Her name is Shoshana Zuboff (Shoshana Many). She works at Harvard business school, and her works evoke the enthusiasm, the frustration and anxiety of all those who are watching to see how new technology has conquered our society.
Shoshana Zuboff was one of the first in the analysis of how computer science is changing the world of work. First, she, the discoverer of a detailed study of transformations in the field of management, welcomed the advent of with new skills. She immediately realized that the spread of the Internet and personal computers will allow you to establish a “new economy” that can respond to the needs of people and empower consumers.
Then her disappointed. In January Shoshana Zuboff presented their concerns in “the Age of oversight of capitalism” (The Age of Surveillance Capitalism).
The Anglo-Saxon press, from the liberal “wall street journal” to the left “the nation” and the anti-capitalist Naomi Klein (Naomi Klein) and expert on PR Joseph Tirou (Joseph Turow) consider the book as a significant work.
“Masterpiece of horror”
The name itself represents the whole concept: for the past 20 years, evolving capitalism, which lead the Internet giants (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft), “without our consent,” interfere with our social relations and breaks into our homes, “smart bottle of vodka to rectal thermometer,” notes Shoshana Zuboff.
He took pictures and were charted the streets of our cities, shot our faces and expressions tracked our communications, put our desires and feelings. He established a General supervision over our behavior based on artificial intelligence. He then sold these “big data” enterprises and political movements. Specializing in the investigation, the American magazine “Intersept” called the book a “masterpiece of horror”.
An intelligent way of Shoshana Zuboff deserves to dwell on it separately. In 1980, studied social psychology student suffered a “revelation” after three years of research working environment: “computer science is coming to the enterprise. Our companies are at the beginning of the structural transformation that is as deep as the industrial revolution of the late XIX century — early XX century”.
In 1982, she became one of the first women professors at Harvard business school and taught the course “organizational behavior”. “Then among the professors of Harvard were so few women that didn’t even have separate toilets in the building Department!” — she recalls.
“The hidden collection of information”
In 1988, she has published a large study on the subject of the advent of computers in the enterprise: “the Age of intelligent machines. The future of work and power” (In the Age of the Smart Machine. The Future of Work and Power). After hundreds of conversations with staff and managers of banks, retailers, factories and telecommunication companies, it stressed in this book, transformation under the impact of the computer revolution, which made the work more abstract, symbolic, impersonal and isolated. “Although the computers allow you to automate and facilitate bureaucratic tasks, considerably reducing costs, they also create a large amount of new information, develop new training and knowledge for employees.”
In her opinion, the new circulation of information casts doubt on classical management: subordinates gain new knowledge about the company, Express their thoughts and raise issues. There is a new type of “informed organization,” which is more flexible and less rigid hierarchical structure uses possessing new skills of workers. All these ideas today are guided by the supporters of the “exempt enterprise”.
Anyway, this democratization immediately causes “conflicts of power around such topics as “Who knows?” “Who decides, who knows?” “Who decides who decides?”. In addition, management of many companies “can’t resist the temptation of using new data streams to centralize information and more stringent control over the employees.” Some even form a new management General supervision, the purpose of which is “hidden information gathering.”
“In the age of intelligent machines” has become a classic analysis of the labour market in the information age: the book of Shoshana Zuboff at the same time it emphasizes liberation perspectives and the risk of total control.
The future is not yet determined, but six years after the book’s publication in 1994, she was filled with doubts: she thought utopia updated Informatics businesses was a pipe dream. “More opportunities informed and cooperative working environment was ignored,” she said. Disappointment forced Shoshana, Zuboff to change the way of life: in 1996, she took sabbatical and settled with her husband on a farm in Maine.
New distributional capitalism
A few years later, she decided to conduct interdisciplinary research on consumption, value creation and the impact of high technology on our lives. In 2002 she published with entrepreneur James Maxmimum the book “Economy support” (The Support Economy) to represent a “future episode of capitalism.” Approach Shoshana of Zuboff changed: she’s pessimistic comments about the changes in the labour market, but expressed optimism about the transformation of the consumer society.
Like many other experts, like Jeremy Rifkin (Jeremy Rifkin), Siobhan O Mahoney (Siobhan O Mahony) and Thomas Malone (Thomas W. Malone), an expert on collective intelligence from mit, she noted that the total flow of information leads to a deep transformation of the society of mass consumption, which is dominated by advertising. The good news is that it is “the world of informed individuals who are trying to control their quality of life” and impose its businesses. Shoshana Zuboff calls it a “psychological self-determination” that resonates with based on “individualization,” “reflexive modernity” of sociologists Anthony Giddens (Anthony Giddens) and Ulrich Beck (Ulrich Beck).
Through networks, mobile technology and personalization, the consumer can take orders and to impose their will on the manufacturers.
