Yuval Noah Harari, best selling author of Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (you can find my Taps’ Notes here) has spoken a lot about the history of human kind and where we as a society are heading. This article in the FT (note: if the link doesn’t work do a Google search for it to get behind the paywall) is his perspective on how the pandemic will impact us and the choices we have to make today to save ourselves tomorrow.
In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.
Asking people to choose between privacy and health is, in fact, the very root of the problem. Because this is a false choice. We can and should enjoy both privacy and health. We can choose to protect our health and stop the coronavirus epidemic not by instituting totalitarian surveillance regimes, but rather by empowering citizens.
Instead of building a surveillance regime, it is not too late to rebuild people’s trust in science, in public authorities and in the media. We should definitely make use of new technologies too, but these technologies should empower citizens.
Humanity needs to make a choice. Will we travel down the route of disunity, or will we adopt the path of global solidarity? If we choose disunity, this will not only prolong the crisis, but will probably result in even worse catastrophes in the future. If we choose global solidarity, it will be a victory not only against the coronavirus, but against all future epidemics and crises that might assail humankind in the 21st century.