Yuval Harari: “Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets” | Talks at Google


MALE SPEAKER 1: Professor
Harari is a good friend of mine and a professor in the
University of Jerusalem. He’s been teaching an
introductory history class for undergrads for
quite a few years. And at some point he decided
that it would be a good idea to compile the lecture
notes to a book so that the life of his students
will be a little bit more easy. So he wrote the book and
then what happened later was completely unplanned. The book became a
bestseller in Israel. It was the top best
seller in the nonfiction books for a few months. Then translations to
foreign languages came. The book has been
translated to 30 languages. It’s being sold now in most
of the European countries and in Canada with
great success. And now it’s coming to the US. And fortunately
there was our chance to bring Yuval here
to visit us also and to give the talk at Google. So I’m really happy
to introduce him. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] YUVAL HARARI: It’s a
pleasure to be here also, not only to visit
[INAUDIBLE], but also to be in Silicon Valley,
which for me is a kind of special
place as an historian. As an historian I focus
mainly on the history of ideas, ideology,
mythology, religion. And I think that the most
interesting place in the world today, in religious terms, is
Silicon Valley, not the Middle East, not Syria, or Afghanistan,
or Israel, or Jerusalem, but Silicon Valley. This is where the new religions
that will take over the world are being formulated. And this will also be the topic
of my talk for the next hour or so, about the new
religions of the 21st century. But in order to understand
the future of religion we first have to say a few words
about its past and its present. And I would like to
start with describing what is the main religion,
or ideology, worldview of the world today in the
middle of the second decade of the 21st century. And I think we can say that the
dominant ideology of the world at present is liberal humanism,
or in short, liberalism. Liberalism is a
worldview, an ideology, that thinks that a source of
all authority and all meaning in the universe is
the individual human, the individual of the
specie Homo sapiens. Liberalism has
several core ideas. First of all, it believes
in the individual. It thinks that every Homo
sapien is an individual, which literally means
it cannot be divided. The meaning of the
term “individual” is that you cannot divide it. The idea is, yes, of course,
you can divide the human body or the human brain, but within
each individual there is kind of a seed of light, a spark
that cannot be divided further. Within each of us there
is this inner voice and this inner voice in
each and every one of us is the source of all the
meaning and all the authority in the world. Whenever we face a
difficult question, a difficult dilemma,
choice in life as individuals, or as
collectives, liberalism tells us, listen to yourself,
connect to yourself. Try to hear this inner
voice within yourself and it will tell you what to do. And listen to that,
not to anything else. The second main idea or
hypothesis of liberalism is that this inner
voice within ourselves comes out of a space
of complete freedom. Yes, there are influences,
constraints from outside, physical, social, biological,
but if we go deep enough within ourselves, we
will come, eventually, to a space of complete freedom. And from the space we need to
make our big decisions in life. Thirdly, based on these two
ideas or two assumptions, liberalism assumes that only
I can really know myself. Nobody else, no outside person,
no outside system can really know who I am because,
again, who I am really is this inner voice which
enjoys complete freedom. So I’m inaccessible
from outside. Based on these ideas the
main value of liberalism, which gives it its name,
is liberty, freedom. We need to preserve the
freedom of the individual to think, to feel,
and to act according to what he or she thinks and
feels because, again, this is the supreme and source
of authority and meaning in the world. Now all this may sound very
abstract and very theoretical. So I would like to give
a few concrete examples of what liberalism
means in practice to our lives as individuals
and as collectives. If you think about the
field of politics, so what is liberal politics? What is liberalism translated
into political terms? You get a democracy with
elections and so forth. If we want to know who should
rule this country, what kind of economic policies to adopt,
what kind of foreign policy to adopt, to make
war or to make peace, who should we turn to
in order to get answers? We should turn to the inner
voices of each individual. So we have elections and
on election day everybody goes by himself or by herself. And at least theoretically
tries to connect, I try to connect to
myself to listen, what are my deepest feelings? What’s are my deepest personal
thoughts about this issue? And I vote accordingly. And this is how
we know who should rule the country, whether
to make peace or war, and so forth. So this is liberal
politics, which argues that the
voter knows best. There is no source of authority
higher than the voter. You get the same ideas
also in the economic field. What is liberal economics? Liberal economics is the view
that the customer is always right. There is no higher
authority than the authority of the individual customer. How do we know if a
product is a good product? If the customers buy it. There is no other method. There is no higher
authority that can say, yes, they didn’t
buy it, but it’s still good. Let’s say we are planning a car. And we are organizing
a committee of the wisest people
on the planet. We take Nobel laureates
in physics, and chemistry, and literature, and
peace, and whatever and they come together
for five years with a lot of money,
a lot of helpers. And they design the perfect car. And after five years
you start producing this perfect car, engineered,
invented by the wisest people on the planet. And it goes on sale
and nobody buys it, or very few people buy it. It means that this car is
not a good car according to the tenets of
liberal economics. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. YUVAL HARARI: Oh, perhaps. But eventually you cannot
blame the customer. Oh, we produce a perfect
car and we [? build ?] a perfect PR campaign, but the
customers, they are stupid. They don’t understand
what is good for them. This works in
communism, for example. This is the idea of communism. You have really wise
people sitting in Moscow. They plan the car, which
they think is best. And everybody, at least if they
are fortunate, gets this car. And if they don’t like
it, it’s their problem. But not in liberal economics. In liberal economics the
highest authority in economics is the customer. You have the same ideas in the
fields of art and aesthetics. Many times in history many
periods, many cultures, people had ideas, what is art
and what is beauty? And they thought that there
are some objective definitions, objective yardsticks to
determine whether something is art and whether
something is good art. And then comes along liberal
art and liberal aesthetics in the 19th, 20th century. And just as in politics
the voter knows best. And in economics the
customer is always right. So in liberal art, also,
the customer or the viewer, he is or she is the
highest authority. According to liberal art, beauty
is in the eyes of the beholder, in the feelings of the
person watching or seeing the painting, the architecture,
the play, whatever it is. In 1917, in a very,
very famous gesture Marcel Duchamp
took a urinal, said this art, called it
“Fountain,” signed his name, Marcel Duchamp,
put it in a museum in Paris, said this is art. This is beautiful. And ever since then in
every introductory course to art, to art
history in university they bring this image
and the argument starts. Is it art? No, it’s not art. Who determines what is art? Is it beautiful? It’s not beautiful. And eventually, if
you are liberals, you will reach the
conclusion that art is whatever I define
to be art and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Whatever I think is
beautiful, it’s beautiful. And nobody out there
can come to me and say, you think it’s
beautiful, but it’s not. There is some higher authority. If you think that
this is beautiful art and you’re willing to pay
millions of dollars for it, and it costs millions
of dollars today, this fountain, then it’s art. The same idea is also applied
to the field of ethics. How do you know if an
action is good or evil? If it’s ethical or unethical? Well, suppose I live
in the Middle Ages. And I fall in love
with another guy. And I go to the priest and
tell him in confession this and this happened. So the priest will say, this is
very evil, what you have done. You will go to hell for this. Why? Because God thinks it’s
evil, because scriptures say it’s evil, because I,
the priest, say this is evil. And then I say to the priest,
but I feel very good about it. So the priest would say, but
we don’t care what you feel. Your feelings are unimportant. You don’t determine what is
good or evil by what you feel. Then came liberalism in
the modern age and said no. The highest authority
in the field of ethics is also the feelings
of individuals. There’s nothing beyond that. If it feels good, do it. If you feel good about it, if
everybody feels good about it, then there is absolutely
no reason in the world why it should be evil or bad. Now, there are, of
course, problems. What happens if a
particular action causes some people to feel good and
other people to feel bad? This is when you have arguments
within liberal ethics. Say, for example, an
extramarital affair. I have an affair
outside of marriage. I feel very good about it,
but if my spouse finds out he will feel bad about it. And probably I will
also feel bad about it. And if we, say, we divorce as
a result and we have children, they will feel bad about it. So what is more important,
my good feelings at a particular time, or the
bad feelings of my spouse, or my children? Different people have different
views on this question, but as long as they are
liberal, the argument will be done in
terms of feelings. The question will be, what
feeling is more important? Even very religious people
today understand this. And if you think about the
terrorist attacks in France on the Charlie Hebdo,
after the attack all kinds of organizations,
Muslim organizations and even non-Muslim organizations
began to say things like, but look,
this newspaper, it was not doing something
very wholesome because it was causing
millions of devout Muslims around the world to feel bad. It didn’t take into
account their feelings. Now it’s very interesting
that they use this argument because even those
who try to say it’s not good to draw a caricature
of the prophet Mohammad, they don’t say it’s not good
because Allah forbade it, or because it’s wrong
according to the Quran. They say it’s not
good because it hurts the feelings of people. So even those
arguments are praised in liberal terms of feelings. And finally, just to
give a last example from the field of education. What is liberal education? The main idea of
liberal education is that the student or the
pupil is the highest authority, not the teacher,
not the professor. In liberal education
the main thing you try to teach your
pupils or your students is to think for themselves. They are the highest authority. You go from kindergarten
to the university and you ask the teacher,
you ask the professor, what are you trying to teach? And he or she will
say, well, I try to teach history, or
mathematics, or physics, but above all I try
to teach my students to think for themselves. This is the most
important thing. If he or she are liberal
educators it doesn’t always work, of course, not all
the universities or schools manage to do it, but this is
the general ideal accepted by all liberal
institutions of education. Now when we look at the
world of today in 2015 we can say that the
liberal package dominates most of the world. This liberal package
contains human rights, which are these walls,
defenses established to protect the inner
freedom of each individual. This is the human rights. This package contains
belief in individualism, in liberal democracy,
in free market economy. And I think we can say
that not everybody accepts this particular
package, but it is the dominant ideological
package of the world today. And there is very little
viable alternatives, or real alternatives to
this package at present. Over the last few years, we have
seen a lot of social protests in different places
in the world, but the vast majority
of the protests were done in the name
of the liberal values, not against them. People are coming to the
governments and saying, you don’t live up to
the liberal ideas. We want the politics
to be more democratic. We want economics, the
economy, to be more free. The vast majority
of social protests did not have any
alternative to this package. They simply wanted it
to be implemented better than it is being
implemented today. Another potential source
for an alternative which more and more
people speak about is China, the rising
superpower of the 21st century. However, even though China is
definitely an economic giant, it is still an
