(2018) by Yuval Noah Harari
perhaps most important, ai and biotech are giving humanity the power to reshape and reengineer life. very soon somebody will have to decide how to use this power – based on some implicit or explicit story about the meaning of life
ie: a nother way book .. tech as it could be..
part 1 – the technological challenge
1 – disillusionment
in 1938 humans were offered three global stories to choose from, in 1968 just two, and in 1998 a single story seemed to prevail. in 2018 we are down to zero..
humans were always far better at inventing tools than using them wisely
in 2018 the common person feels increasingly irrelevant. lots of mysterious words are bandied around excitedly in ted talks, govt think tanks, high tech conferences.. – globalization, blockchain, genetic engineering, ai, machine learning – and common people may well suspect that none of these words are about them.
2 – work
two particularly important nonhuman abilities that ai possesses are connectivity and updatability
mufleh humanity law: we have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity – Luma Mufleh
after all, what we ultimately ought to protect is humans – not jobs. displaced drivers and doctors will just have to find something else to do..t
whichever way you choose to define ‘basic human needs’ once you provide them to everyone free of charge, they will be taken for granted, and then fierce social competitions and political struggles will focus on luxuries – be they fancy self driving cars, access to virtual reality parks, or enhance bioengineered bodies..
3 – liberty
people will enjoy the best healthcare in history, but for precisely this reason they will probably be sick all the time. there is always something wrong somewhere in the body. there is always something that can be improved. in the past, you felt perfectly health y as long as you didn’t sense pain and you didn’t manifest an apparent disability by, say, limping. but by 2050, thanks to biometric sensors and big data algos, diseases may be diagnosed and treated long before they lead to pain or disability as a result , you will always find yourself suffering form some ‘medical condition’ and following this or that algo recommendation.. if you refuse perhaps your med ins will become invalid.. your boss will fire you
4 – equality
property is a prereq for long term ineq. following the agri rev, property multiplied and with it ineq..t
humans came to accept this arrangement as natural and even divinely ordained hierarchy was not just the norm but also the idea..how could there be order w/o a clear hierarchy between aristocrats and commoners, between men and women, or between parents and children..
if we want to prevent the concentration of all wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, the key is to regulate the ownership of data..t
rather.. the key is to focus on different data.. ie: self-talk as data
if we want to prevent a small elite from monopolizing such godlike powers, and if we want to prevent humankind from splitting into biological castes, the key question is: who owns the data? does the data bout my dna, my brain , and my life belong to me, to the govt, to a corp, or to the human collective
key question is: what data?..
part 2 – the political challenge
5 – community
zuckerberg sounds convinced that the new fb ai can not only id the ‘meaningful communities’ but also ‘strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together’.. that is far more ambitious than using ai to drive a car or diagnose cancer..t
mufleh humanity law: we have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity – Luma Mufleh
fb’s community vision is perhaps the first explicit attempt to use ai for centrally planned social engineering on a global scale. it therefore constitutes a crucial test case..
in the past, humans could not afford such carelessness. ancient foragers were always alert and attentive. wandering in the forest in search of mushrooms, they watched the ground for any telltale bulge. they listened to the slightest movements in the grass to learn whether a snake might be lurking there. when they found an edible mushroom, the y examined it w the utmost attention to distinguish it from its poisonous cousins. member of today’s affluent societies don’t need such keen awareness
(on waiting for likes).. in the process they barely notice what they themselves feel. indeed.. what they feel is increasingly determined by the online reactions…t
self-talk as data.. first thing.. everyday
pundits often blame such feeling of alienation on the decline of religious and national bonds, but losing touch w your body is probably more important. humans lived for millions of years w/o religions and w/o nations; they can probably live happily w/o them in the 21st cent too
can it adopt a new model that encourages people to go online only when it’s really necessary and to devote more attention to their physical environ and to their own bodies and senses? what would fb’s shareholders think about this model? (a blueprints of such an alt model has been suggested recently by tristan harris.. former google employee and tech philosopher .. who came up w a new metrics of ‘time well spent’)
fb’s crucial test will come when an engineer invents a new tool that causes people to spend less time buying stuff online and more time in meaningful offline activities w friends.. will fb adopt or suppress such a tool?
