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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
Written by: Shoshana Zuboff
Narrated by: Nicol Zanzarella
Length: 24 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 38.59
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Shoshana Zuboff's interdisciplinary breadth and depth enable her to come to grips with the social, political, business, and technological meaning of the changes taking place in our time. We are at a critical juncture in the confrontation between the vast power of giant high-tech companies and government, the hidden economic logic of surveillance capitalism, and the propaganda of machine supremacy that threaten to shape and control human life. Will the brazen new methods of social engineering and behavior modification threaten individual autonomy and democratic rights and introduce extreme new forms of social inequality? Or will the promise of the digital age be one of individual empowerment and democratization?

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is neither a hand-wringing narrative of danger and decline nor a digital fairy tale. Rather, it offers a deeply reasoned and evocative examination of the contests over the next chapter of capitalism that will decide the meaning of information civilization in the 21st century. The stark issue at hand is whether we will be the masters of information and machines or its slaves. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2019 Shoshana Zuboff (P)2019 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"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)

"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)

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Great Research, Over The Top Ideological Preaching

A brilliant academic and writer, but too busy telling us what and how to think.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Brad
  • 2019-02-08

A MUST, NOT TO BE MISSED

Something wicked indeed has come this way, and is upon us now. Dubbed early on "The Information Age"; the appellation is woefully insufficient. For it is glaringly clear that we are well into the transition from occupying nation states (in which our social contracts as governed populations had long been between civil governments -- varied in kind, but with the one common feature of thriving entirely on human agency) to occupying corporate states. That is, it is not too soon to say we no longer populate nations but vast ruling corporations.

The singular, most curious and even frightening thing to consider is that to the degree we arrived at this predicament, we did so willingly. We did so under no other pressure than our own acquiescence. We did so not from ignorance of what was happening -- for this book is proof of that -- but from, if anything, a mass gaslighting. Thus, with all the facts before us, we chose the road called convenience rather than the road called liberty; and that, as the poet once wrote, made all the difference.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • pk
  • 2019-04-04

The intersection of ethics, capitalism, and tech

First, I love to read about ethics issues in technology; so, it may not be immediately apparent that one would be getting a good dose within this title. I was enamored from the beginning of how colorful this author was in producing a tangible and practical view of surveillance capitalism. This is a concept I've heard very little about outside of the security sector. To have the correlation made with other sociological concepts that I hadn't really thought about stretched me! This book was fantastic at opening up and investigating the implications of surveillance with the majority of consumers not truly comprehending and understanding the cost.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that the author goes on, repeatedly and at length, to address the same points multiple times. It was really hard to extract the take-away points at the mid-point of this book because of how often the author hits the same points, using the same language, and the same frustration toward the abuses. If you are not a reader that likes to "work" to obtain the gold nuggets of wisdom, then this is not the book for you. At times, I found myself cursing in traffic because the author repeats herself too much. I have the impression that this author created this book intending that each chapter should be able to stand on it's own. The unifying themes are very evident; so, repeatedly hitting the drum of disdain became painful after the first 8hrs. The editor should have reigned it in!

The last point I should make is that there are probably more than 30 important topics for consideration in this book. All of them are worthy of your clock cycles to consider, understand, and discuss with your friends and family. When coupled with some of the other topics I like to read, such as artificial intelligence, I am at no shortage of discussion points to appreciate with a mint julep, a cigar, and a friend on the porch for at least 2 summers....but, I'll do it without my phone, or sensors of any type, nearby.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Erik Kobayashi-solomon
  • 2019-04-20

Erudite and important

I had originally expected much more mechanical account of the way in which Google and Facebook, and later Microsoft, learned to use data to craft advertising messages. Instead, the book turned out to be a thoughtful and philosophical work that reminded me in ambition to Thomas Pikkety's work and in content to the writing of Hannah Arendt. This is an important work that I desperately hope will catch the attention of policy makers and prompt an international framework of privacy and personal rights laws.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric
  • 2019-04-18

This should be required reading

While this book seems almost excessively long, I feel the information is soo important for the times we live in. The way data is being collected and sold with no one held accountable is disheartening to say the least. If we do nothing to stop it we are basically giving up our freedom to choose and even our rights as we become a sum of data collected defining who we are to the powers that be. They can then use the data to manipulate our behavior or deny certain privileges. I don't like living in fear but this book can cause paranoia knowing the current truth. I hope enough people learn this information and we can turn technology into a positive tool instead of a tool used to spy and manipulate.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Philomath
  • 2019-04-17

Scholarly work that brings all the pieces together

The advances in technology over the last two decades is colossal. So much so that no one knows everything that’s happening.

