I was disturbed by a 2016 lecture by Israeli Historian Yuval Harari (b. 1976) who specialises in World History and macro-historical processes. I listened to it yesterday. He is the author of the September 2016 published Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. He is apparently also a practitioner of Vipassana Meditation.
“The industrial revolution gave us the working class. Harari believes the digital revolution will create the useless class as technology destroys millions of jobs. Speaking at the RSA, the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, he says that social inequality will grow unless we make different choices now. Otherwise the future could be ruled by a super-elite of technocrats.”
The following excerpt, from Tim Adams’ Guardian review of Homo Deus, will give you the flavour (you can find Adams’ complete review here:
“…The new longevity and super-human qualities are likely to be the preserve of the techno super-rich, the masters of the data universe. Meanwhile, the redundancy of labour, supplanted by efficient machines, will create an enormous “useless class”, without economic or military purpose. In the absence of religion, overarching fictions will be required to make sense of the world. Again, if nothing in our approach changes, Harari envisages that “Dataism”, a universal faith in the power of algorithms, will become sacrosanct. To utopians this will look a lot like the “singularity”: an all-knowing, omnipresent data-processing system, which is really indistinguishable from ideas of God, to which humans will be constantly connected. To dystopians it will look like that too. Harari is mostly, thrillingly or chillingly, sanguine about this prospect…”
Even if I found it disturbing, the talk is well worth a listen. You will find the downloadable podcast here. I wondered too what reponses Christianity might want to make in response to Harari's talk?