(on amazon, fb, google, apple repeatedly being accused of tax evasion).. once you remember that human being shave bodies and that they therefore still need roads, hospitals, and sewage systems, it becomes far more difficult to justify tax evasion
if fb now aims to instigate a global revolution, it will have to do a much better job in bridging the gap between online and offline..
a crucial step toward uniting humankind is to appreciate that humans have bodies
6 – civilization
war spreads ideas, technologies, and people far more quickly than commerce does
war also makes people far more interested in one another
nowadays, in contrast, almost everybody believes in a slightly diff variation on the same capitalist theme, and we are all cogs w/in a single global production line. whether you live in congo or mongolia, in new zealand or bolivia, your daily routines and econ fortunes depend on the same econ theories, the same corps and banks, and the same currents of capital
though humankind is very far from constituting a harmonious community, we are all members of a single rowdy global civilization
might a return to tradition al nationalism be the solution to our desperate global crisis? if globalization brings w it so many problems.. why not just abandon it
7 – nationalism
global problems need global answers
8 – religion
we are trapped, then between a rock and a hard place. humankind now constitutes a single civilization, and problem such as nuclear war, ecological collapse, and technological disruption can only be solved on the global level. on the other hand ,nationalism and religion still divide our human civilization into diff and often hostile camps
9 – immigration
part 3 – despair and hope
10 – terrorism
terrorists calculate that when the enraged enemy uses his massive power against them, he will raise a much more violent military and political storm than the terrorists themselves could ever create
by killing a handful of people the terrorists cause millions to fear for their lives. in order to calm these fears, govts react to the theater of terror w a show of security, orchestrating immense displays of force such as the persecution of entire populations or the invasion of foreign countries. in most cases, this overreaction to terrorism poses a far greater threat to our security than the terrorists themselves..
because we intuitively understand that terrorism is theater, we judge it by its emotional rather than material impact.
above all, if we want to combat terrorism effectively, we must realize that nothing the terrorists do can defeat us. we are the only ones who can defeat ourselves, if we overreact in a misguided way to their provocations
the success or failure of terrorism therefore depends on us. if we allow our imagination to be captured by the terrorists and then we overreact to our own fears, terrorism will succeed. if we free our imagination from the terrorists and then we react in a balanced and cool way, terrorism will fail..
11 – war
12 – humility
13 – god
morality doesn’t mean ‘following divine commands.’ it means ‘reducing suffering’
every violent act in the world begins w a violent desire in somebody’s mind, which disturbs that person’s own peace and happiness before it disturbs the peace and happiness of anyone else. thus people seldom steal unless they first develop a lot of greed and envy in their minds. people don’t usually murder unless they first generate anger and hatred. emotions such as greed, envy, anger, and hatred are very unpleasant, you cannot experience joy and harmony when you are boiling w anger or envy. long before you murder anyone, you anger has already killed your own peace of mind
begs.. your own song ness
if you were completely free of anger, you would feel far better than if you murdered an obnoxious enemy
as the last few centuries have *proved, we don’t need to invoke god’s name in order to live a moral life. secularism can provide us w all the values we need
how so..? how are we living w values suited for humanity..?
mufleh humanity law: we have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity – Luma Mufleh
14 – secularism
as long as you define yourself as ‘an individual possessing inalienable natural rights’ you will not know who you really are and you will not understand the historical forces that shaped your society and your own mind (including your belief in ‘natural right”)
agree.. rights as unnatural/inhumane
while human rights movements have developed a very impressive arsenal of arguments and defenses against religious biases and human tyrants, this arsenal hardly protects us against consumerism excesses and tech utopia
every religion, ideology and creed has its shadow, and no matter which creed you follow you should acknowledge your shadow and avoid the naive reassurance that ‘it cannot happen to us’.. secular science has at least one big advantage over most traditional religions – namely, that it is not inherently terrified of its shadow, and it is in principle willing to admit its mistakes and blind spots..
if you believe in a quest for truth by fallible humans, admitting blunders is part of the game.