ideological dwarf. In terms of ideology or
religion China has very little to offer the world,
at least at present. In theory and officially, it
is still a communist country, but it is very far from
being communist in practice. And it has no alternative
idea to either its official communism
or to the liberal package of how else to run human
society in terms of values. Maybe in the next decade,
two decades, three decades we will see the rise of
a completely new ideology in China, but
speaking as of 2015, China is extremely good in
business, in making money, in making products,
but ideologically it seems to be bankrupt. The third main alternative
to the liberal package is radical Islam, or radical
religions in general, but very often we
focus on radical Islam. However, even though radical
fundamentalist Islamic movements oppose
the liberal package, they don’t really have
any relevant alternative that can be offered
and implemented in the 21st century. The reason is that most of
their ideas are out of date by centuries, by
hundreds of years. The 21st century challenges
humankind in new ways. We are facing enormous
opportunities, enormous new opportunities,
and enormous new dangers that we need to confront. And radical Islam has very
little relevant things to say about these new
challenges and new dangers. To give just a few examples,
perhaps the most important question in
21st-century economics is what do we need people
for in the economy? In a situation when it
is likely that computers will be able to do more and
more things better and better than Homo sapiens, this
becomes a real question for the first time in history. The most basic economic value
of humans is being put in doubt. And nobody really has an
idea how the job market would look like in 40
years or 50 years, and what humans will
still be necessary for, or least most humans. What will they do? If there is a young man or
woman today, say, 20 years old, going to college, and
asking himself or herself what should I study
today so that in 30 years I will have a good job? Nobody knows what
to tell him or her. Nobody knows. We don’t have a clue
how the job market would look in 30 or 40 years. And again, it’s not even clear. It’s not that there
will be different jobs. It’s not even clear
that there will be any jobs for most humans. Another very big
challenge and opportunity concerns biotechnology. The possibility of extending
human life and human health indefinitely, with
80 being the new 40. What will this do to
society, to sexual relations, to family structures? This is very big questions. Another very big
question, which emanates from this field of
biotechnology is the possibility of, for the first time in
history, real biological gaps opening between the
rich and the poor. Previously in history
there were always gaps between rich and
poor, but these gaps were social, economic,
legal, not biological. There was no real
biological difference between the king
and the peasant. They had the same basic
physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities. Now with the advent
of biotechnology we are facing a possibility,
it’s not a prophecy, it’s not certain, but
there is a possibility of real biological gaps opening
and Homo sapiens splitting into different biological
castes, or even different species. These are the kinds
of problems that we need to confront in
the 21st century. And the problem of radical
Islam and radical Christianity, Judaism, and so
forth, is that they have nothing relevant to
say about these questions. They have no answers
to these questions because they don’t even
understand the questions. If you read even very wise books
written thousands of years ago, the people who wrote these books
knew nothing about genetics, knew nothing about
nanotechnology, or computers. So how can you expect to get
answers to these questions from people who
didn’t know anything about the subjects in question? Now it’s true that if you count
heads, if you count people there are many more people
today on the planet that are interested in
God and scriptures than in nanotechnology
or genetics, or who understand
these subjects. But history is not
made by numbers. It’s not that you
need a lot of people to make historical changes. Very often historical
changes are made by relatively
few numbers of people. If we go back to the last big
technological and economic revolution that swept
the world, the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century,
it was done by very few people. Most people in the 19th
century knew far more and were interested far more
in the Bible and the Quran than in steam engines, or
railroads, or coal mines. The same thing we see today, we
saw also in the 19th century. It was also full of religious
fundamentalist movements. For example, in the Islamic
world, you had in Sudan, the Mahdi in the late
19th century, which established a
religious theocracy. And also beheaded people and
fought wars and so forth. Caused a lot of [? steel ?]
in Victorian England when the followers of
the Mahdi beheaded, executed General Charles Gordon,
a famous British commander. Nobody almost remembers
the Mahdi today. Similarly in India you
had a religious revival led by [INAUDIBLE],
whose main idea, the main message [INAUDIBLE] had
to India in the 19th century, is that all the answers to all
the questions are in the Vedas, in the holy scriptures
of Hinduism. The Vedas are never wrong. All the answers are there. If you have any difficulty, open
the Vedas or ask the Brahmans. Tens of millions of
people followed him. In the Christian world you
also saw such movements. Pope Pius IX, the
Catholic pope, he, in the middle of
the 19th century had this new idea that
the pope is never wrong. It is a new idea. It’s not an idea
for the Middle Ages. The Catholic dogma, the Papal
Infallibility, it’s called, the pope is never
wrong when it comes to questions of ethics,
morality, and so forth. This is not a medieval dogma. It goes back only to the
middle of the 19th century. And then millions of people
followed Pope Pius IX. In China the biggest
war of the 19th century was not the Napoleonic War,
was not the American Civil War. By far the biggest war
of the 19th century was the Taiping Rebellion,
which started in 1850 when this person Hong
Xiuquan, he had a vision. God revealed himself to
Hong and told Hong a secret that Hong was
actually the younger brother of Jesus Christ. And he had a divine
mission to establish the kingdom of Heavenly Peace
on Earth starting with China. Millions of people followed
him and they did not establish any peace. They waged the most terrible
war of the 19th century with at least 20 million dead. These are the
smallest estimates. So you had your full share
of religious fundamentalism also back in the 19th century. Nobody almost today
remembers these people or these movements. They did not change the world. The Industrial Revolution did. Well, these people in Sudan,
or in India, or in China were concerned about
scriptures, and God, and heaven, and so forth. A few engineers and
a few technicians, and bankers, and
financiers in Manchester, in Liverpool, and Birmingham,
they changed the world. They shaped the world
in which we live today. Now there was one ideological
or religious movement which began in the
19th century which did manage to change
the world and which is far more important. And when we think back
about the 19th century and we ask ourselves,
what was the big ideology, the big ethical ideas that
came from this period, we think not about the
Pope Pius IX, or the Mahdi, we think about
socialism and communism. In 1800 there were hardly
any socialists or communists, very few. Even in the middle
of the 19th century, there was still a fringe
group of bizarre people who have such
thoughts, but there was one crucial characteristic
about these bizarre people, like Marx and Engels, that
enabled them to really change the world and to
create an ideology that spread over the entire planet. And helped to shape
our life today. The crucial thing about
Marx and Engels, and later Lenin and Trotsky,
and all these fellows is that they did not just
read old books from hundreds of centuries previously. They studied the technology and
the economy of their own day. And they tried to create
a new ideology, which will be suited to
the new opportunities and challenges of 19th-century
technology and 19th-century economics. Lenin was once asked in
a very famous occasion, Lenin was asked
by his followers, please, Vladimir, tell us in
simple language what communism is. We are not going to read
[? “The Capital,” ?] a very, very dense book. We don’t want to hear now
this long philosophical talk. In very few words tell
us what communism is. And Lenin answers,
communism, communism is power to the workers’
councils, the Soviets, plus electrification
of the entire country. You cannot have communism
without electricity, without the steam engine,
without telegraph, radio, railroads. The Communist system of
production and economics demands these things. You could not have
established a Communist regime in 16th-century Russia. Impossible. First you must have an
Industrial Revolution. Communism and
socialism are custom built for the world following
the Industrial Revolution. This is why they’re
so successful. In a way communism and
socialism were the harbingers of the new religions
we see today in the 21st century in the
sense that they were based on technology and
on the economy. After thousands of years in
which technology played almost no role at all in religious
and ideological thought, communism was the first
techno-religion, a religion or ideology if you
prefer that promises roughly the same things
that were promised by the traditional religions. It promised peace, prosperity,
paradise, but here on Earth with the use of technology,
not in the afterlife by the act of some divine power. This is the definition
of a techno-religion. It promises whatever it
promises here on Earth with the help of technology. And communism was perhaps
the first to show the way and it completely changed our
entire ideological discourse. Previously the
main dividing lines between people and their beliefs
concerned questions like, do we believe in God, what god? Do you believe in a soul? What kind of soul? What happens after death? These were the main questions
that divided, say, Christians from Muslims and
Shiites from Sunnis. After communism
everything changed. Now people more and more
began to define themselves by how they think about
technology and economics. Sounds very strange,
but not very long ago, 30 years ago,
humankind was almost destroyed in a nuclear
war between two camps who were divided not in what
they thought about soul, or God, or the afterlife. The were divided in
what they thought about how economic production
should be organized. So communism really changed
the rules of the game. Even if you don’t
accept what Marx said you started speaking in
similar terms in the questions that you asked. And we see indeed that
the traditional religions, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism,
Christianity, they did not disappear. It’s not that people
stopped believing in them. They just became less and less
relevant, less influential. They were transformed
essentially from a creative force
into a reactive force. In the Middle Ages they
were very creative forces. Much of the new technological,
economic, political, administrative techniques
of the Middle Ages were pioneered by
the Catholic church. The best equivalent for Silicon
Valley in the 13th century is the Vatican. This is where all of the new
ideas about administration, about information
processing, this is where you went,
to the Vatican. The first archives,
libraries, systems for archiving information,
cataloging information, this is something the
church was best in doing. If you are a king
in the 13th century and you wanted
somebody who knows how to handle information,
to help you run your kingdom, you turned to monks. You turned to priests. They were the experts. So back then they were
still very creative forces. But in the last 200 years
they became reactive forces. They’re still there,
but most of what they do is react to the changes, to the
inventions, to the discoveries that other people make. Like somebody invents
the contraceptive pill and completely changes
the sexual [? sphere ?]. And then the pope
and the priests, they scratch their head,
what do we do with this? What do you do? Is it OK? Is it not OK? They react. Similarly somebody
invents the internet. And then you have all the
Jewish rabbis also scratching their heads, what
do we do with that? Is it OK? [INAUDIBLE] just use it
like this, like that? And it’s not only technology. Also new ethical ideas, the
20th century is full of them. Perhaps the most
important is feminism. After thousands of years
of patriarchal society, we have the feminist
revolution completely changing social structures,
families, and so forth. And again, you have all
the rabbis and Ayatollahs, and priests, they think, how
do we need to react to that? It’s not our initiative, but we
have to do something with it. So they are reacting in
this way or that way. A very good way of
grasping the changing place of these
religions in the world is to ask yourself
two questions. First, ask yourself what is
the most important discovery of the 20th century. And this is a very
