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The Future of Humanity: Yuval Noah Harari in Conversation with Thomas L. Friedman

The Future of Humanity: Yuval Noah Harari in Conversation with Thomas L. Friedman


– Yuval Harari, of course,
is a best-selling author and thinker whose work engages us in the history of humanity
and where we’re heading. Thomas Friedman is also a
best-selling author and columnist who for decades has been
a guide to the world for readers of his columns and his books. We’re in very good hands for the evening. Without further ado,
please welcome to the stage Yuval Harari and Thomas Friedman. (audience applauds) So Yuval, we’re gonna begin with you. Obviously when we think about the future, we think about what’s
happening in the world and what is setting the global agenda. And if you could speak
about the global agenda. – Yeah I think the
first thing to say about the global agenda is that is exists. There is a global agenda,
which is not self-evident these days because with all the talk about the rise of nationalism and tribalism and the clash of
civilizations and so forth, we sometimes tend to forget
that, in a very deep sense, all of humanity today constitutes
a single civilization. Yes, we have a lot of conflicts,
but every civilization, every community, every family
has a lot of conflicts. The people you fight most
with are your family members. Not with strangers,
because they are there. So the threat of the world
is full of conflicts, doesn’t mean that we are not a single community or a single civilization. And I think in a deep sense
almost all humans today or at least almost all
countries today understand the fundamentals of
reality in the same way. They understand politics in the same way. If you think about China or
the USA, Iran, or Israel, they understand the basics
of politics in the same way. The basics of economics in the same way. And the basics of nature in the same way. They argue about a lot of things, but when it comes time to
build a hospital or an economy or a nuclear bomb, they
do it in the same way. And just as we have a set of
similar ideas and practices, we also, all of humanity, we
have a set of common problems. Global problems, which can only
be solved on a global level. And of these global
problems, the three most important are nuclear war, climate change, and technological disruption. Now the first two are
quite familiar by now. The third, technological
disruption, is the most mysterious. Most people don’t really
understand what’s coming. Even most experts cannot really say what kind of threats, what kind of dangers the new technologies, especially AI, artificial intelligence, and
bioengineering will create. There are a lot of scary scenarios. Like if you think about
artificial intelligence. So one scary scenario is that
it will lead to the emergence, the rise of the global useless class. Just as the industrial
revolution of the 19th century created the urban working class, so the automation revolution
of the 21st century might create the useless class. And much of the political
and social history of the coming decades might revolve around the problems and the hopes and
the fears of this new class. Another danger is that new
technologies might lead to the collapse of liberal democracy. Especially if you think about
the combination, the merger, of biotech and infotech,
they might very soon reach the point when they create systems, they create algorithms that understand us better than we understand ourselves. And once you have an external algorithm that understands you better
than you understand yourself, liberal democracy as we have known it for the last century or so is doomed. It will have to adapt
to the new conditions, it will have to reinvent itself in a radical new form or it will collapse. Because you can say
that the Achilles’ heel of liberal democracy is the heart. Liberal democracy trusts in
the feelings of human beings. And that worked as long
as nobody could understand your feelings better than
you yourself or your mother. But if there is an algorithm
out there that understands your feelings better than
your mother and can press your emotional buttons better than your mother, and you won’t even understand
that this is happening, then liberal democracy will
become an emotional puppet show. And we have these slogans
of “listen to your heart”, “follow your heart”, but
what happens if your heart is a foreign agent, is a double
agent serving somebody else who knows how to press
your emotional buttons. Who knows how to make you angry, how to make you bored,
how to make you joyful. This is the kind of threat that we are already beginning to see emerging today. For example in elections
and in referendums. So really, I would say that
the three big challenges, the three top items on our global agenda, is how to prevent nuclear war, how to prevent climate change, and how to learn to
control the new technology before it learns to control us. – Thank you. Tom, when we think
about the future of humanity we have to think about our
understanding of the world. I wondered if you could talk a little bit about how you understand the world today. – Well first of all Rachel, it’s great to be with you and Yuval. Thank you all for coming
out, this is a real treat. As a columnist, one of the
things I’m always asking myself is how does the machine work? What are the biggest gears and ploys shaping or re-shaping the world today. In my last book, Thank You For Being Late, picking up really on some of
the things Yuval spoke about, I argued that what is shaping more things in more places in more ways on more days is that we’re in the
middle of three non-linear accelerations with the three
largest forces on the planet. Which I call the Market,
Mother Nature, and Moore’s Law. So Mother Nature for me is climate change, biodiversity loss, and population growth in the developing world. If you put that on a graph, it actually looks like
a giant hockey stick. The Market for me is globalization, but not your grandfather’s globalization. That was containers on ships and planes, that’s actually flagged
to going down right now. But digital globalization,
everything is being digitized and globalized and put that on a graph, whether that’s measuring
data consumed per month or cellphones, it looks
like a hockey stick. And lastly, Moore’s Law coined
by Gordon Moore in 1965, the co-founder of Intel,
argue that speed in powered microchips will double every 24 months. And that’s closer to 30
months now, but nevermind. Moore’s Law has held up for 53 years. Put it on a graph and it looks
like a giant hockey stick. So we’re actually in the
middle of three hockey stick accelerations all at the same time. And I believe it’s the
interaction between them that really is not just
changing our world, it’s reshaping our
world and it’s reshaping five realms in particular:
politics, geopolitics, ethics, the community, and the workplace. So if I think about politics right now. Something’s on everybody’s mind. One of the things you really see is that political parties
all over the world, here in the UK and the United
States, are blowing up. Some are in power so
they think they’re alive, but they’re all basically dead. And that’s because, in my view, they were all born of
an industrial age model that the central theme was
capitalism versus labor, or big government versus
small government and the axis of politics was left to
right and right to left. What I would argue, and this
gets to how I think about the world today, is that that
model is no longer relevant. I think the way to think
about politics today is through the model of climate change. But I think we’re in the middle of three climate changes at once. First we’re in the change of
the climate of the climate. We’re going from what I call later to now. So when I was growing up in
Minnesota in the 50s and 60s later was when I could clean that lake, repair that river, save that
forest, rescue that orangutan. I could do it now or I could do it later. Well today, later is officially over. Later will now be too late,
so whatever you’re gonna save, please save it now,
that’s a climate change. We’re going through a change in the climate of globalization. I think we’re going from
an interconnected world to an interdependent world. And an interdependent world
you get a geopolitical inversion where your friends start to be able to kill you
faster than your enemies. If Greek and Italian banks go under tonight this room is half full. Greece, Italy, wait a minute, they’re in NATO, they’re in the EU, in an interdependent
world they can kill us. In an interdependent
world your rivals falling is actually more dangerous
than your rivals rising. So if China takes six more islands in the south China sea tonight, don’t quote me on this,
I couldn’t care less, if China looses 6% growth
tonight, this room is empty. That’s a climate change. And lastly we’re going through a change in the climate of business and technology. One reason I focus on technology so much, I’m a big believer that whatever
can be done will be done. The only question of business is, “Will it be done by you or to you?”. But just don’t think it won’t be done. So I’m always asking what can be done. And when you look at AI and some of the themes Yuval talked about, I think every company
that can therefore must analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize, socialize, and
digitize slash automatize virtually any job, product, or service. So they can analyze
now thanks to big data. They can find the needle in
the haystack of their data as their norm not the
exception, they can optimize. I flew here on British Airways. Rolls Royce engines, those engines are actually connected
by sensor to Rolls Royce. And they could tell BA
exactly what altitude to fly every mile to optimize
their energy efficiency. They can prophesize. You may have seen the IBM Watson ad where the IBM Watson repair man comes to a high rise building and says, “I’m here to fix the elevator,” and the doorman says, “The
elevator is not broken.” And he says, “I know but it will be in six weeks and three days.” You can do predictive
analytics on anything now. You can socialize, that
is, you can connect now to your customers, your
suppliers, your employees, in a horizontal way like never before. You can customize, just
for guys from Minnesota, with brown eyes and a mustache. And you can digitize slash automatize virtually any job, product, or service. You put all those together,
and every business today finds themselves in the
middle of a climate change. So as I thought about that, I thought well what do you want when the climate changes? I think you want two things. You want resilience, you need
to be able to take a blow. ‘Cause you get disruptive
behavior when the climate changes. But you also want propulsion, you want to be able to move ahead. You don’t want to be curled
up in a ball under your bed, waiting for the climate change to pass. So as I thought about that I said who do I go to to find how you get resilience and propulsion
when the climate changes. Then I realized I knew this woman, she was 3.8 billion years old, her name was Mother Nature
and she dealt with more climate changes than anybody. So I called her up, made an appointment, went out to see her and I sat down, I said, “Mother Nature, how do you produce resilience and propulsion
when the climate changes?” She said, “Well Tom, everything
I do, I have to tell you, I do unconsciously, but
these are my strategies.” First of all she said,
“I’m incredibly adaptive. In my world it’s not the smartest that survive, it’s not the strongest, it’s actually the most
adaptive that survive. And I do what I said
through a rather brutal mechanism I call Natural Selection.” Second she said, “I’m
incredibly entrepreneurial. Wherever I see an opening in nature, a blank space, I fill it with a plant or animal perfectly
adapted to that niche.” Third she said, “I’m
incredibly pluralistic.” “Oh, Tom,” she said, “I’m the most pluralistic person you’ve ever met. I try 20 different species
of everything, see who wins.” And she did tell me something interesting. She told me her most diverse ecosystems are her most resilient
and propulsive ecosystems. Fourth she told me she’s totally sustainable in a circular way. Everything is food, eat, food, poop, seed, eat, food, poop,
seed, nothing is wasted. Fifth she said, “I’m incredibly high-bred and heterodox in my thinking,
nothing dogmatic about me. I’ll try any trees with any soils, any bees with any flowers.” And lastly she did mention that she believes in the laws of bankruptcy. She told me she kills all her failures, returns them to the great
manufacturer in the sky, and takes their energy
to nourish her successes. When my argument is that the community, the country, the government,
and the business, that most closely mirrors Mother Nature’s strategies for building
resilience and propulsion when the climate changes
is the one that will thrive in this age of acceleration. And when I was writing my
book, it was the 2016 election, I actually imagined what if
Mother Nature was running against Donald Trump and
Hillary Clinton in 2016. And so I created Mother Nature’s political party based on these strategies. I won’t go into it, I’ll
just close by saying that on some issues, Mother
Nature she’s out there on the left with Bernie Sanders. ‘Cause she believes in
universal healthcare, and making lifelong
learning completely tax free because she understands that
in this world that Yuval is describing is gonna be too
damn fast for a lot of people. So she wants to strengthen our
safety nets to bounce people back into the game and protect them. But at the same time Mother
Nature would be out there on the right with the Wall
Street Journal editorial page. She’d actually be for
abolishing all corporate taxes. Only unlike our Republican Party, she’d replace them with a carbon tax, a tax on sugar, a tax on bullets, and a small financial transaction tax. She would get radically
entrepreneurial over here, to pay for our safety nets over here. Unfortunately, in our old
industrial age model of politics, if you’re for stronger safety nets, you’re almost never for
radical entrepreneurship. If you’re for radical entrepreneurship, you’re almost never for
stronger safety nets. What would Mother Nature call that? Stupid, that’s what she’d call it. Because she would understand
you would never produce resilience unless you’re