if you want your religion, ideology, or worldview to lead the world, my first question to you is: ‘what was the biggest mistake your religion , ideology, or worldview committed” what did it get wrong”‘ if you cannot come up w something serious, i for one would not trust you
supposed to ness
part 4 – truth
15 – ignorance
humans rarely think for themselves. rather, we think in groups
individual humans know embarrassingly little about the world, and as history has progressed, they have com to know less and less. a hunter gatherer in the stone age knew how to make her own clothes, how to start a fire, how to hunt rabbits, and how to escape lions. we think we know far more today, bu tas individuals, we actually know far less
if you want to go deeply into any subject, you need a lot of time, and in particular you need th privilege of wasting time. you need to experiment w unproductive paths, explore dead ends, make space for doubts and boredom, and allow little seeds of insight to slowly grow and blossom. if you cannot afford to waste time, you will never find the truth..t
worse still, great power inevitably distorts the truth. power is all about changing reality rather than seeing it for what it is
revolutionary knowledge rarely makes it to the center, because the center is built on existing knowledge..t
leaders are thus trapped, in a double-blind. if they remain at the center of power, they will have an extremely distorted vision of the world
16 – justice
the problem is not one of values. whether secular or religious, citizens of the 21st cent have plenty of values. the problem is w implementing these value s in a complex global world..t
the system is structured in such a way that those who make no effort to know can remain in blissful ignorance, and those who do make an effort will find it very difficult to discover the truth
the problem is that it has become extremely complicated to grasp what we are actually doing..t
however, in a world in which everything is interconnected, the supreme moral imperative becomes the imperative to know..
there is something amiss w the intentions of those who do not make a sincere effort to know
most of the injustices in the contemporary world result from large-scale structural biases rather than from individual prejudices,..t and our hunter gatherer brains did not evolve to detect structural biases. we are all complicit in at least some such biases, and we just don’t have the time and energy to discover them all
begs a global do-over/reset
it is far easier to imagine that 20 multimillionaires are pulling the strings behind the scenes, controlling the media and fomenting wars in order to enrich themselves. this is almost always a baseless fantasy. the contemporary world is too complicated, not only for our sense of justice but also for our managerial abilities. no one – including the multimillionaires, the cia, the free masons, and the elders of zion – really understands what is going on in the world. so no one is capable of pulling the strings effectively..t
17 – post truth
indeed, homo sapiens conquered this planet thanks above all to the unique human ability to create and spread fictions. we are the only mammals that can cooperate w numerous strangers because only we can invent fictional stories, spread them around, and convince millions of others to believe in them. as long as everybody believes in the same fictions, we all obey the same laws and can thereby cooperate effectively..
when a 1000 people believe some made up storyfor one month, that’s fake news. when a billion people believe it for thousand years, that’s a religion, and we are admonished not to call it ‘fake news’ in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful (or incurtheirwrath)..
they hardly ever remind themselves ‘actually, this is a worthless peiceof paper, but because other people view it as valuable, i can make use of it’
if you really focus, you realize tha money is fiction. but you usually don’t thinkabout it
if you want power, at some point you will have to spread fictions. if you want to know the truth about the world, at some point you will have to renounce power..t
the most powerful scholarly establishments – whether of christian priests, confucian mandarins, or communist ideologues – placed unit above truth. that’s why they were sopowerful
as a species, humans prefer power to truth. we spend far more time and effort on trying to control the world than on trying to understand it – and even when we try to understand it, we usually do so in the hope that understanding the world will make it easier to control it..t
human suffering is often caused by belief in fiction, but the suffering itself is still real.
instead of accepting fake news as the norm, we should recognize it is a far more difficult problem than we tend to assume,..t and we should strive even harder to distinguish reality from fiction..
the people generating the data are not themselves.. more like whales in sea world.. begs we start here: black science of people/whales..
18 – science fiction
they can cooperate so well because they believe in fictions..perhaps the worst sin of present day science fiction is that it tends to confuse intelligence w consciousness. as a result, it is overly concerned about a potential war between robots and humans, when in fact we need to fear a conflict between a small superhuman elite empowered by algos and a vast underclass of disempowered homo sapiens..
the current technological and scientific revolution implies not that authentic individuals and authentic realities can be manipulated by algos and tv cameras but rather that authenticity is a myth
escaping the narrow defn of self might well become a necessary survival skill in the 21st cent..t
identity ness is a killer
part 5 – resilience
how do you live in an age of bewilderment, when the old stories have collapsed and no new story has yet emerged to replace them
19 – education
change is the only constant
but so far we haven’t created a viable alternative. certainly not a scalable alt that can be implementd in rural mexico rather than just in wealthy california suburbs..t
well.. we haven’t tried it yet.. ie: short
some have created it.. you just can’t hear them.. which is why the focus is on a mech that listens to every voice.. everyday.. tech as it could be..
