So if we are not the product of tech companies, what is? What is it that they strip us of, leaving us as empty carcasses, and sell?
It’s the capacity to make our own decisions.
Here’s an example. A huge banking conglomerate in China calculates credit scores based on many different factors, most of which aren’t financial. For instance, the algorithm adjusts your credit rating based on who your friends are. Every time you dump a friend with a lower score, your score improves. Soon, people automatically factor this in as they make their friendship choices.
Yes, social considerations in the choice of friends always existed. But social considerations exist and can be negotiated among people who surround you in your actual life. This is very different than an automated process that pushes you, in a way you not only can’t negotiate or control but can’t even fully know about, to pare down your circle of friends.
If a machine decides – and predicts long in advance, pushing you to confirm its prediction – who your friends will be, then how are you human? How are you anything? This is the main concern of Zuboff’s book, and I honestly think it should be ours. We don’t see any politicians even remotely interested in reigning in this insanity and preventing us from becoming what China is with its social ratings.
Have you wondered why?