Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Google knows more about me than I do. Further comment on Harari article.

Again I have the eerie feeling that one of the phrases that sticks in my mind from reading Yuval Harari’s books, namely that “Goggle knows more about you than you know about yourself.” is absolutely correct. My March 24th MindBlog post points to an article in the Financial Times by Yuval Harari on the world after coronavirus (brought to my attention by my son Jonathan’s March 21 Facebook post). Google has been watching, and so knows that I would be interested in a Financial Times letter to the editor on March 28 titled ‘So, professor Harari, who am I supposed to trust?’ It is passed to me via my google news app on March 29. I hit the link and read the two paragraph letter, but then when I try to return to the link later I hit a paywall. Turns out a friend has just told me about http://archive.is/ which will attempt to archive the content of any URL you send to it. It retrieves the text of the snarky comment on Harari:
Yuval Noah Harari is a stimulating and interesting figure, even if his arguments aren’t designed to stand up to sustained questioning (“The world after coronavirus”, Life & Arts, March 21). But even using the loosest standards, I was still surprised to see him spend five columns on panic-inducing thought experiments about governments surveilling me under my skin, in which China, Israel and North Korea are set up as perfectly representative nation-states . . . only to then spend three columns begging us all to trust our governments and the experts and wash our hands.
His previous work suggests that Professor Harari wants to be one of the experts in whom we should believe. If he really wants to earn my trust, he must decide whether I’m meant to be terrified of my government, or to trust it completely, or if I should only trust experts who can’t maintain a single line of argument over two pages.
Justin Evans
Washington, DC, US

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