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Surveillance Capitalism and Human Will

Anyone who appears to be against the great machine of technology is open to be seen as a Luddite, or worse. It is challenging to be articulate in one's own defense when there is so much propaganda and so little understanding of how technology really works, and how the largest, most profitable and politically powerful corporations are effecting human behavior. I found some solace in the the following words taken from an article by Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff:

Hannah Arendt once observed that indignation is the natural human response to that which degrades human dignity. The bare facts of surveillance capitalism necessarily arouse my indignation because they demean human dignity. The future of this narrative will depend upon the indignant scholars and journalists drawn to this frontier project, indignant elected officials and policy makers who understand that their authority originates in the foundational values of democratic communities, and indignant citizens who act in the knowledge that effectiveness without autonomy is not effective, dependency-induced compliance is no social contract, and freedom from uncertainty is no freedom.

It is a most powerful and insightful essay based upon the observation that:

... Google is ground zero for a wholly new subspecies of capitalism in which profits derive from the unilateral surveillance and modification of human behavior.

As schools continue to trade off their students' data for so called, "free" applications from Google, it is imperative that school administration begin to understand the scope of the issue. The question isn't just one of little adds (though one might well ask why public schools think being part of an advertising campaign of any company is okay.) It is important that all society recognize that the aim of ongoing surveillance and data collection is to sell the ability to manipulate the individual in thought and action. It is valued for its usefulness in altering the behavior of the individual. In essence what is at stake is the freedom of thought and action of the student, of all citizens. Taking away a anyone's right to privacy is not only illegal under Canadian and U.S. law, it is also wrong minded.

" Privacy rights thus confer decision rights, but these decision rights are merely the lid on the Pandora’s Box of the liberal order. Inside the box, political and economic sovereignty meet and mingle with even deeper and subtler causes: the idea of the individual, the emergence of the self, the felt experience of free will."