I give great credit to the author for the research of these advancements and how they are changing the world. The world is primed for change of a magnitude matching the invention of farming.

The peoples of the world are connected through the internet. When email, social networks, search engines, gps, big data, machine learning, and all the other technologies indispensable to us merge, the outcome can only be described as hyperbolic in nature.

A lot of good will come out of it. A lot of power will be concentrated, and as this book highlights eloquently, threats to our original lifestyle is unavoidable. Most people don’t know much, and no one knows it all. The legal and political forces are lagging too far behind to have any effect.

For the first time in human history people will know you better than you know yourself. Questions like privacy of information is almost meaningless in a world where value of personal information, more than money, will fuel the future.

The Author is of a generation that can see erosion of our traditional life style, which I can understand. But the majority, especially the young are mostly blind to it. Or may be the cost benefit makes it acceptable.

For good or bad, we will find out who is right, in the not so far future.

This is a must read if one wishes to have a holistic understanding of what’s happening. This is an Important book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David Larson
  • 2019-04-10

The Most Important Book of our Time

If you think Facebook and Google are cool companies doing neat stuff, think again. Slowly they are taking control of our lives in a very dark and destructive way that you would never imagine. This isn't hyperbole. One day soon it will be too late. They have corrupted our capitalist system. If you are surprised that Google is the largest lobbyist in DC, them read this book. If you are surprised that teen suicides have doubled since the invention of Facebook, read this book. If you are supposed that it would take over 70 days to read the actual contracts you agree to when you post to Facebook, read this book. I used to think global warming was the greatest threat of my generation. I was wrong. It is surveillance capitalism.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • M. Bishop
  • 2019-03-28

Well done first draft of the new age.

I just tried to add this book to my Facebook book list and it is not listed there. Must have hit a nerve.
I think the constant manipulation of Google, Facebook and others has noticeably begun to degrade our quality of life in ways that Zuboff outlines. These companies and their owners and CEOs are bad actors, a justifiable opinion not born of envy politics. We have a real problem.
This is not a fairy tale like bad words and dirty movies lead to mayhem. The internet is a socially interactive medium that borrows into core human nature and then social media monetizes that power.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • KYLE KNOLL
  • 2019-03-15

Takes too much time to communicate simple points

I really tried hard hard to get into this book, but the author uses way too many words to communicate somewhat simple points. If you are looking to kill some time and like hearing an author ramble on using as many big words as possible, then this book is for you. I couldn't take it anymore and returned it.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • MJ
  • 2019-04-21

The 'Silent Spring' of the tech industry

My first thought upon listening to an interview with Shoshana Zuboff (on the TWiT podcast "Triangulation") -- long before I read reviews comparing her latest work to the Rachel Carson classic -- was that this book was 'Silent Spring' for the tech industry. Like Carson before her, Zuboff sounds the alarm about a looming catastrophe that's all around us, though few seem to be fully aware of it. Yes, the book is impossibly long and repetitive, but it's worth investing the time to understand. Many tech writers touch on various aspects of our current/future surveillance capitalism nightmare, but only Zuboff attempts to connect all the dots, from how we got here in the first place to the myriad, insidious ways that surveillance capitalism is impacting us individually and as a society. Absolutely essential reading.

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  • byuview
  • 2019-04-09

Overly Strident Presentation Foregiven Because Topics Are so important and Little understood

The topics and concerns are very important but the stridency and repetition of some author-defined buzz words for key concepts gets tedious at times, The work could benefit from a strong editor with appreciation for the concepts and concerns and ability to reduce the key points to a presentation political leaders could consume. In two hours taking away 80% of the content. The stridency invites a perception of imbalance and makes on seek the counter veiling viewpoints.

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  • Kerem
  • 2019-04-08

An essential read for everyone who owns a smartphone

With a level of certainty and clarity of a masterpiece, this book takes aim at the omnipresent surveillance capitalist that boldly claims our daily lives and liberty in pursuit of unlimited power and profits. Based on impressive theoretical groundwork, this book shows the philosophical urgency and practical ways of resisting this new breed of exploitative capitalist.