a hybrid of these two. And because our current
political parties are not built on that model they’re all struggling now to find a way to talk about politics. – That’s right. I realize I
forgot to mention that we’d also be hearing from
Mother Nature this evening. So there’s the tree of us on stage and a variety of perspectives. – I was just about to say that Mother Nature she has
problems also, not our problems. As you mentioned she’s
quite keen on extinction. And she does believe in that and she wouldn’t care if we are unable to cope with our problems and go extinct. Also, she wouldn’t care very
much if humankind splits. And say a small percentage
becomes a new species better adapted to the new conditions. And couple of billions just go
in the way of the Neanderthal and the mammoths and all that. So it’s very good to
learn from Mother Nature, but copying her methods too closely would be very bad news
for a lot of people. – My view, Yuval, is get the best out of her and cushion the worst. And I do agree with you. Mother Nature, one of my science teachers, Rob Walton, talked about this, that she’s just chemistry,
biology, and physics. That’s all she is, you can’t talk her up, you can’t talk her down, you can’t say, “Mother Nature, we’re having
a recession this year. Could we take a year off on the climate?” She’s gonna actually do
whatever chemistry, biology, and physics dictate and to put
it in American Baseball terms Mother Nature always
bats last and she always baths a thousand, so do not
mess with Mother Nature. Which is exactly what we’re doing. – I wonder, we’re obviously talking on a long term framework here. But of course I imagine many
of you came here tonight thinking about what’s
immediately in front of you. What news alerts are on your phones. What, Tom I believe you’ve referred to the American president
as a brain eating disease, perhaps what he might be up
to, what else is going on. I wonder if you could
both speak to how we deal with what is unrelenting in
front of us while thinking about the broader challenges
that you’ve outlined. How do we do both at once? How do we adapt to do both at once? – [Tom] Yuval, go ahead. – Can we have a bit more
light on the audience? Because it’s very difficult
to see who I’m talking to. Just a sea of darkness and
it’s nice to see some faces. After all, it’s really
about you, not about us. You will have to deal
with the future also. It’s very difficult for people. Humans have proven throughout history that they are very good when it comes to short-term problems and solutions. But it’s extremely difficult to foresee the long-term consequences
and one of the things that happened if we talk about again various climate changes, is
that time is accelerating. So thousands of years ago,
something like the agricultural revolution takes centuries,
even thousands of years. And the consequences of
our decision today to start growing wheat, we will see, well not we. Somebody, our descendants,
will see the consequences of this decision in a couple of centuries. Maybe even in thousands of years. But now time is accelerating
so the long-term is not 2000 years or 200 years,
the long-term is 20 years. We are in an unprecedented
situation in history, when nobody knows the basics about how the world would look
like in 20 or 30 years. Not just the basics of geopolitics, who would be the big super
powers in 20 or 30 years, what will be the major alliances in the world in 20, 30 years. We don’t know much more basic stuff. Such as what the job
market would look like. What kind of skills people will need. What family structure would look like. What gender relations would look like. So, it really is the first time in history when we have no idea how human society will be like in a couple of decades. And this means among other things, that for the first time in history, we have no idea what to teach in schools. So we focus on the short-term. And not just on the short-term, but actually we haven’t gone
back and focused on the past. Connecting to what you
said about the crisis of most political parties
that still think in terms of the 20th century and right versus left, and capitalism versus
socialism and all that. I think that politics and
government in most of the world today are doing a far
better job than ever before in running the day-to-day
business of the country. It may not look like this,
but I’m a medievalist so I constantly compare
the government of today to the government of
Edward III or St Louis or somebody like that and it’s wonderful. The world we are living
in is really wonderful. So they are doing an excellent job in the day-to-day business of the country. But what they have almost lost completely, is the ability to have a
long-term plan for the future. Because they can’t see, they have no realistic vision of basic things like the
job market in 30 years. So what you see in more
and more countries, is that they look to the past
instead of to the future. And instead of formulating
meaningful visions for where humankind will be in 2050, they repackage nostalgic
fantasies about the past. And there is a kind of competition of who can look back furthest. So you have Donald Trump wanting to go back to the 1950s
or something like that. And you have Putin basically wanting to go back to the Tsarist empire a century after the Bolshevik Revolution. And you have ISIS that wants to go back to the 7th century Arabia. In my country, in Israel,
they beat everybody they want to go back 2,500 years to the age of the Bible, so we win. We have the longest term vision backwards. (everyone laughs) – As a historian, I can tell
you two things about the past. The past wasn’t a very good time. You don’t really want to go back there. And secondly, it’s not coming back. No matter what you do,
you can’t bring it back. And so we are facing a
crisis of the inability of the political system to produce meaningful visions for the future. Maybe the only place in the world where there is serious work on producing a meaningful vision for
the future, is in China. Whether it’s a good vision or a bad vision is a different question. But this is the one place
where the government is seriously thinking in future terms and in long terms of
decades and not in terms of one or two years, and
certainly not in terms of going back decades and centuries. – So, just to pick up on
what Yuval said, Rachel. Well, starting with Trump. I described Trump as
a brain eating disease because as a columnist you’re
always in this position every day where he says or
does something so outrageous you feel if you don’t write
about it you’re normalizing him, but if you do write about it,
he stole your brain for a day. Now if you do that twice a week, for times or eight times a month, you’ll wake up after a year and discover all you’ve written about
is that knucklehead. And he’s actually sucked your brains out. So it’s a real challenge. The subtitle of my book is An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving
in the Age of Accelerations. Everything’s sped up and
the reason it’s called Thank You For Being Late, the title, comes from meeting people in Washington DC for breakfast over the years
and every once in a while someone would come 15 to 20 minutes late. They’d say, “Tom, I’m really sorry. It was the weather, the traffic, the subway, the dog ate my homework”. And one day three and a half years ago, an energy entrepreneur, Peter Corsell, came 15 minutes late and said, “I’m really sorry it was
the weather, the traffic, the subway, the dog ate my homework”. And I just spontaneously said to him, “Actually, Peter, thank
you for being late. Because you were late,
I’ve been eavesdropping on their conversation, fascinating. I’ve been people-watching
the lobby, fantastic. And best of all, I’ve
just connected two ideas I’ve been struggling with for a month. So thank you for being late”. People started to get into it. They’d say, “Well, you’re welcome!” Because they understood
I was actually giving them permission to pause, to slow down. In fact, my favorite quote
from the front of the book was from my teacher and friend Dov Seidman who says, “You know when you press the pause button on a computer, it stops. But when you press the pause button on a human being, it starts. That’s when it starts to
reflect, rethink, and reimagine.” And boy don’t we need to
do a lot of that right now. Now to pick up on Yuval’s
point about leadership. When the world is fast, small errors in navigation
can have huge consequences. When we just needed to go 50
miles at five miles an hour. Well, if you had a bad
president or prime minister, or governor or major, you’d get off track. But the pain of getting back
on track was fairly tolerable. But when you need to feel like
you’re going 50,000 miles, at 5,000 miles and hour,
you have a bad leader now. You can get so far off
track it’s like 747 pilot just changing two digits as he enters the navigation of his jet and
suddenly you’re halfway across the world in the wrong direction. And so leadership really
matters more right now. I would agree with what Yuval said about China in this sense. I think China’s leaders
do wake up every day more than the average leader in the world and start their day by asking
what world am I living in? What are the biggest trends in this world? And how do I align
myself with those trends? Unlike a lot of leaders in the world. But I would tell you I’m
seeing amazing leadership in America today in two places, Yuval. One is at the corporate level. And the other is at the local level. At the corporate level, as I think about the workplace challenge, the way I put it, I think our central challenge is how do we turn AI into IA. How do we take artificial intelligence and turn it into intelligent
assistance, A-N-C-E. Intelligent assistants, A-N-T-S. And intelligent algorithms. So more people can learn
faster and govern smarter. So I’ll give you an example of intelligent assistance that I use. It’s the Human Resources
department at AT&T, our giant telecom. So what’s interesting about AT&T. 330,000 employees in one
of the most competitive businesses in the world, global telecom. Pretty good chance that
whatever is going on in their HR department is coming to
a neighborhood near you. So what’s going on in HR at AT&T? Well they begin their year now with their leader Randall Stephenson. He starts the year with a
pretty radically transparent speech about where the company is going, what businesses they’re gonna be in, and what skills you need as
a worker at AT&T that year. Filters down through the company. Then they put all their managers, 110,000 people on their own
in-house LinkedIn system. So I’m there, it’s Tom Friedman, and it tells my academic background and the jobs I’ve had in the company. Then they match that
up with the skillsets, I’m making up the number because
I don’t remember exactly, but it’s probably 10
skillsets you need that year to be a rising employee at AT&T. They’ve got my CV there on
LinkedIn and they realize I’ve got seven of the ten,
but I’m missing three. Then they partnered with
Sebastian Thrun from Udacity, the online learning university. And he created nano degrees
for all ten skillsets. Then they came to me and said, “Tom, here’s the deal we will give you up to 8,000 dollars a year
to take the nano degrees for the skillsets you’re missing. In fact, we heard that you’re
in student computer science. We just created an online
computer science degree for 6,000 dollars a
year with Georgia Tech. In fact, we heard you’re
interested in history, you can take an online course
from that guy Yuval Harari. We’ll pay for that as well. Yeah? Just one condition Mr Tom,
you have to take these courses at home, at night, on your own
time, not on company time.” Now if I say to them,
“You know what Mr AT&T, I’ve actually climbed up one
too many telephone poles. I’m just not into this anymore.” They now have a wonderful
severance package for me. But I will not be working
there much longer. So they flush out now about 30,000 people. They take in about 30,000 people. And they advance about 10,000 every year. What is AT&T’s social contract
today with their employees? It’s that you can be a
lifelong employee still today, if you’re at AT&T but only
if you’re a lifelong learner. If you are not ready to
be a lifelong learner, you can no longer be a
lifelong employee at AT&T. And that is a social contract coming to a neighborhood near you and that. And that’s why one of my teachers, Heather McGowan who is
an education expert, and this picks up on
something that Yuval said. Heather likes to say, “Mom,
Dad, never ask your kids today what you wanna be when you grow up. Because whatever it is
it not gonna be here, unless it’s policeman or fireman, okay? Only ask your kid today how
you wanna be when you grow up.” Will you have an agile learning mindset? Will you be predisposed
to be a lifelong learner long after you’ve left home
and mom and dad are not there to say “Yuval, have you
done your homework?” And that leads to what I think is really roiling societies today. And Yuval touched on this with these people might be out of work. Which is something I
learned from Marina Gorbis, who runs the Institute of the Future. If we were having this
conversation 15 years ago, one of the themes we’d be talking about is the digital divide. London’s got internet, Manchester doesn’t. Europe’s got it, Africa doesn’t. Digital divide, it was huge. I believe that digital divide
is rapidly disappearing. I don’t know when it will be gone, but I’m sure in a decade it will be gone. And when it is, the most
important divide in the world is going to be the self-motivation divide. Who’s kids have the self-motivation
to be a lifelong learner long after they’ve left
home and mom and dad are not there to ask them
to do their homework. ‘Cause what you learn
in your first year now, could be outdated by your
fourth year of college. The idea that you can
get a four year degree and dine out on that for
30 years is so 1950s. And that has a lot of
people really unnerved. Because a lot of people were actually born and bred to do what they
were told and God bless them. They built your country
and mine and Yuval’s. But just doing what you’re told now, will not bring you average
income and an average lifestyle. And I think that has a lot
of people really frightened. – Yeah I mean I think what you’re describing is extremely stressful. I just hear you and
there’s so much stress. And reinventing yourself again and again throughout your life sounds
