rest of the population.

Yes. This is a core part of the winner-take-all dynamic that is happening.