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21 Lessons for the 21st Century doesn't have concrete characters, but the ideas it focuses on could be thought of as characters. For instance, the book contemplates humans in general and the importance of human emotion as opposed to facts and reason in people's decision making about business and politics. It also questions computers, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and robots taking over more human functions and decisions.

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Economics could also be thought of as a main character. The author sees the potential for even greater wealth disparities between countries but believes Universal Basic Income will become a reality in some advanced countries.

Politics is another main character. The author sees disillusionment with the main isms of the 20th century but sees no alternative to democracy and liberalism. Patriotism and nationalism in moderation are good things but not when taken to extremes. The author believes people vote based on their emotions rather than based on facts or reason, so fake news and propaganda are useful.

Business is another main character. The author believes that because people make decisions based on emotion and stories, it's important to have a short story-based pitch that triggers the right emotions. Immigration will be a big issue. The author believes that because tolerance is so important, tolerant societies should emphasize assimilation to their values and limit the number of intolerant immigrants.

Secular values underpinned by compassion and morality are another key character in this book. The author argues we need to take more control back from the people and companies that control our data because the business leaders that control them are not wise enough to use them responsibly.


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Yuval Noah Harari’s book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a philosophical take on some of today’s most prominent social issues. As such, there are not easily identifiable characters. Rather he uses examples from across the globe to explain his points. These "characters" range from businesses, to people, to historical moments. I've identified a handful of the examples provided in the book and have highlighted the "characters" used. He tackles the idea of globalization by considering the history of the Olympic Games in 1016. He also examines how society takes in information and filters based on truth. Here he uses Microsoft and the Gates Foundation as character examples. In his considerations of community Harari writes on Facebook. In another chapter he considers religion and writes about Japanese military history. Later on he looks at the Russian economy.

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