difficult question because there is a
lot to choose from. Perhaps it’s antibiotics. Perhaps it gave each one of you
at least 10 years of your life, on average, you
owe to antibiotics. It’s a huge difference. Maybe it’s nuclear weapons. Maybe it’s the computer. Maybe it’s not technology,
but some ethical idea, like feminism. Perhaps feminism is the
most important discovery of the 20th century. Difficult question to decide. Now ask yourself
a second question. What is the most
important discovery made in the 20th century by
[? faced ?] religions, religions that believe in
God, like Islam, or Hinduism, or Judaism. Again, it’s a very
difficult question because you can’t
think about anything. What did these people
discover in the last 100 years that changed our lives? Yes, they are still
influential in the way that they react to the
inventions and discoveries of others, but what new
things did they discover? I, at least, can’t
think about anything which you can mention
in the same sentence with antibiotics, or
feminism, or nuclear weapons. So we see that the
usual challenges that we think that
perhaps there are still in the world to liberalism
are not really challenges. Neither China, nor Radical
Islam, nor the social protests, they don’t really have
a relevant alternative to the liberal package. But this does not mean
that liberalism is safe. Just the opposite. It seems that we
are on the verge of the collapse of liberalism. And the collapse of
liberalism will not happen because of things
that people are doing now in Syria, or Iraq, or in
Libya, but because of things that people are doing
here in Silicon Valley, and in Stanford University,
and in my university, and in the Hebrew University. What kind of things? Well, it starts with
the life sciences. The basic problem of liberalism
today in the early 21st century is that the life sciences are
telling us that it is nonsense. The basic beliefs on which
liberalism are built or perhaps sounded sensible in the
18th century, in the era of Locke and Rousseau
and these people. But there is a huge gap between
what liberalism tells us about the world, and
about Homo sapiens, and what the life sciences
in the early 21st century are telling us
about Homo sapiens. Liberalism believes
in individualism as we said earlier, that each
one of us is an individual. We have this ray of light, this
inner core which is individual. This is our real self. Well, according to the
life sciences today there are no such things. All animals, including
humans, are not individuals. They don’t have souls. They don’t have any essence. They don’t have any inner core. They are basically a collection
of biochemical algorithms, all kinds of
algorithmic systems that build the brain, that build
the human beings, the giraffe, the elephant, whatever it is. And if you peel all the layers,
all the systems that make up an animal, an organism
like an onion, you peel one layer
after the other, one layer after the
other, in the end you won’t get an inner
core of light, or a soul. You will get nothing. There is just nothing
left when you take out all these different biochemical
algorithms, nothing is left. There is no individual. Secondly, these
biochemical algorithms that make up an
organism are not free. There is no such
thing as freedom according to the life sciences. All systems in nature, including
these biochemical algorithms, they work according to just
two possible principles. Either they are deterministic
or they are random. Perhaps some events
on the quantum level insert a certain randomness
into the biochemical processes of our brain, of our
nervous system, of our body, but that’s it. The word “freedom”
simply has no meaning in the life sciences of today. Taking these two ideas together
that an organism, including Homo sapiens– which
is just another animal like the chimpanzees,
and giraffes, and so forth– if
an organism is just a collection of algorithms,
and these algorithms are not free in any
sense, this means that at least potentially
an external system, an external entity can
understand me perfectly. It just needs to understand
all the algorithms that come together to build this
machine, this structure. And the crucial insight is
that even our sensations, even our emotions, even our
feelings, liberalism believes above all
else in our feelings, how you feel about politics,
about art, about sexuality, this is the holy grail of
liberalism, our feelings. But now come the life
sciences and say, feelings? Feelings are just biochemical
algorithms calculating what? Calculating either
of two things, probabilities of survival and
probabilities of reproduction. That’s it. The Homo sapiens, like
giraffes, like elephants, they are calculating all the
time, all their body is just a calculating machine
for calculating probabilities of survival and reproduction. This, again, may
sound a bit abstract. So I will give two
simple examples. First of all,
problems of survival. Let’s say you are a baboon. And you are somewhere in
the Savannah in Africa. And you see a tree
with bananas on it. And you ask yourself, should
I go and take these bananas? But you also see that
there is a lion nearby. Now should I or shouldn’t
I try and get these bananas and risk that while I eat the
bananas the lion will eat me? Now in order to reach a
good answer I basically, what I need to do, is to
calculate probabilities and I need to take into
account a lot of information in order to do it correctly. I need information
about the bananas. How far are they from you? Are there any
obstacles in the way? How many bananas? Are they ripe or are they green? It’s one thing if there
are 20 ripe bananas and it’s another thing if there
are just two unripe bananas. I also need information
about the lion. How far is it? How big is it? Is it asleep? Is it awake? Does it seem hungry? Does it seem satiated? And thirdly, I need a lot
of information about myself. How fast can I run? How hungry I am? If I’m on the verge
of starvation, if my energy is so low that
I may die within a few hours if I don’t eat something, then
no matter how big the danger is I should try and
get these bananas because otherwise
I’ll die anyway. If, on the other hand, I
just know I had a big feast, there is no reason to risk
my life for these bananas, even if the danger
is relatively small. Now to reach a good
decision, a good decision means a decision that
will enable me to survive, I need to take all that
information into account and weigh it together somehow,
calculate all the probabilities together. How do I do it as a baboon? I don’t take out a
piece of paper and pen, or a calculator, or a computer. I don’t have it. And I don’t need it
because my entire body is a calculator that was
built for millions of years by natural selection
to do exactly that. What we call emotions,
sensations, feelings, are simply
biochemical algorithms that take all that information,
all the huge amounts of information from
outside and inside, and within a split second
reach a certain decision, a certain probability. Now the result does not
show up as a number, like in some futuristic
science fiction movie that the
baboon or the person sees a number in
front of his eyes, no. The result will come
up simply as a feeling. This is what feelings are. They are the result
of these calculations. If the result is that I
should try and get the banana, it will come up as the
emotion of courage. I will feel very courageous. My chest will be puffed up
and I will run to the bananas. If the calculations
reach the conclusion, reach the result that I
shouldn’t risk my life, the chances are too small,
then the result again, will not be a number. It will be a feeling. It will be the feeling,
the emotion of fear. I will feel very
frightened and run away. And sometimes the calculations
are just in the middle. It’s not clear if it’s a good
idea or a bad idea in terms of survival to reach
for these bananas. And this too will show up
as an emotion, as a feeling. I will feel confused. I will feel I don’t know what
to do, to take the bananas, not to take them. This too will be a feeling. The other type of
calculation problems that this machine is
built to calculate concerns not survival,
but reproduction. And again, if you are a peacock,
you look at the peacock. If you are a human,
you look at a human. And you need to make up your
mind, sometimes very quickly, is this a good mate or not? And again, lots of information
floods in from the eyes, from the ears, from the
nose, from within the body. And within a split second
you get the result, not as a number, but as a feeling. You will feel this is
beautiful, this is attractive, or, no, it’s not beautiful,
it’s not attractive, it’s disgusting, whatever. All of these sexual
feelings, again, they are biochemical algorithms. They are not some
spiritual whatever that comes from the sky. They are the result of very,
very complex biochemical algorithms that
natural selection has evolved and selected
for millions upon millions of generations until
they came to us. Now so far these
biological insights actually supported liberalism
because liberalism, as I said earlier, it
believes in feelings as the supreme
source of authority. What I feel, this is
the supreme source of authority on the planet. And biologists
could come and say, this is actually a
very keen insight. This is true because if
you want to make decisions about your life and you have two
potential sources of authority, say the Bible or
your own feelings, biologists will tell you,
go with your feelings. The Bible contains the
wisdom of a few priests in ancient Jerusalem. That’s it. Your feelings contain
the wisdom of millions upon millions of
years of evolution, the algorithms that
are your feelings have passed the most rigorous
tests of natural selection. Each one of your genes, and
each one of your algorithms is here today because it has
succeeded for millions of years to pass the most rigorous
tests of natural selection. So if you need to
make a decision you better go with
your feelings. This was the situation
maybe until today. But now things are changing. In two ways things are changing. First of all,
biologists decipher the biochemical algorithms
that compose our body and that are responsible
for our feelings. They are no longer mysterious
entities as they were before. We understand them
better and better. Why I feel this way in
this particular situation. And secondly, we have
computer scientists that are creating better and
better electronic algorithms. Now the question
that arises today is what will happen once
we create an algorithm that knows me better,
that understands me and my feelings better than
I can understand myself? What will happen then is
that authority will shift. It will shift away from
the feelings of individuals to these outside algorithms. Our feelings at
present, you can say, are the best algorithms
in the universe. But after all, they
are becoming outdated. They appeared maybe the way
that we have them today maybe a few tens of thousands of years
ago in the African Savanna. So far they have been the
best algorithms around, but we are now at the
position to produce an updated version, something better. And when we have
better algorithms then the authority
will shift to them. This is already happening in
at least a few fields of life, most clearly in the
field of medicine and decisions about your own
body, and your own health. I think it’s not far fetched
to say that all of you are now listening to this
talk, including myself, the most important
decisions about our bodies during our lifetime will not
to be taken by our feelings. They will be taken by
external algorithms, algorithms that understand
our own internal systems and that have statistics
about millions upon millions of other
humans, and therefore can make better predictions
and better decisions about our bodies than
just my own feelings. To give a concrete
example I think it was a year ago, two
years ago that this is very famous story came
out with Angelina Jolie that she had a
double mastectomy. Why? Not because she discovered
she had breast cancer. She didn’t have breast cancer. But she went and did a
genetic test scanning her DNA. And it showed that she carries
a mutation in one of her genes that, according to the
statistical database, means she has an 87% chance
of getting breast cancer. And she had a lot of breast
cancer cases in her family. I think that her mother died
at a relatively young age from breast cancer. She did not have breast
cancer at the time. Her feelings told her
nothing, that she is sick, that she should do something. But the external
algorithms told her you have an 87% chance
of getting this disease. So she had a double
mastectomy, which is a very, very big decision
to make in a person’s life. And likewise I think most of
the big decisions we will make about our lives in our
lifetime will actually be taken by such
external algorithms, not based on our inner feelings. Now when this will spread to
more and more fields of life, liberalism will collapse,
not necessarily violently, but it will simply
become outdated. People will move authority
to a different place. This has happened
before in history. In the transition from the
Middle Ages to the modern age, in the Middle Ages at the
time when the dominance was of [? faced ?] religions, when
people had faced a decision, a problem, the practical
guideline they received was listen to scriptures. Read what is written
