Hi, I won’t be sharing any posts between February 24 and March 26, 2019. However, before I shut down and go offline, I thought I will share a deeply insightful excerpt from Prof. Yuval Noah Harari’s most recent book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I have highlighted parts that I feel are important. I read this excerpt the second time while typing it here, and it was then that I understood its full significance.
Living in a box – from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Prof Yuval Noah Harari.
One theme that science fiction has explored with far greater insight concerns the danger of technology being used to manipulate and control human beings. The Matrix depicts a world in which almost all humans are imprisoned in cyberspace, and everything they experience is shaped by a master algorithm. The Truman Show focuses on a single individual who is the unwitting star of a reality TV show…However, both movies — despite their brilliance — in the end recoil from the full implications of their scenarios. They assume that the humans trapped within the matrix have an authentic self, which remains untouched by the technological manipulations, and that beyond the matrix awaits an authentic reality, which the heroes can access if they only try hard enough. The matrix is just an artificial barrier separating your inner authentic self from the outer authentic world.
...The current technological and scientific revolution implies not that authentic individuals and authentic realities can be manipulated by algorithms and TV cameras, but rather that authenticity is a myth.
People are afraid of being trapped inside a box, but they don’t realise that they are already trapped inside a box– their brain — which is locked within a bigger box — human society with its myriad functions. When you escape the matrix the only thing you discover is a bigger matrix. When the peasants and workers (in Russia) revolted against the tsar in 1917, they ended up with Stalin; and when you begin to explore the manifold ways the human world manipulates you, in the end you realise that your core identity is a complex illusion created by neural networks. People fear that being trapped inside a box, they will miss out on all the wonders of the world..But in truth everything you will ever experience in life is within your own body and your own mind.
…Pain is pain, fear is fear, and love is love — even in the matrix. It doesn’t matter if the fear you feel is inspired by a collection of atoms in the outside world or by electric signals manipulated by a computer. The fear is still real. So if you want to explore the reality of your mind, you can do that inside the matrix as well as outside it.