Monday, April 05, 2021

The servant has become the master

I haven't previously really paid any attention to Yuval Noah Harari, but John told me an idea of his on the phone yesterday about the insidious route by which technology usurps our self-determination by moving from helper, to agent to master. The terminology may not be his as I am remembering it and can't find a reference online.

John illustrated with routing services (like Google Maps, for example, the one that I use).

They start off as helpers, telling you where, say, Meadowbank Close is when you are visiting someone whose house you haven't been to before.

Next as agents, they guide you along the route adjusting for, perhaps, traffic conditions.

Finally as masters, they compel you to take a route optimized for their own agendas. It isn't science fiction.


Google Maps will start directing drivers to routes it calculates to be the most eco-friendly based on a list of factors.

The search engine said it will highlight journeys that generate the lowest carbon footprint using mainly traffic data and road inclines.


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