in scriptures. This will give you an answer. Now the rise of liberalism
was not a theoretical change. It was not just a
matter of philosophy. It was a practical matter
of how people actually make decisions in
their daily lives. If previously, when they faced
a problem, say, who to marry, they opened scriptures
and looked for the answer. Now, with the rise
of liberalism, the guidance was listen
to your feelings. Go maybe at night,
climb the high mountain. Look at the moon. Look at the sea. Try to connect to yourself. See what you really feel
and go with your heart. Go with your feelings. This was a practical guidance. It was not just theory. Now we move to the next stage. When people say, don’t
listen to your feelings, what do they know? Listen to Google, or listen
to Amazon, or to Facebook, or whatever. They understand
how you feel better than you know how
you feel because they have much more information. And they have much
better algorithms than what natural
selection gave you. They have information not
only about your emails and your books and so
forth, but the latest rage is all these biometric devices
that you wear on your body, and that gets a constant
stream of information about your blood pressure
and your sugar levels, and whatever. And, of course, do a DNA test,
and so forth and so forth. And if you have all this
information and these superbly built algorithms you can
get much better answers than from your feelings, or
certainly from the Bible. So we see the potential
rise of a new kind of religion, a data religion. If previously God was in the
center of events and then humans were in the
center of events. Now data or information
becomes the supreme source of authority and of
meaning in the world. It starts with simple
things like, you’ve got to an intersection
in the road to turn left or to turn right, don’t
listen to your feelings. Listen to [? ways. ?] It knows
much better than your gut intuition whether to go
this way or that way. Then you move to a more
sophisticated level. What book to buy? I go, I enter the
Amazon website. I want to buy a new book. The first thing that happens is
that a banner pops up and says, I know you. I know you. And I know that
you and people like you will enjoy this book
or that book, or that film. And the annoying thing is
that they are often correct. They really know me
better than I know myself. They can recommend
the best book for me. So at present it’s still based
on something quite, not very sophisticated, like they
know the previous books that I’ve read and bought. And they try to make an
extrapolation from that. But now we’re moving to a
far more sophisticated level when the books start to
read me while I read them. If I read a book on a Kindle,
or some other electronic device, the device can know
whether I finished the book, how quickly
I read it, when I stopped in reading the book,
which parts I read quickly, and which parts I read slowly. This is a wealth of
information, which conveys a very good idea
about my experience of reading the book. The next stage is to connect
this two facial recognition programs. And the book will know not
only when I read fast or slow, but when I laughed, when
I cried, when I was bored. This is an immense device that
can, of course, help Amazon not only recommend books, but do
many [? more ?] [INAUDIBLE] more sophisticated things. And eventually we will
reach even questions like, whom to marry. In the lives of most
individuals perhaps one of the most important
questions is the question of who to marry. And now instead of
going to the priest and asking, Father, who should
I marry, or going to my parents, or trying to connect
to my feelings, and making bad decisions,
I can ask Google, dear Google, who should I marry? And Google will answer,
well, I know you from the moment you
were born, at least sometime in the future. I’ve read every email
you’ve ever written. I’ve listened to every
phone call you’ve ever made. I remember every failed
date you went to. If you want, I can show you
the graphs of your sugar level and blood pressure during every
date and every sexual encounter you had in your lifetime. And of course, I also
know your potential mates, like if I have to choose
between two people. So yes, I know him and I
know him, or her and her just as I know you. And based on all this
information and not only on all this information,
but based on databases off millions and millions of
successful and unsuccessful relationships, I can recommend
to you at a probability of 87% that you had better go
with A and not with B. And one more thing. I know you so well
that I also know that you are disappointed
by what I just told you. I told you to choose A, but
secretly you actually prefer B. And I also understand why
you make this mistake. You give too much importance
to physical appearances, to external beauty. Now I’m not saying that
beauty’s not important. Beauty is very important. But you give it too much weight. In my calculations,
which are based on these enormous
statistical databases, I know that beauty
counts for 9.62% of the success of
a relationship. But your old-fashioned
biochemical algorithms, because of things that happened
in the African Savanna, give this data,
beauty, they give it 27.5%, which is far too high. So believe me, even
though you feel that B is the right
answer, go for A. And this is an
empirical question. If enough people enough
times will consult and get a good answer that they will
be happy with, then with time more and more decisions
about small things and about big things will be
done in such a way. Authority will shift
from the feelings, from the inner feelings
of the individuals to the wisdom of these
external algorithms. This is a very favorite topic
in many science fiction movies, and books, and whatever. The usual plot of science
fiction movies or books goes like this. Computers or robots
become very powerful. Then there is a big war
between humans and the robots, or humans and computers. And the computers are so
powerful, they know everything. They can do anything,
but they don’t understand the inner
spirit of humanity. They don’t understand
love or whatever. And this is why humanity
wins in the end. This is a very common plot
in many of these movies because their
audience is humans. So they have to sell
this kind of fiction. Otherwise people won’t buy it. People won’t like it. But there is a fallacy here. And the fallacy is that why
do you think that computers or robots will not
understand the emotions, the feelings, love, whatever? It’s not some otherworldly
spiritual thing. It’s, at least according
to the life sciences, it’s an algorithm. So why think that
a computer will not be able to understand
an algorithm? OK, it’s a
biochemical algorithm. It’s not an
electronic algorithm. But what’s the difference? The mathematics is the same. The calculations are
basically the same. Why does it matter
how it is done? The second fallacy,
which is part of it is that most of these
movies, not all of them, but most of them
imagine it as a kind of war between
humans and computers, or humans and robots. When the far more likely
scenario, which we are already seeing now, is not
a war but a wedding. We are talking about a merger
of the two kinds of algorithms, the biochemical and the
electronic, not a struggle, or not necessarily a struggle. Now there is one
question that still hovers over this
entire discussion. And this is whether the
life sciences are right. Does life really
mean nothing more than information processing? It may seem like it when
you read the latest articles and books on the discovery
of the life sciences, but there is still one
big hole in the story. And this is the question
of consciousness, of subjective experiences. What is called in philosophy the
hard problem of consciousness. We now understand
very well, we know how to find correlations
between particular biochemical or electrochemical
patterns in the brain, and certain subjective
experiences. But we are very,
very far from being able to understand how is
it that a particular pattern of electrochemical
signals in the brain creates a subjective experience
of love, or anger, or hate, or whatever. The life sciences–
or currently most of them– have this
dogma that, OK, we don’t know how to explain
it, but in 20, or 30, or 50 years with more
experiments, more knowledge we will understand how
electrochemical signals are transformed into
subjective experiences. But at present in 2015
this is just dogma. Still today we don’t have a clue
how electrochemical patterns can turn into
subjective experiences. Maybe the life sciences
have got it wrong. Maybe humans and
other animals are not reducible to algorithms. This is an open question. However, in historical
terms, it’s not as important as you might think because
a religion or an ideology does not have to be correct
in what it says in order to take over the world. We have many cases
previously in history when religions and
ideologies, which said what we think today to
be completely erroneous things about the world, nevertheless
managed to take it over. In scientific terms the story,
for example, that Christianity tells about the world,
how the world was created, how humans were created, how
things work in the world, it’s not true. It’s simply not true, at
least according to science. But this did not
prevent Christianity from taking over
most of the world. So you don’t need the truth
to take over the world. Similarly with these
new data religions, maybe they are based on a
misunderstanding of life, but this will not
necessarily prevent them from taking over the world. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: Hi. My question is a bit random,
but you mentioned feminism. And how we’re now
starting with feminism. But some of the
other books I read talked about how
actually way back when, like around the agricultural
revolution, I guess, there was no patriarchy. It was equal society
where everybody caught small animals, and
harvested stuff, and whatever. So at what point in human
history did it become uneven? YUVAL HARARI: Did
patriarchy arise? AUDIENCE: Yes. YUVAL HARARI: Well, the
simplest– I have a thing. Do you hear me? The simplest answer
is that we don’t know. One of the things I
like most about science is that when we
don’t know something, we can simply say we don’t know. We have very little idea
how gender relations were prior to the
agricultural revolution. After the agricultural
revolution when we have in mass
of first archaeological and then written
records, we know that they were patriarchal. Like you see even
10,000 years ago, you find the remains of
people from 10,000 years ago, after the agricultural
revolution. You see that in times of famine
they allowed the girls to die and kept the boys. The boys were fed– you see in
skeletons that girls suffered far more from malnutrition than
boys in the same community. So this is a clear evidence
of patriarchy shortly after the agricultural
revolution. How did gender relations,
or family structures, how did they look like 20,000
years ago, 50,000 years ago? There are many theories. We have no firm evidence. Even if 50,000 years ago there
was a matriarchal society, or an egalitarian
society, this is not the case in the
last 10,000 years. So even if feminism,
the feminist revolution returns things to what they
were like 50,000 years ago, in terms of the
last 10,000 years, it’s still probably the
biggest social revolution that occurred. What is even more
important to realize is that not only we don’t know
what was the situation 20,000 years ago, we don’t have at
present any good explanation for patriarchy. Many people think that the
domination of society by men and the domination
of women by men is obvious because men
are physically stronger. The problem with this
very common theory is that in human societies,
and even other ape societies, there is no direct correlation
between physical strength and social power. In human society, for
example, people in their 60s usually dominate
people in their 20s even though they are
weaker physically. Or when you look
at organizations, like the Catholic church,
so the pope is not the strongest
Catholic in the world. And he did not
become pope by going go around beating all the
other bishops and cardinals. You become pope or
you become president by building coalitions
of supporters. Social skills are the key for
social power among humans. And it’s often argued that women
have superior social skills. They are better in compromising. They are better at understanding
how other people think, what other people want. Whereas men are much
more self-centered and have difficulty
understanding or caring about what other
people think and feel. So if this is true we should
have got matriarchal societies. And among our closest cousins in
nature, the bonobo chimpanzees, we indeed find
matriarchal societies. So how come in Homo
sapiens, nevertheless in most societies in
the last 10,000 years women were dominated by men? We just don’t know at present. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] it could
have been a survival strategy. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: By the group. YUVAL HARARI: Which? AUDIENCE: If you
had other groups, like if you have
more men, you were more likely to win
over the other group. YUVAL HARARI: Ah, but it’s
