I stumbled across this article from the New York Times that I thought may be of interest to people in this class. It is from 2020, but its focus is on the way in which large tech companies are using our personal data to surveil us, and sell things to us (which unfortunately remains a relevant topic in 2022).
An excerpt that I found really interesting:
” Early on, it was discovered that, unknown to users, even data freely given harbors rich predictive signals, a surplus that is more than what is required for service improvement. It isn’t only what you post online, but whether you use exclamation points or the color saturation of your photos; not just where you walk but the stoop of your shoulders; not just the identity of your face but the emotional states conveyed by your “microexpressions”; not just what you like but the pattern of likes across engagements. Soon this behavioral surplus was secretly hunted and captured, claimed as proprietary data.
The data are conveyed through complex supply chains of devices, tracking and monitoring software, and ecosystems of apps and companies that specialize in niche data flows captured in secret. For example, testing by The Wall Street Journal showed that Facebook receives heart rate data from the Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, menstrual cycle data from the Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, and data that reveal interest in real estate properties from Realtor.com — all of it without the user’s knowledge.
These data flows empty into surveillance capitalists’ computational factories, called “artificial intelligence
,” where they are manufactured into behavioral predictions that are about us, but they are not for us. Instead, they are sold to business customers in a new kind of market that trades exclusively in human futures. Certainty in human affairs is the lifeblood of these markets, where surveillance capitalists compete on the quality of their predictions. This is a new form of trade that birthed some of the richest and most powerful companies in history.”
If you want to read the full article it can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/opinion/sunday/surveillance-capitalism.html
– Emma Jerrott