Living systems including social systems require systems and means of exchange. Humans need effective systems for fairly exchanging value with each other. Capitalism could be implemented in ways that achieve this.
Unfortunately, chance variations in initial conditions, even among wealth and intellect equals, leads to increasingly unequal distributions (Pluchino, Biondo, and RapisardaIn; 2018, cited by MIT Technology Review).
In other words, there’s a mathematical ‘law’ at work that–if not countered by effective policies (i.e., ‘governance’)–ensures the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth (and its derivative, power) to a shrinking pool, approaching a singularity. (“To him that has, more shall be given.”)
In its present form, capitalism is corrosive and potentially apocalyptic because, rather than countering the natural concentration bias built into resource distribution, it is engineered to function as a series of valves or ratchets, that inexorably transfer increasing proportions of value to decreasing numbers of those already commanding more value, in an accelerating cycle, while preventing value ‘leaks’ to others.
Surveillance capitalism applies data-analytic and highly-refined persuasion engineering techniques to vastly multiply the impacts of both the (a) ‘law’ of chance influence on wealth/power concentration and (b) the ‘Wild West’ anti-policies (Zuboff mentions ‘non-contracts’ and fast power grabs of Google, Facebook, Apple, and essentially all commercial data analytics companies) that are quickly fencing us off from any meaningful ways of imposing control over those dispossessing us of privacy and meaningful market access.
Poorly governed capitalism was already a systemic disease prior to machine learning. Prior to the rise of mass surveillance and behavior modification systems, capitalism was already heading in a clearly socially and environmentally destabilizing direction because it had been coopted in numerous ways that persistently and pervasively erode fairness and degrade the Earth’s environment. For example, the forms of globalization that have been implemented failed to adequately challenge structural barriers (such as oligarchies and their pay-to-play crony bribe-ocracies) to average people entering the market.
Fairness is rapidly collapsing due largely to the asymmetric advantages AI-enabled behavioral extraction and manipulation grant to their masters. If not subordinated to wise, pro-human governance, surveillance capitalism will be the end of any individual self-direction and privacy.