Historian and futurist Yuval Harari has a story about the future that’s profound, exciting, and unsettling.

United States


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00:00:33Welcome to the Ted interview. I'm Chris Anderson. This is the podcast Series where I sit down with a 10-speed Hub and we get to dive much deeper into their ideas. That was possible during that Ted Talk. This episode is Yuval Harari and he's a historian and the futurist and his books of wild so many people because of the way in which they connect our past and our future Evol thinks that humans have gotten to where we are and our spot because of our ability to create fictions tell stories and Other Stories We can cooperate because we're alone of all the animals on the planet can create and believe fictional stories a human can say there is a God above the clouds and if you don't do what I tell you to do after you die, God will punish you and send you to hell this is something only you can never
00:01:33Vintage chimpanzee to give you a banana by promising came with after you dye your hair then no one will ever believe that his story as a story about the future that is profound exciting little so unsettling the disillusionment that many of us feel right now is actually two large pot misconceived something we should be worried. But what actually worried about the wrong things that lie ahead of us much deeper dangerous dangerous that actually could even spell the end of civilization as we know it. How can I style? We'll talk about some of those changes and about why you've all things we've gotten to where we are and what we can do to prepare for the coming challenge its
00:02:19Yuval Harari, welcome to be here. So you have this extraordinary way of connecting history with every issue that is relevant today. I think can you do that by the way, you described history is history of narratives of the stories that humans have told themselves which which I think you all give his is what he wants his superpower. I'm curious to hear what you think of the narrative with having a sale today the space it be I thinking you all in your book 21 lessons for the 21st century you talk about a disillusionment that's happened. How would you describe that narrative that were telling ourselves today? We don't have a narrative.
00:03:05Quite unique and frightening situation when we don't have a story to explain to ourselves what is happening in the world and where we are heading in the 25th Century. We had three big narratives three big stories that really explained. Everything is the past the present the future you had the fascist story, which said that the whole of human history is a struggle between nations and one human group one nation One race will violently dominate the entire world and II still rate was the Communist story, Needham said not know history is not a struggle among the nation's history is a struggle among classes everything that happened thousands of years is a struggle among classes and the future the Communist vision for the future was that one social system will dominate the whole world.
00:04:05Ensuring the equality between old people even at the price of freedom and understand what story was the liberal story which basically said history is not a struggle between nations are between classes. It's a struggle between Liberty and tyranny and the liberal vision for the future was peaceful cooperation between different groups of people with some inequality. But with back seam of Freedom over with freedom is the main thing and we can take inequalities is the inevitable price of that and you can see the 20th century was a struggle between these three stories one by one they get knocked out fascism is knocked out in the second world war than the Cold War notes are communism and at the end of the twentieth century, we reach the end of history when the Liberals story is the only one remaining and so we had three stories and then two stories and then just one story.
00:05:05Is 1 stories explained everything. This is the most reassuring situation and then collapses which is what is happening over the last 10 years 5 years and we don't have in you big story that explains what is happening and where we are going. So to talk about the conversation anime, what caused the blowing up of the liberal story actually smoke County on the liberal story cuz the word liberal is understood differently by the people and you can deposit go to the browser has two different pretty brownie in a mug sets. For example of George W bush is the most Trump supporters are also liberals in the historical sense. I mean when people say liberal they have in mind gay marriage gun control abortion all these things but historically speaking, it's much much broader different device.
00:06:05Play something with the word liberal. It's simply cancel Liberty. It's the idea that Liberty is the most important value in the political sphere in the economic sphere in the personal sphere Sol in the political sphere Aunt Rhody Circle perspective thinking in terms of centuries and not decades if you think that political power should come from the people and not from some king or from God or something like that and you're a liberal and then you have the economy field and their the idea is the people should be free to choose their professions the product with by Will to work iconic Liberty. If you think that people should have the freedom to choose their own profession their own careers ER in economic liberal.
00:06:56So you have the political field economic field and then you have the personal field. So hear the test is if you think that people should be free to choose who to marry then I got your liberal. This is where it gets confusing. I think the time liberal a little bit for some conservatives who would accept the first two definitions of LeBron would would Embrace that but until recently many of those people would not have accepted liberal guidance on on the bypass on all sides. And so most Hardline Republicans are in favor of marrying from Love and from your own personal choices and are not in favor of fixed marriages. I think it most Republican voters did not marry somebody who was chosen for them without their consent and participation by the parents go by the elders.
