Sirwin
Sirwin
An illustration of the Devil in the Codex Gigas, Copyright Wikimedia Commons

Big Tech is Data Theft! OR The Idea of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Twenty First Century: A summary of Numerous Authors on Surveillance Capitalism


"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't after you!"
 — Joseph Heller; Catch 22; Commonly misattributed to Kurt Kobain


"If you're not paranoid, you're not paying attention."
 — Origin Unknown, possibly a radio/TV show. (I did search for it, but got no definitive answer)

Introduction: Why Yet Another Book on Surveillance Capitalism and the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

I may be paranoid, but I have good reason. As for schizophrenic (out of touch with reality or seeing things differently), according to a psychiatrist (in whom I have little faith), I beg to differ. As I see it, I am very much in touch with reality; it just happens to be a very ugly reality which most people can't stomach, never mind countenance. Thus, they ignore it or deny its existence, at their peril. Fortunately, I'm not alone. I have the works of authors and industry insiders such as Eli Pariser, Jaron Lanier (somewhat of a wildcard *), Roger McNamee, Shoshana Zuboff and Tristan Harris (and others) to provide the reasoning behind my paranoia. To that end, I've set out to summarise as many of the books listed below as I can within the space of two months and offer this abridged/condensed form of them as a book on its own (somewhat like how Shortform does, but without consulting that Website, since I'm writing this on an air-gapped machine running GNU+Linux).

Here, then, are the books (in Alphabetical order) that I aim to read and summarise in the space of two months (eight weeks or sixty days, to be exact ^):

  • Arbitration in the Digital Age – The Brave New World of Arbitration – Maud Piers & Christian Aschauer; Cambridge; ISBN-13 – 978-1-10841-7907, DOI – 10.1017/9781108283670
  • Behind the one-way mirror — a deep dive into the technology of corporate surveillance; EFF
  • Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life – Wolfie Christl ; Cracked Labs
  • Future Crimes — Everything is connected, everyone is vulnerable and what we can do about it (2015) — Marc Goodman; Doubleday; ISBN-13 — 978-0-38553901-2
  • How to Disappear and Start a New Life — How to Get a Complete New Identity Legally and How to Delete Yourself from the Internet (2016) — Raymond Phillips; CBS
  • How To Disappear from the Internet While Leaving False Trails — How to Be Anonymous Online (2016) — Raymond Philips ; CBS
    7. Life 3.0 — Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (2017) — Max Tegmark; Alfred Knopf and Random House; ISBN-13 — 978-1-1019-4660-2
  • Manufacturing Consent — The Political Economy of the Mass Media — Edward S. Herman & Noam Chomsky
  • Networks of Control — A Report on Corporate Surveillance, Digital Tracking, Big Data and Privacy (2016) — Wolfie Christl and Sarah Spiekermann; Facultas
  • Permanent Record — Edward Snowden; MacMillan
  • Persuasive Technology — Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do — Prof. B.J. Fogg
  • Propaganda in the Information Age — Still Manufacturing Consent — Alan Mcloud
  • Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now — Jaron Lanier; Henry Holt
  • The 4th Industrial Revolution — Responding to the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Business (2018) — Mark Skilton & Felix Hovsepian; MacMillan; ISBN-13 — 978-3-319-62479-2; DOI — 10.1007/978-3-319-62479-2; LCCN — 2017948314
  • The Age of Surveillance Capitalism — The Fight for Human Freedom at the New Frontier of Power (2019) — Shoshana Zuboff; Hatchette and Perseus; ISBN-13 — 978-1-6103-9570-0; LCCN — 2018039998
  • The Art of Invisibility — The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data (2017-02) — Kevin D. Mitnick and Robert Vermosi; Hatchette; ISBN — 978-0-316-38049-2
  • The Filter Bubble — What the Internet Is Hiding from You (2011) — Eli Pariser; Penguin; ISBN-13 — 978-1-101-51512-9
  • The Shallows — What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (2011) — Nicholas Carr; Norton and Company; ISBN-13 — 978-0-393-07936-4
  • The Singularity Is Near — When Humans Transcend Biology (2005-2008) — Ray Kurzweil; Duckworth Overlook
  • Tor and the Dark Art of Anonymity — How to Be Invisible from NSA Spying — Lance Henderson
  • Tor and The Dark Net — Remain Anonymous and Evade NSA Spying (2016) — James Smith; Pinnacle
  • Weapons of Math Destruction — How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (2016) — Cathy O'Neil; Crown; ISBN-13 — 978-05534-1882-8; LCCN — 2016016487
  • Who Owns the Future? — Jaron Lanier; Simon & Schuster
  • You Are Not a Gadget — A Manifesto (2010) — Jaron Lanier; Alfred Knopf
  • Zucked — Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe (2019) — Roger McNamee;Penguin; ISBN-13 — 978-05255-6136-1; LCCN — 2018051479