terrible to most people. Because, you know when you’re 15 or 16 then you’re inventing yourself
and it’s still stressful when you’re 15, but it’s still doable. When you reach 40, 50,
you don’t want to change. Yes, I want to keep on
learning new things and to gain experience and to go to
new places and so forth, but to really change the deep
structures of my personality, of my professional skills,
to learn things fresh, it sounds very exciting and very good. But it’s actually extremely difficult. And if this is where we are heading, and we are heading in that direction, we will be facing a stress
epidemic far worse than today. And another thing with
all these algorithms, that again are watching us all the time and are learning our
abilities and our problems and whether we are self-motivated or not, once the algorithms reach the conclusion that you are not going to make it, you will not be able to make it. We are used to this problem
of discrimination against people based on wrong statistics. Like in the 20th century
discrimination against people usually took the form of discriminating against entire groups based
either on faulty statistics or based on just religious
biases and racism and so forth. If you were gay you had
discrimination against all gays. If you’re a woman, then all women. And one of the things about it is that you could actually
do something about it. Because most of the time
the biases were not true. And because many people
suffered from them, they could join together
and have some political action against the discrimination. Now in the coming years,
in the coming decades, we will face individual discrimination and it might actually be based on a good assessment of who you are. I mean, if AT&T, if the algorithms and the big data algorithms
of AT&T follow you around, they look up your Facebook profile, your DNA, your records from
kindergarten until today, they will be able to figure out quite accurately who you are. And if they, for example, find
out that he lacks motivation on the X scale, on the Harari
scale or the Friedman scale of self-motivation 0 to 10, he’s just 7.1. And we don’t want to
accept to our company, people of less than 8.2 And we know from experience that we can give you a little push but
you just lack what we need. And you sill not be able to do anything, or almost anything about
this discrimination. First of all, because it’s just you. They don’t discriminate against you or me because you’re Jewish or
gay or black or whatever, because you’re you and the worst thing is it will be true. I mean, they got me I
really lack self-motivation. They really got me, so
what do I do about it? And it sounds funny in a way, but if you think about
it deeply it’s terrible. Almost everybody has something. And you will not be able
to do much about it. – So let me give you
the flip side of that. Because everything about
these systems, Yuval, is everything and its opposite. So you just described
the downside of that. But let me talk about intelligent
assistant for a second. Example I give in the book. So the example I use, is the
janitorial staff Qualcomm. Big American tech company in San Diego. They have a 64 building campus, they built the inside of
your iPhone, not Apple. That’s why Apple’s always
suing them over patents. Three years ago they took
six of their buildings and put sensors on everything. Every door, window, light,
pipe, faucet, drain, computer. And they beamed all that
data up to the cloud and now they beamed it down onto an iPad with this incredibly
user friendly interface for their janitorial staff. So if you leave your computer on or a pipe bursts above my head, the janitor knows it before you or I do. And they just swipe down to see who to call or how to fix it themselves. They’ve actually turned their janitors into maintenance technologists. Their janitors now give
tours to foreign visitors. What do you think that does
for the dignity of a janitor? ‘Cause he or she now has
an intelligent assistant enabling them to learn
faster and work smarter. I would give you another
example, intelligent algorithm. Those of you American students
here know that in 11th grade we have to take the PSAT
exam, the practice SAT exam. To take the SAT exam to measure
our math and verbal skills to get into the college of our choice. We also know in America
that a lot of parents go out in 11th grade and hire a
tutor for 200 dollars an hour to boost your scores in math and verbal. A completely rigged game because
if you come from a family or a neighborhood where
you can’t afford that you’re really at a disadvantage. So three years ago the
college board that administers the PSAT and the SAT exam,
your A levels and O Levels, partnered with Khan Academy,
the online learning platform, to create free PSAT and SAT prep. So the way it works now is I take my PSAT in 11th grade and I get the results back. I did really well on verbal it says Tom you could be a journalist actually, but it says I have a problem with math. It actually says I, Tom Friedman, personally, because it knows me, have a problem with
fractions and right angles. Then it takes me to a practice site just for fractions and right angles. Doesn’t waste any time on my weaknesses. If I do well there it
takes me to another site that says Tom you could be in AP Math. Moi in AP Math? I mean no one
in my family is in AP Math. No one in my neighborhood, I could? Yeah you could be in AP Math. If I do well it takes me to another site with 180 college scholarships. Last year, three million
American kids got free PSAT and SAT prep on this
intelligent algorithm. And I’ll give you
another one that’s really relevant to the point you raised. We have about 32 million people who started college but never finished. They go one year, two years,
two and a half, three, three and a half years, they drop out, get a job, or they do it online. The algorithm says you have no BA, no job. So a whole new set of
intelligent algorithms have emerged with iProfile’s
Opportunity At Work. So what they do now is you can
go them with your one year, two year, two and a half of knowledge. They will badge what you actually know and what you can do with what you know. And they partner with companies
to slot you in without a BA. So I profiled a young
African American woman. Lashonda Lewis, she went
to Michigan Tech for three and a half years studying
computer science. Had to drop out for family reasons. She went back home, was driving
a school bus to and from a computer school, couldn’t make that up, and working at a law
firm on the help desk, helping lawyers rediscover
their lost passwords. She was discovered by Opportunity At Work. They partnered with Master Card. Slotted her in, they
measured her knowledge. Slotted her in as a systems
engineer at Master Card. She’s now a senior systems
engineer at Master Card. And she says in the last
line of her interview, “And Mr Friendman, I
still don’t have a BA.” So that’s the other side of this. And what I found is there is enormous innovation going on, on
the other side of this. You’re absolutely right on the downside. But for every downside of this, somebody’s invented an up side. I would just add one other point. What was the fastest growing
restaurant chain in America according to Entrepreneur
Magazine in 2015? It’s actually called Paint Nite. Fastest growing restaurant
chain in America. What is Paint Nite? It’s paint by numbers for adults in bars. Turns out adults like to
get together in a bar, have an artist draw a design for them, and they paint by numbers together according to that design and have a drink. It’s amazing how many adults like to paint by numbers by numbers in bars. Who knew? There are all these jobs out there. And that’s why I would close by saying if you really wanna blow your
mind go to Airbnb’s website. You’ll notice now there are
two icons on the front page. One’s Homes, that’s cause
I’m coming to London, like my sister did this week, and I wanna get an apartment
here, we all know that. But now the other one’s
called Experiences. And if you wanna have some
fun, click Experiences. It’s people monetizing their passions. I will give you a tour of
three man basketball games in Havana at night with
a Mojito at the end. Read that one, American
mother who said I sent my 18 year old on this, he
didn’t come back until two in the morning, he was having so much fun. I’ll teach you how to make falafel. I’ll teach you how to make … Is it full-time employment?
Maybe, maybe not. It’s the fastest growing
part of Airbnb’s website and I predict, in five years, it’ll be the biggest
job site in the world. People monetizing their passions. – I wonder, sticking with this theme, we’ve been talking a
lot about individuality, we’ll be able to learn individually just how unmotivated we are, I guess. Or perhaps motivated to go
paint plates by numbers. So we’ll know so much more
about ourselves as individuals, how is that gonna affect
how we all live together? Tom, you’ve written about I believe you’ve called yourself
a pluralism supremacist. How does increase knowledge
as in increased knowledge of our individuality exactly
just how well-suited we are for a job or poorly suited for any job. What does that mean in
how we live together? And are moving more inward in this moment? Or where do you see pluralism going? – It’s very hard to say. I mean of course as you said, every technology has good
potential and bad potential. This is what is different
about disruptive technologies compared to nuclear
war and climate change. Nuclear war is obviously terrible. Nobody wants it, the question
is just how to prevent it. With disruptive technology,
the danger in a way is far greater because it
has some wonderful potential. So there are a lot of forces
for some very good reasons are pushing us faster
and faster to develop and adopt these disruptive technologies. And it’s very difficult to know in advance what the consequences will
be in terms of community. In terms of relations between
people, in terms of politics. 20 years ago in the high
days of internet optimism, you had all this extremely optimistic, and today we say naive,
dreams and visions. That the internet will bring
everybody closer together. You could have friends
from all over the world. And there will be freedom of expression. And all the dictators will fall. And the world will turn into one big, happy, and peaceful community. And this didn’t happen
and we look back today and we say oh this was extremely naive. Did people forget about human nature? Did we learn nothing from history? And the answer is yes, we
learnt very little from history. Does it mean that every new technology will just make things
worse? No, obviously not. But it’s extremely difficult
to know which way it will go. I think that history is
just not deterministic. And when you look to the
past, when you look to the 20th century and what people could do with new technologies and
you could use the trains and radios to build Nazi Germany. Or you could use the same technology to build liberal democracy. It’s kind of touch and go who wins. I don’t think there is any predetermined or preordained winner
in these competitions. So again with AI we can
sit here all evening and a couple of more
evenings and spin all kinds of likely scenarios
which are all possible. What will happen, some very
good and some very bad, and some in between
and we just don’t know. I think, as a historian, the best thing, the most important thing
we need to realize, is that there is no predetermined story. Which is in a way very frightening. We are now living with the collapse of the last story of inevitability. And in the 1990s in the same era of the extremely optimistic
vision of the internet, we also had this story, this idea, that history is over, that we know who won the great ideological battle of the 20th century, liberal democracy. And free market capitalism
came out on top. And now it’s just a question of time until it will spread and
take over the whole world. And again, this now seems extremely naive. And the moment we are at now, is the moment of extreme disillusionment and extreme bewilderment
because we have no idea where things will go from here. This is why I think it’s very important to be aware of the
downside of the dangerous scenarios of the new technologies. I mean, obviously the corporations, the engineers, the people
in the laboratories, they naturally focus on
all the enormous benefits that these technologies might bring us. And it falls to historians
and to philosophers and to social scientists to think about all the ways in which things can go wrong. – So when Francis Fukuyama
wrote The End of History I at the same time wrote a book called Lexus and the Olive Tree. And the argument of the book was that I think what is gonna shape
the future is the tension between all of these things that are old. Faith, community, religion, set tribe, all the things that anchor
us in the world, olive trees. And the interaction between
them and technology. And I still believe that that is, it’s certainly for me,
a helpful framework. Because what we do with those passions, how we govern them, how we mobilize them, it can be for good or for ill. For me it was a good segue to
talk about the ethics question and the one you wrote a
whole book about, Homo Deus. I just did a little chapter on it. And let me give mine, then
you give yours ’cause I think it’d be an interesting
contrast between the two. So my version of the argument you made, the chapter is called
Is God In Cyber Space. Is God in cyber space. Best question I ever got on book tour. 1990, I was selling
Lexus and the Olive Tree in Portland, Oregon, question time came, young man stood up in the balcony. Said, “Mr Friedman, I have a question. Is God in cyber space?” I said uh uh uh uh, I have no idea. I felt like an idiot. So I got home, I called
my spiritual teacher, he was a rabbi I got to know at the Hartman Institute Jerusalem, when I was the New York
Times correspondent there. Now lives in Amsterdam
married to a Dutch priest, interesting character and I
called him up in Amsterdam. I said Siwek, I got a question
I’ve never had before. Is God in cyber space? What should I say? And he said, “Well Tom,
in our faith tradition we actually have two
concepts of the almighty. A biblical concept and a
post-biblical concept.” So the biblical concept is
that the almighty is almighty. He smites evil and rewards good. If that’s your view of God,
