David Patrikarakos

We Know Who You Are

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power

By

Profile Books 691pp £25 order from our bookshop

Like many of the best books that traffic in ideas, Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism starts out with a simple question: ‘Can the digital future be our home?’ She quotes, as a point of comparison, a paper mill manager who asked her (as far back as 1981), ‘Are we all going to be working for a smart machine, or will we have smart people around the machine?’

But this is not another (by now unnecessary) book on job automation and the fear of robots sending us all to the dole queue – assuming mass state welfare will still exist in the future, which it probably won’t. Zuboff posits that we are entering a future designed not by Ridley Scott but by Adam Smith – had he had access to our most intimate thoughts. Zuboff understands perhaps the fundamental principle of our age: the digital is always political.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,