After this, I'm going to continue with what I was doing before: Backing up my most important files (which are many), wiping my current installation of Debian GNU+Linux and installing Whonix running inside a VM/Docker container. That's because the system I thought was safe enough turns out not to be and I've been compromised, yet again. For example, someone got into my bank account (yes, I'm still operating with the old and obsolete technology that is fiat) and mucked around, leaving me about ZAR 350 in the red. (Thank goodness the amount for my overdraft is small and wasn't altered.) I've also been forced to use tech I don't trust (id est Google's G-Suite, for which I've yet to explore alternatives).

This is going to be done in installments/parts, in which each installment/part is for one book. However, the order won't necessarily be as listed above. Fort starters, the first nine parts (about one a week) will be as follows:

  • Permanent Record — Edward Snowden; MacMillan

  •  The 4th Industrial Revolution — Responding to the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Business (2018) — Mark Skilton & Felix Hovsepian

  • Zucked — Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe (2019) — Roger McNamee;Penguin; ISBN-13 — 978-05255-6136-1; LCCN — 2018051479

  • The Age of Surveillance Capitalism — The Fight for Human Freedom at the New Frontier of Power (2019) — Shoshana Zuboff; Hatchette and Perseus; ISBN-13 — 978-1-6103-9570-0; LCCN — 2018039998

  • The Filter Bubble — What the Internet Is Hiding from You (2011) — Eli Pariser

  • Behind the one-way mirror — a deep dive into the technology of corporate surveillance; EFF

  • The Art of Invisibility — The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data (2017-02) — Kevin D. Mitnick and Robert Vermosi; Hatchette; ISBN — 978-0-316-38049-2

  • How To Disappear from the Internet While Leaving False Trails — How to Be Anonymous Online (2016) — Raymond Philips

  • How to Disappear and Start a New Life — How to Get a Complete New Identity Legally and How to Delete Yourself from the Internet (2016) — Raymond Phillips

 

The next seventeen books/parts can be considered additional/supplemental reading material.

Right, then, let's get to it with part 1!

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon on the Nature of Governance

In the 1800s, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the "grandfather of anarchism", as he was dubbed, wrote the following on the nature of what it is to be governed:

"To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighted, censored, ordered about bhy men whom have neither the right nor the knowledge nor the virtue [to do so]. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorised, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility — and in the name of general interest — to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolised, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed. Then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, chocked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured. *That* is government. *That* is its justice. *That* is its morality."
 — The General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century (1851); Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Being opposed to all that he saw in government, Proudhon proposed the principle of federation (id est, a decentralisation of power when all participants, or groups thereof, are on equal footing and self-governing). Yes, cryptocurrency folks and users of Mastodon, Diaspora and other decentralised/federated software and Websites on the big old Internet, you're Proudhonian Crypto-anarchists, even if you previously didn't know as much.

Perhaps I may be so bold as to suggest that accessing the Internet through one of the Big Tech companies — which not only gate-keep the "information super highway", but actively collect and manipulate big data stores that come from the people whom use the so-called "free" services they provide — has some parallels. I certainly see some, given what's known about the antics of the NSA, Amazon, Dell, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Verison/Yahoo & Tumblr and the like ...