00:07:55So when you get to something like gay marriage if my choice is to marry somebody from my own gender. Then that was okay. That's where the line I draw the line but compared to the situation is century ago. I think that most Republican voters a century ago would have been considered like extreme he pees they would have been like on the extreme liberal and offset of the spectrum is massive shift of opinion of the time and you can pick up the Liberals story as a bra on the subsidy Talon that but basically a bunch of that story encompassing politics economics and personal the winning ideology of safe 1990 onwards, but you know after 20 years running to describe what happened. What are the reasons is it difficult to say, especially because
00:08:55Many of the promises of God of the liberal story were fulfilled the world is still full of problems, but compared to any previous time in history according to many measurements. We never had it better how many people think no, liberalism is done a really bad job. We want to go back to some prayer liberal golden age. I would just like to know which year they have in mind. If you think the world of the early 21st centuries a bad place to live in what are you doing about the 1950s the 1850s, I would bring up bring about going back to the 13th century. If you look at the statistics about things like child mortality, like epidemics like salmon for humans not for the planet Earth would be a logical system. But for human beings are the early 21st century is the best time to live shows was the historian almost what I hear you saying is this
00:09:55Swati Pradhan to the stage and 2 volts stories about the past. We we don't remember the bad stuff. We have a tendency to focus on recent problems. They hit us. Now. I've been already comparing like with liking and another can be dangerous actually going to a situation when you have six kids and four of them died before they reach 20. If you care about family in about children, would you like to live in such a world? And I I think most people won't but they just don't remember because they weren't alive so they don't take this into account and what I transfer to a sense of what is the reason for this disillusionment and backlash against the deliverer order to one option is the dishes actually limited to
00:10:54Largely, the Western core countries were in relative terms, even though that situation also improved in comparison to people in in India or China or the Gap has shrunk and because it'll still the most powerful countries in the world, especially the US.
00:11:18When people in the US feel miserable the entire world shakes the world feels the pain of people in Kentucky and Pennsylvania how far more didn't feel the pain of people in Brazil or in India. Is that because media stories originate from The Uso or why the US is a powerful country in the world in economic terms in military terms in control turns. So the resentment of people here translates into political and economic steps, which have a huge impact on all the world. Where is if you live in Sudan and you are resentful. Whatever you do it, it's unlikely to have such an impact on the rest of the world. So if people in in in Sudan or people in the Philippines feel pain the world
00:12:18What is people in Kentucky or people in Indiana feel pain the entire world pays attention and you have now this like people in Silicon Valley people in the in the in the top universities that are constantly thinking why are people in Indiana and Kentucky resentful and how much of the explanation that is just it was the simple economic ones at the world came to believe in free trade almost like a religion. That was like this is the way that you maximize overall economic growth. So all these trade agreement to put into a place to allow that pipes effectively with connecting the US and Europe with the rest of the world and it allowed is the immediate source of Outsourcing of a lot of job said that hundreds of millions of jobs are crash in the developing world, but they told me this place tens of millions of jobs in Europe and the US allies and led to this plateauing of income and and and
00:13:18Go to the Future that has been ended up being quite quite destructive is is that is that part of the narrative that that you know for two centuries Britain and the United States and other Western Powers have pushed the entire world in the name of free trade and globalization because it works very well for people in Britain the US and suddenly what is works well for China and India, but works less well for the USA they say no no no forget about it all the stuff. We said about free trade and globalization funky town anymore part of the story, but I still think it's something deeper than that. I don't know. I mean, we need a lot of research and empirical data to back up or disprove what I'm about to say. So take it just as in I D ryzen hypothesis notice kind of of a full-fledged explanation.
00:14:18But I think part of what is going on on maybe a deeper level of the human mind is that people sense? A lot of people sense that they are being left behind and left out of the story. Even if they're material conditions are still relatively good in the twentieth century. What was common to all the stories? They liberal the fascist the Communist. Is that the big heroes of the story where the common people
00:14:51What does a Sony old people but if you lived say, I don't know in the Soviet Union in the 1930s life was very Grim. But when you looked at the propaganda posters on the walls the depicted the Glorious future you were there you looked at the posters which showed steel workers and farmers in in in in heroic poses. I think it was obvious that this is the future.
00:15:21Know when people look at the posters on the walls all oh listen to Ted Talks that here a lot of female these deers and big words about machine learning and genetic engineering and blockchain and globalization and and they're not there. They are no longer part of the story of the future.
00:15:46And I think that if I again, this is an iPod cases if I try to understand and to connect to the Deep resentment of people in many places around the world part of what might be going there is people real and they're correct in thinking that that the future doesn't need me. You have all these smart people in California and in New York and in Beijing and they're planning this amazing future was artificial intelligence and bioengineering and then Global connectivity and what not and they don't need me. So maybe they'll nice they will throw some crumbs my way like Universal basic income, but it's it's much worse psychologically to feel that you are useless than to feel that you are exploited to talk about this cuz this is this is one of the key ideas that you have been extremely articulate about talk about how
00:16:46How you see technology shifting how things were going and actually realizing those fears or or risking realizing that she is even more deeply than you think people feel the economic and political realities. If you go back to the middle of the twentieth century, and it doesn't matter if you are in the United States was Roosevelt of you if you're in Germany was Hitler a c or even in the u.s. Salvage Sterling and you think about building the future then you're building materials are those millions of people who are working hard in the factories in the Farms the soldiers in the you need them. You don't have any kind of future without them.
00:17:30Add no fast forward to to the early 21st century when we just don't need the vast majority of the population because because the future is about developing more and more sophisticated technology like an artificial intelligence bioengineering. Most people don't contribute anything to that except for hips folder data.
