LogicLounge with Cory Doctorow

  • By Martin Wagner (edt.)
  • 2020-07-21
  • VCLA
  • Public Outreach

“Working as Intended: Surveillance Capitalism is not a Rogue Capitalism”. Without any regulatory oversight, are we all test rabbits for the big tech companies?

“BigTech is not about ‘making things’ business, it‘s a ‘buying things’ business.”—Cory Doctorow.
“BigTech is not about ‘making things’ business, it‘s a ‘buying things’ business.”—Cory Doctorow.

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The “surveillance capitalism” thesis holds that companies spy because data lets them conduct devastatingly effective influence operations while racing past regulators who might otherwise rein in their operations. Cory Doctorow believes this gives undue credence to Big Tech‘s sales literature—the source of the claims about the power of behavioral advertising to influence behavior—while underplaying the role that monopoly and state surveillance play in both the decay of public discourse and governmental complacency when it comes to corporate surveillance.

However, what if Big Tech’s ability to command billions for ads has more to do with cornering markets and eking out marginal gains through targeting, with stale data being largely useless for commercial purposes—but still full of juicy kompromat for greedy state surveillance agencies?

Without any regulatory oversight, are we all test rabbits for the big tech companies? Do free-range BigTech monopolies cause erosion of competition and innovation, democracy, personal freedoms, and sense of community?

About Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is a science fiction novelist, journalist, and technology activist, working as a special advisor for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He is a former director of Europen Affairs for the EFF, holds an honorary doctorate in computer science from the Open University (UK), where he is a Visiting Professor; he is also an MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate and a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. In 2007, he served as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. His novels have been translated into dozens of languages and are published by Tor Books, Head of Zeus (UK), Titan Books (UK) and HarperCollins (UK). He has won the Locus, Prometheus, Copper Cylinder, White Pine and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and British Science Fiction Awards. He co-founded the open-source peer-to-peer software company OpenCola and serves on the boards and advisory boards of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the Clarion Foundation, the Open Technology Fund and the Metabrainz Foundation. Cory Doctorow is also the co-founder of the UK Open Rights Group.

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Organizers

The LogicLounge is hosted by the 32nd International Conference on Computer-Aided Verification (CAV) in memoriam of Helmut Veith. It is organized by Aina Niemetz and Mathias Preiner of Stanford University in collaboration with the Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms at TU Wien (VCLA). The series originated in 2014 at the Vienna Summer of Logic and is since then traveling between Vienna and the venue of the CAV conferences. LogicLounge features discussions on the “science of reasoning” in the areas of logic, philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and artificial intelligence. The recordings of the past LogicLounges with Toby Walsh, Eva Galperin, Moshe Vardi, or Dana Scott, among others, are available at www.vcla.at/logiclounge.