he sure isn’t in cyber space. Which is full of pornography, gambling, cheating, lying, people
smearing one another on Twitter, and now we know fake news. Fortunately though, he said we have a post-biblical view of God. And the post-biblical view of God is that God manifests himself by how we behave. So if we want God to be in cyber space, we have to bring him there
by how we behave there. I really like his answer, I
put it in the paperback edition of Lexus and the Olive Tree in 2000, where none of you saw it and
it sat there for 16 years. Anyways, I started working on this book and I found myself spontaneously
retelling that story. I said why are you retelling that story? And it became obvious
to me for two reasons. And one just happened. I think in the last couple of
years, in the developed world, we began living 51% percent
of our lives in cyber space. It’s not where you go to find a date, find a spouse, buy a house, by a car, write a book, buy a book, get a mortgage, get a loan, get your
news, generate your news, do you banking, your brokerage. We’re now living 51% of
our lives in cyber space. My definition of cyber
space is that it’s a realm where we’re all connected
and no one is in charge. So there are no courts in cyber space, no policemen, no stoplights, no
1-800-Please-stop-Putin-from-hacking-my-election. But that’s where we’re living our lives. Another way to describe it,
we’re living 51% of our lives in a realm that is fundamentally God free. At the same time, because
of these accelerations you and I both have talked about, I think we’re standing
at a moral intersection we have never stood at
before as a species. In 1945, we entered a
world where one country could kill all of us post Hiroshima. And that was the United States. And if it had to be one country I’m glad it was the United States. I think we’re entering a world where one person can kill all of us. And at the same time, at the same time, where all of us could
actually fix everything. ‘Cause these accelerated
powers for the first time are creating a world where
one of us could kill all of us and all of us know if we
actually put our minds to it, we have the tools to feed, house, clothe, and educate every person on the planet. We have never been to
this intersection before. Where one of us can kill all of us and all of us could fix everything. And what does that mean? Means we’ve never been more godlike as a species than we are today. Well put those two together, we’ve never lived more of our lives in a realm that’s God free. And we have never been more godlike. And what that means is
that what every person thinks, feels, and
believes really matters. It means everyone needs to be in the grip of sustainable values. It means at a minimum everyone needs to be in the embrace of the golden rule. And every faith and culture
has their version of it. Do onto others as you
wish them to do onto you. ‘Cause you now live in a
world where more people can do onto you farther, faster, deeper, cheaper than ever before. Putin did onto us on our election. And we can do onto others harder, faster, deeper, cheaper than ever before. Everyone needs to be in the
embrace of the golden rule. I know what you’re thinking. I actually gave this thing
as a commencement address at Olin College of
Engineering two years ago. And I said to the parents there, “I know what you’re thinking. You paid 200,000 dollars for your kid to get an engineering
degree and who do they bring as your commencement
speaker but a knucklehead promoting the golden rule. Is there anything more naive?” And what I told them is what
I would say again tonight. I think in this age of acceleration, naivete is the new realism. ‘Cause what’s really naive
is thinking we’re gonna be okay in a world that
is this interdependent. Where men, women, and machines
are this super empowered. If everyone is not in the
embrace of the golden rule. Where does the golden rule come from? I think two places primarily. Strong families and healthy communities. And that’s why my focus and my work today is so much on healthy communities. – I would say that maybe the big problem is not so much morality
as it is causality. The ability to understand the chains of causes and effects in the world. I think there is no lack of
values today in the world. But to really act well, it’s
not enough to have good values. You need to have a good understanding of the chains of causes and effects. Like if you think about the
commandment like don’t steal. So okay, let’s everybody
agree it’s not good to steal. But the big problem today
is not that somebody says, “Hey I want to steal,
what will you do to me?” The big problem is that stealing
has become so complicated, that I’m stealing all the time
and I’m not even aware of it. The commandment don’t steal was formalized in an era where stealing meant
I’m breaking into somebody’s house and snatching some gold
coins or a goat or whatever. And it was easy to at least understand what I’m doing and what the
potential consequences are for the owner of the
gold coins or the goat. But how do I steal today? Well I have a pension fund
and 10,000 dollars out of my pension fund are invested
in some big oil corporation or chemical corporation that
brings profits of say 4, 5% every year so it’s a very good investment. And how does the corporation
make such huge profits? For example, by dumping
toxic waste into a river. And polluting the entire water resources of the area and hurting the
health of the local population and the wildlife and so forth. But the corporation is so
rich that it can retain an army of lawyers that protects
it against all law suits. And also a small brigade of people in the capital that block any attempt to have stronger
environmental regulations. Now am I guilty of stealing a river? I’m not even aware that
part of my pension fund in invested in this corporation. And even if I am aware I don’t know how the corporation makes its money. It will take me months, maybe years, to find out what my money is doing. And during that time I will be guilty of so many other crimes
which I know nothing about. And the problem is that
our sense of morality, our sense of justice, like
our other senses, was evolved in the ancient African savanna
when your pension fund, you had just one pension
fund, which was your kids. And you knew what your
pension fund was doing. It was playing in the mud or something. So the problem is not
agreeing on basic morality. The problem is on understanding
the extremely complicated chains of cause and effect in the world. And again, my fear is that maybe homo sapiens are just not up to it. We have created such a complicated world, that we are no longer able to make sense of what is happening. And if I look at politics in the US, again from the vantage
point of a medievalist, Republicans and Democrats
seems almost identical. I just don’t understand,
what’s the difference? If you can enlighten me on this. What’s the big difference between them in their ethical view, in
their view of the world. They have a big difference
in their understanding of cause and effect relations. But when it comes down to basic values, I think the difference is not big. Again, the problem is that
maybe we are no longer able. Like the engineers you gave the talk to. So they could all agree yes we
should keep the golden rule. But then when they go to
design some bridge or software, they don’t understand the consequences of what they are doing so how can they act morally without this understanding. – Well you just described
why we need a free press. I think that’s one role the
free press really plays today. And again, the upside of this age of acceleration is now an individual can take a picture of that
waste dumping by that factory, put it up on the internet and it’ll go around the world in 30 minutes. – Competing against funny cat videos. – Uh, no actually if you’re
in my business you’ll find that if I take a picture of
General Electric doing that and putting it up on the New York Times, General Electric will stop doing that. I can assure you that will
not compete with cat videos. So there’s an upside to all of these. I think, Yuval, that we’re playing a very useful function
here, I’ll do the upside. – Yeah yeah, bad cop. – People ask me what I do
for a living and I tell them I’m a translator from English to English. That’s what I do, I try
to take complex things and break them down first
so I can understand them and then hopefully explain them to others. My motto, I’ve adopted from
Marie Curie, who once said, “Now is the time to understand
more, so we may fear less.” And now is truly, never, good journalism that practice by the New
York Times and many others, has never been more important. To understand more, so
people will fear less. Because we now have a president who is actually in the fear business. Backed up by pro delight
called Fox Television that’s in the business
of making people stupid. And you put those two together,
it’s really dangerous. And the good news is, we’re finding at the New York Times, more people. Donald Trump is always calling
us “failing New York Times”. I will assure you, we are
anything but that today. ‘Cause so many people
are coming to not just the New York Times, but
to trusted news sites. Because they want to understand
more so they may fear less. And so many individuals now can go out and actually be citizen
journalists like never before. And I would say the
political side of that. If you wanna be an optimist
about America today, I tell people stand on your head. Because the country looks so much better from the bottom up than from the top down. So I think that as we go into
this age of acceleration, national governments,
with a few exceptions, are really too slow. Certainly the big democracies are, because we’re too
tribalized, partisanized now. They can’t move at the pace of change. ‘Cause government moves at the pace of trust and there’s no trust. The single individual, the single family, way too weak against these forces. So I think it’s the healthy
community that is going to be the proper governing
unit of the 21st century. And if you wanna know
what makes me an optimist in America is that our country,
the cliche about America, is that we’re divided by two coasts. So these two coats
everyone is pluralizing, diversifying, globalizing,
and modernizing, and in between them is flyover America, where everyone is high on opioids, voted for Trump, and waiting for 1950. That’s kind of the cliche. You only have to be from Minnesota, you only have to be from flyover America to know that that is not true. America is actually checkerboard today, of communities that are
collapsing from the bottom down. And communities that are
rising from the bottom up. So I did a trip a year ago to give a talk at our national
lab at Oak Ridge Tennessee. So I got the map out,
Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Hey it’s down here,
southern tip of Appalachia. Haven’t been to Appalachia, I think I’ll do a car
trip across Appalachia. Reading about all these
people that voted for Trump. So I started the trip in Austin, Indiana. So that’s the southern Indiana,
northern tip of Appalachia. I went there because I read
about the town 4400 people and 5% of the town is HIV positive. Which is just the worst possible levels of epidemic you can imagine. What was the story? Two
factories in the town. One closed, one got automated,
lot of white working class men and women got unemployed very quickly, they couldn’t adapt
and fell into drug use. You had son, father, grandfather
all shooting up together. It’s a terrible story and I went there and interviewed the
one doctor in the town. Then I got out of my car
and drove 40 minutes south. On I-70 to Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville, Kentucky has 30,000 open jobs. Anybody looking for a
job, Louisville, Kentucky. So what’s going on there? So which organisms thrive
when the climate changes? They’re called complex adaptive organisms. What’s happening at the community level? The communities that are rising, they’re creating complex
adaptive coalitions. And what you see in Louisville, and I can show you communities
all over the country, these complex adaptive coalitions, you have the business community, now plugging directly into
the public school system. K12, community college, four year college, translating in real time their
skills, needs, and demands. Not waiting for the
schools to figure it out. Then you have the philanthropic
community coming in, supplementing it with scholarships, after school programs, supplemental
learning opportunities. Then you have the local
government catalyzing it all. And hiring global recruiters
to go into the world and find global investors
for their local attributes. So in the case of Louisville, Louisville happens to be the
capital of bourbon tourism. So Louisville is to bourbon
what Napa Valley is to red wine. And there are now distilleries
and bed and breakfast. They’ve created a tourism industry. Louisville happens to be
the headquarters of UPS. So you fly into Louisville Airport and all you see are factories everywhere. Because when Jeff Bezos
of amazon.com says, “Yuval I’ll get you that
product in 24 hours,” it’s ’cause he’s doing end of runway assembly manufacturing now in Louisville. And Louisville is headquarters
of Humana Wellness Company so the major’s equipped any
young person in the town who wants with a cloud
connected breathalyzer. And kids got in them more
and he’s trying to create citizen scientists and
a map of the air quality in their neighborhood and they feed it all into a website in the city. They’ve created a complex
adaptive coalition. And this is happening
all over the country. So we’ve got communities like Austin, that opiod crisis is
real, they’re collapsing. But those where you get
this leadership together are creating complex adaptive coalitions. Come to my hometown of
Minneapolis, 2.5% unemployment. I mean, really thriving,
they’re not waiting for Washington DC ’cause there’s
a much higher trust there. My teacher Dov Seidman always says, “Trust is the only legal
performance enhancing drug.” So where there’s trust in the
room, you can go really fast. And when there’s no trust,
like in Washing DC right now, you can’t move two inches. – So how do you make sense of this extremely complex and checkered reality? My job is much easier than yours. Because as a historian who
looks mainly at the past and also at long periods of centuries and thousands of years, the
