Technology: For the People or for the Corporate World?


Ada Carter

Many people draw parallels between modern surveillance technology and Orwell’s 1984.

Zelda Mayer, Contributing Writer

As we enter a new age of technological advancement, American consumers must distinguish the line between technology for the benefit of the people and technology for the preservation of the bourgeoisie. It is becoming increasingly clear is that technology in the United States is presently being used as a method of control to keep the governors in power, uphold capitalist oppression, and suppress proletarian revolution.

This suppression is caused by advances in contemporary intelligent technology that further corporate control over citizens and ensures that consumerism flourishes. The only difference between the feared dystopian world of George Orwell’s 1984 and the society we live in today is that modern consumers are participating by “choice.” As Charlie Warzel described in an October 1st article in the New York Times’ Privacy Project series, big corporations like Amazon are using invasive technologies like doorbell cameras and voice-activated assistance systems to instate an omnipresent eye that can surveil all consumers.

Surveillance technology is inherently connected to the preservation of capitalism.”

The purpose of these technologies is to make advertising and marketing more effective at targeting consumers and thus ensuring the preservation of rampant capitalism. Consumers are welcoming these products because they accept the creators’ rhetoric that innovation is good and so is learning to depend on these products.

But it isn’t just consumers who choose to buy these products who are affected by surveillance technology—because these corporations have ingrained themselves into society, it becomes difficult not to comply with their schemes even if you don’t want to. Tech activist Liz O’Sullivan explains that “the ubiquity of devices means you could be surveilled by Amazon even if you don’t own its products.” As the majority of citizens utilize these devices, those who choose to opt-out can still be incorporated in the surveillance data, taking away the “optional” aspect of such supervision. While you may choose to stay away from these products, you will still navigate in a world filled with them, undermining the aspect of choice.

In making sense of all the contrasting viewpoints that have arisen with the upsurge of more intelligent technology, it can be challenging to decipher what is negative and what is positive. But what we all must remember is that surveillance technology is inherently connected to the preservation of capitalism and even to the underpinnings of revolutionary suppression. We all must be wary of the threats to privacy that incoming technology brings about, and even more wary of the agendas behind it. No device exists without a creator, and no creator exists without a goal.

This piece also appears in our November 2019 print edition.