Surveillance

Computer profiles generate objects for surveillance - they instruct or train the observer in what to watch and how to watch for it. Police, psychiatrists, educators, physicians, to name just a few groups, increasingly use profile technology for early or pre-identification of various traits within preselected populations - if you match enough elements of the profile, you could become atarget, even before any trait has manifested itself. To prepare the observer, to train the observer to see, and in the last instance, to be the observer's eyes, this is the imaginary of the simulation of surveillance.

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facial recognition Xinjiang, China

If the techniques of surveillance lend themselves to authoritarian control and political manipulation, the information that activity on the internet produces has also enabled the rise of “surveillance capitalism,” and the market dominance of companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix, to name a few. In a book entitled The Rise of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff documents the ways in which these corporations monetized the “data exhaust”, the “breadcrumbs” left behind by user activity, into a massive source of wealth and power, that they declared to be theirs for the taking. According to Zuboff, Google and others “asserted their rights to bypass our awareness, to take our experience and transform it into data, to produce strategies and tactics that keep us ignorant of their practices. and to insist on the conditions of lawlessness required for these operations. Apparently useless information could be combined with powerful new analytic capabilities to produce predictions of user behavior. (p.338) Our behavior, once unobservable, was declared as free for the taking, theirs to own, and theirs to decide how to use and how to profit from. Since then, “Surveillance capitalists have shifted from using automated machine processes to know about your behavior to using machine processes to shape your behavior according to their interests.”