The Portuguese writer spoke to euronews about the inspiration of his latest novel and the dangers of data manipulation
International best-selling author and journalist José Rodrigues dos Santos is back with a new novel "Sign of Life".
Having worked for years as a war reporter and information manager for state television RTP, it's fair to say Rodrigues dos Santos knows a thing or two about the digital era and data collection.
His 18 novels have been translated into 20 languages.
The Portuguese writer popped into our Lyon studio to talk about how the idea for the book came about.
"What I do, usually, is a fictional story with a non fictional subject so I have a plot that is fictional and the plot is: There is sign coming from space, a signal of life, actually. And ESA and Nasa organise a mission to meet the spaceship that is coming from outer space," said Rodrigues dos Santos. "Our hero goes there. So that is our fictional story. Now, the non fictional subject is life. Is life an accident or is life actually the inevitable result of the laws of nature?"
Despite the dangers of people's personal data being exploited, Rodrigues dos Santos believes the digital era is having a positive impact on political matters, and puts forward Brexit and the US elections as examples.
"You have the information revolution going on with deep impact on the way you deal with conflicts. For example, in the First World War, in a week, in a battle, half a million soldeirs would die... that would be impossible today. If you look at the Catalonia conflict, recently, remember that referendum day when Madrid police attacked people that wanted to vote and the pictures from mobiles spread all over channels , in euronews... you name it," said Rodrigues dos Santos.
Brexit and the art of manipulation
"Suddenly in Madrid someone said "stop beating people because everyone is watching this." You see what i mean? So this has a deep impact on a way it restricts violence. So that's where our society is going. Because there is much more information, despite the threat that you can find and you find a lot of threats out there. But, look at the way Brexit happened it was... we now know through huge manipulation of information data which is actually true for Trump and true for Obama."