carlo von lynX on Sun, 27 Jan 2019 17:51:32 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> John Naughton on Shoshana Zuboff: 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

Thanks for articulating your doubts, this is going to be interesting to
dig into.

On 01/27/19 09:48, Patrice Riemens wrote:
> James is right, I think, in believing Carlo's argument does not account
> for the rapid, 'liquid' change advertising, and the current economic
> dispensation in general has undergone at an ever increasing speed over
> the last decade.

Well I think a prohibition of individualised advertising would
decelerate this speed.

On 2019-01-27 08:31, James Wallbank wrote:
>> I'd suggest that your response doesn't acknowledge the fluidity and
>> adaptability of capitalism, which is just one framework to manifest a
>> desire to gain advantage and control. If you ban targeted advertising,
>> that doesn't mean that advertisers will go back to "regular"
>> advertising.

What else should they do if what they were doing is illegal?

>> It means that advertising will morph into a different and almost
>> unidentifiable practice.

Remember that I don't promote forbidding something. I promote
re-engineering the Net in such a way that it is no longer
technically possible to do this. This includes considering measures
like abolishing HTTP or at least relevant parts of it. So what you
describe would not only be criminal in the future, it would also
not work most of the time.

>> In fact, it already is. We see that
>> advertisers mobilise social media "influencers", and we may sense (I

Social media bots aren't technically possible in the new scenario I
am promoting. You need to know real people to be able to enter their
social network and you put your own reputation at risk if you try
to abuse their trust or introduce bots.

>> certainly do) that supposedly "public service broadcasting" has been
>> subverted. Imagine a circumstance in which the people who were
>> advertisers are invisibly infiltrating every part of life, with
>> techniques that may be impossible to distinguish from other cultural
>> activity.

Neither would it be legal, nor technically easy - so I consider it a
theoretical scenario which is a lot less evil than the current situation
by which the Net is progressing towards being more harm than good for
human society.

>> An advertiser can intervene at any part of the communication process.
>> For example:
>> * If they're blocked from putting product placements into films, they
>> can write films themselves.

That is not within the debate as it is not about targeted manipulation.
Product placement is "mostly harmless" since there can be a public
debate about it.

>> * If they can't get media channels to feature their planted messages,
>> they can produce their own channels.

As they have always done, with the mixed results they get, and under
scrutiny of public debate. Thus, this is also not a scenario that I
am addressing. It's not a new problem.

>> * New foods, new fashions, new music, new rumours, new words, all can
>> be engineered to render recipients (who become participants) more
>> suggestible and more aligned with a particular way of thinking.

Nothing new unless these messages are not aimed at specific individuals
in the knowledge of their specific mental weaknesses.

>> Some global producers are now so pervasive that they don't really need
>> to advertise ANY SPECIFIC PRODUCT. The message "Got a problem? Buy
>> something!" is enough to be to their advantage.

Yes, I am not a fan of brand marketing either, but it is a wholly
different issue and it has been around for a century or so.

>> The key resistant mechanisms are education and critical thinking. In
>> other words, for each individual to get smarter, to be more able to
>> evaluate influences, and to gain greater agency over their own life.

No, that is a very popular fallacy. Education CAN NOT COMPENSATE for
targeted scanning of psychological limitations. Humans will always be
imperfect and as soon as somebody is allowed to leverage that, there
is no education on earth that can compensate. So this is a recipe
guaranteed for failure.

>> Of course, the mechanism of education itself is under
>> information-attack - education is replaced by training, information
>> replaced by disinformation, history is replaced with propaganda, truth
>> is replaced by faith.

True, but it is orthogonal to the issue of powning individuals
psychologically. A friend of mine made this comparison: Attacking
the brains of individuals is like doing a celebral DDoS on each
and every susceptible individual in society, independently, without
any evidence, without any public control. It can in no way be
compared to any mechanism of manipulation seen in the past of
human society.

>> Resisting the mechanisms of surveillance capitalism on an individual
>> level is completely feasible. There are numerous tactics to generate
>> digital disinformation that disguises an individual's tracks. However,
>> these may be pointless - not only do they expend energy, they also
>> don't intervene at the contextual scale.

Also you're clutching at straws here. Just because the system of
psychological manipulation isn't perfect yet (it's only ten years old
and depends on AI which is only starting to function), it is quite
naive to expect this not to win the race against education and
"disguises" in the long run. If we don't regulate the power of AI
applied against us, the human species will lose against AI. Your
bets on human intelligence vs AI are too much a risk we can take.

>> I have to say, I'm hopeful, but not optimistic. Unless a critical mass
>> of individuals do manage to get smarter, we may be living in an age in
>> which the very notion of individual, autonomous human consciousness is
>> coming to an end. Each of us may be increasingly absorbed into a
>> collective cultural/media matrix in which independent thought is
>> simply not a thing. Welcome to the hive.

I can't think of any case in human history where a massive improve-
ment has come by a change in behaviour of each damn individual rather
than by the introduction of new rules from some smart people who
figured out how things were going wrong and managed to grab the power.

On 01/27/19 09:48, Patrice Riemens wrote:
> can only be achieved at the
> individual level. Think of 'there is war, but nobody goes there'.

Cute, but when has it ever worked? If the lords of war decide to go
to war, we will pick you up to be in the front line. No questions asked.

> I would add the observation that a still minute, but ever
> increasing number of people are switching to a different lifestyle,

If they can't leverage a change in policy, this will have no effect
for society as a whole. If policy is decided by 42 persons rather
than a democratic society, good luck with getting your ideas through
to those 42 suckers who run the planet. Sometimes I wonder if this
"change from below/individual action" ideology, promoted without the
least factual proof of ever achieving anything, is actually being
induced into anarchist heads by spin doctors from above, knowing that
it will keep them from doing what could actually put their power at
risk: engage in democracy.

> yet there is a chance that something good will come about if, again,
> manipulated, unnatural individualism can be reverted into solidarity,
> mutual aid, and peer support. Yet another French concept/discipline we
> might well embrace: the 'entraidologie' (the theory of mutual
> assistance). And of course, more DIYT (Do It Yourself, Together) instead
> of relying on outside, big business sources!

Yes, ideology. Ideology to me is when ideas are persistently promoted
although they have no foundation in scientific or historical facts.
Good sounding stuff that keeps people from actually taking their butts
to the their streets and save what's left of that thing our ancestors
fought so hard to achieve: democracy.

But wait, ideology can go much further:

On 01/25/19 21:29, mp wrote:
> regulation is leftist, a handle on liberal markets created by
> social-democrats, a leftist faction

Wow, now THIS is a statement which is completely fact-free..
just total propaganda.

> democracy is a liberal distraction from the power of markets.

Democracy is the only legitimate tool we have to regulate how humans
interact (which includes markets). Your ideological axioms of thinking
are entirely fallacious which makes me wonder if there's any possibility
to have a constructive discourse with you if anything you say will build
upon ideological false grounds.


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