Silicon Valley siphons our data like oil. But the deepest drilling has just begun

by Ezra Buckley on August 27, 2017

Personal data is to the tech world what oil is to the fossil fuel industry. That’s why companies like Amazon and Facebook plan to dig deeper than we ever imagined

To increase profits, Silicon Valley must extract more data. One method is to get people to spend more time online: build new apps, and make them as addictive as possible. Another is to get more people online. This is the motivation for Facebook’s Free Basics program, which provides a limited set of internet services for free in underdeveloped regions across the globe, in the hopes of harvesting data from the world’s poor.

But these approaches leave large reservoirs of data untapped. After all, we can only spend so much time online. Our laptops, tablets, smartphones, and wearables see a lot of our lives – but not quite everything. For Silicon Valley, however, anything less than total knowledge of its users represents lost revenue. Any unmonitored moment is a missed opportunity.

Amazon is going to show the industry how to monitor more moments: by making corporate surveillance as deeply embedded in our physical environment as it is in our virtual one. Silicon Valley already earns vast sums of money from watching what we do online. Soon it’ll earn even more money from watching what we do offline.

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