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  1. We are living in a global world — but most schools and books still tell us only parochial histories of one particular country or culture. The truth is that there are no longer any independent countries in the world.
  2. For thousands of years, until about 1850, you see humans accumulating more and more power by the invention of new technologies and by new systems of organization in the economy and in politics, but you don’t see any real improvement in the well-being of the average person.
  3. You go to a Japanese restaurant and have a wonderful dish, and the thing to do is take a picture with your phone, put it on Facebook, and see how many likes you get. If you don’t share your experiences, they don’t become part of the data processing system, and they have no meaning.
  4. Animals are the main victims of history, and the treatment of domesticated animals in industrial farms is perhaps the worst crime in history.
  5. Humans are extremely good in acquiring new power, but they are not very good in translating this power into greater happiness, which is why we are far more powerful than ever before but we don’t seem to be much happier.
  6. How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy, or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.
  7. Dataism is a new ethical system that says, yes, humans were special and important because up until now they were the most sophisticated data processing system in the universe, but this is no longer the case.
  8. As a historian, I’m sceptical about conspiracy theories because the world is far too complicated to be managed by a few billionaires drinking scotch behind some closed doors. But I do think that the voters are correct in sensing that they’re really losing power. And in reaction, they give the system an angry kick.
  9. Until about 30,000 years ago, there were at least five other species of humans on the planet. Homo Sapiens, our ancestors, lived mainly in East Africa, and you had the Neanderthal in Europe, Homo Erectus in part of Asia, and so forth.
  10. People already have bionic arms and legs that work by the power of thought. And we increasingly outsource mental and communicative activities to computers. We are merging with our smartphones. Very soon, they will just be part of the body.
  11. The notion of superhumans is using bioengineering and artificial intelligence to upgrade human abilities. If they use the power to change themselves, to change their own minds, their own desires, then we have no idea what they will want to do.
  12. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data.
  13. All the major problems of the world today are global in essence, and they cannot be solved unless through some kind of global cooperation. It’s not just climate change, which is, like, the most obvious example people give. I think more in terms of technological disruption.
  14. Most people, they get overwhelmed by the religious stories, the nationalist stories, by the economic stories of the day, and take these stories to be the reality.
  15. Buddhism maintains that the common reaction of the human mind to pleasure and to achievement is not satisfaction; it’s craving for more.
  16. There is a saying that if you get something for free, you should know that you’re the product. It was never more true than in the case of Facebook and Gmail and YouTube. You get free social-media services, and you get free funny cat videos. In exchange, you give up the most valuable asset you have, which is your personal data.
  17. What I try to focus on is not to try to stop the march of technological progress. Instead, I try to run faster. If Amazon knows you better than you know yourself, then the game is up.
  18. We control the world basically because we are the only animals that can cooperate flexibly in very large numbers. And if you examine any large-scale human cooperation, you will always find that it is based on some fiction like the nation, like money, like human rights.
  19. Dollar bills have absolutely no value except in our collective imagination, but everybody believes in the dollar bill.
  20. Increasingly, our decisions will be made by the algorithms that surround us. Whenever there is a big dilemma, you just ask Google what to do. And what kind of life is that?

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