Impact Theory: Yuval Noah Harari Podcast Notes

Yuval Noah Harari talks about hacking human beings, smart algorithms, privacy vs health, the story we tell ourselves, the ‘useless class’, and the future of education with host, Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory.

Yuval Noah Harari (@harari_yuval) is an Israeli historian, a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of bestselling books like Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. He is interested in the research of Homo Sapiens and focuses on such topics as the relationship between history and biology, essential differences between Homo Sapiens and other animals, justice in history, and the question of whether people are becoming happier with every passing generation.

Enjoy the takeaways compiled in this Impact Theory Yuval Noah Harari Podcast Notes.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • We are in a century where human beings can become hackable animals. This has become possible with the advancements in biology, medicine, and computer technology.
  • Smart algorithms can be created that can play on the human biochemical system to influence emotions the same way that artists like musicians, poets, and movie makers do with their work.
  • In the near future, there will be a clash between Privacy and Health. People would want more privacy and better health. However, better healthcare can be achieved with the use of biometric sensors that monitor one’s body constantly to give vital information to doctors and/or corporations. This process of giving vital biometric information to doctors and/or corporations can reduce privacy but more people will be willing to do it, according to Harari. Hence, health would take precedence over privacy in the future.
  • The Human mind is a machine that constantly produces stories. The most important story is one’s own life story.
  • Harari says that the truth in the story we tell ourselves is very low.
  • There will come a time in the future when a class of people called the ‘Useless Class’ will arise who are not employable. This will happen due to the ever-accelerating pace of disruptions in the job market that will force people to reinvent themselves every few years to survive or become unemployable.
  • Harari says that nobody knows how the job market will look like in 2040. People will have to keep reinventing themselves every few years to keep up with the disruptions. He draws an analogy saying that education will turn from being a house with deep foundations to being a tent that can be moved from one area to another with relative ease.
  • Harari believes courses that teach emotional intelligence, mental balance, and how to keep changing and learning throughout life will be in demand.
  • Most of our learning about the potential effects of advanced technologies and AI comes from Science Fiction movies. Harari says that Sci-Fi movie makers should take the responsibility of making movies that educate the audience. According to him, Sci-Fi is the most artistic genre of our times.
  • Harari wants to bring more clarity to the public discussion and focus people’s attention on the most important questions.
  • According to Harari, the 3 big challenges to humankind in the 21st century are,
    1. Nuclear War
    2. Climate Change
    3. Technological Disruption

HACKING HUMAN BEINGS

Yuval Noah Harari says that we are in a time in history where human beings can become hackable animals. This will be made possible with the advancements in the fields of biology, medicine, and technology.

To hack a human being, two things are needed.

  1. A Lot of Data (Biometric data of the happenings inside the body and brain)
  2. A Lot of Computing Power to make sense of the data

We have the ability to get a lot of biometric data on what is happening inside the human body and the brain. We also are at a point where we have the computing power to make sense of the huge amount of biometric data. Together, this will mean that human beings can become hackable in the near future.

SMART ALGORITHMS PLAYING ON EMOTIONS

The human biochemical system responds to art forms like music and movies. Hence, musicians and moviemakers have the power to alter our emotions through their art. According to Harari, we will get to a point where algorithms can become so smart that they can play on the human emotions by picking the right song/movie to be played based on the emotional state of a person at a given time.

Great art can inspire happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and a whole palette of other emotions. An algorithm that can understand the human biochemical system and is self-learning can play on human emotions.

PRIVACY VS HEALTH

Yuval Noah Harari thinks that there will be a battle between Privacy and Health in which Health will win. He thinks that people will be more willing to have some reduced privacy for far better healthcare facilities.

  • An algorithm with biometric sensors monitoring a person’s body can provide vital information to doctors and/or corporations that can be crucial in the early detection and prevention of many diseases.
  • However, sharing information with the third party would mean reduced privacy. But Harari thinks that people will be willing to share some information for better healthcare.

THE STORY OF US

Yuval Noah Harari says that a human mind is a machine that constantly produces stories. The most important story is the story of an individual. He believes that the truth in our story that we produce in our minds is very low. He wants people to face realities and recognize things that are scary about themselves.

  • Life is a story we piece together with bits and pieces of memories.
  • The truth in our stories is very low because we have consciously disregarded the bad things about us.
  • Usually, when people go on meditation retreats thinking that they will discover something profound and meaningful about themselves, it is the bad things they had been sweeping under the carpet that show up first.
  • To be truly happy, it is important to face realities and recognize things that one doesn’t want to recognize about oneself. This is a difficult process but is worth it.

RISE OF THE ‘USELESS CLASS’

  • According to Harari, the growing technological disruptions in the future will give rise to a ‘useless class’ of people who cannot be employed.
  • The ever-accelerating pace of disruptions means that people have to keep reinventing themselves every few years to not get unemployed.

FUTURE OF EDUCATION

Yuval Noah Harari says that nobody will know how the job market will look like in 2040. According to him, people will have to keep reinventing themselves to not fall into the ‘useless class’.

Courses on Emotional Intelligence, Mental Balance, and how to keep changing and learning throughout life will be in demand.

Harari draws an analogy for education in the future to a house which is like a tent that can be moved around easily. The present education is like a house with deep foundations planted firmly in one place. Again, he stresses the fact that people will have to reinvent themselves constantly in the future.

THE POWER OF SCIENCE FICTION

  • Most people get their education on science through Science Fiction movies and shows because research papers on Science and Nature are filled with professional jargon that can be difficult to understand.
  • According to Harari, the onus is on the Sci-Fi moviemakers to be more responsible in educating their audience.
  • Harari thinks that Science Fiction is the most artistic genre of our times.

IMPACT ON THE WORLD

  • Yuval Noah Harari wants to bring more clarity to the conversation happening in the world
  • He wants people to focus on the most important questions facing humanity
  • He thinks that the three big challenges for humankind in the 21st century are Nuclear War, Climate Change, and Technological Disruption. He wants these three things to be in the discussion agenda of every country.

OTHER NOTES

  • Yuval Noah Harari discovered that he was gay when he was 21 years old. He says that there might be smart algorithms in the future that might give this information to a person earlier in life and avoid the time it takes to self analyze, observe, and reach a conclusion.
  • Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is the most favorite book for Yuval Noah Harari in the Sci-Fi genre.

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