00:17:56And whatever people are still doing which is useful these Technologies increasingly will make redundant and we'll make it possible to replace the people about this some people feel that actually Technologies including artificial intelligence will Empower people simply to do more more interesting what I mean. She kind of power does in a radiologist to you have the kids an AI that detects passions accounts are better than they do but perhaps they can become a set of strategist and said of them move that weapon to a high level and figure out what is the wisest diseases to direct Radiology in two and I use these musicians his tools and that would work as she gets more interesting. What's the count wanting to that I agree. There will be many new and exciting jobs for Youmans. The problem is that it's not clear that many humans will be able to do them.
00:18:55Because they will require High skills and a lot of education. So a lot of humans will be left behind even if there are new jobs respective. If you loved look back at what's happening in the 1920s and 1930s. So you have technology coming in and displacing a lot of people from traditional jobs in farming. So you don't need a hand with Farmers on this on this Farm you just need to tractors and the couple of off of mechanics and drivers that it so you have 90 Farmers displaced, but then they just move to the city. They move to Detroit or they move to Stalingrad and start working in the tractor Factory.
00:19:42And in that way they are still part of the future but we are talking about now with the rise of of AI machine learning an old wet is that a lot of jobs will be replaced in the new jobs will demand High skills and a lot of retraining when you left your farm in Orono Minnesota and move to Detroit to work in the factory. It is always difficult to change your profession in your life. But to learn the job of a factory hand in in this big factoring Detroit you could do it at age 35 or 45 in a couple of weeks or a couple of months and it in you will be okay.
00:20:25Is Seminole if you lose your job in the factory and you move to the supermarket it still possible to do that without a lot of education and without looking for a training. But if you lose your job as a truck driver or as a factory worker and people come and see what wonderful we have all these new jobs engineering software in California of building virtual reality Games. How are you going to do that again. Trying to desperately to supply some sort of more hopeful spend on that and the fact you do this yourself one point being displaced or actually kind of boring jobs They Don't Really tap into the core of what human has they they they they kind of Truth humans a bit of rubbish a thing you pay the money in and they will do the same thing again. And again, I didn't know because we can buy some more than that. So the question is is that more that you you can do and I don't know.
00:21:25What about existing jobs you can see them so that is being divided up between you know, technology and super scale of humans. And so that's scary. But when he stepped back, I mean, there's no shortage of things that need to be done. I made a puffer anything else, you know, the world's full of millions of lonely people. Right right. Now people are really good at making lonely people not feel lonely and pretty much anyone can do that is pretty much anyone who lives somewhere could do in principle something to make a community that they could paint a fence old or you know, do some poetry service to all whatever I wanted to extend. We're just going to have to completely rethink what it is to what what it is to live in and an unfunded Fitzroy. The Pepsi will have to get two stops to figure out a way of taking away. The set of jobs is the central goal of an economy and and find some other language.
00:22:25Building communities or raising kids as a very important job and maybe it is the most important job before and pay for that. Then many of these dystopian scenarios will not come through. The question is a society willing to do switch its definitions and especially pay for these things. Yes. I mean if if we can do that then that's a much brighter future it was so we have the parts of retraining people which cost a lot of money and effort. We have the parts of recognizing activities like community building in like raising families as jobs that maybe the government is paying for and it's also solves a lot of the problems, but for that we need a new economic and social model, but I'm definitely not saying that things are hopeless there is nothing that can be done to to stop the worst case scenario is the many things we can do.
00:23:26But it's not going to be easy because we needs a new economic and social model 2 answer this question of who pays and housings crucial in the course to dispute something more wealth will be created but it's going to be aggravated by the companies who who using the technology in adult and losing work as a job is making a product more profitably that's that's well that but there's no agreements on on how that wealth could ever move to for example pay a mother or someone who was wet King in it in the community. Do you see any solution to that problem other than somehow government's just insisting on on great head tax distribution from from the efficiency of in redistributing the the wealth than this is the job of the of the government how exactly to do that and I don't know how to answer that. It's basically a political question.
00:24:26Whittington political consensus of all around it, but I will tell you the biggest problem by far is not on the national level. It's on the global level. I think that Americans will be okay and I think also that the Chinese will be okay because the USA and China are leading this Revolution and they will dominate they probably the Economy Inn in the coming decades and more and more wealth will flow to the US and to China to be political battles within the United States about how exactly to redistribute the wealth, but they have something to redistribute if you think about other countries if you look down south of Mexico and Honduras to Salvador Brazil, I think this is file for words.
00:25:18I mean, I can easily Envision a future in which the government taxes The Tech Giant in California to pay mothers in Pennsylvania in Indiana. I don't see a future when they take some of that money and send it to Honduras or Mexico or Brazil. And so the question is what will the people there do? So he's people now in any Honduras work as textile workers and truck drivers and these jobs are gone because in 20 years of 30 years it's cheaper to produce textiles in the US on Doris because you cut the human element out of the equation.
