“When Samuel Bentham, first designed the panopticon as a means of overseeing unruly serfs on the estate of Prince Potemkin in the late eighteenth century, he drew inspiration from the architecture of the Russian Orthodox churches that dotted the countryside. Typically, these structures were built around a central dome from which a portrait of an all-powerful “Christ Pantokrator” stared down at the congregation and, by implication, all humanity. There was to be no exit from this line of sight.
This is the meaning of the hand and glove. The closed loop and the tight fit are meant to create the conditions of no exit. Once, it was no exit from God’s total knowledge and power. Today, it is no exit from the others, from Big Other, and from the surveillance capitalists who decide. This condition of no exit creeps on slippered feet. First we do not even have to look away, and later we cannot. In the closing lines of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential drama No Exit, the character Garcin arrives at his famous realization, “Hell is other people.” This was not intended as a statement of misanthropy but rather a recognition that the self-other balance can never be adequately struck as long as the “others” are “constantly watching.”
“The human need for a space of inviolable refuge has persisted in civilized societies from ancient times but is now under attack as surveillance capital creates a world of “no exit” with profound implications for the human future at this new frontier of power.”
“Industrial capitalism transformed nature’s raw materials into commodities, and surveillance capitalism lays its claims to the stuff of human nature for a new commodity invention. Now it is human nature that is scraped, torn, and taken for another century’s market project. It is obscene to suppose that this harm can be reduced to the obvious fact that users receive no fee for the raw material they supply. That critique is a feat of misdirection that would use a pricing mechanism to institutionalize and therefore legitimate the extraction of human behavior for manufacturing and sale. It ignores the key point that the essence of the exploitation here is the rendering of our lives as behavioural data for the sake of others’ improved control of us. The remarkable questions here concern the facts that our lives are rendered as behavioral data in the first place; that ignorance is a condition of this ubiquitous rendition; that decision rights vanish before one even knows that there is a decision to make; that there are consequences to this diminishment of rights that we can neither see nor foretell; that there is no exit, no voice, and no loyalty, only helplessness, resignation, and psychic numbing.”
“the bare facts of surveillance capitalism necessarily arouse my indignation because they demean human dignity. The future of this narrative will depend upon the indignant citizens, journalists, and scholars drawn to this frontier project; indignant elected officials and policy makers who understand that their authority originates in the foundational values of democratic communities; and, especially, indignant young people who act in the knowledge that effectiveness without autonomy is not effective, dependency-induced compliance is no social contract, a hive with no exit can never be a home, experience without sanctuary is but a shadow, a life that requires hiding is no life, touch without feel reveals no truth, and freedom from uncertainty is no freedom.”