- Professor Yuval Noa Harari of Israel’s Hebrew University shows the world a picture of the future
- He was interview by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, former IMF chief Christine Lagarde
- Dainik Bhaskar also spoke to him on technology, machines, and the future
Professor Yuval Noah Harari at the Hebrew University of Israel is a teacher interviewed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, former IMF chief Christine Lagarde and noted actress Natalie Portman.
Born in 1976, Harari has sold 20 million copies of his books such as Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for 21 Century. Dainik Bhaskar spoke to him on technology, employment and the future of humans.
Bhaskar: Technology is changing the world, how long will political nationalism last?
Harari: Nuclear war, the weakening of the environment and technology have become the three biggest challenges before humans. All the countries can meet the first two challenges together, but Artificial Intelligence and Bio-Engineering will shake our minds and minds including global market, job market. Big countries like America, China, India will have to jointly control the production of robots and genetically engineered superhumans. In such a situation, globalization of nationalism becomes necessary.
Bhaskar: If new technology falls into the hands of religious extremists and terrorists?
Harari: There is a danger that religious extremists and terrorists may get new technology. History has shown that the militants have always persecuted women and the weak. If genetic engineering starts producing humans in the factory, then the need for women will be eliminated. It is necessary to protect technology from religious extremists. It will not be easy to compete with them without global cooperation.
Bhaskar: If humans lose to machines, what will be their role in the economy and jobs?
Harari: Artificial intelligence has outpaced human intelligence as well. Conventional jobs will lose relevance in the future. New jobs will emerge due to automation technology but they will end very quickly. The biggest worry is how will people prepare themselves for a new job every three to five years? Today’s education system is not ready for this. Everyone has to learn new things constantly. If this does not happen then a large population will become useless.
Bhaskar: What will the schools and teachers of the future be like?
Harari: Technology is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to say if the job that is available today will be there after two years or not. It is also difficult to say whether there will be a need for teachers and schools after the advances on the Internet. Students will be able to study from the world’s best teacher on their smartphone and take the exam on the smartphone itself and get the result. Will the teacher and school survive in such a scenario? One thing is certain that in the times to come, the two things which will be most needed are: emotional strength and willpower to cope with change.
Bhaskar: Will technology weaken democracy?
Harari: Technology can deactivate every political tradition. Whether it is democracy, socialism or capitalism. 21st-century technology can also hack humans. Here the hack means that now the computer has started to understand its user so well. So much so the user does not even know about himself as much as the computer does. With this technology, any government or company can make us make decisions for their benefit.
Bhaskar: Is the Third World War possible in the 21st century? What will happen if it takes place?
Harari: Well today we are living in the quietest era of history. Sporadic wars are taking place in some parts of the world, but a large part of the world is free from war. In ancient times, 15% of deaths were due to human violence. Today this number has come down to 1.5%. Many times more deaths from violence are being caused by over-eating and obesity. It would not be wrong to say that today sugar is more dangerous than gunpowder. After the Second World War ended in 1945, there were no major wars in the world, not because the people became saintly, but because humans made decisions with due consideration.
There is no guarantee that considered decisions will be taken in future also. We should never ignore human idiots because there is nothing more powerful than human idiots in history. If there is a war, its cause will be nothing but stupidity. If some powerful idiots feel that war can be more profitable than trade, then many wise people will not be able to stop the war together.
Bhaskar: … So what remedy do we have?
Harari: The remedy is difficult and lengthy. In today’s time, many books need to be read very quickly. But just reading will not work, we also have to take full advantage of things like meditation, so that we can protect our mind and body from getting hacked. I myself do meditation for two hours every day and every year I go to Vipassana for about two months.
Today we need to be very cautious regarding which things about us we are making public. Today we openly express our likes and dislikes on social media. Actually, we are donating data about ourselves for free. On the contrary, we need to protect our data very carefully.