I read a few more pages of Surveillance Capitalism (it will be a tough slog to finish this). As most people know, Google started the entire phenomenon of mining your identity and behavior patterns in order to sell it to advertisers. That is now called surveillance capitalism.
Well, that all happened by accident.
Google got its prestigious Kleiner Perkins venture capital funding around 1999, right before the Dot.com bubble burst. By 2002, the company was desperate and on life support. That is when they started to focus on selling ads. Their advertising team consisted of seven people before this inflection point.
Google started quixotically as a way to search the Internet and NOT be bothered by advertising. They were naïve, do-gooder, advocates for the masses (Just like Mark Zuckerberg wanting to change the world and end all disease). Then, due to financial pressures and facing extinction, they flipped, sold their souls to the devil, and became their own antithesis.
The key moment came when they realized that they were collecting valuable user trends that could predict the future and allow ads to be targeted to individuals. One day, some computer geeks showed up to work and spotted a spike in the search query of, “What is Carol Brady’s maiden name?” They started to investigate and learned that it was a question on the TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. They then predicted that time zones in Hawaii, where the show had not yet aired, would also see the same search query spikes. They were correct. Eureka!
Then, the new Chairman, Eric Schmidt, was hired because the founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, were sloppy Stanford computer nerds unfit to run a real company. He cut the budget and people had to share offices. By chance, he shared an office with the head of Google search. He saw the power of the data they were collecting on users of Google.
That is how surveillance capital came to be. Now, virtually every start-up in Silicon Valley uses this model or else they won’t get funding.
Knowing your keystrokes is child’s play now. They want your DNA. So much of our behavior and future health is all encoded within our DNA. That is the Holy Grail and why Google started 23andMe and many more “healthcare” companies.
Meanwhile, the Patriot Act, that came soon after those events, caused our government to get in on this action of illegally surveilling citizens. The Bush and Obama administrations looked the other way as surveillance capitalism thrived, in part because those same companies (i.e. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.) were doing contract work for the spy agencies. George W. Bush (and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc.) should all be prosecuted for treason for allowing this.