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The mechanisation of humans

Apr 22,2019 - Last updated at Apr 22,2019

In a fascinating interview, Christiane Amanpour asked the noted British storyteller Ian McEwan about what worries him most about the future. Sir Ian replied that what disturbs him most is the rise of populism over scientific approaches in many countries of the world.

Until the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, the battle in the United States between scientific reasoning and populism was leaning towards moderation, respect of human values and adulation of concepts such as rights, justice and equality. When President Donald Trump’s administration took the helm, populism has never been more affluent and flourishing.

During the Arab Spring, many refugees from war-torn countries, like Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and North African states, began to venture across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. A wave of populist xenophobic and Islamophobic movement spread across the supposedly somber and well-educated Europe. With the exception of Germany, Sweden and Finland, every European country underwent a serious populist transformation.

The reaction of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to last month’s killing of 50 Muslims in Christchurch’s mosque attacks was quite honourable and a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stinking atmosphere. Her naming as the world's second greatest leader by Fortune Magazine is a well-deserved honour.

In the Muslim world, there is a campaign led by Islamic countries to nip the sources of terrorism in the bud. We see the opposite taking place in Israel. Gradually, bigotry, ethnocentricity and alienation from the teachings of the Psalms and the Torah are the order of the day. Even China, the supposedly great countervailing power and the sponsor of the One-Belt, One-Road project, is treating its Muslim minority rather badly.

Populism is turning people into surrendering robots. They obey the utterances of their manipulators. Even societies that gloat over their respective education, scientific research, technological achievements and economic successes are mostly nations of sheepish robots.

In the wake of the fourth and the fifth industrial revolutions, we are not replacing humans by machines, we are actually transforming humans into machines.

And the prize goes for Finland, New Zealand and Jordan, where interfaith dialogue and tolerance are the order of the day.

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