Too Smart
Book

Too Smart

How Digital Capitalism is Extracting Data, Controlling Our Lives, and Taking Over the World

MIT Press, 2020
First Edition: 2020 more...

Editorial Rating

10

Qualities

  • Eye Opening
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Recommendation

Jathan Sadowski’s searing, alarming exposé reveals how smart technology will soon achieve domination of human life. Technocratic organizations use smart devices to extract data from people’s bodies, homes and interactions with police and government agencies. Everything you do becomes a source of value they aggregate, analyze and sell to insurance companies, retailers and surveillance enterprises. Governments and corporations use data to control you using covert and overt behavior-modification methods. Sadowski issues an urgent call to action to collectivize data and resist corporate encroachment.

Summary

“Smart tech” is a pervasive and powerful presence in human lives.

Smart tech is any device with the capacity for “data collection, network connectivity, and enhanced control.” Soon, smart tech won’t be optional when you buy, for example, an electric toothbrush; it will be a standard feature. You won’t be able to opt out of someone tracking your movements, behavior and preferences.

For every person who benefits from technology, others suffer. Technology is naturally political, in that certain people will have the power to make decisions about how other people live and work. The technocrats that hold power are part of an oligarchy. When citizens don’t participate in the decisions that govern their lives, they effectively become subject to a de facto authoritarian state.

In this coming era of “digital capitalism,” technopolitics will present itself in three ways:

  1. “Interests” – Smart tech expands and advances corporate interests, prioritizing them over “human autonomy, social goods, and democratic rights.”
  2. “Imperatives” – Digital capitalism seeks to both extract...

About the Author

Jathan Sadowski is a research fellow in the Emerging Technologies Research Lab at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He writes on the politics of technology for publications including The Guardian, OneZero, and Real Life.


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