00:26:01So what would people Honduras do what I've had a few Tech Optimist talk about the possibility for many millions of jobs being created basically to help train the new note8 the algorithm to see the artificial intelligence the block racing like it only gets smart buy by virtue of exposure to millions and millions of Des Plaines how many of those have to be input by humans so that they reflect our insides are on our knowledge or whatever but it doesn't like feels like that even if that is something it won't be something forever that the technology goes recycle like a eyes get to a point where initially they they belong machine learning some point. They they they come to each other while they just stand there will be a lot of jokes, but where I mean the will be a lot of jobs in the airline industry, but I guess most of these jobs will be in California and nothing under us or Mexico. So it's
00:27:01It's not really irrelevant answer. It's not really relevant solution. When you still need a date are the data point as you say to Tran Dai fees for some. But here the danger is that we might seem kind of data colonization and listen to what we've seen was the Industrial Revolution. I mean the model in the 19th century. Let's say for Britain and its colonies is that you grow cotton in Egypt you send the Roku turned from Egypt to Britain their the really important and anel profitable business of producing textile. This was the high-tech of the 19th century was the textile industry. So you send the raw materials of cotton from Egypt to Manchester you produce the shirt in Manchester and then you send me back to Egypt to be sold. And most of the profits are of course in Manchester and we might see the same thing was the date economy that you harvest data. Let's
00:28:01Mexico you send the raw data to California. It's being processed there. They Hi-Tech products of AI are being produced in California. And then you sent back the finished goods to be sold in Mexico and the vast majority of prophets are there for in California? And the only thing that the date The Colony contributes is the initial data, which it has no control over and therefore it gets to the very small part of the profits.
00:28:45Citizen see a huge amount of concern about this right now that data has become without any of us know sing this set of the secret currency of the the modern Economy Inn, and we've been Gailey exceptional this free service is not realizing that way but has power and salsa to a few companies pops governments. Do you recommend to see any way through this where it feels like in principle that everyone in the world even if I have no money or actually a source of value from the date they have they actually are an amazing day. Even if they don't have any spending habits to look at just that did I ain't that the hell's that condition in principle does enormous value that the rest of humanity could benefit from if we could figure out a way of attributing.
00:29:44The values that we get from data back to the individual economic growth important part of the process for not creating a useless class of drug that if you had anyone poking convincing me about how that might be achieved about ownership and how to ensure that people noticed on the data, but profit from their data being used that there is talk about the data tax. That's part of the issue is that I mean, we have you swing economy in which currency in which money dollars Euros yens is the main thing that is being exchanged all the time, but we might be moving to a world in which the main thing is being exchanged in more and more interactions is only information. So if you're thinking in terms of texting dollars, you're missing most of what is happening.
00:30:44The economy and it's not just okay. Let's try to put a dollar value on the information being transmitted again, you're missing the nine-point. Don't put a dollar value in it put them in from Haitian value in it. And maybe we need to have an information tax which is not only attacks on information its attacks any information you need to pay information and we still don't have kind of the Raven conceptual framework to deal with such an a n economy. I mean, you can figure out by implication approximation for the for the value of people's data. If you could have come to like Facebook, you know, it's it's it's like 55 billion dollar Revenue Corporation that comes from 2.3 billion use as I mean in very rough average times. It's making $25 per user. So there is the resort at the mafia is is implying set values of what I want. I want given the pressure.
00:31:44Tech companies now on this side of the growing suspicion on the risk of government action and so forth weather some of them might be persuaded or city just into into redefined me that contract with that uses and actually saying, you know, he has to deal we know that you are bringing us a huge huge value. We are giving you a service and we so where were they giving you this but we may not be fully reflecting the value of the day to your giving us. We will be more transparent about this. You will have your own data account tonight at some point just as people lift what bank accounts getting money at some point this going to need to be empty if people feel control over that day. So I think the whole conversation change it to conceptualize what it means to own and control your data, we have thousands of years of experience in ownership of land. So it's easy to conceptualize. I own this piece of land. I build a fence around it. There's a gate
00:32:44I decide who goes and who goes out very easy to conceptualize. What does it mean with I own let's say that my medical data my DNA, it's mine. Okay, what does it mean? I mean unlike lens which you have just one copy of a filled it in one place. You can't move it. You can transmit it. Nothing which DNA? Okay. I had a printout of my DNA wonderful. It doesn't mean anything. I could be a billion copies of my DNA in all kinds of clouds and an in computers and whatever I can be used in Sony Vegas. I don't understand. So we we are very far from understanding what it means to own your DNA and to have a reasonable Moto's for how to allow usage has that I want like access to my doctor from you suggest that I don't want. So this is one problem the other
00:33:44Problem is that we are now in a situation when the date of individual people is very valuable because it is used to hack the humanity and to train AI but this is not going to stay like this for long. Once the AI is trained and once you manatees hacked the date of individual people is going to decrease drastically in 18 Port because we already figured out this animal. So the weather the next billion people we don't really need their data anymore and the really important thing about what's being accumulated especially in the US and in China.
00:34:28Is the ability to hack human beings not billions so that this is an alarm in phrase write the ability to give an example of that. What you talking about the ability to hack human beings means the ability to understand humans better than they understand themselves, which means being able to predict their choices better than they can predict their choices being able to manipulate their emotions being able to make decisions for them to be very clear. We are not talking about knowing Youmans perfectly but absolutely impossible never going to happen. We just talking about the ability to know you better than you know yourself which is not so difficult because most people know very little about themselves. And by the way, that's not bad right before technology to know that
00:35:28Let's say I'm getting cranky and suddenly up on my screen pops up a note saying hey go to the fridge and drink product tax, you know when you drink it and I feel bad that I did not know that that my problem is this particular deficiency.
