Sapiens

About 70,000 or so years ago, our DNA showed a mutation (Harari claims we don’t know quite why) which allowed us to make a leap that no other species, human or otherwise, was able to make. We began to cooperate flexibly, in large groups, with an extremely complex and versatile language. If there is a secret to our success—and remember, success in nature is survival—It was that our brains developed to communicate.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2019/01/yuval-noah-harari-dominate-earth/

Sapiens by Y N Hurari has been on my to-read pile for ages. It’s currently aged its way to the no-seriously-I’m-not-kidding pile of books that are near my desk. The run-of-the-mill to-read pile is several bookcases that live in another room.

And the clock is ticking. The weeks—if one lives to 76, one gets 4,000 weeks—tick by and my collection of to-listen-to podcast episodes (I’ve given up; There are no shows that I subscribe to, pretending I’ll listen to every episode) and my to-read books continues to grow. I need to stop screwing around trying to do things and make a living, and instead get back to listening and reading. Chicken and egg problem, that is.

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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.

~ Yuval Noah Harari

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.

~ Yuval Noah Harari

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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