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The Observer: "Forget ideology, liberal democracy’s newest threats come from technology and bioscience"

"A groundbreaking book by historian Yuval Harari claims that artificial intelligence and genetic enhancements will usher in a world of inequality and powerful elites. [Like Barnet, then.] How real is the threat?"

Link to web site

"... Determinists ... believe that technology drives history. And, at heart, Yuval Noah Harari's new book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow is .. determinist too. The author writes:
'In the early 21st century, the train of progress is again pulling out of the station – and this will probably be the last train ever to leave the station called Homo sapiens. Those who miss this train will never get a second chance. In order to get a seat on it, you need to understand 21st century technology, and in particular the powers of biotechnology and computer algorithms.'
"He continues:
'These powers are far more potent than steam and the telegraph, and they will not be used mainly for the production of food, textiles, vehicles and weapons. The main products of the 21st century will be bodies, brains and minds, and the gap between those who know how to engineer bodies and brains and those who do not will be wider than the gap between Dickens's Britain and the Madhi's Sudan. Indeed, it will be bigger than the gap between Sapiens and Neanderthals. In the 21st century, those who ride the train of progress will acquire divine abilities of creation and destruction, while those left behind will face extinction.'
"This looks like determinism on steroids. What saves it from ridicule is that Harari sets the scientific and technological story within an historically informed analysis of how liberal democracy evolved. And he provides a plausible account of how the defining features of the liberal democratic order might indeed be upended by the astonishing knowledge and tools that we have produced in the last half-century.

"So while one might, in the end, disagree with his conclusions, one can at least see how he reached them."

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