Big Google is watching you
First published here: https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/13-03-2019/big-google-is-watching-you/
Danyl Mclauchlan stares into the abyss that is Google and wonders if we are about to experience the birth of a new, even more terrifying capitalism.
I feel it most when I’m at the supermarket. I’m standing there looking at jellymeat but at the same time, I’m aware of being embedded in a web of data and analytics. I’m watched by the store’s security system but doubt any human will ever see the footage. I wonder if my presence – my choices, expressions, conversations – is quantised, aggregated into behavioural datasets, auctioned on prediction markets to vendors and consumer research companies, used to optimise product design, packaging and store layout. I sense that my thoughts and feelings are not my own, that they’re mediated by a vast accumulation of psychology and machine learning. I never knew what to call this feeling: it was just a vague sense of powerlessness; a background paranoia. Shoshana Zuboff calls it surveillance capitalism.