Giving Compass' Take:

• This video from The Aspen Institute discusses how surveillance technologies that threaten our autonomy also offer opportunities to build a more humane world and why we need a new social compact to manage them.

• In an ideal world, automation may be able to execute surveillance without invasive data collection. This will require transparency and accountability for those building the new tech.

• Here’s how such matters apply to the philanthropy world: Global health has a patient privacy problem.

Two horrible events, the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd, have shaken the world, raising consciousness about social, economic, and political problems that had been festering for generations. They could also inspire us to solve a relatively new problem with huge implications for democracy’s future: the growing role of surveillance in our lives.

Surveillance used to be associated mainly with government spies and eavesdropping satellites. But about 20 years ago, the tech industry discovered there was money to be made in tracking people’s personal relationships, political leanings, physical movements, and countless other aspects of their lives. The resulting behavioral data is sold to advertisers and other businesses for commercial use.

It’s called surveillance capitalism — the subject of an influential 2019 book by Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff — and it’s how Google, Facebook, and many other companies became profit machines. Any digital device or app is a potential tool of the tech-surveillance complex. We’re surveilled not just by our phones, but our Internet-connected cars, our smart speakers and vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and thermostats, even the toys our children play with.

Read the full article about making surveillance work for us via the Socrates Program at The Aspen Institute.