The city of Toronto now sits in the crosshairs of a uniquely 21st-century economic model that I call surveillance capitalism. Invented at Google two decades ago, surveillance capitalism claims private experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Most data are hunted, captured and valued not for service improvement but rather for their rich predictive signals. These data flows lay the foundation for a lucrative new surveillance economy. First, data are extracted from private experience. Next, they are conveyed to computational factories called “machine intelligence,” where they are fabricated into behavioural predictions. Finally, prediction products are sold to business customers in markets that trade exclusively in human futures, where companies compete on the quality of predictions: they sell certainty.
Surveillance capitalism has become the default model of the tech sector and now migrates across the normal economy, infiltrating every sector: insurance, education, health care, retail, finance, transportation, the list goes on. As its name suggests, this rogue mutation of capitalism operates stealthily, designed for secrecy and camouflaged by a fog of carefully crafted rhetorical misdirection, euphemism and mendacity, all of which aims to keep us ignorant.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.