Yuval Noah Harari: Human Nature, Intelligence, Power, and Conspiracies | Lex Fridman Podcast #390

If we now find ourselves inside this Kind of world of illusions Created by an alien intelligence that we Don't understand but it understands us This is a kind of you know spiritual Enslavement that we won't be able to Break out of because it understands us It understands how to manipulate us but We don't understand What is behind this screen of stories And images and and songs The following is a conversation with Yvonne Noah Harari a historian Philosopher and author of several highly Acclaimed highly influential books Including sapiens homodeus and 21 Lessons for the 21st century he is also An outspoken critic of Benjamin Netanyahu and the current right-wing Government in Israel so while much of This conversation is about the history And future of human civilization we also Discuss the political turmoil of Present-day Israel providing a different Perspective from that of my recent Conversation with Benjamin Netanyahu This is the last treatment podcast to Support it please check out our sponsors In the description and now dear friends Here's Yuval Noah Harari 13.8 billion years ago is the origin of Our universe 3.8 billion years ago is the origin of Life here on our little planet the one

We call Earth Let's say 200 000 years ago is the Appearance of early Homo sapiens so let Me ask you this question how rare are These events in the vastness of space And time or put it in a more fun way how Many intelligent aliens civilizations do You think are out there in this universe Us being one of them I suppose there Should be some statistically but we Don't have any evidence but I do think That you know intelligence in any way It's a bit overvalued We are the most intelligent entities on This planet and look what we're doing So intelligence also tends to be Self-destructive which implies that if There are or were intelligent life forms Elsewhere maybe they don't survive for Long so you think there's a tension Between happiness and intelligence Absolutely intelligence is definitely Not Something that is directed towards Amplifying happiness I I would also Emphasize the huge huge difference Between intelligence and Consciousness Which many people certainly in the tech Industry and in the AI industry tend to Miss Intelligence is simply the ability to Solve problems To attain goals And you know to to win a chess to win a

Struggle for survival to win a war to Drive a car to diagnose a disease this Is intelligence Consciousness is the ability to feel Things like pain and pleasure and love And hate in humans and other animals Intelligence and Consciousness go Together they go hand in hand which is Why we confuse them we solve problems we Attain goals by having feelings But other types of intelligence Certainly in computers computers are Already highly intelligent and as far as We know they have zero Consciousness When a computer beats you at chess or go Or whatever it doesn't feel happy if it Loses it doesn't feel sad And uh there could be also other highly Intelligent Entities out there in the universe that Have zero Consciousness and I think that Consciousness is far more important and Valuable than intelligence Can you stream on the case that Consciousness and intelligence Are intricately connected so not just in Humans but anywhere else they have to go Hand in hand is it possible for you to Imagine such a universe It it could be but we don't know yet Again we have examples certainly we know Of examples of high intelligence without Consciousness computers are one example Um as far as we know

Plants are not conscious Yet they are intelligent they can solve Problems they can attain goals in very Sophisticated ways Um so um The other way around to have Consciousness without any intelligence This is probably impossible but to Having intelligence without Consciousness yes that's possible a Bigger question is whether any of that Is tied to organic biochemistry we know On this planet only about carbon-based Life forms whether you're an amoeba a Dinosaur a tree a human being you're Based on organic biochemistry Um is there an essential connection Between organic biochemistry and Consciousness do all conscious entities Everywhere in the universe or in the Future on planet Earth have to be based On carbon is there something so special About carbon as an element that an Entity based on Silicon will never be Conscious I don't know maybe But again this is a key question about Computer and computer consciousness That can computers eventually become Conscious even though they are not Organic the jury is still out on that I Don't know I mean that we have to take Both options into account well a big Part of that Is do you think we humans would be able

To detect other intelligent beings other Conscious beings another way to ask that Is it possible that the aliens are Already here and we don't see them Meaning are we Very human-centric in our understanding Of one the definition of life to the Definition of intelligence and three the Definition of consciousness The aliens are here they are just not From outer space AI which is usually Stands for artificial intelligence I Think it stands for alien intelligence Because uh AI is an alien type of Intelligence it solves problems attains Goals in a very very different way in an Alien way from human beings and I'm not Implying that AI Came From Outer Space It came from Silicon Valley but it is Alien to us if there are alien Intelligent or conscious entities that Came from outer space already here and I've I've not seen every any evidence uh For it it's not impossible but you know In science evidence is everything well I Mean I guess instructive there's uh just Having the humility to look around to Think about living beings that operate At a different time scale a different Spatial scale and I think that's all Useful when starting to analyze Artificial intelligence Is Possible that even the language models

