The Case for Old Ideas

[ Sat. Mar. 7. 2015 ]

ONE of the anxieties haunting the 21st century is a fear that technological change will soon make many human lives seem essentially superfluous.

It’s a fear as old as the Luddites, but the promise of computing, robotics and biotechnology has given it new life. It suddenly seems plausible that a rich, technologically proficient society will no longer offer meaningful occupation to many people of ordinary talents, even as it offers ever-greater wealth, ever-widening powers and, perhaps, ever-longer life to the elite.

That anxiety dominates the most provocative conversation you can eavesdrop on this week, between the Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari on the website Edge.org. ...