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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Big Tech spends billions to lobby against oversight, while capitalizing on publicly funded data and details of our private lives

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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff is an eye-opening book, that everyone who loves freedom needs to heed. Here are snippets of reviews of the book:

This book explains the challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, and offers an extensive, highly detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations led by Leftist billionaires [think: Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter] to predict and control us.

The heady optimism of the Internet’s early days is gone. Technologies that were meant to liberate us have deepened inequality and stoked divisions. Tech companies gather our information online and sell it to the highest bidder, whether government or retailer.

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The Profits Roll In

Profits now depend not only on predicting our behavior but modifying it too. How will this fusion of capitalism and the digital shape our values and define our future?

We are at a crossroads. We still have the power to decide what kind of world we want to live in, and what we decide now will shape the rest of the century.

Our choices: allow technology to enrich the few and impoverish the many, or harness it and distribute its benefits. The stark issue at hand is whether we will be the masters of information and machines or its slaves.

We Are Their Pawns

A review of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism from the Guardian observed that we are their pawns. Tech companies want to control every aspect of what we do, for profit. This bold, vital book identifies our new era of capitalism.

First intent on organizing all human knowledge, Google ended up controlling all access to it; we do the searching, and are searched in turn. Setting out merely to connect us, Facebook found itself in possession of our deepest secrets.

In seeking to survive commercially beyond their initial goals, these companies realized they were sitting on a new kind of asset: our “behavioral surplus”, the totality of information about our every thought, word and deed, which could be traded for profit in new markets based on predicting our every need – or producing it.

In a move of such audacity that it bears comparison to colonial conquests, the tech giants unilaterally declared that these previously untapped resources were theirs for the taking, and brushed aside every objection.

Above the Law

While insisting that their technology is too complex to be legislated, companies have poured billions into lobbying against oversight, while building empires on publicly funded data and the details of our private lives. They have repeatedly rejected established norms of societal responsibility and accountability.

What is crucially different about this new form of exploitation and exceptionalism, is that beyond merely strip-mining our intimate inner lives, is that the extraction is so grotesque, so creepy, it is almost impossible to see how anyone who thinks about, it lives with it – and yet we do.

The benefits of faster search results and turn-by-turn directions mask the deeper, destructive predations of  “surveillance capitalism,” a force that is as profoundly undemocratic as it is exploitative….

Ignorance of surveillance capitalism is one of the central strategies of this regime, and yet the tide is turning: more and more people express their unease about the surveillance economy and, disturbed by the fractious, alienated, and trustless social sphere it generates, are seeking alternatives.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Politics

Pink Pussy Hats Deliver a Strong, Wrong Message

If the D.C. pink pussy hat wearers had had a unified message, then donning such hats did not help

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Donald Trump received numerous awards from the NAACP and other such groups, years before he ran for president. At one point, he had a black girlfriend for two years. Yet, the nanosecond that he circulated his MAGA hats, standing for “Make America Great Again,” those on the left called him a racist.

Automatically, The Worst Interpretation

Congress representatives such as AOC said that America was never great. Making America great again was attacked by the Left as referring to when white people ruled, and black people were subservient. MAGA suddenly meant ‘make the white majority supreme and keep minorities down.’ Do everything you can to return to the days of Jim Crow, redlining, and prejudice!

Donald Trump had no inkling that anyone would stumble over the phrase, “Make America Great Again.” It was his vision that every citizen who wanted to participate could be part of a glorious future. Leftists would have none of that.

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From inauguration day on January 20, 2017, and then beyond, women on the Left protested the Trump administration and G.O.P. policy by wearing what some have called pink “pussy” hats. Perhaps the protesters who wore these hats, in the shape of female genitalia, thought that somehow they brought appropriate attention to their cause.

Undesirable Attention

Where is the gravitas in wearing a pink pussy hat? Whatever attention it does bring, is not the sort that they necessarily seek. Can you take someone seriously who dons a hat that symbolizes the middle part of the female body?

For moment, suppose that men were marching to generate greater attention on, say, prostate cancer. Would they gain advocates by wearing hats that appeared to be symbolic of male genitalia? Would people regard them in earnest? Would their message have a strong impact? Or would their hats be a distraction?

We know that people at rallies wear hats intended to invoke a particular reaction. If one accepts that symbology has impact, then any fool with any kind of hat only needs to wear it. If the D.C. pink pussy hat wearers thought that they were making an impact, they had only to look to history to see that the hats were both inappropriate and unnecessary.

Many of the most effective messages in our history occurred in Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963 didn’t resort to props as he appealed to the nation. His words were powerful, his logic was simple, and his emotional impact was strong.

