From a Maclean’s interview in 1972 with Peter Newman:
The new human occupation of the electronic age has become surveillance. CIA-style espionage is now the total human activity. Whether you call it audience rating, consumer surveys and so on — all men are now engaged as hunters of espionage. (…) The biggest job in the world will be espionage. Around the world, people are spending more and more of their time watching the other guy. Espionage at the speed of light will become the biggest business in the world. But the CIA and the FBI are really old hat using old hardware by comparison to what’s coming, in which everybody earns pocket money by watching his own mom and dad or his brothers and sisters. (…) The possibilities of espionage are unlimited.
Anybody who followed McLuhan’s advice here to invest in Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook would be a billionaire.
Twenty years before his Maclean’s interview in his ‘Preface’ to The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan had characterized “audience rating [and] consumer surveys” as follows:
It is observable that the more illusion and falsehood needed to maintain any given state of affairs, the more tyranny is needed to maintain the illusion and falsehood. Today the tyrant rules not by club or fist, but, disguised as a market researcher, he shepherds his flocks in the ways of utility and comfort. (vi)