Adoro Harari. Adorei os dois primeiros livros — "Sapiens" (2011) e "Homo Deus" (2015). "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" (2018) é um livro diferente dos anteriores, nota-se que foi escrito de forma muito mais rápida, menos amadurecida, mais como resposta ou encomenda, o que ele próprio confirma quando diz que queria responder às perguntas que lhe foram fazendo nos últimos dois anos enquanto foi apresentando os anteriores livros pelo mundo fora. Na verdade este livro nada oferece de novo, lê-se como uma repetição dos argumentos já anteriormente esgrimidos, aos quais se adicionaram uns pózinhos de atualidade, e ainda uma ligeira variação do discurso, transformando o anterior tom especulativo num tom mais assertivo.
Quanto às respostas que Harari tem para as perguntas das pessoas, não posso dizer que tenha pena de não as dar, já que sempre considerei que aquilo que as pessoas perguntam nestes domínios não é para ser respondido, mas antes para servir de objeto de dialéticas. Aliás, é no mínimo estranho que Harari insista tanto em dizer que não sabemos como serão as nossas vidas em 2050, menos ainda em 2100, e depois aceite tentar dar respostas ao "Sentido da Vida". Se quisesse resumir as 21 respostas dadas por Harari, diria que se sintetizam em 3 grandes chavões:
"Aprender, Desaprender e Reaprender" (Teremos de aprender ao longo da vida)
"Mindfullness" (O caminho para enfrentar a velocidade da vida está na meditação)
A filosofia de Monti Python segundo Harari
Pois é, mesmo para alguém tão brilhante como Harari, dar respostas novas ou diferentes é difícil. Aliás, é um pouco como ele diz no início do livro, os filósofos andam há milhares de anos a tentar responder ao sentido da vida e até agora nada. Assim é também com Harari, ainda que tenha tentado responder baseado nos ditos dos Monti Python, mas era difícil ir além fosse por que via fosse, o que não tem mal algum, o que conta é a discussão. Neste sentido, recomendo vivamente a leitura a quem ainda não leu os anteriores dois livros, os restantes podem passar.
Deixo alguns excertos que achei interessantes:
“On 7 December 2017 a critical milestone was reached, not when a computer defeated a human at chess – that’s old news – but when Google’s AlphaZero program defeated the Stockfish 8 program. Stockfish 8 was the world’s computer chess champion for 2016. It had access to centuries of accumulated human experience in chess, as well as to decades of computer experience. It was able to calculate 70 million chess positions per second. In contrast, AlphaZero performed only 80,000 such calculations per second, and its human creators never taught it any chess strategies – not even standard openings. Rather, AlphaZero used the latest machine-learning principles to self-learn chess by playing against itself. Nevertheless, out of a hundred games the novice AlphaZero played against Stockfish, AlphaZero won twenty-eight and tied seventy-two. It didn’t lose even once. Since AlphaZero learned nothing from any human, many of its winning moves and strategies seemed unconventional to human eyes. They may well be considered creative, if not downright genius.
Can you guess how long it took AlphaZero to learn chess from scratch, prepare for the match against Stockfish, and develop its genius instincts? Four hours. “That’s not a typo. For centuries, chess was considered one of the crowning glories of human intelligence. AlphaZero went from utter ignorance to creative mastery in four hours, without the help of any human guide.”
“Human power depends on mass cooperation, mass cooperation depends on manufacturing mass identities – and all mass identities are based on fictional stories, not on scientific facts or even on economic necessities.”
“I am aware that many people might be upset by my equating religion with fake news, but that’s exactly the point. When a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month – that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years – that’s a religion, and we are admonished not to call it ‘fake news’ in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful (or incur their wrath).
Again, some people may be offended by my comparison of the Bible with Harry Potter. If you are a scientifically minded Christian you might explain away all the errors, myths and contradictions in the Bible by arguing that the holy book was never meant to be read as a factual account, but rather as a metaphorical story containing deep wisdom. But isn’t that true of Harry Potter too?
On 29 August 1255 the body of a nine-year-old English boy called Hugh was found in a well in the town of Lincoln. Even in the absence of Facebook and Twitter, rumour quickly spread that Hugh was ritually murdered by the local Jews. The story only grew with retelling, and one of the most renowned English chroniclers of the day – Matthew Paris – provided a detailed and gory description of how prominent Jews from throughout England gathered in Lincoln to fatten up, torture and finally crucify the abducted child. Nineteen Jews were tried and executed for the alleged murder. Similar blood libels became popular in other English towns, leading to a series of pogroms in which whole communities were massacred. Eventually, in 1290 the entire Jewish population of England was expelled.
The story didn’t end there. A century after the expulsion of the Jews from England, Geoffrey Chaucer – the Father of English literature – included a blood libel modelled on the story of Hugh of Lincoln in the Canterbury Tales (‘The Prioress’s Tale’). The tale culminates with the hanging of the Jews. Similar blood libels subsequently became a staple part of every anti-Semitic movement from late medieval Spain to modern Russia. A distant echo can even be heard in the 2016 ‘fake news’ story that Hillary Clinton headed a child-trafficking network that held children as sex slaves in the basement of a popular pizzeria. Enough Americans believed that story to hurt Clinton’s election campaign, and one person even came armed with a gun to the pizzeria and demanded to see the basement (it turned out that the pizzeria had no basement).
As for Hugh of Lincoln himself, nobody knows how he really found his death, but he was buried in Lincoln Cathedral and was venerated as a saint. He was reputed to perform various miracles, and his tomb continued to draw pilgrims even centuries after the expulsion of all Jews from England. Only in 1955 – ten years after the Holocaust – did Lincoln Cathedral repudiate the blood libel, placing a plaque near Hugh’s tomb which reads:
'Trumped-up stories of ‘ritual murders’ of Christian boys by Jewish communities were common throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and even much later. These fictions cost many innocent Jews their lives. Lincoln had its own legend and the alleged victim was buried in the Cathedral in the year 1255. Such stories do not redound to the credit of Christendom.'
Well, some fake news lasts only 700 years.”