today the algorithm gifted me with a recent Harari interview

first of all, as most commenters, I also have to say the interviewer cutting in multiple times is plain annoying, mostly unnecessary and disrespectful. now on to the interesting parts

Harari sets the scene amazingly and puts things in perspective when he says “as conditions improve, expectations increase — so people can remain as satisfied or vulnerable as before” (humankind appears more fragile as we seem to have more to lose)

I like how measured and balanced he remains throughout. while the interviewer tries to suggest multiple times that “surely things are getting worse”, Harari’s response mostly indicates that things are more nuanced or more differentiation is needed. some interviewers love to conflate things and I suspect it takes quite some practice to take the conversation back to the point (rather than buying into their narrative)

something that may seem as a minor point but was mind blowing for me is the point Harari makes about religious leaders trusting the advice of scientists (and closing synagogues, mosques, churches). this likely seems obvious in the 21st century, but represents quite a shift if we remember that Giordano Bruno was burned to death only 420 years ago

I like the expression “under the skin surveillance” (to record biometric data). I thought I’m up-to-speed with such topics — is this quite recent terminology? anyway, I get the idea and it’s clear why it’s powerful

I respect his positive outlook on technology and do not disagree with his point that surveillance could possibly be used in beneficial ways — but that’s where my views are more cautious and restrained (or on my paranoid days: 100% darker). he says he doesn’t believe in “technological determinism” which reminded me that I don’t have a well founded and strong enough opinion on the matter. some homework for me right there

based on some parts of “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” (and I have to note that I haven’t read the whole book), Harari’s shortcoming to me seems to be that he is missing a somewhat deeper, more “technologically minded” and critical view of modern technology. maybe he is right and a tool is just a tool — “you can use a knife to kill somebody, you can use it to save somebody’s life (…) or to cut salad”. my concern is that a knife is simple, easy to understand and has been around for long enough to understand it well (“one of the earliest tools used by mankind”). while massively interconnected computer systems are complex, often even their own architects don’t understand them and have been around for 80 years at best (and I’m generous because that’s ENIAC age and not ARPANET age, which would be more like 50 years only)

eventually for me it all comes down to his answer to the question — “[machines knowing us better than we know ourselves] whether that’s a good place that we are taking our species or a very bad place?” to which Harari says: “it’s a new place. it can do good things and it can do bad things”

COVID-19 will most likely act as a catalyst for changes that started in the past years (for some reason I like the word “catalyst” more than “accelerator”). so our world was already heading towards a new, different place — and now it may get there faster. my personal agenda for the coming months (years?) is to 1) try and shape “the new normal” of my immediate environment (I expect to have very minor impact at best, but why not try at least) 2) be prepared to adapt quickly. that was already my plan and now I used confirmation bias to get validation from Harari. today has been a great day

too much gentrification, too few gentry