00:35:47What part of it is good about the current conversation is that you know that talks about the risk of in a behavioral manipulation of the rest of it is that this has been partially because I'm at lafayette's I did the amount that television companies extracted hour of use retention could be higher than Facebook and Google and stepfather are extracting now, it's not completely new nothing is ever completely new in history the old ways presidents. So people talk about genetic engineering. Well, we have been breeding cows and chickens for thousands of views. So what's new with something new what's new? I mean maybe to imagine is the borderline is the skin previously almost all the information gathered on you was outside your skin. Where you go what you buy what you want. What you press on your TV. What you press on your keyboard This is that the information
00:36:47Flowed but the future is about going under your skin and looking directly at what is happening in your heart in your brain. What is your blood pressure which part of your brain are activated now and this can be done either will invasive Technologies, like electrode implanted inside your body, but more and more Wiz external devices from a a ring or bracelet on your arm, which measure is biometric point of information or am now devices that just by looking at your face for my camera. They can tell what happen if your blood pressure to lower heart rate things like that and this is extremely good clues for understanding your emotional state so it can go in the direction of a full-blown S2000 regimes like North Korea forcing every citizen in 10 years or Twenty Years to wear a biometric bracelet which course
00:37:47Easy money towards not where you go and what you say. It's money towards what's happening in your heart and in your brain if you walk into a room and there is a picture of Kim Jong on the wall in the bracelet picks up there the signs of anger because it has access to your brain. That's very good news for you. Even George Orwell's 1984. They couldn't be getting to your brain. What's still this of a private world and end this is about to disappear in the west. The main concern now is what is known as surveillance capitalism. That's okay. It's not the kind of dictator that the spies on your brain, but you have all these corporations and maybe all these government agencies which are monitoring what's happening inside your body.
00:38:38I mean, what does it mean to live in the world when your in a reality is so completely exposed.
00:38:46I don't know what you meant by the term surveillance capitalism. It strikes me as it is a super-powerful label to denigrate this whole time. It snowed in a Tuesday sat for a great economic value. If you like the companies who are behind that I guess I would say you don't want your kind of misunderstanding it that's what it's like when it's misused. But really we think of it is impoundment capitalism. But in your mind, what is what is the trade-off between the good potential in the evil potential of a we could provide the best Healthcare in the world in the cheapest Health Care in the world for billions of people always this kind of technology and this is why it's so tempting. There was no no good side that it was very easy. Let's just not do it but there are enormous beneficial and they're all so great dangers easy to think in terms of oh you have always evil corporations or governments, which will abuse this power.
00:39:46Order to manipulate and control people in horrible ways intellectually. It's easy to grasp that that's that's wrong which would prevent it but the really difficult stuff is what happens if it's not abused what happens if there is a system that moisturize me moisturize my heart my brain all the time and is it supposed to be benign it is it is used to provide me not only with better Healthcare, but with constant guidance in life in almost every decision I make with X for thousands of years to view Life as a drama of decision-making life is a journey with Rich intersection of the intersection. We need to make decisions financial decisions romantic decisions political decisions. What happens is in more and more intersections. You just rely on the advice of this algorithm that knows you.
00:40:46So well and he's really been an algorithm. So it's a dino in the financial around. I need to make decisions about where to invest my money last thing but knows me so well, that's when I'm about to make a wrong decision. Like I read something on the news. I'm frightened. Let's sell all my portfolio and the other one don't knows on. This is a bad decision. Your mind is now being irrational you shouldn't do it and we learn from experience that this second brain that follows me is usually better than my organic brain. So I give the bank and order if what I tell you conflicts with what this second brain the other tells you don't do what I tell you do with the algorithm is telling you if you do what I tell you, I'll sue you because I know the algorithm is better than me. So, you know, you're on the phone with your bank account.
00:41:46Screaming sell my portfolio and the back of it. No, no, no. No, you told us not to believe you if the algorithm says no, and we believe the algorithm and maybe after 2 hours you come down and you say this so good for the bank of Enid listen to me know what happens when the same thing also repeat itself in the Romantic field that you want to marry. Somebody says, no, that's a better idea. You should marry somebody else and we learn by experience to trust the algorithm and what kind of life is it when more and more of these decisions, I'll take him by the algorithms. We have no religious Autistic or philosophical model for understanding such a life. So talk more about this. Like what do you have any guidelines to suggest about the things that are precious that we must hold on to that. She must not even start the process of Outsourcing to technology.
00:42:47That's the big question. One of the big problems is how do you define the goal the financial algorithm that easy? I want more money.
00:42:58So if you define the golden Inn in such simple terms, the algorithm knows what to do when you reach something like the Romantic field or like what is that in University? Then who defines the goal of the problem is that she finds the gold today with how do I Define today? My romantic goals or my career goals. I mean, it's not that you guys are doing is perfectly now and the algorithm is Will doing much worse jobs humans are doing a terrible job now to be most ancient philosophical and spiritual questions of getting to know yourself of what is good. What is the good life? And I sent a lot in these days that ancient philosophical questions are now becoming practical questions of engineering. So if you lived in ancient Greece or ancient India, and you have this day,
00:43:58Date about the what is the good life or what is a good relationship security? Send Denise is Easter Athenians discussing. This song most people aren't involved in this discussion and live the life. And anyway, anyway that they that mean in a positive way. There is an an even deeper issue here, which is that self-reflection and self-exploration is just much more difficult and painful then people often imagine. They will have more time and Technology will help us and we'll explore ourselves and this would be wonderful. They imagine themselves like in ancient Athens walking with Socrates and having these interesting discussions or sitting for meditation and having all these experiences of bliss and Oneness was the universe is wonderful.
