The world is in the midst of a new technology race, according to renowned historian Yuval Noah Harari, who warns that the price he is fighting for during this time is not physical territory, but our brains.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Harari envisioned a future where governments and corporations would be able to gather enough data on citizens around the world, which, when combined with computational power, would leave them they fully anticipate – and manipulate – our decisions.
Harari calls this concept a “brain trick”.
“Imagine, if 20 years from now, you can have someone sitting in Washington, Beijing, or San Francisco, and they can know the whole personal, medical, sexual history of – say, every Brazilian journalist, judge and politician , ”Harari said.
Harari exemplified the grim picture of a future just decades away, in which great technology, or governments, “or anyone” can get information about everyone’s medical conditions and personal life histories.
In other words, they may know us better than we know ourselves.
For now, he said, the race is underway between state control in China and controlling capitalism in the US.
“San Francisco is now approaching Washington because they need government support for that,” Hariri said.
However, according to Hariri, instead of creating tools to spy on citizens, we can have a technology that allows citizens to value governments and corporations. Or an “antivirus for the mind” that lets you know when you’re being manipulated.