main trends jump at you. But how do you manage to make sense of such a complicated and
contradictory reality? And how do you know that you are not just following your biases and just
seeing what you want to see? – So it’s a combination, it’s a very good question, of data. I can show you the employment statistics, the economies of these
towns and I can show you the proliferation of them. And then obviously the reporting. And then anything is going to be a guess. But if I look at the country, I see the national
statistics, what’s going on. To me the question is,
and this I can’t do, I can only report on what’s going on. Is what is the balance
between these two trends? But as I’m not a historian,
I’m a journalist, what I’m trying to do is by
highlighting the positive trend. Because I think one good example is worth a thousand theories. Think that people will follow examples when they see people like them doing it. So my idealism is to say
here’s what’s working. And these people are just like you. So you can do it just like them. Israeli general Uzi Dayan once said to me, “Tom I know why you’re an
optimist.” I said pff why? And he said, “It’s because you’re short.” And I sad, “Short? I’m not that short?” He said, “You can only
see the part of the glass that’s half full, okay?” So I’m actually not that short. But I do believe in, Amir Lovings, the physicist who helped me with all the physics in my book, he likes to say when people say, “Amir are you an optimist or a pessimist?” he says, “I’m neither,
because they’re just two different forms of fatalism.” Everything will be great,
everything will be awful. He said, “I believe in applied hope.” Don’t know if it’s gonna work, but I believe in applied hope. – Tom, I’m very interested in how Yuval has interrogated your optimism, and optimism of course would
be the natural note to end on. But I want to hear a tiny bit
more about your pessimism. And hopefully we can all think
about how to walk out of here holding both of those ideas in our mind. You wrote in Sapiens I
believe that there is “no proof human well-being
inevitably improves, as history rolls along.” Just a cheery thought for all of us as we wind down our time together. I wonder if you could
help us think about that. What you’ve discussed this evening. And Tom’s very convincing,
data rich argument that when you’re doing yoga
and standing on your head, you really can see roots of
communities pulling together, even in these disorienting moments. So help us leave here both
pessimists and optimists. – Well I try not to think in terms of pessimism or optimism. – [Rachel] Neither is also a choice. – It’ just that history just
doesn’t unfold in such a way. Usually you have terrible
things and wonderful things happening at the same time
maybe in different places. But happening at the same time. Usually the same revolution,
the same development. It’s very rare when you have
a big revolution in history, which is doing only good
or which is doing only bad. And of course you have the added problem, that those who lose the most and those who get extinct
and those who disappear they’re not there to tell their story. So in history there is always a certain bias towards
the optimistic side. Hey, we are here so it
couldn’t of been that bad. The people for whom it was very
bad, they’re just not here. – Yeah, no send us out
on a very high note. – As somebody who tries
to see the big picture, to look at the global picture, there is always the
danger that you’re always going to notice the
agenda and the opinions and the interests of the hegemonic powers. Of the more powerful people and societies and classes and whatever
because they dominate the conversation so
even if you oppose them, even if you think they are wrong, you’re not going to miss their ideas. You might object to their ideas, you might fight against them, but you are not going to ignore them. The problem of the people who
are like pushed to the side or pushed down is that they
are very often just ignored. Not that you don’t agree
with what they say, not that you think that
their interests don’t count, you just don’t remember to even notice their point of view or their interests. So also the question of
pessimism and optimism, it’s always a question of
who are you talking about? I think one of the main problems in talking about the global agenda
or the problems of humanity, the kind of things that I try to do, is that maybe there is no single future for the whole of humankind. Maybe the basic understanding
of the world is just that different groups are going to
have very different futures. I mentioned earlier the question
of what to teach your kids. So if you live in one place
and belong to a particular community or to a particular group, so you teach your kids to be resilient. And you teach your kids computer code. And you teach your kids
to play the violin. And you live in another
place, maybe not far away. And the best thing to teach your kids is how to shoot a Kalashnikov. And it’s happening on the
same planet, at the same time. And what’s more true or
what’s more important it’s kind of an empty question. It really boils down to the
question of perspective. So this I think is a historical
law or a historical truth. That there is never just a
single story going around. And part of the responsibility,
part of the difficulty, of being journalist or being a historian, is how do you bring at least
some justice to this situation and how do you give at
least some attention to all the different viewpoints and
not just to the dominant one. – Before you close, Yuval,
just talk a little bit about your next book and give us a little tease. I wanna hear, I’m gonna be
very selfish for a second. And then I’ll do my thing. – So my next book is coming
in August, September. It’s called 21 Lessons
for the 21st Century. But it’s not really a
book of concrete lessons like do this go there, whatever. It’s more an invitation to take part in the major debates and
discussions of the world, of the current moment. Continuing what I said earlier, I think one of the problems
that most people today face, is that they just don’t
have the time and the energy to be part of the global debate. Of the debate about
the future of humanity. There are all these big questions, of climate change, and
artificial intelligence, and bioengineering and it’s
going to have an impact on the life of every single
individual on the planet. But most people, they’re
too busy going to work and feeding their kids and
taking care of elderly parents, and so forth it’s a luxury
to be able to think about these issues, to investigate
them, to engage in the debate. And one of the problems
again with history, is that history never
makes any concessions. And never gives any discounts, just because you’re in difficulty. Or just because you’re poor,
or just because you’re too busy taking care of your kids. If you don’t have the time and the energy and the luxury to be part of the debate, it doesn’t mean that you won’t
suffer from the consequences. Because in this sense,
history is completely unfair. And I see my job as a
historian, as trying to help at least a few more people
take part in the debate and this is the main purpose
of the upcoming book. – So I guess I see my job
is is obviously reporting whatever situation I’m
assigned to report to. But I’m always looking for examples of what’s working and
sharing them with people. Because I think there’s a power in that. And that’s my version of idealism, it’s why I went into journalism. Young people often come to me and say I wanna do what you do. What do I need to know? And I say be able to type
fast, I can type really fast. Actually went to London’s
Secretarial School to learn how to type back in my day there. But I think the most important thing you need as a journalist today is that you have to be a good listener. For two reasons and the second reason is more important than the first. The first is what you
learn when you listen. But the second reason is
what you say when you listen. Listening is a sign of respect. And my method to my madness,
if you travel with me, is I really do try to listen to people. Whether I’m a little Jewish guy from Minnesota in the Arab world, or I’m in Russia, or I’m here, because I find that if
you just listen to people, it’s amazing what
they’ll let you say back. And if you don’t listen to them, it’s amazing you cannot
tell them it’s dark outside. And that’s why I’ve often said, before I retire I’m gonna
change my business card. Right now it says Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist. And I wanna change it
to Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times Humiliation
and Dignity Correspondent. ‘Cause I basically spent my
whole career covering people acting out on their humiliation. Whether it’s in the Middle East, we all know the stories there. Russians feeling humility,
Chinese and questing for dignity. But I may add also
Diversity Correspondent. And that’s where I would end, Rachel. As a columnist sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time and sometimes you’re in the
wrong place at the wrong time. Especially when you’re a once
a week columnist, as I am now. So last summer, the
head of the US Air Force invited me too join him on a tour of all America’s airbases
in the Middle East. It’s a great opportunity
to see this perspective of the world in the military. And I found myself at Al
Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the night Donald Trump was
giving his press conference about the Charlottesville disturbances and talking about how there were good white supremacists and
bad white supremacists. And like that’s the world or
America was talking about. And I was in Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, and my column was due in a few hours. So I was staring at a blank screen thinking about what do I write? And then it just popped into my head, I looked around at my traveling party, the head of the US Air Force,
Dave Goldfein, is Jewish. We were traveling with the
US Air Force secretary, she’s a woman, Heather Wilson. Her chief executive officer
is an African American woman Air Force lieutenant colonel. The guards name was Juan. The head of the airbase
was an Armenian American. His deputy was was a Lebanese American. And our intelligence
briefer’s name was Yang. Mr. Trump, which part of this
sentence don’t you understand? That is the real strength of America. Our ability to make out of many one. And in a world where we’re
all getting so mixed up now, I believe that virtue, that
strength, is so important for every society now, it’s
more important than ever. And so I pray this man will
be a one-term president. ‘Cause we can take four years of him, we cannot take eight years of him. He will destroy
institutions in eight years. But I know that underneath
there is still a really powerful idea of America and diversity out there. That I think even Donald
Trump cannot crush. – Is it shared also by
the average Trump voter? Are you able also to listen to them? – I don’t think there is
an average Trump voter. ‘Cause I think people came
to him for so many reasons. Some people came ’cause
they were humiliated. Hillary Clinton said you’re deplorable. I’m deplorable? Then
I’m gonna wear a T-shirt that says, “I’m a deplorable”. Some came because things
you’ve talked about, Yuval. They want a wall to
stop the pace of change. Some came for many reasons, but my way of approaching them, cause I’m a Wednesday columnist, it means I write Tuesday for Wednesday, means I have the first
column after every election. So I had the column the night Trump won. Oh, sorry the week before he won, I wrote my last column and it
was addressed to Trump voters. And it began, “Dear fellow Americans,” treat people with respect it’s
amazing if you start there, how much you can peel back. Just listen to people,
and we have so many people broadcasting now and not listening. Particularly in politics,
that I think that’s truly… – Tom, I do want to let
you end on optimism. So I don’t feel we should go
too deep into the 2016 election in the United States of America. – Two comments actually about it. One, I think that Trump voters are still the future of America. If you don’t have them, then
America is going nowhere. So if you need to be
optimistic about something, then you need to be
optimistic about them as well. – I think that they’re all
people that you could take somewhere with a different message. Not all, but many of them. – And secondly, I would
say about journalism. I agree that it is immensely
important especially today, especially for the viability
of liberal democracies. Because democracies to some
extent based on Lincoln’s maxim that you can fool some
people all of the time, and you can fool all the
people some of the time, but not all the people all the time. And this is really just wishful thinking. You can fool people, I mean not for eternity,
nothing is for eternity, but you can all the people
for a very, very long time. And the way to do it is to
control the information they get. The basic idea of
democracy is okay we elect a bunch of people to govern the country. And if they do a bad job, if they fail, then sooner or later enough
people will realize it and they will change the government. And this works fine as long as you have free press and free journalism. If the government controls,
in some way or the other, directly or indirectly,
if it controls the media, if it controls journalism,
then it can always blame somebody else for its failures. It can always direct the attention towards all kinds of enemies,
either real or imaginary. And there will never
be a day of reckoning. So in this sense, there
is no future to democracy without a strong and a free journalism. – Yuval, yes. Let’s. Strong
and free journalism. Yes. (everyone applauds) – I was gonna say on behalf
of the New York Times, arousing defense of a
strong and free press, works in very nicely to remind you that we were here this
evening putting on this event. What a luxury, you called
it, to engage in this debate and to listen, as Tom
described, is so important as we do figure out and make
our way toward the future. We are going to call it an evening here. I wanna thank all of you for joining us. Thank the New York
Times and How To Academy for putting on this event. And please of course thank you Yuval Harari and Thomas Friedman. (audience applauds) Have a good evening!