00:44:58And part of the problem and part of the reason that until today. Most people did not embark on a serious journey of self-exploration during their life is that eats are far more complicated and painful from that you start explaining yourself to discover many things. You don't like about yourself. You don't have these experiences of bliss and one of the universe but maybe sometimes you do but most of the time you have these experiences of pain and anger and loneliness and all kinds of things that you don't want to confront their they're inside. So I think we reach a point in human history when technology is forcing us.
00:45:42To do this in your spiritual Quest all we are going to pay a much higher price for not knowing ourselves than ever before and this is not going to be easy for you. You strongly recommend meditation. It's something that's become a huge Paws. Phila life talk talk about that fateful 2 hours every day almost every day. It's amazing time investment. I mean rate of between say 30 days in 60 days. I just came back late last month from the 60 days Meditation Retreat give us and get to give me one like a sense of an inside that you got during that 60 days to think it was just something that was it Justified to you the value of that that time understand what's happening today in the world with the attention economy.
00:46:42If you don't observe what's happening to your own attention every moment, that's like the simplest meditation instruction is just the simplest thing in the world just bring your attention to your breath and just feel when the breath is coming in. And when the breath is going out into the store a few minutes, it's not a breath exercise. You're not trying to control the breath. You just try to feel to know his own now the bread is coming in and now the bread is going out that's it. And this was like when I went to my first meditation course, this was the instructions on the first evening and I was absolutely shocked that I can't do it for more than 10 seconds without my attention wandering away.
00:47:27Anybody who wants to understand the debate today about the attention economy and what's happening with Twitter and YouTube and Facebook and all that. If you don't take the time to observe your own attention in in in in real life in actual experience, you won't understand it and to realize and I was doing my 15 Oxford. I thought it was a very smart person. I have full control of my life. Nobody can manipulate me and I couldn't focus my attention for 10 seconds on my own breath with out some salt emotion memory popping up in hijacking my attention to some some some stories on fantasy and it made me I have no idea what is actually happening in my mind. I've almost no control over my attention and that's kind of the beginning of the journey.
00:48:27Yuval is a very language misleading here. Like all of our language is about you me, you know, it's my my attention you say know thyself and we have 10 seconds. You know, that's just who I am, but but to me, it's very helpful to think of myself as this sword of chaos, a mix of personalities ideas for this mad, you know, wriggling of all these different hopes and insights and thoughts and different situations and power a different thoughts of me. I don't like very much and you espouse it's really about in the book the parts of the inside of meditation is a set of gradual letting go of a sense of self and a kind of mistake. Even if it's just a lot more going on in there in the other languages receiving a hell of a lot of the time.
00:49:27And religion and ideology deceive us they give us this a beautiful for unitary entity. That's me and encouraged us to identify with whatever souls are in motion that pops up in the mind. I think something or this is me. I think this I chose to think we stole it reflects who I am. If I feel some emotions the same thing it shows to feel that if I choose to buy something to do something all this My Free Will and when you meditate and you explore what's actually happening inside you realize this is a complete diversion diversion control usually over many of the processes inside me so that I sit for meditation for 1 hour and I want to experience this peace and Tranquility atoma that what you came here to to meditate to relax to to experience peacefulness and and wellness. So just let all the thoughts go away and just focus on your breath and I do it for 10 seconds.
00:50:27Play something pops up. Like I published an article and there was some other Professor who criticized it and he's counting the 9th and I become very angry and I am not that's not the right time. I want peace now to let it go away and comes back again again. And then something about the Israeli election Rich creamy upsets me comes up and I lose my temper and I have all these dystopian scenarios about this will have in a Thomas's stop all this noise. I just want some peace and at the end of the 1-hour I say all this was a terrible out of meditation. I couldn't get any peace. But actually it was a wonderful hour of meditation. I actually observe what's happening inside and how little control I have over these things and I also observe the kind of buttons and levers that outside forces can pull inside my mind. This is how it works.
00:51:27You think that we're Technologies go in the issues that is pushing us to contemplate means that it's essential that we know ourselves best. We have saw that we don't know ourselves. We will not even be able to have the conversation around. What do we Outsource to technology? I want to be absolutely not and I know if I'm not careful we were outsourced things are the most precious to us and one of the key conversations that for about the future which means to be anchored in this better sense of who we are is data. I don't want anybody to see what I just told you. I mean this experience of sitting there for one hour with all these crazy thoughts and emotions in my mind. I don't want anybody to access that because I know that if somebody could access that they could manipulate me in ways, which will never possible before in history and I don't want my spouse.
