“It’s easy to invent stories but it’s difficult to convince people of believing these stories.”
According to the author of ‘Sapiens’, it is the capacity for storytelling, that has made the human species the master of the universe. “People have a strong attachment to stories. But when it comes to migration, people have two totally different stories. Successful integration and migration take decades where both parties have to be honest about their perceptions. We need global stories because we face global challenges. In this way, we can transcend boundaries and acknowledge the depth in these different stories & not be naïve.”
“We should understand that our human nature is not our destiny. Xenophobia is in our genes, but we can do something about it. We are programmed to be fearful even hateful of strangers, but every generation is a triumph on xenophobia.”
“We have seen an immense evolution in history so, we should take these matters into perspective and be grateful for what we have already achieved. What is fueling these tendencies is the perception that nothing has been achieved. We have to realize our achievements and be grateful and protect what we already achieved. The Brexit, for example, happened with relatively little violence, in the past only with a great war something like the Brexit could’ve taken place. Now we just vote about it."
“There is so much garbage in our minds. When I look inside my mind, there’s not so much to be admired.”
Harari believes it’s intimidating and even dangerous to level anyone as a guru. Because when people look up to someone, they stop making solutions and stop thinking for themselves. He declares that the cult of authentic leaders is dangerous because they want immediate access and share whatever comes up in their minds. “So many things pop up in our minds - thoughts of hate & fear - this is not a good enough reason to share these. I don’t want authentic politicians & leaders. I want responsible leaders. It’s good to be authentic with your therapist but not as a government”, he states.
“The story of humans is about to end; we are the last generation of humans. In the next couple of centuries, we humans will destroy ourselves or upgrade ourselves.”
Harari sees the human species evolving into new entities through biological engineering, cybernetic organisms, and inorganic engineering. According to the professor, the civilization spread through the galaxy will not be a human civilization. He believes there is very little chance that organic humans could colonize other planets.
“The true revolutionary potential for the future lies in changing homo sapiens & not only our weapons. So, the future won’t look like what we see in futuristic movies. Since science-fiction provides a narrow vision of the future, because we cannot, as present humans understand or relate to other species that will be superior to us. It’s like Hamlet for Neanderthals.”
“We will have to re-invent ourselves over and over again.”
Harari warns that jobs - we are now studying for - might disappear in 20 years. Since the job market in 2050 will look totally different. Having one job our entire lives will not be possible anymore according to Harari. “You need the capacity to learn in life - emotional intelligence and mental flexibility are much more difficult to teach than dates”, he states.
“Humans solve problems by having feelings, but computers do this differently, so there is no reason to think robots will develop consciousness in the future.”
Harari believes non-organic minds and experiences are possible and that there lies immense potential in the spectrum of mental experiences. “Once robots become as intelligent as humans, they could likely gain consciousness & have feelings of their own”, he states. “But in 2020 robots don’t have one bit more consciousness than their prototypes in 1950, since there has been zero development regarding consciousness but a lot when it comes to intelligence. People often confuse consciousness with intelligence but it’s very different.”
In his latest book, ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century’, Harari defines intelligence as the ability to solve problems & consciousness as the ability to feel things. He asserts that several different paths are leading to intelligence and makes the following observation: “Just as airplanes fly faster than birds without ever developing feathers, so computers may come to solve problems much better than humans without ever developing feelings.”
“AI will be a better artist than any human being ever will be.”
In modern times art is often defined as exploring human emotions. You create a piece of art mainly to inspire and explore emotions. Harari expresses that we shouldn’t overestimate the ability of AI or humans. But he does believe that in the not so distant future we will have enough biodata & computer knowledge when it comes to human emotions. In this case, AI will become better at inspiring and channeling emotions, according to the professor. “As a human how can we know what other humans really feel deep inside? We can only base ourselves on body language. But a computer will recognize all that & go under our skin. As humans, we cannot reach the heart and only observe external signals. AI will be able to rate your heart rate & blood pressure, so it will analyze emotions better than humans. AI will be better at playing our emotional keyboard.”
“History is a constant flux.”
The Israeli historian warns that we need perspective to answer questions about the future. “You cannot look at something from the modern-day vision of a present nation, you should adopt a fluid and global perspective. We can’t understand the future without the past. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a narrow view of history and see it as a conflict”, Harari proceeds. “Too many individuals see history as a chess game between eternal rivals; black versus white or Christianity versus Islam. But there are no eternal rivalries, only change is eternal.”
“Humans are the result of a merger. There have been mergers of older, ancient tribes and groups that once were enemies. Human nations are poor - if they only limit themselves to their own inventions. A nation is an internal revolution that absorbs external influences and, in the process, change their character.” What does this mean for future life? “It’s wrong to adopt a vision of the future based on present nations. New kinds of life will be created, and they might not be human or organic. But to do so responsibly - we have to do it with a cosmic view. I hope we humans can rise to this challenge”, Harari concludes.
As a full-service content agency, we were honored to join Newsweek and Harari in this once-in-a-lifetime experience and look forward to more inspirational events in 2020. We hope you enjoyed this unique event if you were able to be there in person. Otherwise, we hope our thought-provoking takeaways fueled your brain.
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