The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
As we attempt to grasp the consequences of our digital era, Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism “shines a searing light on how this latest revolution is transforming our economy, politics, society—and lives” (Financial Times). Surveillance capitalism—a concept coined by Zuboff herself—defines the current age in which we’ve all opted into the commodification of our personal information. Drawing from her landmark new book—wildly acclaimed by The Wall Street Journal, and praised in the New York Times in three separate features—Zuboff outlines the consequences of putting a price on private data, and urges business leaders to pay attention, resist habituation, and come up with novel responses to this new era.
“Zuboff’s book is the information industry’s Silent Spring.”— Chris Hoofnagle, University of California, Berkeley
There’s no doubt that smart devices, social networks, predictive shopping, location services, and their ilk have made 21st century life incredibly efficient, connected, and hyper-optimized. But as Harvard Business School emerita and scholar Shoshana Zuboff writes about in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, the trip and the trap of having access to these products and services comes with the parceling out of our information, which is then used to both serve and manipulate us. As our decisions are predicted and shaped, we are also giving these companies exorbitant power over us, the economy, and society as a whole. As consumers and citizens demand more from these monolithic corporations, they in turn will begin to change their efforts to control and utilize our information. The appetite and the leverage is here, Zuboff argues—and it’s in the companies’ best interests to change. Optimistic but realistic, in her talks, Zuboff shows us that “there’s a lot of work to be done, if we are to build bridges to the kind of future that we can call ‘home.’” Because, as she argues, this is not just about our individual lives and minds. The new economic order of surveillance capitalism is shaping democracy anew—in ways that threaten our hard-fought freedoms like never before.
Zuboff’s theorems have struck a cultural chord, with major publications of record hailing Surveillance Capitalism as “a landmark new book” (The Observer) vital to the current conversation. A bestseller in the US and the UK, The New York Times called it an “extraordinarily intelligent … comprehensive work of scholarship and synthesis” that sets forth a “substantial new argument against the intrusions of Big Tech” that “perfectly describes the dark waters we’ve entered.” The Wall Street Journal calls it “a rare volume that puts a name on the problem just as it becomes critical,” and the Financial Times called the book as an “unmissable classic that everyone should read,” while likening it to seminal socioeconomic investigations like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Karl Marx’s Capital.
“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.”— Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and No Logo
Zuboff was one of the first tenured women in the school Harvard Business School faculty ever, where she was the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration. Previously, she was a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Zuboff has also been a frequent contributor to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In the early 2000s, she shared her ideas on the future of business and society in her popular Fast Company column, “Evolving.” She has also been a featured columnist for BusinessWeek.com, with her work showcased on CNBC, Reuters International, the Today Show as well as in Fortune, Inc., Business Week, The New York Times, The Financial Times, and many other news outlets. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the top ten titles in Business & Economics of the season.