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'We Were Naive to Believe in Silicon Valley', Says Historian Niall Ferguson
11/28/2017 - 11h57
NELSON DE SÁ
FROM SÃO PAULO
Scottish historian Niall Ferguson, author of 'Civilization' (Published in Brazil by Planeta in 2013, originally published in 2011), says that Brazil should expect to see in 2018 "a repeat of what happened in the United States in 2016, when social media played a decisive role in the election of Donald Trump". For Ferguson, the crisis in the political class in Brazil is a characteristic of our time.
According to Ferguson, "the promise of Silicon Valley was that the gigantic social networks would make the world a better place" but what they produce is "polarization, fake news and extremist views". Companies like Facebook and Google "have a priority of generating advertising revenue, not making the world a better place", he said.
He believes that central bankers are using outdated models of how the economy functions. "The combination of high interest rates with a world that is structurally deflationary should end the party that has been going on in stock markets at some point next year", he estimates.
Regarding recent revelations of sexual harassment by public figures, he believes that there has been a major change, in the sense that behavior that has been tolerated for a long time "from who we might refer to as the liberal elite" is now under tighter scrutiny.
For Ferguson, the propensity to exaggerate is worrisome. "When the New York Times publishes an opinion piece suggesting that all men are rapists, we are in a very bad place, because it doesn't make sense and it becomes a kind of reverse sexism turned against men", he declared.
Ferguson, 53, will be giving a speech in São Paulo on Tuesday night at 8:30 PM, in the 'Frontiers of Thinking' series. Tickets have already sold out.
Translated by LLOYD HARDER