81 comments on “The Future of Humanity: Yuval Noah Harari in Conversation with Thomas L. Friedman

  1. It is very sad to see a great scholar like you meeting with a warmonger. Although Friedman is smart, he is a criminal corrupt journalist. As the saying goes: keeping one's distance from an unethical person is equivalent to keeping company with a wise man.

  2. Yet another supreme example of mindless hero worship. "He is a best selling author and therefore he must know what he is talking about". Such an appraisal is clearly nonsense. Popularity equates to nothing of any value. Throughout the history of the human saga, many people have enjoyed varying degrees of popularity which have resulted in embarrassment and Mr. Harari is of the same tradition. But what is somewhat disturbing to me, is the fact that when such is discovered to be the case there is a distinct lack of contrition by those who, by virtue of their emotional and intellectual inadequacy, counted among the body of those worshipers. The "I have read it, therefore, it must be true" mentality should be consigned to history and the sooner the better. What intrinsic value can be gleaned from simply reading retaining and regurgitating? Yet this describes the entirety of the structure of modern academic "thought. If the reader of this post is in any doubt with respect to this proposition then I would challenge you to summon up in your "mind" five original questions which have never been asked. And before you make a big deal of it, I am fully cognizant of the fact that "never been asked" is implicit in the term "original". I, therefore, cite the two independently for good reason. Finally, before you reply to this post, try not to do so in the "spirit" of competition, because that too is far from original and is far too commonplace on these media platforms. You will just prove to be a clown and not an authentic stand-up comic artist (as imagined in your tiny little head), some of whom I have the greatest respect for. You, conversely will merely end up looking like the twat you really are. So don't compete hey!

