Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Rima Basu

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1999 Sage D. Young


Society is filled with words and images that elucidate the positive force radiating from technology entities. I push back against this imprecise and inaccurate narrative by breaking down the illusions created by surveillance capitalism. I argue that there exists a unique relationship between an individual and their environment in creating value, especially in the form of data. This relationship tears down the smokescreens prompted up by the surveillance state because it demonstrates the costs of technology and surveillance capitalism. I found that how data is created and made monetarily valuable has significant, adverse repercussions on the capability to flourish as a human being. The world is increasingly shaped by the digital economy incentivizing the collection of data, and consequently, beliefs about people as no different than commodities proliferate, damage on people’s epistemic capacities continue, and deeply intimate costs are incurred in a person’s personal life. I conclude by imagining a relevant alternative scenario to a surveillance state: blockchain technology. While the surveillance state is a totalizing and powerful system that operates discreetly, blockchain has the potential to be a solution to the extant problems of the surveillance state because blockchain technology can establish and facilitate trust in the digital in a way that is decentralized. As a result, people can fundamentally trust each other in a manner that is not dependent on the centralized data storages. In this thesis, I not only evaluate the history of the surveillance state, but I also look to the future by imagining how a different system of valuation has the potential to respect the digital identity of a person through a combined economic and philosophic lens.