Would Elon Musk Become a Surveillance Capitalist?

By Russ Steele

Let’s start by examining surveillance capitalism:

Surveillance Capitalism is a unique method of behavior tracking created by Google and used by Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and others. All, Internet companies that gather compiles, analyzes and sells the personal information of their Internet users. These behavioral futures markets are producing vast wealth and power for tech companies. Predictions about your behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to this new “means of marketing — total predictability.” Amazon knows you need a new green wool jacket before you do. Political operatives know how you will vote in the next election and will modify that vote with behavior modification if necessary.
See this PDF for how surveillance capitalism functions:BK_HACH_004975

Now let’s examine the Elon Musk case for joining Google, Facebook, Amazons, Microsoft, and others to become another Surveillance Capitalist.

One feature that all the tech companies listed have is server farms spread around the world. Server farms that are equipped with AI software to process the growing flood of information collected on each individual, in many cases, without their knowledge. Tesla has servers farms that collect and transmit data from when Tesla leaves the production line until it is destroyed in a wreck or spontaneous fire. Tesla’s internet is always on.

How could Tesla and Elon Musk befit from an always-on vehicle? Always on cars can collect data on where you are, where you are going, how you’re feeling, what you have been discussing with a passenger or what you are shouting at other vehicles. The AI will know your driving habits and the conditions of you and your vehicle. Real-time risk assessment!

“According to the industry literature, these data can be used for dynamic real-time driver behavior modification triggering punishments (real-time [insurance] rate hikes, financial penalties, curfews, engine lock-downs) or rewards ([insurance] rate discounts, coupons, gold stars to redeem for future benefits).”

Your current monthly insurance bill could be displayed next to the speed limit on the dashboard screen. Exceed the posted speed limit, and your insurance bill starts to creep higher in real-time. Slow down, and the rate returns to normal.

When Starlink is integrated into Tesla vehicles, Musk companies will be able to increase the fidelity of behavioral tracking with HD video of the car and enhanced ability to monitor driver and passenger behaviors.

With Starlink becoming fully operational in 2021, all components of surveillance capitalism will be available for Musk to implement this highly profitable process. It will give SpaceX a chance to boost revenue by selling customer behavior the same way that Google collects behavior information on those who use its search engine.

The question is, will Elon Musk chose to become a surveillance capitalist, or decide to use the behavior information internally as a competitive advantage? I am voting an advantage.

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