  3. Thank you, Dr. Harari. Your books (Sapiens and Homo Deus) answered so many spiritual and political questions for me. Keep up the great work!

  4. Such nice topic, why bring Trump/Putin and politics into it? Pff .. next time bring only Yuval and not the salesman

  5. Harari is great with the idea of people looking to the past with a naive nostalgia instead of using critical reflection and discourse, and problem solving to plan and build for the future.

  6. Friedman is too impressed with corporate America's ability to intrude into personal time of their employees and pass that cost to the employees and their families. Friedman called this "Amazing" leadership by corporate America. WRONG! Rapid-Reactionary skill acquisition and learning by employees can often be rendered OBSOLETE by one algorithm rendering that employee or class of employees no longer useful. How human beings determine value in their daily lives in terms of needs, desires, activities etc should not be turned over to corporate decision makers. PUBLIC POLICY should mediate for the PUBLIC GOOD and not beholden to consider Corporate considerations as being and END within itself. In other words reign the bastards in… slow down the Corporate externality machine that Corporations have created.

  7. OMG–Friedman is so naive. The quality of obsolescence is completely lost on Friedman. The RATE of technological replacement is moving much more quickly than anything that humans can do to adapt, re-skill, and re-employ. Friedman is cheerleading the gig economy. His worldview is similar to many ELITES in the USA and Western Europe and actually tearing nations apart because people want more accountability and control in their lives. Harari does a great job of bringing him into the real world.

  8. And of course, the predictable and fashionable president bashers, from those who insist their narrative, and ideology is always correct. Sore losers, who claim moral authority, and suck up to others in their echo chamber, for brownie points.

  9. "Free press"… what a hypocrite. Bashes Fox for fear-mongering, when he gladly accepts his PULITZER prize. The Pulitzer was named after one of the pioneers of yellow journalism, who spread fear, and lied to the people, to compel US into the Spanish-American war… to sell more newspapers. Bloody, liberal leftist "elite" academic snobs, don't even know their history, and little of the future. Another self-righteous, narrative gatekeeper.

    "I'm a translator of English to and English infused with my narrow political viewpoints".

  10. "We" can't take 8 years. Who's this we?
    He didn't say anything about how much Obama did to divide the country by race, and specifically targeted the White vote by weaponizing White guilt.

  11. We've got free journalism. It's called youtube. Why is leftist Google suppressing such free speech, by blocking certain channels? Twitter and Facebook as well. Let everyone have their voice, and let each decide. Even those who disagree with this post.

  12. Thank you Yuval for another inspired discussion, you obviously belong to the brightest part of Israel. Keep going spreading the truth as long as the complexity does not cross the line of human comprehension capabilities.

  13. Thomas L. Friedman is embarrassingly stupid. What a idiotic ultra liberal neocon. He has just reduced what would otherwise would have been an intellectual exercise in the serious issues of the world into a partisan political debate!!! A fool!!!!

  14. I love Yuval N. Harari but because of this idiot Thomas who makes me want to puke, I must sign off…. Bye bye. P.S.: dont ever bring him on to these types of talks!!!!

  15. I am very happy to hear that there is a new book to "monsieur" harari. I will wait it to have more knowledge about our 21 century problems, because as he said my daily live does not make me inter to debates like claim change our AI and so fourth .

  16. I'm just fascinated by the way of Yuvel's thinking, how easily he place everything in the bigger picture. It is always easy to understand him even with my imperfect english, and still gives deep insights and new perspectives. Thanks for the video.

  17. Very surprised by Friedman's arguments as its all rosy … A huge belief in the current situation and that only good things will happen… I may be pessimistic but the reality about today is very different…

  18. I think the part that Yuval touched on about stress is important in regards to learning. I think bending your will and mindset to just what your employer wants out of you still plays to the power dynamic that distracts from true self development. And, ultimately negatively impacts learning the skills that provide self sufficiency in a world where the economic and political climate will change just as fast as the biological/environmental one. Learn skills to feed and house yourself, AND have professional skills that bring in cash for use in the community. But, do not confuse those professional skills with at-home qualitative skills for a good life and home economics.

  19. Friedman sounds like a Dr Seuss cyborg with his little mantras repeated faster than speech translates to consciousness. Too many truisms and catch phrases. Keeps stealing the spotlight, interrupts his brilliant co-speaker and dominates the discussion with his obsessive creating of the trite. His metaphors are all of mechanistic processes and systems which he's deaf to Yuval's assertions of another reality and blind to the blindness

  20. Friedman is on the right track. Each time he comes back to his 📚 books. Sell, sell, sell. I would be going back to my books too. plugging away. He makes sense, he rambles in this sort of funny way if you catch it. It may have some flippant intonations. However, makes some things think about.

  21. Is God in cyberspace: Maybe, but more likely in the future. Also, "it" might be an opposite to concept of "God". Somewhat different thing is, that do we/this time&space have a conscious creator, or maybe "just" a creator and also are we possibly making humans to be "God-like" i.e. creating a conscious creature? There is surely a possibility, that we will create something like "God" or "Satan"(this of course very simplistic way to address the issue, as for ex. humans can start/have possibly started a process leading up to a creation of something like "God", that might turn out to be something very different, or like above; we can become as such and so on). What do we want and what can we do about it?

