Summary of Why Technology Favors Tyranny

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In the long history of humankind, the emergence of democratic governments may just be a “blip,” writes best-selling Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari in an excerpt from his latest book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. New information technology might tip the balance back in favor of more autocratic regimes. getAbstract recommends Harari’s disturbing and thought-provoking thesis to anyone who favors democracy over autocracy. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why AI poses a threat to democracy and
  • What governments can do to safeguard democracy. 
 

About the Author

Yuval Noah Harari is a historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the best-selling author of Sapiens.

 

Summary

Even in mature democracies, an increasing number of voters are supporting populist and authoritarian alternatives to liberal democracy. Today’s disruptive technologies are one reason why people are becoming disillusioned with a political and economic system that used to promise ever-growing prosperity and individual empowerment. Rapid advances in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) are making ordinary people feel increasingly irrelevant. In 2017, Google’s AlphaZero – which wasn’t human-programmed, but used machine-learning techniques to teach itself chess in just four hours – defeated world computer chess champion Stockfish 8. AI may be poised to replace skilled professionals in fields where it currently merely complements them. Meanwhile, the rapid succession of technological breakthroughs is forcing skilled workers to retrain several times over their careers. Today’s educational infrastructure cannot accommodate this surge in demand for adult education, and many workers may not have the staying power to keep reinventing themselves. This may result in the rise of a “useless class” within the next 30 years.


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