1000s of years ago humans invented agri, but this tech enriched just a tiny elite while enslaving the majority of humans..t
tech isn’t bad. if you know what you want in life, tech can help you get it. but if you don’t know what you want in life, it will be all too easy for tech to shape your aims for you and take control of your life..
they are in a race to hack you and your organic operating system. you might have heard that we are living in the era of hacking computers, but that’s not even half the truth. in fact, we are living in the era of hacking humans..
20 – meaning
life is not a story
it takes strong nerves to question the very fabric of society. for if indeed the story is false, then the entire world as we know it makes no sense..t
indeed.. we have to get the whales out of sea world.. black science of people/whales..
in sync.. ie: costello screen service law
the flag makes india real in a way that sewage systems do not.. the very cost of the flag makes the ritual more effective..
if you want to make people really believe in some fiction, entice them to make a sacrifice on its behalf. once you suffer for a story, it is usually enough to convince you that the story is real..
the problem w evil is that in real life it is not necessarily ugly. it can look very beautiful
humans obviously have a will, they have desires, and they are sometimes free to fulfill their desires. if by ‘free will’ you mean the freedom to do what you desire, then yes, humans have free will. but if by ‘free will’ you mean the freedom to choose what to desire, then no, humans have no free will
(though his ie is that he’s not free to feel attraction to women)
ultimately we should realize that we do not control our desires, or even our reactions to these desires
i think we can
if we understand that our desires are not the magical manifestations of free choice but are rather the product of biochemical processes (influenced by cultural factors that are also beyond our control), we might be less preoccupied w them. it is better to understand ourselves, our minds, and our desires than to try to realize whatever fantasy pops into our heads
and just as the govt builds a national myth w flags, icons, and parades, so my inner propaganda machine creates a personal myth w prized memories and cherished traumas that often bear little resemblance to the truth
people ask ‘who am i?’ and expect to be told a story. the first thing you need to know about yourself is that you are not a story
the big question facing humans isn’t ‘what is the meaning of life?’ but rather ‘how do we stop suffering?’
if you want to know the truth about the universe, about the meaning of life, and about your own id, the best place to start is by observing suffering and exploring what it is .. the answer isn’t a story
21 – meditation
the brain is a material network of neurons, synapses, and biochemicals. the mind is a flow of subjective experiences, such as pain, pleasure, anger, and love..
brain research is progressing in leaps and bounds thanks to the help of micro scopes, brain scanners, and powerful computers. but we cannot see the ind in a microscope or brain scanner..
for the only mind i can directly observe is my own, and no matter how difficult it is to obsere samoan culture w/o bias and prejudice, it is even harder to observe my own mind objectively
the point is that meditation is a tool for observing the mind directly
why dig from only one side? better to dig simultaneously from both. if the brain and the mind are indeed one and the same, the two tunnels are bound to meet. and if the brain and the mind aren’t the same? then it is all the more important to dig into the mind and not just into the brain
it usually takes a lot of training to calm the mind and make it concentrate so it can start observing itself methodically and objectively. perhaps in the future we will be able to pop a pill to achieve instant focus. yet since meditation aims to explore the mind rather than just focus it, such a shortcut might prove counterproductive. the pill might make us very alert and focused, but at the same time it might also prevent us from exploring the entire spectrum of the mind
we had better understand our minds before the algos make our minds up for us
as tech improved, two things happened, first, as flint knives gradually evolved into nuclear missiles, destabilizing the social order became more dangerous. second, as cave paintings gradually evolved into tv broadcasts, it became easier to delude people. in the near future, algos might bring this process to completion, making it well nigh impossible for people to observe the reality about themselves. it will be the algos that will decide for us who we are and what we should know about ourselve.s
for a few more years or decades, we still have a choice. if we make the effort , we can still investigate who we really are. but if we want to make use of this opp, we had better to it now
Harold Jarche (@hjarche) tweeted at 6:14 AM – 28 Oct 2018 :
“The danger is that if we invest too much in developing AI and too little in developing human consciousness, the very sophisticated artificial intelligence of computers might only serve to empower the natural stupidity of humans.” —@harari_yuval https://t.co/DCCdfAZmeC #PKMastery (http://twitter.com/hjarche/status/1056519472838836224?s=17)