00:52:27To be really able to see what's happening in my mind. I don't want my neighbor because there is such a crazy world inside and nine power over it is so limited that it will be very very dangerous to allow Outsiders this kind of access weather in government weather Corporation weather in organization. It's very delicate see about that. There's one thing that comes out in your book that I found it extremely powerful and helpful point out that is showing signs of being more intelligent than us in many ways. It's not showing any sign at all of being sentient feeling anything the Assumption in a scientific right away is that of course, those things must go together historically what's in the case, but I've seen more more
00:53:23Deep thinkers actually said that that's not clear. Like if they brush it feel something was just a consequence of complex information processing. Then Google would already be conscious probably it's got so much going on that. So is there any scenario we could write ourselves back into the story in quite an important way as being the only things in the universe that we know of that are actually capable of the things that matter most in the end of us is a Lovejoy creativity the set of that feeling of Peace you talked about technology content advisor some of the things deepest in our hearts. We should not let it we should retain control affect make our technology in service to those things in a sentence the relationship between technology and a state that it should regard sentient things as gods have super powers. It knows nothing off know is that is that ridiculous?
00:54:23Consciousness is the most important question in in this regard and it's the greatest Regal in science. We don't understand Consciousness. We don't understand sentence with other animals. We don't understand the Consciousness and sentience of monkeys of Pigs of cows and it is the most important question. We Face thing is pizdets engineers and investors are impatient people. They can't wait until we figure out this thing of Consciousness. So they use Brooks's like, okay. We want to improve Human Experience. What does it mean? We don't understand. So let's put a proxy on it time in front of screens. I mean it goes back to the idea that the customer is always right if people spend more time from the screen that means they're having a good experience mission accomplished and this is an extremely poor philosophical foundation, and I think that
00:55:23Biggest problem in Silicon Valley and in the entire technological Revolution that we are seeing that the Technology and Engineering is incredible and the philosophy is sometimes very childish. But some people listen to this will go. Okay. You've gone all philosophical on us. And well, you said that we were the old story of liberalism has been broken by the seat of disillusionment of the last couple years. So what now? Why does it matter that we don't have a story. Maybe we just muddle along for that. What happened? What are you worried about could help him. The worst problem is that we are confronting some major Global threats.
00:56:19And we need to ask them how many feet would have the time for another couple of Decades of just Humanity on a journey of soul-searching and who we are and where do we go from here fine, but we just don't have this luxury. We don't have the time. We have climate change. We have the threat of nuclear war still there people forgot how it was in the sixties know it's still today. Still looks around a lot of them and we have this problem. We've been talking a lot about of disruptive Technologies artificial intelligence disrupting the job market the economy bioengineering disrupting that the human body itself.
00:56:58And we need Global corporation on all these issues. If we are to solve them or how to prevent the worst outcomes and with all the common story. We don't have Global Corporation large-scale. Human Corporation is built on shared stories and Fiction's and methodologies and Innovative food examples of that and everything from my car a religion may be in Ilocos a position through two things like the American dream or or even human rights some notes about logical fact. They are a story we have constructed now when I say that something is a fiction or a myth or a story. It doesn't mean that it's evil or that it's a lie or the other of good stories and read stories when the way to measure to decide whether a story is good or bad is its impact in the world some stories a Wonder
00:57:58And some stories of terrible but isn't like I think one criticism of this is such a breathtaking power instead of connecting, you know, the fiction of human rights with the fiction of believing in the god to Google who is hidden behind that rock and he was going to throw thunderbolts at you and both halves of the pups in the time but is it possible that you're not doing enough to differentiate different types of fiction that yes, they may all be useful in in that moment to build Corporation but isn't it also possible that some of these toys are actually true with another like you believe in truth, You also say that story's over time are these capable of becoming a more useful than Frank sample science? Like I don't want to play the scientist another story.
00:58:58You have the power over objective reality like to build Bridges or cure diseases or building atom bomb and then you have the power over humans and their subjective feelings or imagination making them believe in something now for most activities, you need both. Let's say you wants to build and so on the one hand you need a good Theory of physics. If you don't understand physics well enough you will not be able to build an atom bomb. And here we are not dealing with fiction stories. We are dealing with more accurate or less accurate scientific theories and I definitely believe in scientific objectivity and Truth in that sense.
00:59:45But on the other hand in order to build an atom bomb a good understanding of physics is not enough. You also needs people to cooperate to mine uranium and build reactors in and clean after you all the scientists have lunch to somebody needs to clean the dishes. You need people to cooperate on this and for the story, you will not get millions of people cooperating by telling them equals MC square. Now, let's go then. Now why the story you tell them need not be true at all. It could be complete none and still it would be effective in making them cooperate not still I would say there are good stories in bed stories. You can tell people in that situation to the measurement would be how much suffering it causes or alleviates.
01:00:39Tell me something that for something like human rights, which is a human construction and in one sense of fiction, but as measured by an attempt to alleviate suffering. But the very good one but it's also dangerous to confuse and story. We have constructed in a particular historical setting and think that we can just apply it to any other historical. Or to any other political and geographical location today in the world. Why is it you think that your way of thinking about the world has resonated so powerfully in Silicon Valley like so many people I know who are in the tech World relieve you you was this epic source of wisdom. Why do you think that I've heard several theories summer more flattering than others about what why this is the case.