  22. The giddy couple holding hands behind Friedman who are so into each other gives me as much hope as anything else in this talk 🙂

  23. I attended this talk and was fortunate enough to meet Yuval afterwards (thank you!) felt like Friedman simply wasn't on his level, got second-hand embarrassment for him. Anyway, thank you Yuval! <3

  24. "Algorithm understands your heart better than you."
    I truly feel sorry for this man, such a thought shows such an empty internal being.

  25. So full of bleep
    Absolute lie
    This free market cult is dead or we are period the "cooperative survive"
    The second speaker is filling your heads with nonsence I'm not even going to finish you except reality or you do not the order of the epmty headed corporate suit wearers is done

  26. Rejecting sane economics is how we got here if you insist on focusing on how dollars are distributed while we kill and waist all http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/01/16-reasons-matt-yglesias-wrong-job-guarantee-vs-basic-income.html

  27. Listening to Tom Friedman's bullshit is really glaring here. "People are coming back to The New York Times". That's the pro Iraq war NYT and the pro Iraq war Friedman, their star writer, who's establishment thinking is dying. Thank you Yuval for helping us understand this.

  28. Friedman didn't get it yet, he sees humanity in some way outside nature or subordinated by nature but in some special condition, he seems to think that human actions can contravent nature and don't realize that that's impossible, everything that happen for good or bad of us as specie, each episode in the human history no matter how glorious or tragic is it's part of nature's dynamic and it's under the umbrella of evolution. We are not special and we can be wiped out as any other specie on earth. Yuval know this.
    We can subjectively catch and interpret the outcomes of nature in action (which we're part of) and adjective it according to our perception, but that's all. Friedman like many others almost deify nature as religion did it in the past and don't understand that WE ARE NATURE. He probably thinks in that obsolete terms because adhere to an obsolete concept of free will and consciousness.
    Yuval in the other hand catch reality and the upcoming world very well and he's no wrong when he talk about China.

  29. constantly reinventing yourself might frighten you, but don't worry. in 10 to 20 years, not even that will help you anymore. because there will be no jobs left.

  30. I live in the US and no full grown man that I known is naive as Friedman so is he really this naive? Doubt it.

  31. I think we should focus on health, making people physically and mentally strong, every human being has that capacity and is an example of fulfilling potential

  32. Does anybody know what was the thesis that Harari was going to put forward when the moderator interrupted him to end the debate?

  33. This was ruined by Tom Friedman and his sales pitch. For a guy who wasn't the main draw he talked 80% of the time and downed out the guy that most of us came to see. Given the dramatic scope of sapiens and homo deus we were treated to bullshit about small-town America, more Trump talk, and his folksey anecdotes about people he's met and interviewed. Then at the end he has the gaul to talk about being a good listener. Friedman ruined it. Worse, the moderator sat there doing absolutely nothing about this travesty. This was not a conversation. There was no common theme and no exchange of ideas. The focus of one was so far from the other that they could not intersect in any way. This was terrible matchmaking. If there was no Friedman it would have been 100% better. My money was wasted!

  34. I like everything they talk about, but I think they could talk about the best case scenario a little more

  35. “Is God in cyberspace?” What was that all about? The supernatural? Thomas L. Friedman sounds like an idiot.

  36. At the End Yuval was gonna go explain why you can't fool them all forever and what the consequences might be. You can not convince everyone and not even a majority to welcome Muslims in a non-muslim society for example. But the fat woman interrupted him. So i hope we will be able the get something about this issue in his new book later this year.

  37. Friedman spoils this totally. He doesn’t get it at all! reminds me of a salesman trying to sell me something I don’t need or want!

  38. I made it to the end Painful but I like to learn about the other side of the coin Otherwise one lives in an echo chamber.

  39. I don't think Friedman understood that the topic was the future of humanity. He didn't convince me that he is capable of looking toward the future, and definitely couldn't speak to the topic. Yuval was brilliant, as always.

  40. streched for 1 hour 30 I am not able to filter any answers. How about a specific question: What is humankind doing after we created our successors?

  41. Yuval is right we have to move forward not backwards, backward invention like money is one our major problem right now following the religion and politics the root cause of wars,poverty,greedy,corruptions,slavery etc… find the root cause of the problem and problem will solved faster that's the algorithm we need.

  42. This youtube works quite well if you just skip forward through Friedman's talk. We can control our media this way today. But am I therefore creating my own confirmation bias, or information bubble, or algorithm?

  43. the problem is not on agreeing what is morality… the problem is understanding the extreme complex chain of command in the worlds structures today/// sorry i kinda botched the last pat of his sentence, so may i refer you to 58:00… thx

  44. הי דר הררי היקר.
    תמיד זה כיף גדול ותענוג לשמוע כל הרצאה והרצאה מחדש.
    ידוע שאין לך סמארטפון. (מהשיחה עם סאם האריס) ובתקווה שיעבירו לך את ההערה שלי:
    חזרתי קצת לשרשים של השרשים של ספריך (הרצאות בעברית 2011 והספר)
    בהם אתה מדבר על המהפכה הלשונית ו"נגיעתו של האדם בעץ הדעת" (מטאפורה) דבר שעד היום גדולי הביולוגים לא מסוגלים להסביר וקוראים לזה "תאונה כמעט בלתי אפשרית בענף האבולוציה" (ריצ'רד דוקינס).
    חשבתי שאולי יש לי הסבר קטן דווקא לאור דבריך שגם לך היה קשה להסביר "מבחינה ביולוגית" כיצד מקופי על נהדרים — "אכלנו מהתפוח" נגענו בדמיון ומשם אין כבר דרך חזרה מלהשתלט על הכוכב.
    ראשית אתה מצביע על כך, אבל מעט מאד, על כך שדווקא הדמיון, התובנה העמוקה, המופשטות, המהפכה הלשונית "הם מסלול עוקף דנא" (ע"מ 41) לדעתי הם הרבה יותר מזה – אוייבי הברירה הטבעית בתור חיות, וצריך להרחיב על זה.
    מה לחשוב? תברח!! תשרוד!! זה אנטי ברירה טבעית.
    משום מה אתה לא מרבה לדבר על זה ומקבל באדישות משהו דעתם של ביולוגים, וזה חבל
    (הייתה לך למשל הברקה נהדרת ב RI לונדון, שנה שעברה בQ&A על אודות ה"תודעה" ומליוני אבני הדומינו הנופלות, תמשיך עם זה. חבל ששמים מולך קשישים כמו דניאל דנט. יש לך עתיד מזהיר בתחום חקר התודעה והוא תמיד מרתק)
    בכל מקרה לגבי הדמיון אתה מציג כהסטוריון עובדות "ביולוגיות" שחבל שלא זוכות לטיפול ראוי –
    "מוטציות מקריות….. הביאו ל"מוטציית עץ הדעת" – עניין של מזל כנראה ". (עמוד 31) אז זהו שלא וכבר אסביר.
    שנית אני חולק על דבריך ש"הדבר הכי חשוב הוא לדעת שהיינו לא חשובים" היינו ממשפחת היונקים. ממשפחת ההומנידים. מבחינת אינטלגנציה (דבר חשוב מאד) בהחלט גם לפני המהפכה הלשונית ב2.5 מליוני השנים שבהם מוחינו גדל, היינו בהחלט חריגים וחדשים נוצצים בגונגל.
    היונקים הם בכלל צורת חיים חריגה ובתוכם יש חריגים שבחריגים.
    (הדינוזאורים למשל, one way. מה הם עשו 165 מליון שנים חוץ מלגדל עוד שיניים ועוד נוצות וגודל?? בטח רופאי השיניים בתקופה ההיא עשו קופה😀)
    בהחלט שלהומניד יש זינוק מדהים ב2.5 מליון שנים בלבד על תנין שלא השתנה מאות מליוני שנים. אז בוודאי לא היינו חסרי משמעות במובן של התפתחות מסחררת (!) מבחינת אינטלגניציה והתפתחות. אבל מה גרם לנו לניצוץ הדמיון?
    כיצד נגענו במהפכה הלשונית?
    התשובות לפנינו…
    אז –

  45. Friedman is WAY OUT OF HIS LEAGUE here. He sounds so pedestrian compared to Harari, not to mention that he isn't really articulating any thoughts, he is mostly rambling.

  46. Sadly Thomas L.Friedman had to bring politics and Trump's name in his discourse… bad decision; Yuval tried to stay away from it but could not … Great discussion , will buy "Homo Deus" for sure, thank you Yuval!

  47. You are giving Trump more power by giving him attention. He will just suck up all your energy and you get nothing at the end.

  48. the beauty and the Beast, intellectuallly speaking. Dificult to listen this Friedman, the XXI century speaking with the Far Wild west. Maybe an ego too small

  49. GeoengineeringWatch.org and What the One Percent Don't Want You To Know, and WUWE presents Ethos Genesis. To Yuval .All on You Tube.

  50. god damn, why somebody didn't shut this Friedman–frog up?! He is so ridiculous, that it spoils the stage for Harari, who is absolutely brilliant!

  51. Just finished reading Homo Deus. Thank you Professor Yuval for all the insights you brought together in this masterpiece!

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