Unified and On Target

Other than Madonna dreaming about blowing up the White House, can anyone recall their words? If the D.C. pink pussy hat wearers had had a unified, coherent message, then donning such hats did not help. Their hats spoke louder than their words.

Were any messages of eloquence included in any editions of Vital Speeches or in other speech compilations? Did any speech make it into textbooks? Can anyone recite any selected verses uttered that day? Did anything said get taught in classrooms? Will speech coaches employ the words spoken that day to demonstrate rhetoric skills? Do students in debate clubs reflect on such words?

The answer: ‘no,’ five consecutive times.

Pretend that a speaker is coming to your group to deliver a message. You’re not sure of the content, but you know it will be political. You’re eager to attend. The speaker shows up and as she’s introduced and delivers her message she’s wearing a pink pussy hat. Honestly, can you say that her impact is as great as it would have been without the ridiculous adornment?

Hats Off

The vital difference between MAGA hats and pussy hats is that MAGA hats are baseball caps with lettering which makes a statement. Both men and women wear them. There are no sexual organs or innuendos involved. The same is true for those wearing baseball caps with other messages.

“Let’s Go Brandon,” which is meant to mock Joe Biden, offers a message on the front of the cap. If you remove the lettering, or cover it, you have an everyday baseball cap. The only message that lasts from the protest on January 20, 2017, is that a large gathering of women who sought to make an impact beclowned themselves.

What symbology will they employ for the 2024 election?

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Life

What Does the Term African American Mean?

The Left vehemently champions racial division

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I’ve never understood why Black Americans for several decades running were referred to as African Americans. Even if their ancestors were from Africa, the majority of the nation’s 44 million Black Americans has never been to Africa, have no viable connection to the continent itself, and have little or no concern about it.

Please Explain it to Me

Now here’s the really confusing part. Black Canadians, to my knowledge, generally have never been called African Canadians. Black people in Mexico have not been called African Mexicans. There’s little use of this type of terminology in Europe such as African French, African Italians, African Spanish, or African Portuguese.

Why, only in America, did the description of Black Americans, namely African Americans ever take hold? Overarching names for the various races have fallen out of favor in recent years. White Americans generally are not referred to as Caucasians. Black Americans are not referred to as Negroes.

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Endless Morphs

You have to wonder how and why terminology, for various segments of our population, keeps morphing into something new. At one time white Americans referred to black people as colored people. If I were a member of the black community and was referred to by white people as a colored person, I would be upset. We all have a color!

Later, the most appropriate way to address someone of color was to say they were a person of color. However, that is also a misnomer as once again, we are all of some color.

Scientists, anthropologists, social researchers, and others have pointed out that theoretically there are no races. If you lined up every single person on Earth from the lightest skin to the darkest skin the gradation from person to person would be so slight as to be virtually undetectable.

I like the approach that actor Morgan Freeman has taken, and I wish that more people would adopt it. He has eloquently stated, on many occasions, that one way to stop being obsessed with race is to stop talking about it.

Obsessed with Race

A large faction within the U.S. – Democrats — are populated by subgroups with overlapping views: liberals, progressives, socialists, and Marxists. They want to keep race at the forefront of all public discourse. In their eyes, virtually any topic that you can address – the total eclipse in April, for example – has some underlying racial component embedded within it. Not all topics have a racial component, but that is what they propagate on a daily basis.

What’s more, people on the Left are on the ever-present lookout for anything which they regard as a transgression when others are referring to minorities. They particularly are focused on anything that a Conservative says, at any time, even if it was 30 or 40 years ago, that to the Left some way represents a slight or lack of respect for minorities, particularly Black Americans.

For these ‘race police’ it’s like a game. They are delighted when they are able to find something, anything, that they can aggrandize to the hilt, have the mainstream media pick up, and whip into a social and cultural frenzy.

This bit of historical news might be hard to recall, but four years before Barack Obama was elected U.S. president, the topic of race was less contentious. A Gallup Poll revealed that 74% White Americans and 68% of Black Americans felt that race relations in the country were good. 19 years later, 43% of White people and 33% of Black people reported the same.

If we could only return to those pre-Obama days when Americans, of all types, had some common goals and shared the same types of aspirations such as succeeding in their professions, building a strong financial base for their family, and raising happy and healthy children.

Divided Forever?

Alas, with so many on the Left vehemently championing racial division it looks as if we don’t have good prospects, at least for the immediate future, to return to those hallowed, pre-Obama days. As an eternal optimist, however, I believe that one day the clamor will die down, and once again, we will simply all be Americans.

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