week 6: midterm proposal

critical surveillance reader

Midterm Project Propsal by Emma Rae Norton and Sukanya Aneja

The critical surveillance reader will be a single page website that will take the form of a kind of visual essay. We hope to present this website as a kind of performative lecture. We might also want to lead a discussion that leans on the structure of the reader as a facilitator.

Our goal with this project is to address the many implications of the capture model. We will refer to the capture model as the point at which all of our concerns about surveillance are rooted. The essay and lecture will be divided into sections, each one being a dimension of surveillance that is worth raising awareness around and that any discussion around surveillance can be traced back to.

At this time we are considering four dimensions. The first will be for-profit prediction markets. Everything we do online is being captured and then used to build proprietary products and systems which can be worth billions of dollars which are then marketed back to us as free products and systems of which we have absolutely zero insight into. The second will be the removal and subversion of human autonomy. Shoshanna Zuboff said, “if you have nothing to hide, then you are nothing”. We think this statement speaks to a critical moment in the history of networked technology. Zuboff explains that our most innate behavior is being capitalized on and without a sense of our own autonomy we as individuals have nothing. The third will be bias in machine learning. Since machine learning for automation has only become more prevalent it is important that we step back from these processes and uncover their practices so that we do not as a society make the mistake of taking machine learning results as absolute truth. The fourth will be security and how it intertwines with privacy and freedom of choice.

Through further research, we hope to add a few more dimensions and would like to be able to draw connections between all of them. The audience of this project will be those who participate in networked technologies with what we will call a “so what attitude”. While this attitude is commonplace and symptomatic of the opaqueness with which surveillance operates we think it is worth pushing back against it in order to raise a greater awareness.

** visually it might be interesting to make the reader kind of map like…so we have all of the dimensions in large type and linkable between “case studies” or “examples” or “so whats” or whatever