“In 2001, the iPod has ruined the model of mass acquisition of CDs, she says. Music assets now are delivered directly to the consumer who demands the music he wants, when he wants and where he wants”. She considers this a sign that new technologies can provide the consumer with new opportunities. In his articles, she has repeatedly stressed that we are now witnessing “the emergence of a new “distributive capitalism”, in which value creation depends on new logic of distribution, with attention to the needs of individuals”.
Anyway, nothing goes as expected. In 2001, the Internet bubble burst: for the period from 2000 to 2001 4 300 overvalued companies in the NASDAQ have lost $ 145 billion.
The loss of investor confidence inspired by the ideas of economist Hal Varian (Hal Varian) the user “Google” has decided to profit from the personal data of millions of users: it is studied their wants and documented their behavior. These data are a valuable resource, which was extracted without any cost. In Google decided to resell them for a high price market capitalism.
From 2001 to 2004, when Google went to the stock exchange, its revenues grew by 3590%. In 2006 the company acquired “YouTube” for $ 1.65 billion. In 2008, one of the Directors of the company (Shoshana Zuboff calls it “typhoid Mary”) went to “Facebook” and gave working methods Google new employer that has information about all network users.
Amazon and Microsoft, which in 2016 bought network “LinkedIn” with its 400 million users, is also passed to these methods. Formed a “Supervisory capitalism.”
One of the Central concepts in the work is the concept of “behavioral excess”: the Internet giants, mobile operators and dedicated to the Internet of things the company is not limited to usage data collection services, and inserted in pages and the hardware invisible spy tools. In addition, they detected using algorithms our most secret habits. They recognize our voice and face, transcribe our emotions to capture the “entire human experience as free raw materials.”
All this mass of behavioural data with large profits is sold as a “product prediction”. “You are not a product, and thrown the carcass of the elephant, which is hunted down by poachers,” says Shoshana Zuboff.
This logic of surveillance leads to an instrumentalization, that is, the ability to model the behavior for getting “bankable results” and even “automation” behavior.
“It became difficult not to become a target market project, whose tentacles stretch from the innocent players in “Pokémon Go”, which referred to paid for it’s bars and shops, to the ruthless exploitation of the profiles Facebook to a reorientation of personal conduct”. This may occur as the proposal to buy new sneakers after the Sunday jog, and in an attempt to influence your vote at the polling station, which was perfectly visible on the example of the situation with the consulting company Cambridge Analytica (its slogan reads: “the Data determine everything we do”). “They need our soul — concludes Shoshana Zuboff. — We signed with them Paustovsky contract”.
After the release of “the Era of the Supervisory capitalism” has brought upon itself a lot of criticism. So, Professor of education Katie Fitzpatrick (Katie Fitzpatrick) writes in “the nation” that the “gloomy conclusion” Shoshana of Zuboff justified, but that it is “wrong in policy analysis”, as blinded by belief in the democratic possibilities of liberalism. “We don’t need another alarmist political theory to understand what is happening.”
As the expert on digital technology Evgeny Morozov, the analysis of Shoshana Zuboff (it is all the more alarming that she worked in two mainstays of “techno-optimism”, Fast Company and BusinessWeek) makes too much of an emphasis on supervision and not enough said about capitalism: “the Supervisory Presenting capitalism as our new invisible Leviathan, she overlooks is how the power works over several centuries: the invisible Leviathan has long been with us.”
Shoshana Teeth objected that this criticism does not take into account “an unprecedented situation” in the history of capitalism.
In her opinion, the transition from large networking opportunities and new technologies to the surveillance capitalism was not inevitable. “This capitalism goes against the original digital dreams. It abolishes moral content, which the network has, by itself, destroys that connection to the network is proassisting step and naturally supports the democratization of knowledge.”
“Dictated by the market revolution”
She criticizes “dictated by the market revolution, which was hidden behind the technological Trojan horse, annexed human experience and spied on him, and also gave rise to an unprecedented asymmetry of knowledge hinder the normal protection mechanisms of democracy.”
How to deal with it? She says little about it in the book, but does not believe in antitrust laws for the dissolution of the Internet giants: “It will only increase the number of businesses that follow the same strategy.” She does not believe in the struggle for the ownership of the data, since the main bet — behavioral information that is constantly extracted in secrecy.
She welcomed the European regulation on data protection and the new encrypted search engines like Tor, but it will not be able to have a significant impact on the influence of Google.
And what’s next? According to her, is that we do not know what forms will resistance, but users of the digital sphere will behave as a “poor classes of the XIX century”, which was formed by trade unions and associations against industrial capitalism, which forced him to adopt social laws, which inhibited the operation and sought the democratic representative system in politics. But maybe it’s just the last utopia Shoshana of Zuboff?
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