Here’s why tech companies abuse our data: because we let them

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
April 10, 2018

We live in an e-commerce utopia. I can call out orders and my demands are satisfied through an automated, seamless transaction. I just have to ask Alexa, or Siri, or one of the other digital assistants developed by Silicon Valley firms, who await the commands and manage the affairs of their human bosses.

We’re building a world of frictionless consumerism. To see the problems with it requires you to stop and think, which itself runs against the grain of this technology. Utopia is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s utopia is another’s dystopia. Take the obese humans in Pixar’s Wall-E: never having to move from their mobile chairs with screens they use to get their food delivered to them. The point is not that Alexa will make us obese. Rather, it’s that intelligent technology can manage much more than isolated purchase orders of books, or the devices and systems in our homes. It can manage our lives, who we are and are capable of being, for better or worse.

Silicon Valley’s pursuit of frictionless transactions in our modern digital networked environment is relentless. It has given rise to surveillance capitalism – the extraction and monetisation of our data – and the creeping use of such data to “scientifically” manage most facets of our lives, in order to efficiently deliver cheap bliss and convenience.

Read the full piece at The Guardian