That conveniently leads into Part 1, which is a summary of Edward Snowden's autobiography.

Part 1: Permanent Record by Edward Joseph Snowden

Arguably, I should start this series with The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshanna Zuboff, since that is the topic of this series of posts. However, the reason why I'm starting with Edward Snowden's autobiography should be obvious to anyone who's serious about their online privacy and "permanent record", their online digital "data footprint": Snowden's whistle-blowing on the NSA's unlawful (and certainly unethical) mass spying and "bulk collection" practices on US citizens and their associates (which, in this interconnected online age, is practically everybody) not just brought the whole nasty rabbit hole to our awareness, but went into details on what it is and how big it is.

Preface

Edward Snowden used to work as a spy for the American governmental organisations known as the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He claims that he now works "for the public", protecting the latter from the former. The former has gone from doing targeted surveillance on individuals to mass surveillance on entire country-wide populations, particularly on citizens of the USA (and those whom use American-owned companies providing the Internet's infrastructure); a network of global mass surveillance.

Snowden states that at the time he was building a globe-wide backup network/system for the CIA and NSA's spying activities, he didn't realise that what he was doing ("engineering a system that would keep a permanent record of everyone’s life") was wrong, but eventually had that light-bulb moment.

"Deep in a tunnel under a pineapple field — a subterranean Pearl Harbor–era former airplane factory — I sat at a terminal from which I had practically unlimited access to the communications of nearly every man, woman, and child on earth who’d ever dialed a phone or touched a computer. Among those people were about 320 million of my fellow American citizens, who [sic], in the regular conduct of their everyday lives, were being surveilled in gross contravention of not just the Constitution of the United States, but **the basic values of any [supposedly] free society**.

"The reason you’re reading this book is that I did a dangerous thing for a man in my position: I decided to tell the truth. I collected internal IC [(Intelligence Community)] documents that gave evidence of the US government’s lawbreaking and turned them over to
journalists, who vetted and published them to a scandalized world. This book is about what led up to that decision, the moral and ethical
principles that informed it, and how they came to be — which means that it’s also about my life."


All unattributed quoted text above is from Permanent Record. For the rest of the summary thereof, look out for a future post with a link to my yet-to-be-created LeanPub account/offerings.

Until next time (Part 2: The 4th Industrial Revolution),
Snark out with your shark out!


Footnotes

  • * Jaron Lanier strikes me as the Richard Stallman of the group: Somewhat of a crazily fanatical and over-zealous prophet of the cause, to the point of potentially alienating "the very people we're trying to save", as Morpheus put it to Neo in the first {_The Matrix_} film. He's also got that long-haired and slightly unkempt "shaggy-haired and bearded hacker" look to him, IMO.
  • ^ There's just no way that I'll be able to get through twenty-five books in fifty-six days (unless I make a deal with the devil, like whomever wrote the Codex Gigas, allegedly in twenty-four hours). I'll do the best I can, maybe two books a week if I put my mind to it.
  • "LCCN" stands for "Library of Congress Catalog Number", while "DOI" stands for "Document Object ID" (See doi.org for details.)

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Great White Snark
Great White Snark

I'm currently seeking fixed employment as a S/W & Web developer (C# & ASP .NET MVC, PHP 8+, Python 3), hoping to stash the farmed fiat and go full Crypto, quit the 07:30-18:00 grind. Unsigned music producer; snarky; white; balding; smashes Patriarchy.


The Snark Returns: Random Musings from The GWS
The Snark Returns: Random Musings from The GWS

SW/Web developer: ~12 years of C# (yay!) & ASP .Net MVC, Java (blargh!), Python (woot!) experience. I'm currently hitting faucets and writing for crypto to stake/invest . | I work part-time with animals. Sadly, my cerebellum and medulla oblongata aren't Einsteinian in proportion. However, I possess a Brobdingnagian vocabulary and get by with being a barbigerous logophile. I can probably write you into bed, if smashing Capitalism and Patriarchy turns you on. Kink is political!

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