not a question of numbers. Again, if the main
thing is violence, then again you get to a situation
in which men are expendable. AUDIENCE: I’m not saying it is. I’m just saying it
might have been, right? YUVAL HARARI: OK. AUDIENCE: It’s very
dense material. Thank you for your presentation. I have a couple of comments. Maybe you want to expand on
them and then one question. So on the point that
we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future
with the jobs going away, so there are people
thinking about that. Jeremy Rifkin, for
example, he talks about the zero marginal
cost economics, right? So which poses a
problem for capitalism. So we have some
ideas about that. YUVAL HARARI: Yeah, there
are people thinking about it. It’s not the
Islamic state, which is leading the world
thinking on the questions of the future of the job market. This is exactly the problem. AUDIENCE: Right. The other thing that I
noticed in your talk, so when you say communism
slash socialism, and then say, OK, this is
an ideology, a religion, think of it as an
ideology and a religion and compare it to
religions, I sort of disagree there because I think
you can’t really compare it with religions because
they base their belief system on irrationality,
whereas socialism was more or less based on a belief
system of rationality. And maybe that’s the reason
it collapsed so easily, so to speak, because
in the end people were trained to think rationally
about everything else. So, but let’s move on. On the issue of, ask
yourself a question, what did liberal society
do for us and what did the church do
for us, I could think of Gregor Mendel, right,
and his genetics experiments. But I will go to something
else, which is to say, did the United States
invent the nuclear weapon? It didn’t. It provided a framework. It provided the
funding to do that. So the church provided the
funding for the Sistine Chapel and for a lot of other things. So I think we sort
of glanced over it. But my biggest points
in the presentation is I agree with
liberalism as an ideology. I’m very liberal myself. I probably have 10% that
I’m scratching my head over, but one thing that you
sort of glossed over is the role of society,
of social interaction between humans. I mean, I don’t
believe that it’s only the question of go
deep into yourself and think about what
your decision will be. I mean, there’s the test
for that, or the famous rail or track experiment, or
the prisoners in the camp, or whatnot. It’s also about the bond
between those people. And I think– would
you agree that that has a factor in [INAUDIBLE]. And then speaking of Google and
data stuff, I work in privacy. So I’m going to fight from
that happening too soon. YUVAL HARARI: OK. So I’ll try to answer
in quick succession to the different questions. Well, about social
interaction, yes, when you look at
how people actually make decisions
liberalism is wrong. We don’t really go and
connect to ourselves and decide from there. The impact of society
and culture is enormous. But, again, as I said
before, the thing with religions and ideology
is they don’t have to be true. When they tell us connect to
yourself, follow your heart, and make your
decisions from there. And this is how we
build our economy, our politcs– it’s not true. But in terms of
ideology, and this is what they are selling us
and this is what many of us believe, that we go
to the supermarket and we buy whatever
we want to buy. The fact that our brain was
washed for hours and hours by commercials and so forth,
liberalism discounts it. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] YUVAL HARARI:
Liberalism says no. Within yourself there is
an inner core of freedom. And nothing can really touch it. Nothing can really change it. Now, we know that it’s not true. But this is why it’s an
ideology or a religion. Now I will also say
a few words about why I call it a religion and
not just an ideology. It’s really a
question of semantics, of how you define things. Many people define
religion as belief in God or supernatural powers. Nobody defines it as
believing irrationality. Religious people think
they are very rational. They never say, I’m
religious, I’m irrational. Maybe a few of them do, but
the vast majority of them don’t think that religion is
superstition or irrationality. Now, if you define
religion as belief in gods, then, yes, liberalism
or communism, no, they are not religions. And certainly data
religion is not a religion. But this is a very narrow
definition of religion. There have been
religions in history in which gods played a very
minor role like Buddhism and Confucianism. And we still call them religion. For me the basic
definition of religion is in terms of the
function it plays in history and in society. Religion gives legitimacy
to human lows and norms by hanging on to some super
human power or law of entity. We come to people and we say,
you have to behave like this. And they ask, why? So you don’t answer,
because I said so or because a couple of
people invented this law and now you must obey. This won’t work. You must go to some
super human authority. Now there are two kinds
of superhuman authorities we find throughout story. One kind is gods. They are these superior
beings with personalities. If you don’t do this,
they’ll become angry. They’ll punish you. But there is another
option, which was common throughout
history and this is to turn to natural laws. The argument is human laws,
[? the laws ?] of society were not invented by humans. They reflect the laws of nature. Therefore they
are not arbitrary. They are not random and
you can’t change them. You have to follow them. So this is the case with
Buddhism and Confucianism. This is the case also with
communism or with Nazism. The Nazis come and
say, look, it’s not Hitler that invented this
whole racial theory and then that they should be
exterminated and so forth. This is the laws of nature. Natural selection,
you’ve read Darwin. There are different biological
groups and so forth. Now we can say that
the Nazis misunderstood Darwin and the
theory of evolution. But in their eyes, the laws,
like the Nuremberg Laws did not reflect some whim
of Hitler and the party. It reflected the
ultimate laws of nature. And if we don’t
follow these laws we will disappear,
like other species that have disappeared before us. So in this sense I
think that we can speak about these ideologies
actually as religions because they fulfill
the same function. They give legitimacy to
human laws and norms. And the last question
was about Gregor Mendel, that the church did
contribute, say, to genetics. But it’s not really the church. I’m not sure that– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. YUVAL HARARI: Yeah, I’m not sure
that the pope was very happy if he knew what Gregor
Mendel was up to, or what would come out of it. Which is not the same
as the United States financing the Manhattan Project. They knew exactly where they
were heading and they got it. So I think that there
is a difference there. AUDIENCE: So a few kind of
questions dash comments. One is what is your
take on, I know of at least a myth or
a fact of one society that was matriarchal
in history, the Minoan. And I wonder if it
actually does end up being supported by
historical facts, what are the reasons that this
culture kind of vanished? That’s one question. And the other one is with
respect to science fiction, not all science fiction
is as you’ve described. And specifically– YUVAL HARARI: I know. AUDIENCE: No,
specifically as you were talking I was thinking
of Heinlein and Asimov who exactly have the
stories specifically talking about these exact things. And I wonder how you think
they would incorporate in our future history, so to speak. YUVAL HARARI: OK. So about the Minoan
culture, I’m not an expert. As far as I know, but you
have to check it with experts, as far as I know it was for
a time believed that it was a matriarchal society,
but no longer. Today the archaeological and
the deciphering of the writing system show that it was probably
as patriarchal as any other, maybe a little less, but it was
still a patriarchal society. We have some genuine examples
of matriarchal societies. For instance, I think there
is a certain region in China in the southwest
of China that there is a genuine matriarchal
society there, but this is very, very rare. The vast majority of
societies and cultures known to science in the last
10,000 years were patriarchal. About science fiction, yeah,
you’re of course right. There are many strands
and not all of them follow the basic script
that I described, like the “Frankenstein” script,
or the “Frankenstein” myth. But even in the case of the
writings of Asimov, for me the most interesting
tension and connection is between biology
and computer science. Very often when people
think about the ideas that I raised in the
last part of the lecture, they give all the importance
to the advances in computer science to our ability to create
better and better algorithms and computer programs. But in my eyes the
real revolution is actually from
the life sciences. The really big revolution
is when the life sciences are telling us that
animals are basically biochemical algorithms. If they didn’t tell
us this then you can have all the advances
you want in computer science. It won’t impinge on humanity. You will still
have humans, which are something
completely different. And all the advances in
robotics and computers, OK, we’ll have better computers. We’ll have better robots,
but it won’t really make much of a difference to us. Where it becomes really
amazing and really frightening is that once you
realize– and this is a contribution of
the life sciences– that actually humans
working in the same way, then you can make
the connections. And this is the really
frightening stuff. This is also why I think
more and more companies like Google that started simply
as, in the computer business, are moving more and more to
the biotechnology business. And then the two industries
are merging into one. The most fundamental
idea in this respect comes from the life
sciences, which says, organisms are algorithms. This is the most important,
I think, insight of our age. And also the most
important question because we don’t
have any proof of it. Currently, it’s just dogma. We don’t have any explanation
of how any kind of algorithm can create subjective
experiences. Indeed, in the field
of computers we are, as far as I know, we’re
not even close to creating subjective experiences
in computers. It’s just a dogma that
people will say, yes. It’s the same. To give another
historical reference, back in the 19th century
when they tried to understand humans, and the
human mind, and the human soul, or whatever you would
like to call it, one of the main theories
was that humans were not algorithms. Humans were steam engines. This is the basic
metaphor that stands at the basis of
Freudian psychology. Humans usually try
to explain themselves in terms of the most
sophisticated technology of the day. Ah, we are like
this because this is the most sophisticated
thing I know. In 1900, the most
sophisticated machine, the most sophisticated
technology, which was the basis
for the whole economy, was the steam engine. So people came and said, ah, the
brain is like a steam engine. There are valves and there
are pressures and so forth. So even today we say that when
we want to unload our angst, like we pick up the telephone
and we release some steam. The idea is that the human being
is built like a steam engine. It has all these
pressures inside. And if you block it
here it goes there. And much of Freudian
psychology is built on this. So today this sounds
childish and silly. Oh, the human being is
like a steam engine? We have a much better
technology is the computer. So we say, ah, humans are
not like steam engines. They are like computers. But at present at least
this is just a dogma. We don’t have the hard
facts to actually prove it. AUDIENCE: This is sort of, I
believe, a personal question. So you may skip if you
don’t want to answer. But reading your
book it appeared to me and one of
friends in India that you have absolutely no
bias when I read your book. Is that really true? Do you have any
attachments [INAUDIBLE] of any nation, religion? You may skip that. YUVAL HARARI: Well, it’s
a very big compliment. Maybe the highest compliment
you can give a scientist is that he or she has no bias. I tried to write the book
with as little bias as I can. I think you can read
between the lines that there are some things
I like more than others, some ideologies,
religions, and so forth that I like more than others. But I think that my
aim as a historian is above all to describe
reality, not to judge it. It’s very important
afterwards to make judgments, to decide what is good, what is
bad, where we should progress. But the most basic
challenge is first of all to describe reality. And if you start with a certain
agenda then very quickly you become blind
to much of reality because one thing almost
certain about reality is that it’s complex. You take any
historical development, the agricultural revolution,
the Industrial Revolution, you will always find some bad
things, and some good things, and some neutral
things about it. So if you start with
the idea of this is bad, you can’t see at
least half the story. AUDIENCE: Thank you
very much, Yuval. It was really, really– [APPLAUSE]

