Thursday, 20 December 2018

Mr. Bill Gates (Microsoft Guru) has commented on Yuval Noah Harari's books.

As you know, Yuval Noah Harari has written three books: Sapiens; Homo Deus; and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. He is recognized and honoured around the world. These books are printed in twenty or more different languages, and have caused a stir amongst all manner of citizens, no matter how learned they may be, who enjoy reading views of an intellectual nature on global affairs, past, present and future.
Mr. Bill Gates is one of us. (Even though his net dollar worth may be greater than yours or mine, he's still one of us.) He has spoken and written about Harari on numerous occasions and I thought it prudent to add his comments here:
"[...]What does Harari think we should do about all this? He offers some practical advice, including a three-prong strategy for fighting terrorism and a few tips for dealing with fake news. But his big idea boils down to this: Meditate. Of course he isn’t suggesting that the world’s problems will vanish if enough of us start sitting in the lotus position and chanting om. But he does insist that life in the 21st century demands mindfulness—getting to know ourselves better and seeing how we contribute to suffering in our own lives. This is easy to mock, but as someone who’s taking a course on mindfulness and meditation, I found it compelling."{Harari meditates for two months every year.}
"As much as I admire Harari and enjoyed 21 Lessons, I didn’t agree with everything in the book. I was glad to see the chapter on inequality, but I’m skeptical about his prediction that in the 21st century “data will eclipse both land and machinery as the most important asset” separating rich people from everyone else. Land will always be hugely important, especially as the global population nears 10 billion. Meanwhile, data on key human endeavors—how to grow food or produce energy, for example—will become even more widely available. Simply having information won’t offer a competitive edge; knowing what to do with it will." {This might be his next book.}
"Similarly, I wanted to see more nuance in Harari’s discussion of data and privacy. He rightly notes that more information is being gathered on individuals than ever before. But he doesn’t distinguish among the types of data being collected—the kind of shoes you like to buy versus which diseases you’re genetically predisposed to—or who is gathering it, or how they’re using it. Your shopping history and your medical history aren’t collected by the same people, protected by the same safeguards, or used for the same purposes. Recognizing this distinction would have made his discussion more enlightening."
"I was also dissatisfied with the chapter on community. Harari argues that social media including Facebook have contributed to political polarization by allowing users to cocoon themselves, interacting only with those who share their views. It’s a fair point, but he undersells the benefits of connecting family and friends around the world. He also creates a straw man by asking whether Facebook alone can solve the problem of polarization. On its own, of course it can’t—but that’s not surprising, considering how deep the problem cuts. Governments, civil society, and the private sector all have a role to play, and I wish Harari had said more about them."
"But Harari is such a stimulating writer that even when I disagreed, I wanted to keep reading and thinking. All three of his books wrestle with some version of the same question: What will give our lives meaning in the decades and centuries ahead? So far, human history has been driven by a desire to live longer, healthier, happier lives. If science is eventually able to give that dream to most people, and large numbers of people no longer need to work in order to feed and clothe everyone, what reason will we have to get up in the morning?"
"It’s no criticism to say that Harari hasn’t produced a satisfying answer yet. Neither has anyone else. So I hope he turns more fully to this question in the future. In the meantime, he has teed up a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century."
{Do you agree with Gates? Do you feel that Harari's next book could flow from these criticisms or, will it come from his two months' meditative hiatus from the hectic ebb and flow of everyday living? Wherever and whenever, I'll be reading it.}

Additionally, I have visited Gates Notes and found his interests, life long learning, philanthropic activity and additional investments he and Melinda have made in companies they believe are contributing to world wide betterment for us and future generations, to be of great interest. In particular, programs in renewable energy like two small hydro panels on your roof requiring only Sunshine and Air to produce perfect drinking water by the glass. Perhaps you will too.

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