The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
A description of the people who rent out your focus.
We have become hyper‑consumers of digital information; we don’t add much ourselves, other than leave a trail of golden digital crumbs for Big Tech… Petter Neby
Information from the publisher
The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior.
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 behavior 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 “behavioral futures markets,” where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new “means of behavioral 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.
"Many adjectives could be used to describe Shoshana Zuboff's latest book: groundbreaking, magisterial, alarming, alarmist, preposterous. One will do: unmissable... As we grope around in the darkness trying to grasp the contours of our digital era, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism shines a searing light on how this latest revolution is transforming our economy, politics, society - and lives." — John Thornhill, FINANCIAL TIMES
"Extraordinarily intelligent... Absorbing Zuboff's methodical determination, the way she pieces together sundry examples into this comprehensive work of scholarship and synthesis, requires patience, but the rewards are considerable - a heightened sense of awareness, and a deeper appreciation of what's at stake. A business model that seeks growth by cataloging our 'every move, emotion, utterance and desire' is too radical to be taken for granted. As Zuboff repeatedly says near the end of the book, 'It is not O.K.'" — Jennifer Szalai, NEW YORK TIMES
"The rare volume that puts a name on a problem just as it becomes critical... This book's major contribution is to give a name to what's happening, to put it in cultural and historical perspective, and to ask us to pause long enough to think about the future and how it might be different from today." — Frank Rose, WALL STREET JOURNAL
"An original and often brilliant work, and it arrives at a crucial moment, when the public and its elected representatives are at last grappling with the extraordinary power of digital media and the companies that control it. Like another recent masterwork of economic analysis, Thomas Piketty's 2013 Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the book challenges assumptions, raises uncomfortable questions about the present and future, and stakes out ground for a necessary and overdue debate. Shoshana Zuboff has aimed an unsparing light onto the shadowy new landscape of our lives. The picture is not pretty." — Nicholas Carr, LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS
"An intensively researched, engagingly written chronicle of surveillance capitalism's origins and its deleterious prospects for our society... [Zuboff's] after something bigger, providing a scaffolding of critical thinking from which to examine the great crises of the digital age... This is the rare book that we should trust to lead us down the long hard road of understanding." — Jacob Silverman, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is already drawing comparisons to seminal socioeconomic investigations like Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" and Karl Marx's "Capital." Zuboff's book deserves these comparisons and more: Like the former, it's an alarming exposé about how business interests have poisoned our world, and like the latter, it provides a framework to understand and combat that poison. But The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, named for the now-popular term Zuboff herself coined five years ago, is also a masterwork of horror. It's hard to recall a book that left me as haunted as Zuboff's, with its descriptions of the gothic algorithmic daemons that follow us at nearly every instant of every hour of every day to suck us dry of metadata. Even those who've made an effort to track the technology that tracks us over the last decade or so will be chilled to their core by Zuboff, unable to look at their surroundings the same way." — Sam Biddle, THE INTERCEPT
"The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is brilliant and essential. Shoshana Zuboff reveals capitalism's most dangerous frontier with stunning clarity: The new economic order of surveillance capitalism founded on extreme inequalities of knowledge and power. Her sweeping analysis demonstrates the unprecedented challenges to human autonomy, social solidarity, and democracy perpetrated by this rogue capitalism. Zuboff's book finally empowers us to understand and fight these threats effectively--a masterpiece of rare conceptual daring, beautifully written and deeply urgent." — Robert B. Reich, author of The Common Good and Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few
"From the very first page I was consumed with an overwhelming imperative: everyone needs to read this book as an act of digital self-defense. With tremendous lucidity and moral courage, Zuboff demonstrates not only how our minds are being mined for data but also how they are being rapidly and radically changed in the process. The hour is late and much has been lost already-but as we learn in these indispensable pages, there is still hope for emancipation." — Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and No Logo, and Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University
