When information is more important than selling

Capitalism is changing, especially now that we are in an era where technology has reached the power to make not only people interconnected but also more vulnerable, especially to manipulation.

Companies try every day to sell their products in a variety of ways. They use psychological tricks to stimulate your ‘needs’. However, the best way to convince or deceive you is to know you. Therefore, they need information about you. The power of A.I. is able to collect data from different sources and use that information to predict your behavior.

Nonetheless, they don’t limit their capabilities to predicting your moves and offering you something to buy, they can manipulate your actions and choices to lead you to their desired aim.

Data can be collected from many independent sources such as search history, social media, and even your physical movements. Although this information looks unrelated, it can be used to calculate a personal profile with the tastes and desires of a person.

This information is defined as ‘behavioral surplus‘ because is collected from the additional behavior we have on the web more than that we have in real life. However, even more ‘physical’ movements could be analyzed and used to get a better analysis of our profile. This enables companies to increase their profits by creating more effective advertising, offering personalized recommendations, and even manipulating our behavior in subtle ways.

Prediction is therefore a key component of the so-called ‘surveillance capitalism‘, meaning that companies make money not only by convincing people through marketing and adverts but also by monitoring your life to draw on your personal clues to lead you to the point where you’ll make a decision you believe it comes from yourself but that you unconsciously don’t know it comes from a company which traced the path.

This behavior has a significant impact on society because by manipulating our behavior and choices, companies are undermining our autonomy and privacy and eroding the foundations of a democratic society.

That is why surveillance capitalism needs to be regulated in order to protect the privacy and autonomy of people and we should be enabled to hold companies accountable for their actions.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff is available to purchase here