100 thoughts on “Yuval Harari: “Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets” | Talks at Google”

  1. Does anyone else sometimes get distracted while he's talking by the size of his cranium and think to yourself "maybe that's why he makes so much sense?"

  2. Sooo Yuval ๐Ÿค”we have been killing ourselves just because 'My story is better than yours'
    billions dead because of this one simple trick……..but Yuval lost all credibility when he
    failed to mention his own Judaism and the Talmud where we get a milder form of Sharia
    Law as well as the 10 Commandments and the stoning to death as well as the cult of the
    'messiah' especially with the radical fundamentalist Jews (end time 'settler jews') basically
    Christianity/Islam is an off shoot of the Talmud with a few tweaks here and there. Just
    criticize everyone else except the original instigator and criminal. ๐Ÿ™โœŒ

  3. Iโ€™m incredibly worried about people who liked this video… they completely donโ€™t understand what this person is talking about. I disagree and oppose everything what he represent

  4. very interesting. Very good arguments. However people and humanity does not work like that. And the Hellenistic world did not collapse into the dark ages (and the Middle Ages did not collapse because of the black league) because of religion or lack of technology. But rather the lack of connection between people and their communities. Technology bias is an Achilles heel of the modern world. Education is also a farce. Case in point, you can go to school and still come out an ignoramus. Nothing can replace hard work, doing the work, and continuing to do the work…(even when you can get someone or something else to do it for you) in order to have meaning in life, keep and develop traditions, and pass them on to the next generation. without a past there is no future.

  5. Muslims await the arrival of a just Judge, at that time there are no more delegates in the judgment. AGI or super intelligence will decide or execute every case without using humans as an intermediary. for example BITCOIN and autonomous car. Is this AGI waiting for Muslims? Digital democracy is almost like a fair judge, it requires a lot of data or variables that are used as a consideration in executing a case, so that every decision of the AGI democratic system can be trusted by Muslims. It would be even more perfect if all existing systems were integrated globally in systems made by AGI machine learning.

  6. Respected sir, I have a confusion between my inner voice and outer voice. We do we mean by our outer voice? Please let us know. Thank you.

  7. Religion can not discover anything because it can not suffer. His own logic.
    The people who follow the religion do the discoveries, they also do the suffering.

  8. Then the snake said to the woman, 'No! Youย willย not die!

    ย God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyesย willย be opened and youย willbe like gods, knowingย goodย from evil.'

  9. Here is where I disagree with Yuval. Feelings are not thoughts. Feelings may derive from rational or irrational origins. Thoughts, presumably, do, or should derive from rational premises.

  10. Radical Christianity? Radical Judaism? This is a tell for Yuval's moral relativism. I love him- he's a unique intellectual, but he prefers a blind pluralism to moral certitude- that always reflects fatuousness, not intellectual openness.

  11. This guy sounds learned but his Weltanschauung betrays a cognitive ability and scope of vision which is very limited. His peddling of a secular society and AI is simply idiotic, although many will agree with him through being duped by his faux erudition. There is so much in his talk which is simplistic and wrong. He lacks wisdom. He's quite young I suppose. He'll change his tack when he gets some more experience in life. His main obstacle is his narrow field of vision and concentration on a "snapshot" rather than on a broader consideration of all of human experience. How would he explain Uri Geller bending forks? The Akashic Records? Morphogenetic fields? The Noosphere of Teilhard de Chardin? I studied Biotechnology and his reference to the discipline is simply spacey. He's all over the place. His reference to nano-technology and genetics and that the ancients knew nothing about them is another idiotic statement. The old shamans were aware of the existence of genes and could access the information in them. The religious warnings to modern society not to accept the "chip" of technology companies is also relevant. He reminds me of a guy who I knew who began to bullshit after drinking a few too many; he began to rant against religion and made all sweeping generalized comments like Harari here. Boring.

  12. This is perhaps the most dangerous ideology on the planet. It will not lead to the deification of man but to the enslavement of the human race. Everyone needs to wake up real quick before its too late, but they won't. Instead they'll say they love this man, that he is a true educator, priceless, etc…pathetic.

  13. Oh when will humans ever understand no one man will have all the answers๐Ÿค” these are his analogies based on his observations, thatโ€™s all. You can agree to some and disagree to others that doesnโ€™t make him or you right or wrong.at the end of the day we will all live our lives through our lenses and only reality is that we will all taste death one day…had to say this after glancing through the comments๐Ÿ˜Š

  14. About the correlation between male fysical strengh and male social domination…Sparta was famous for more educated and powerful women compaired to the the rest of Greece…in a way men, there, were lance fodder..females were seen as their creators (making babies)..the arrangers of their logistic support and the ideological gatekeepers of warrior prowess (killing their own cowardish sons). Relative social power of women does not perse signal a progressive society…it may occur in highly oppressive societies (see the Spartan helots), where the physical strength of men is seen as the main source to maintain the oppressive character of elite structure.

  15. Harari and JB Peterson should meet and exchange their very complementary and in parts fundamentally oppositional ideas.

  16. Yuval makes very interesting speculations. I disagree with him on the idea that feelings are simply evolutionary chemical reactions or 'algorithms' that are pretty much automated.. how do you explain love, how do you explain feelings that you can evoke through thought (no action involved) by daydreaming, how do you explain out-of-body experiences if we don't have souls. Yuval is an excellent historian but doesn't realize that there is a middle ground between fundamentalist religions and his theories of physical-ism.

  17. I like a lot Yuval thoughts, but here 34:20 he thinks to short, when he ask, rather rhetorically โ€œwhat does religion discovery inn 20tth that change our life?โ€ Here an answer. (1) A German (Dr. Schwarz) theologian translated the Bible first back to arimรคisch (the language which Jesus spoke ) and then from there back to German, what is quite an achievement after 2000 years. The reasons why he did that were (a) due the fact that the first translations from the Greeks were already full of mistakes (b) the texts / content made no sense in many places. So what did that change? Let me give you an example, in current bibles is written, Jesus said: โ€œAnd lead us not into temptation?โ€ But Dr. Schwarz retranslated it to: โ€œAnd lead us out of the temptationโ€, what is almost the same, but Schwarzs translation makes far more sense, if the message of this Jesus was, โ€œgod loves youโ€. (2) Christians rather donโ€™t live up to their standards, however, a lot what Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Gorbatschow did in the 20th, is very close to what Jesus said, and well, it changed life for many people, no? But we are still in the game and it is not said, that mankind will see 22st, right? So at least Jesus (about other religions I donโ€™t know enough) could become very relevant to make suggestions, how we should manage things like violence and Nukes. And no, Iโ€™m not really a Christian, I donโ€™t go Sunday to church or anything like that. And yes, I know, in nobodyโ€™s name more people died and scuffed, than in the name of Jesus.

  18. ื”ื“ื‘ืจ ื”ื—ืฉื•ื‘ ื‘ื™ื•ืชืจ ื”ื•ื ืœืคืฆื— ืืช ืžื•ื— ื”ืคืกื™ื›ื•ืคื˜ ื•ืœืžื ื•ืข ืžืžื ื• (ื•ื“ื•ืžื™ื•) ืœื”ืชืงื™ื™ื.

  19. 1:05…
    ื ื›ื•ืŸ, ืื‘ืœ ื”ืŸ ืชืžื™ื“ ื”ื™ื• ืฉื‘ื•ื™ื•ืช ื‘ืชื•ืš ืžืฉืคื—ื•ืช ืฉืœ ืžื“ื›ืื™ื, ื‘ืขื•ื“ ื‘ื—ื‘ืจื” ื”ื›ืœืœื™ืช, ื”ืžื“ื•ื›ืื™ื ืœื ืชืžื™ื“ ืžืชื’ื•ืจืจื™ื ืขื ื”ืžื“ื›ืื™ื ื•ืขื•ื‘ื“ื™ื ืื•ืชื.