"Zuboff's expansive, erudite, deeply-researched exploration of digital futures elucidates the norms and hidden terminal goals of information-intensive industries. Zuboff's book is the information industry's Silent Spring." — Chris Hoofnagle, University of California, Berkeley
"My mind is blown on every page by the depth of Shoshana's research, the breadth of her knowledge, the rigor of her intellect, and finally by the power of her arguments. I'm not sure we can end the age of surveillance capitalism without her help, and that's why I believe this is the most important book of our time." — Doc Searls, author of The Intention Economy, editor-in-chief, Linux Journal
"In the future, if people still read books, they will view this as the classic study of how everything changed. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a masterpiece that stunningly reveals the essence of twenty-first-century society, and offers a dire warning about technology gone awry that we ignore at our peril. Shoshana Zuboff has somehow escaped from the fishbowl in which we all now live, and introduced to us the concept of water. A work of penetrating intellect, this is also a deeply human book about what is becoming, as it relentlessly demonstrates, a dangerously inhuman time." — Kevin Werbach, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust
"A panoramic exploration of one of the most urgent issues of our times, Zuboff reinterprets contemporary capitalism through the prism of the digital revolution, producing a book of immense ambition and erudition. Zuboff is one of our most prescient and profound thinkers on the rise of the digital. In an age of inane Twitter soundbites and narcissistic Facebook posts, Zuboff's serious scholarship is great cause for celebration." — Andrew Keen, author of How to Fix the Future
"Zuboff is a strikingly original voice, simultaneously bold and wise, eloquent and passionate, learned and accessible. Read this book to understand the inner workings of today's digital capitalism, its threats to twenty-first century society, and the reforms we must make for a better tomorrow." — Frank Pasquale, University of Maryland Carey School of Law, Author of The Black Box Society
"Shoshana Zuboff has produced the most provocative compelling moral framework thus far for understanding the new realities of our digital environment and its anti-democratic threats. From now on, all serious writings on the internet and society will have to take into account with The Age of Surveillance Capitalism." — Joseph Turow, Robert Lewis Shayon Chair Professor, Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania
"The defining challenge for the future of the market economy is the concentration of data, knowledge, and surveillance power. Not just our privacy but our individuality is at stake, and this very readable and thought-provoking book alerts us to these existential dangers. Highly recommended." — Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of Why Nations Fail
"I will make a guarantee: Assuming we survive to tell the tale, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism has a high probability of joining the likes Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Max Weber's Economy and Society as defining social-economics texts of modern times. It is not a 'quick read'; it is to be savored and re-read and discussed with colleagues and friends. No zippy one-liners from me, except to almost literally beg you to read/ingest this book." — Tom Peters, coauthor of In Search of Excellence
Selected as one of the top ten titles in Business & Economics for Spring 2018. — Publishers Weekly
"One of the most important criticisms of the power of Big Tech." — Rana Foroohar, FINANCIAL TIMES
"Chilling and essential." — GLOBE AND MAIL
"A book that no tech industry official will want the American public to read... One of the true joys of this insanely brilliant, deeply unsettling book is how fluidly Ms. Zuboff's style incorporates jargon, analogy, research and memoir." — PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
"The most ambitious attempt yet to paint the bigger picture and to explain how the effects of digitisation that we are now experiencing as individuals and citizens have come about... A continuation of a tradition that includes Adam Smith, Max Weber, Karl Polanyi and-dare I say it-Karl Marx... A striking and illuminating book." — THE OBSERVER
"Eye-opening...she raises questions about businesses that mine personal data, manipulate our desires for instantaneous information, and encourage us to narcissistically display our egos and foibles on social media platforms." — SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
"Staggeringly brilliant." — WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
"A warning bell, sounded clearly for both the people in danger and of those with the power to do something to keep them safe... a truly sobering shock to the system, a call for ordinary people to re-assert control before it's too late." — THE NATIONAL (UAE)