01:01:39Is it possible flash light one and turn on flash on the front fan one would be that you're one of the few historians who wrote it comes to get technology and up in the power of it. So, I think they respect that explanation is that almost that you're messing them off the hook because you go with you know, this is almost inevitable and our response to it should be to understand ourselves. And then what happens next is not what it says about that's a way to sack, you know, the world is about to be blown up by some of the Technologies but doing shouldn't you be calling for a revolution calling for you know, the fireworks around California or something that you are being too?
01:02:25Tom and your recommendations about what we should do another time.
01:02:35I think that you can just stop all research and development of Technology of AI of bioengineering and even if you do it in one country other countries will not do that. So I I don't think that we have the option of just saying these developments are extremely dangerous. Let's stop what are the things you suggest we do is to replace some of our anger at the current situation with with what you put the world event. What did you mean by that? I mean when when when you're single when you're very angry you stink you understand what is happening?
01:03:16And I think it's a better place to be in if you realize where they make the truth is, I don't really understand what is happening in the world. I don't have these ready made the answers and part of the appeal of populists and authoritarian kind of father figures today is that people are frightened are confused. Then you have this person coming in saying I know everything just trust in me. I will make everything. Okay, and that's extremely dangerous. It's difficult, but I think it's important to just stay with the bewilderment in confusion not forever because we need to take action, but at least for some time
01:04:00When does the humidity in that? I think isn't that I kept everyone.
01:04:05I left and right for example instead of getting more outraged that each other. We just said that I don't know the answer to that and I would like to know like you can pick her up at shift in tone of the conversation of people trying to learn from each other instead of trying to judge each other. I mean, do you see any chance of that happening why we're actually are you on The Optimist and pessimist and I will try to kind of summarize my my my My Views like that things today are better than ever for Humanity. Things are still quite Bend and things can get much much worse.
01:04:45So I was an optimist because I think that yes things are bad and they can get much worse, but I'm not the person is either because I think the things are better than previously in history, which means that it is possible to improve the situation. It's really still up to us. We still have the time and the ability to to make a change a change for the better or the stories. We tell ourselves is going to play a key part in that what story would you like to inject into the minds of people that make a difference?
01:05:22There is no erase a competition to hack Humanity in general and to hack you in particular.
01:05:30And you should make the effort to stay ahead of your competitors of the big corporations the government to tell trying to hack you. So you need to get to know yourself better.
01:05:44Because there are now these forces without trying to hack you. It's not like the old days, you know, philosophers have been telling people to get to know yourself better. Ends of year. But in the past in the days of Socrates are good that you did not have real competition. Now you have competition you need to stay ahead. And your meditation is just one way to do it for other people psychological therapy works for some people out is the best way to get to know them self for some people sports or taking a long hike whatever works for you invest in that do that because you must stay ahead of the competition if they get to know you better than you know yourself it's game over for you.
01:06:32And if I might even one thing I've done for you is it's just how much narratives Masa and it feels like that does so many narratives going around today that we are telling ourselves that aren't helping humans corporate Bachelor. She quite destructive and any advice for people on how to pay attention to the narratives in your mind and maybe improve those narratives to avoid that risk often means getting to know the stories in your mind. The stories are could be personal stories about your own life and childhood in person or thing whatever and they could be religious and nationalist an ideological stories.
01:07:25And if you really take the time to get to know the stories inside yourself and what they're doing to you.
01:07:34I think this is kind of the best inoculation against the worst stories around because the stories that harm Humanity usually start by harming you that they kind of amplify turn up the volume of the angry voices in your mind in your head. They turn up the volume of the fearful voices in your head and fear and anger and hatred they harm you long before they harm anybody else. If you work around all day with all these hateful and fearful voices in your mind this destroys your peace of mind long before it harms anybody else.
01:08:21And we all live in a world where there are many people and many organization. Let's try to send their hand into our brain and find the volume button and put up the volume of the hate end of the fear voices and see if you can actually see it happening and what it does to you. That's the best defense against these external hens that are being sent all the time into your brain into her mind.
01:08:51Like what an amazing conversation? Thank you so much for this this time and for oil thinking about this he is hoping for I don't know a wise future with better stories. Tell her thanks so much. You've all. Thank you.
01:09:13Okay, that's a wrap for this episode to consider writing a brief review of the Ted interview on Apple iTunes or whatever you decide to call costs. Those reviews are influential actually selling read every word.
01:09:29The show was produced by Sharon mashihi or editorial director is Michelle Quint production manager is Roxanne High lash mix engineer and music by Alison Les Brown text listening.
01:09:50On the next episode best-selling author Johann Hari, he says his personal experience with depression and his journey to discover but its causes and solutions is not true, That destroys leg is the shame about the trauma and keeping people safe places to release that shape is an antidepressant that's next time on the Ted interview.
01:10:26What if you could save the Healthcare System millions of dollars and help millions of patients get the care they need just by helping them make it to their medical appointments. That's what the team at click help did when they teamed up with Harvard's dr. John Brownstein to co-found circulation a platform that enables doctors and staff to order ride-sharing cars for patients improving the health care experience across the country. It's the type of solution that happens when brilliant teams refuse to accept the status quo learn more about how click bring optimism to life at Klick. Com Ted.

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