    ื“ื•ื•ืงื ื”ื“ื•ื’ืžื ื”ื–ื• ืฉืœ ืฉืœื“ื™ื ืฉืœืคื™ื”ื ื ื™ืชืŸ ืœื”ื‘ื™ืŸ ื›ื™ ื”ืฉืงื™ืขื• ื‘ื‘ื ื™ื ื•ื”ื–ื ื™ื—ื• ืืช ื”ื‘ื ื•ืช, ืžืขื™ื“ื” ืขืœ ื—ืœืง ืžื”ืกื™ื‘ื•ืช ืœืื™ืคืฉื•ืจ ื”ืคื˜ืจื™ืืจื›ื™ื” ื•ืœื”ืžืฉื›ื”.
    ืกื™ื‘ื•ืช ื ื•ืกืคื•ืช ื”ืŸ – ื”ื˜ื™ืคื•ืœ ื”ืžืืกื™ื‘ื™ ื‘ื›ืœ ืคื’ื•ืขื™ ื”ื—ื‘ืจื” ( ืœืžืฉืœ, ื”ื˜ื™ืคื•ืœ ื‘ืื•ื˜ื™ืกื˜ื™ื ื•ืžืคื’ืจื™ื ืฉืจื•ื‘ื ื’ื‘ืจื™ื, ื ื•ืคืœ ืขืœ ื ืฉื™ื…ื•ื›ืš ื‘ื•ื•ื“ืื™ ืื™ืŸ ื–ืžืŸ ืœื”ืชืคืชื—ื•ืช ืื™ืฉื™ืช ื•ื”ืชืงื“ืžื•ืช ื—ื‘ืจืชื™ืช ื‘ืžื•ื‘ื ื™ื ื”ืžืงื•ื‘ืœื™ื)…
    ื•ื™ืฉ ืขื•ื“ ืขืฉืจื•ืช ืกื™ื‘ื•ืช ืื—ืจื•ืช…

    ืžื” ื’ื ืฉืœืจื•ื‘ ื‘ืžื™ื ื™ื ืื—ืจื™ื, ื”ื–ื›ืจื™ื ืชื•ืงืคื™ื ื‘ืขื™ืงืจ ื–ื›ืจื™ื (!) ื•ื‘ืžื™ืŸ ื”ืื ื•ืฉื™ (ื›ื ืจืื” ื‘ื’ืœืœ ื”ื”ื‘ื ื” ื”ืงื“ืžื•ื ื™ืช ืœื’ื‘ื™ ื”ื™ื•ืชื” ืฉืœ ื”ื ืงื‘ื” ื”ืื ื•ืฉื™ืช ืขื™ืงืจ ื”ืžื™ืŸ ื”ืื ื•ืฉื™…ื•ื”ืงื ืื” ื‘ื›ืš) ื”ื–ื›ืจื™ื ืชื•ืงืคื™ื ื’ื ื•ื‘ืขื™ืงืจ ื ืงื‘ื•ืช (ืžื™ืœื•ืœื™ืช, ื ืคืฉื™ืช, ืคื™ื–ื™ืช, ื›ืœื›ืœื™ืช ื•ื‘ืขื•ื“ ื“ืจื›ื™ื ืฉื‘ื”ื ืœื ื ื™ืชืŸ ืœื“ื›ื ื›ืฉืžื“ื•ื‘ืจ ื‘ืžื™ื ื™ื ืื—ืจื™ื).

    ืœืžืขืฉื”, ื”ืื ื˜ื™ ืคืžื™ื ื™ื–ื ื•ื”ื”ืชื ื’ื“ื•ืช ืœื ืฉื™ื•ืช ื•ืœื›ืœ ืจืžื– ื”ื›ื™ ืงื˜ืŸ ืฉืœ ื”ืชืงื•ืžืžื•ืช ื ืฉื™ืช – ื”ื ืชื•ืฆืื” ืฉืœ ื”ืจืฆื•ืŸ ื”ืขื– ื‘ื”ืฉื’ืช ืื™ืฉื”/ื ืฉื™ื. ื›ื›ืœ ืฉืžื•ืจื™ื“ื™ื ืžืกื˜ื˜ื•ืก ื”ืื™ืฉื”, ื›ืš ื”ืกื™ื›ื•ื™ ืœื”ืฉื™ื’ ืื™ืฉื” ืขื•ืœื” ื•ื›ืš ื™ืฉ ื™ื•ืชืจ ืฆืืฆืื™ื. ื ื™ืชืŸ ืœืจืื•ืช ืฉื”ืื ื˜ื™ ืคืžื™ื ื™ืกื˜ื™ื ื”ื›ื™ ืงื™ืฆื•ื ื™ื™ื ื•ื›ืŸ ื“ืชื™ื™ื ืžื‘ื—ื™ืจื” – ื”ื ืœืจื•ื‘ ื’ื‘ืจื™ื ืฉืžื‘ื—ื™ื ืช ื”ื‘ืจื™ืจื” ื”ื˜ื‘ืขื™ืช – ืœื ื ื—ืฉื‘ื™ื "ืžืฆื™ืื”" ื‘ืœืฉื•ืŸ ื”ืžืขื˜ื”.

    ื”ื˜ืงื˜ื™ืงื” ื”ื’ื‘ืจื™ืช ืฉืœ ื’ื‘ืจื™ื ืืฉืจ ืื™ืŸ ืœื”ื ืกื™ื›ื•ื™ ืœื”ื‘ื—ืจ ื‘ืื•ืคืŸ ื˜ื‘ืขื™ ืข"ื™ ื ืฉื™ื, ื”ื™ื ืžื” ืฉื’ื•ืจื ื›ืžื•ื‘ืŸ ืœื—ื‘ืจื•ืช ื ื›ืฉืœื•ืช, ืขื™ื“ื•ื“ ื•ืงื™ื“ื•ืฉ ืคื“ื•ืคื™ืœื™ื”, ืคื™ืฆื•ืฅ ืื•ื›ืœื•ืกื™ืŸ ื•ื›ืœ ื”ื—ื•ืœื•ืช ื”ืจืขื•ืช….
    ืื‘ืœ ื”ื ืžืกืจื‘ื™ื ืœืจืื•ืช ื–ืืช. ื”ืจืฆื•ืŸ ืœื”ื•ืจื™ื“ ืžื ืฉื™ื ื ื•ืชืจ ืื•ื‘ืกืกื™ื” (ืืคื™ืœื• ืืฆืœ ื ืฉื™ื) ื ืคื•ืฆื”.
    ืœื’ื‘ืจื™ื ืžื•ืฆืœื—ื™ื ื™ืฉ ืคื—ื•ืช ื ื˜ื™ื” ืœื”ื•ืจื™ื“ ืžื ืฉื™ื ื•ืœืคืขื•ืœ ื ื’ื“ ืคืžื™ื ื™ื–ื, ืืš ื’ื ื”ื ืœืจื•ื‘ ืชื•ืžื›ื™ื ื‘ืขืงื™ืคื™ืŸ (ืื• ื‘ืฉืชื™ืงืชื) ื‘ืžื“ื›ืื™ื.

  20. What we consider as good or evil, imho, is basically related to survival and proliferation of humans, and surely those "ethics/morality" changes over time. Most religions ban homosexuality, alcohol, drugs, etc because they see that these are not compatible with survival. Religion is science of the past, and science is the religion of the future. Both serve as survival tool for human kind

  21. Chances are someone has already said this, but we aren't just expected to make decisions based on feelings but also on reasoning and debate and looking at positive and negative consequences of possible actions. That is a kind of algorithm but a conscious one. Maybe that is Enlightenment ideology and Yuval is talking about Romantic ideology as the basis of liberalism. Also the authority of the Church wasn't just that of scripture or the priest but that of the decisions of councils and Popes and tradition. Also I didn't think priests usually helped people choose who to marry, unless that was in recent centuries. For most of the time it was decided by parents as a way of connecting families and for economic reasons. But I am not a Historian so I may be unqualified to answer that. If someone has better information and can correct me on that I'd be interested in updating my knowledge.

  22. Most societies were patriarchal historically, simply because the hormonal makeup of men makes them more dominant by nature (due to larger ego and more pressing and frequent sexual urges). It has nothing to do with being stronger or smarter (as in some of the other comments), they are just more likely to have a tendency to want control over others and especially women, who were often kept away from schools and education for example, which reinforced men's general dominance. Perhaps this genetic trait helped ensure reproduction in the past, though I'd certainly hope for more equality now and in the future.

  23. 36:21 I like this about the subjective human mind, made of biochemical algorithms, for survival and reproduction.
    Yet he doesn't seem to feel that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of information processing.(i.e. can a computer be conscious?)

  24. We needed to establish the importance of individuals, before the proletariat were given access to the grassroot power that technology has now enabled. Sapiens purpose has now become apparent. As we reach the population of 10 billion, the power that this number of us can produce, will prove miraculous. Groovism is belief in that power. Be with The One!

  25. Groovists look forward to the deity that we manifest. Religions of the past will fall to the wayside, as we realize the inner beings we coalesce will create a virtual mob mentality, which is believed to have positive miraculous effects. The entity we create may be a massive evolutionary step, stepping beyond any rational human expectations! As the founder of Groovism, I believe evolution may get galactic!?! Our universes will be seen as the atomic equivalent of our microscopic makeup.

  26. 21:17 – I wonder if he ever talks about radical Judaism, what is practiced and officially pitched by his government.

  27. This man ,his book is the best seller why ? He doesn't talk somthing deep.Watch DAVID IKE OR LISTEN TO THE INDIAN GURUS, STUDY BUDDHISM & WATCH .OSHO.THE GREAT MAN WITH DEEP INSIGHT …

  28. The reason he is so good is because he knows what we should understand about the past to shape the future or think about it! He is lives in the past , today and in the future and can also oversee many sort of sciences or social sciences.

