The best-selling author, historian and philosopher, Yuval Noah Harari provokes you to answer a simple question as he usually does: Humans are always so passionate to acquire power but why is it that they lack the wisdom to translate this power into happiness? And thus begins his session with EO Powerhouse on why he believes intelligence is overrated, how AI takes the power away from humans as it creates its own ideas, and trust as the currency of the future. As a child, he was always curious about the little contributions that culminate into movements and transformations but the historian staunchly believes that none of the greatest achievements of our time are the sole contributions of an individual, rather, it’s a collective effort. Without the people working behind-the-scenes, no individual is capable of changing the world.
With the AI revolution, the questions are many and the answers too few. But the author of ‘Sapiens’ and ‘Homo Deus’ shares that AI, the first-ever tech with its own ability to create new ideas, has given the power to a handful, without looking at the unintended consequences it will bring in the collapse of the smaller nations. Think for a minute about the countries that prosper on the basis of the manual labour they contribute. Who will upskill an entire nation to become tech-savvy and fit into the new world? And the most important question of all is, is there enough money with these nations to upskill entirely?
That’s why the regulations on AI should be a collective effort because no nation on its own will be able to address AI alone. The future with AI is coming at a speed that even the philosopher didn’t expect and with it, several aspects of the world will be accelerated. But what none of us are thinking about is the human cost attached to it. Will it push entire nations into poverty, will the power come to reside in the palms of the handful and will democracy become a term of the past.
Through the entire session, I could understand the fear but more than that, Harari emphasised on human's inability to connect to their own realities because our minds have a habit of weaving stories constantly. If we can gain the clarity to differentiate reality from fiction and get the best people from the tech world together to break down the implications of AI, there is a way to eliminate fear and be ready for a future none of us envisioned but will be a part of.
Here are highlights from the session, that will help you transform yourself and your business:
Role of Meditation
Yuval touched upon how he takes out two hours time everyday to meditate to gain clarity on the realities of the world, something he’s been doing for the past 20 years. No matter where he is and what he is doing, he never misses his meditation session to know himself better. Other than that, he also goes on long periods of information diet to pursue Vipassana for 30 days or 60 days depending on his work schedule. In a world flooded by information, with no space to communicate, he’s given up his smartphone on a day-to-day basis, with his team keeping all tabs on his needs and work. Only when he travels, he switches on his smartphone, but other than that, he doesn’t feel the need for fast information to hijack his mind.
Happiness and Wellbeing
As the AI revolution has brought to fore bots, trust is collapsing with none of us understanding if we are talking to a real human or a fake one. Without trust, he believes chaos will ensue. While we are all looking to gain power, none of us seem to be happy in pursuit or after acquiring it. To feel better, some make huge donations from the money that’s been earned in crooked ways, which shouldn’t be the case. One should earn money doing good and being good, shares Yuval. Then life will find its meaning and one wouldn’t feel so bleak about the future. If what you do is contributing to the good of the human race, you wouldn’t be bogged down by profits or revenue so much.
History - The Study of Change
In the end, the historian talks about the relevance of history and why it isn’t the study of the past but change. Through several examples, he helped us look at the world and see the mistakes that have destroyed civilisations. We need to look at history as we step into the unknown future. What we already know can help us change the ways of pursuing better lives in the future.
Just like the beginning, ponder over the question: With the most sophisticated tech ever, why aren’t we able to talk and agree on the most basic questions? Yuval leaves us with another thought-provocative view in the end as we debate over several intricacies of work and the world.
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