Frequent readers know the mariner has three alter egos: Chicken Little, whose fears are a response to imminent events, Amos, a skeptic and critic of human ethic and behavior, and Guru, a futurist, generalist and philosopher at large. Mariner mentions this because this post reflects, to a great extent, mariner’s perception of reality for all three. The post cites a number of quotes from an interview on the Atlantic website with Yuval Noah Harari, a renowned futurist who has provided books, articles, lectures and opinions about how to interpret today’s reality and project the interpretations into mankind’s future.
Read the interview.
Here are some samples:
Derek Thompson: First, work. You have a smart and scary way of looking at the political implications of mass automation. At the end of the 19th century, France, Germany, and Japan offered free health care to their citizens. Their aim was not strictly to make people happy, but to strengthen their army and industrial potential. In other words, welfare was necessary because people were necessary. But you ask the scary question: What happens to welfare in a future where government no longer needs people?
Yuval Harari: It’s a very scary scenario. It’s not science fiction. It’s already happening.
The reason to build all these mass social service systems was to support strong armies and strong economies. Already the most advanced armies don’t need [as many] people. The same might happen in the civilian economy. The problem is motivation: What if the government loses the motivation to help the masses?
In Scandinavia the tradition of the welfare state is so entrenched that perhaps they’ll continue to provide welfare even for masses of useless people. But what about Nigeria, South Africa, and China? They have been encouraged to provide services mostly in the hope of advancing prosperity, [which requires] having a large basis of healthy and smart citizens. But take that away and you might be left with countries with elites who don’t care about the population.
Thompson: Americans might be richer and better educated than they used to be a generation ago, with better health care and superior entertainment options. But the fact of progress doesn’t seem to matter. The story is all that matters. And the victorious Trump story was that America’s cities were falling apart and “I alone can fix it.”
Harari: [White Americans without a college degree] are a declining class within a declining power. The U.S. is losing power compared to the rest of the world, and within the U.S., the Trump voters are losing their status. Even though they are experiencing better conditions, the narrative self which is dominant in most people tells a story of decline, which says that the future will be worse than the present. And most people’s happiness depends on their expectations, not their conditions.
There is a good section on the demise of humans in the future computer age. See the interview.
For the present, however, use it while you have it:
It is not too late in February to select a pleasant day to visit an outdoor place like a park, forest, botanic garden, or walking trail to take in the fresh whiffs of Cancer thaw. While enjoying this pleasure, stop by a restaurant akin to such pleasures.
It has been a long, stressful election season. Discharge some tension by visiting the following website:
Turn off the television for 24 hours and use your phone device only for phone calls – not even texts! Wander around your property to see what’s going on, discover some interesting but small tasks at hand, maybe rummage in the attic or basement. The inner you needs exercise just like your quadriceps do.
Arrange a family gathering perhaps around Memorial Day or Independence Day – include a generation in each direction.
Arrange a summer fête for neighbors.
Be glad you are alive today!
 See https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/02/the-post-human-world/517206/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-daily-022117 Also check out Yuval Harari’s new book, Homo Deus. In other words, turning ourselves into gods. There are critics, e.g. see http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/book-review-homo-deus/ however it is difficult to perceive other directions than Harari suggests.
Good advice! When I had a desk job, a chiropractor told me that she could tell by my spine that I “needed to look up more” and it struck me as sort of profound…