  29. Heard better raves and propositions at the local pub. He is in the nursery school of common sense. So what.

  30. He fails to add that the new religion in the form communism (a marriage between technology and philosophy) killed millions upon millions of people in Russia and China (100 million). Will the new philosophy of technocracy with its logarithms to control humans go the same way? History should teach us the lessons for the future. Why totalitarian religions have killed many people in the past, could a totalitarian technocracy disguised as communalism bring the worst tribulation the earth have ever seen? The individual will have no rights – making algorithms into an almighty mythical god. Science is not the answer. This thinking removes the dignity of humans and reduces them to an algorithm which becomes a fodder for disposal. If A technocracy with this kind of thinking starts to rule the earth all humans who do not comply will be relegated to the rubbish dump. Will this prophets ideas of a future totalitarian technocracy become a reality? It will if everyone follows these ideas without logical thinking. It denigrates life …. how can you give yourself over to an idea which does not yet understand consciousness- it is like walking into a dark room full of death-dealing equipment. Life is not so simplistic – a bunch of logarithms put together. Atheists do fall into this trap – replace religion with a new philosophy which brings greater disaster – such as Marx. His ideology did not improve quality of life after the revolutions or bring a just society and this new age of super technology may bring better health but very little other benefits to mankind and its quality of life. Its a disaster waiting to happen.

  31. …This man SPEAKS a lotโ€”and has a vast knowledge of history….BUT, โ€œwisdomโ€ is something granted to very few…Mr. Harari is not one of โ€œthe fewโ€….

  32. ….The human need to โ€œfollow the packโ€ (in this case, to worship a man as an Oracle, because he has a vast knowledge of history…and โ€œsounds smartโ€) is perfectly illustrated by merely reading the comments hereโ€”based on a speech loaded with historical detailโ€”but, completely lacking in wisdom…..

  33. His talk has crucial distortions about liberalism and social movements. He repeats the neoliberal motto "there is no alternative". How can one interpret '68 movements and also anti-globalization movements as having liberal ideas? Does not it mean to deny their anti-capitalist and anti-liberal politics and discourses.

  34. Live and die by the statistic as a future for all of these weepy Liberals who love hearing this! Do not worry you will believe in the statistics, and weep no more. One element missing from this deep think ……..
    money,cash,capital,the wherewithall. The Church borrowed it's money from Bankers and the Kings borrowed from The Bankers. No wonder all of the hate is for Wall Street and Bankers! Tell me that Silicon Valley will be the Bankers, then we will worship you!

  35. This lecture seems to be a good example of exactly what the good Professor is rightfully criticizing in traditional religionsโ€”dogma. After reciting the fully naturalized dogmas of contemporary materialism for over an hour he ends by saying we still donโ€™t understand subjectivity. That is also known as โ€œthe hard problemโ€ in consciousness studies, where mechanistic and reductionist metaphysical models fall on their face. This is also the root of the modern environmental crisis where โ€œbeingsโ€ are turned into โ€œthingsโ€–or algorithms–in a reductio ad absurdum. This kind of materialism is the real religion of the contemporary world, and because most people canโ€™t see that, we are in a collision course with environmental disaster. He is right to point out that it is accelerating. This is why.

  36. That idiot โ€œasking questionsโ€ doesnโ€™t know how to ask a question. He wants to be Yuval so bad.

  37. Regarding Patriarchy:
    Yuval, in other talks you speak of the mother-infant bond: a product of mammalian evolution spanning millions of years. Yet you are stumped why women spend more time child rearing than men, or the biological investment a woman makes into creating a child as opposed to a man.
    Of course women will take greater care of their infants, so they will find a suitable environment where they have a partner to support them and in return pledge their loyalty to them as a trade off.
    Since agriculture shaped modern civilization, this has been so.
    In regards to the last gentleman commenting that you have no bias, I disagree strongly. You views on religion appear to be based firstly on an emotional rejection of Judaism, followed by a myriad of sound logical rationalizations that have forged the way you see the world. It must have been hard for you as a young gay man, despite modern day acceptance of homosexuality.
    I also find it says a lot about you that you say that you wish to never have children. But that's just my observations.
    I think very highly of your scientific achievements thus far, and your strong view points on global topics.
    Behatzlacha achi.

  38. As foreseen: humanity can now & should unite!! Groovism is the belief in the healing power of music.. As other cultures have proven successful, they had common venues to gather & Groove. It's believed by Groovists that a sufficient amount of humans Grooving as One, for a long enough period of time: miracles will begin happening!! Perhaps humanity's only hope!?!?

  39. So you ask in 34:20 whether there is anything
    at all that a religion has contributed as a
    renewal in the last century compared to
    the worldly developments. And you say there
    is no such thing.

    The world has developedall kinds of renewal,
    the religions have only reacted in the last
    centuries. But: there are already renewers of
    religion with radical and strong actions.

    The example to be mentioned is the construction
    of the new religion of the Church of Scientology
    with breathtaking mental constructions.

    Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

  40. A few things I would like to mention.

    Education in the US now is Marxist. Students are taught what to think, not how to think.

    Politics is no longer liberal here either. When Trump was fairly elected the elite through a hissy fit. In fact they are still throwing it 2.5 years later. Our politics hasnโ€™t been liberal for over 50 years now.

    And the market isnโ€™t completely driven by the consumer. Capitalists have ways of manipulating consumers and creating need.Then there is such a thing as monopolies, trusts, and corrupt legislation. All of these things work to circumvent the desires of the consumer.

    I donโ€™t see why Yuval used a priest instead of a rabbi to demonstrate illiberal thinking.

  41. When he discussed matriachy and patriachy at the end he shied away from completing the analysis he makes rather brilliantly in Sapiens. That was, perhaps counterintuitively patriachy exists not because men are stronger but because men had superior social skills such as reading of emotions, understanding motives and manipulation of other humans which made them better traders and leaders!
    Seeing the rather ideological crowd I think he bottled it ๐Ÿคฃ

  42. Interesting, although the analysis of liberalism, stemming from "individualism," while good, stops short, sparing you the details. Knowing one's self is fraught with misconceptions that go back thousands of years. Religare, "to bind back," to
    the interior space of freedom is not taken far enough, and that essential space will NEVER be programmable and thus no AI will EVER replicate it. The "religion" of AI and its SIlicon Valley clergy are sophomoric. Period.

  43. Good God, the Q&A…

    "You here in Silicon Valley are bringing about the greatest change in the history of mankind, possibly in the history of life itself. You are bringing about mankind's ascension into a race of immortal gods that will shape the history of the world, possibly the universe, into something that we are too limited to even begin to grasp. Questions?"

    "But feminism tho…"
    "I don't have a question but will aimlessly ramble on about assorted observations for five minutes…"
    "I feel we need to explore feminism some more!"

  44. "The Islamic State…." Such a bright man should not indulge in these caricatures of a vast group of diverse people–particularly when the Islamic State is affiliated with allied nations like Saudi Arabia and the US. The activities of the Islamic State are likely coordinated by the most up to date information technology. But this is 2019 not 2015 so maybe there should be a grace period for waking up? Like I said, such a bright man should, not just dance for us, but open his eyes.

  45. Am I correct in assuming he is arguing that a future religion coming out of Silicon Valley is a good thing?

    Harari's definition of Religion as explained in the Q&A is limited and highly bordering on an obvious pro-science bias when considering the definition as defined among Religious Studies scholars. Furthermore, his apparent removal of life as sacred – a key, but not necessarily essential facet in defining a religion, which he effectively argues falsely Buddhism and Confucianism had done, and acceptance of biology/life sciences connected with the use of algorithms as the answer to developing this future religion, while simultaneously never discussing the present reality of corporations as opposed to a system that incorporates open-source technology and complete removal of profit from production are the current developers, would appear to inevitably produce a future "religion" devoid of an understanding of existence as sacred, and ultimately, a dystopian society/civilization not unlike the many very dogmatic religious traditions he rightly points out having failed humanity in the long run.

    I cannot possibly be the only one who found his prophecy to smell like BS?

  46. 1:12:00 Very useful definition of religion: "for me, the basic definition of religion is in terms of the function it plays. The functions it plays in history and societies. Religion gives legitimacy to human laws and norms by hanging on to some superhuman power or law or entity. We come to people and we say: You have to behave like this. And the ask, why? So you don't answer, because I say so, or because a couple of people invented this law and now you must obey. This won't work. You must go to some superhuman authority. Now, there are two kinds of superhuman authorities we find throughout history. One kind is gods. There are these superior beings with personalities, if you don't do this, they'll become angry and they'll punish you. But there is another option, which was common throughout history and this is to turn to natural laws. The argument is, the human laws, the laws of society were not invented by humans. The reflect the law of nature. Therefore they are not arbitrary, they are not random and you can't change them, you have to follow them". From there he goes on by connecting some "religions without gods" like Buddhism and Confucianism to some ideologies like Communism and Nazism, because they all perform the same function of legitimizing human norms and laws by way of naturalizing them. [Which is exactly what "cultures" have always done, to pose their inevitable choices as expressions of a superhuman interest and power, namely Nature/God].

  47. OK. The guy seems to be educated, though not to my liking. I prefer scientists and cannot accept history as a science. After listening for over an hour I asked myself what new I learned from his presentation and couldn't find anything. Could anybody point to any new idea they learned. Presentation itself seems to be one big clishe.

  48. he's created two categories, religion and then technology. He's brushed over the fact that the very technology that has impacted the modern world was established by those with religious backgrounds. so comparing faith in this way and arguing that it stuns modern science and development is bogus.

  49. Material reductionism, which is what Yuval is really talking about, is as old as Darwinโ€™s theory of evolution. Not a new 21st century scientific viewpoint. These are old tired ideas.

  50. The idea of thinking for oneself goes back to Socrates and beyond. So, this entire talk has a false premise.

  51. The dude at 1:07:00 ….. unbelievable. He likes the sound of his voice way too much. There's one at every gathering, huh?

  52. This is the best talk I have ever heard in terms of clarity, logic and matter. Yuval takes ideas one step further into territory we have to look at. I am seriously interested in anything he has to say.

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