Why fascism is so tempting

https://www.ted.com/talks/yuval_noah_harari_why_fascism_is_so_tempting_and_how_your_data_could_power_it/transcript

This TED talk warranted multiple pull quotes…

The greatest danger that now faces liberal democracy is that the revolution in information technology will make dictatorships more efficient than democracies.

In the 20th century, democracy and capitalism defeated fascism and communism because democracy was better at processing data and making decisions. Given 20th-century technology, it was simply inefficient to try and concentrate too much data and too much power in one place.

A dictator may not be able to provide me with good health care, but he will be able to make me love him and to make me hate the opposition. Democracy will find it difficult to survive such a development because, in the end, democracy is not based on human rationality; it’s based on human feelings… And is somebody can manipulate your emotions effectively, democracy will become an emotional puppet show.

~ Yuval Noah Harari

I particularly enjoy the TED talk format. The generally shorter nature of each presentation ensures that the speaker has spent at least some time distilling their message. This particular talk is about Fascism– but it’s also about “Big Data” and how even those of us with the best intentions, are paving the way to Fascism. Not, “might be” paving, but “are paving.” Give it a listen.

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We need to remake the Internet

https://www.ted.com/talks/jaron_lanier_how_we_need_to_remake_the_internet/up-next

I don’t believe our species can survive unless we fix this. We cannot have a society, in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them.

~ Jaron Lanier

Hear! Hear!

Take control of your use of the Internet — that is to say: Do not let it control you. Choose what apps, sites, etc you use. WHENEVER YOU CAN, PAY FOR SERVICES AND APPS. If something is free, then realize that YOU are product being sold to whomever is paying for the service.

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Is the world getting better or worse?

https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_is_the_world_getting_better_or_worse_a_look_at_the_numbers

We will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one. But there’s no limit to the betterments we can obtain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.

~ Steven Pinker

I feel constantly pushed to take on a myopic and biased view that the sky is falling, that this moment right now it the last chance to avoid catastrophe, that the human race has never been closer to the brink of– blah, blah, blah.

I choose to celebrate progress. I choose to shine light on the people who are making a difference. I choose to point out the positives. I choose to engage with only a tiny few of the myriad of complex issues the world faces because that’s the scale where I can make a difference. That’s the scale where each person makes a difference: Individual reasoned thinking, enlightened discourse, and responsible action.