Bargaining with the Machine: Technology, Surveillance, and the Social Contract, Robert M. Pallitto

Reviewed by Stav Zeitouni

In an increasingly technology-mediated world, individuals constantly make decisions about when and how to interact with technologies. Traditional regulatory paradigms tend to treat these interactions as entirely driven by agential control, despite research showing that external forces intervene and shape individual choices.

Against this fundamental tension of the information age, Robert M. Pallitto proposes a conceptualization of the interaction between individuals and technologies as “a form of bargaining” (3). Pallitto attempts to harness the analytical benefits of the bargaining framework while maintaining a somewhat critical stance towards the classic economic conception from which it arises, which views the individual as a rational decision-maker.

He then applies this framework in order to explain the irresistibility of the adoption of technologies due to their efficiency, convenience, and ubiquity, coupled with the obscurity of the data collection practices which surround them. These parts of the book are helpfully supplemented by accessible descriptions of the implementation of these facets in several prominent technologies, including those connected to smart cities, the Internet of Things (IoT), and customer loyalty and air travel security clearance programs. The final parts of the book offer a cursory treatment of potential avenu

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