The larger language models we have today Are already conscious I I highly doubt It but I think Consciousness in Social norms because we cannot prove Consciousness in anybody except Ourselves we know that we are conscious Because we are feeling it we have direct Access to our subjective Consciousness We have we cannot have any proof that Any other entity in the world any other Human being or parents our best friends We don't have proof that they are Conscious you know this is this has been Known for thousands of years this is the Card this is Buddha this is Plato we we Don't we can't have this sort of proof What we do have is Social conventions Social convention that all human beings Are conscious it's also applies to Animals most people who have pets are Firmly believe that their patch pets are Conscious but a lot of people still Refuse to acknowledge that about cows or Pigs now pigs are far more intelligent Than dogs and cats in according to many Measures yet when you go to the Supermarket and and buy a a piece of Frozen pigment you don't think about it As a conscious entity why do you think Of your dog as conscious but not of the Of the bacon that you buy because you Build a relationship with the dog and You don't have a relationship with the Bacon Now relationships they are they

Don't constitute a logical proof for Consciousness there are a social tests That the Turing test is a social test It's not a logical proof now if you Establish a a mutual relationship with An entity When you are invested in it emotionally You're almost compelled to feel that the Other side is also conscious And when it comes down to Ai and Computers I think and I don't think that At the present moment computers are Conscious but people are already forming Intimate relationships with AIS and are Therefore Almost irresist it's almost irresistible They're compelled to to increasingly Feel that these are conscious entities And I think We are quite close to the point when the Legal system will have to take this into Account That even though I don't think computers Have Consciousness I think we are close To the point the legal system will start Treating them as conscious entities Because of this social convention What to you is uh social convention Just a funny little side effect a little Artifact or is it fundamental to what Consciousness is because if it is Fundamental then it seems like AI is Very good at forming these kinds of deep Relationships with humans yeah and

Therefore it will be able to be a nice Catalyst for Integrating itself into these social Conventions of ours It was built to accomplish that yeah we Are designed again you know all these Arguments between a a a natural Selection and uh creationism intelligent Design Um as far as the past go all entities Evolved by natural selection the funny Thing is but when you look at the future More and more entities will come out of Intelligent design not of some God above The clouds but of our intelligent design And the intelligent design of our clouds Of our Computing clouds they will Design More and more entities and this is what Is happening with AI it is designed To be very good at forming intimate Relationships with humans And uh um in many ways it's already Doing it almost better than human beings In some situations you know when two People talk with one another one of the Things that kind of uh um makes the Conversation more difficult is our own Emotions You're saying something and I'm not Really listening to you because there is Something I want to say and I'm just Waiting until you finish I I can put in A word or I'm so obsessed with my anger Or irritation or whatever that I don't

Pay attention to what you're feeling This is one of the biggest obstacles in Human relationships and computers don't Have this problem because they don't Have any emotions of their own so you Know when a computer is talking to you It can be the most it can focus a Hundred percent of its attention is on Your what you're saying and what you're Feeling because it has no feelings of Its own and paradoxically this means That computers can Fool people Into feeling that oh there is a Conscious entity on the other side an Empathic entity on the other side Because the one thing everybody wants Almost more than anything in the world Is for somebody to listen to me somebody To focus all their attention on me like I want it for my spouse for my husband From my mother for my friends for my Politicians listen to me listen to what I feel and they often don't and now you Have this entity which a hundred percent Of its attention is just on what what I Feel and this is a huge huge Temptation And I think also a huge huge danger well The interesting Catch-22 there is you Said somebody to listen to us yes we Want somebody to listen to us but for us To respect that somebody They sometimes have to also not listen It's like

Um they kind of have to be an Sometimes they have to have moods Sometimes they have to have like Self-importance and confidence and and We should have a little bit of fear that They can walk away at any moment there Should be a little bit of that tension So it's like absolutely but even that I Mean the thing is if social scientists And psychologists establish that I don't Know 17 inattention is good for a Conversation because then you feel Challenged or you need to grab this Person's attention you can program the AI to have 17 exactly 17 in attention Not one percentage more or less or it Can by its trial and error discover what Is the the ideal percentage again you You can create over the last 10 years we Have creating machines for grabbing People's attention This is what has been happening on Social media Now we are designing machines for Grabbing human intimacy Which in many ways is much much more Dangerous and scary already the machines For grabbing attention we've seen how Much social and political damage they Could do by in in when you buy kind of Distorting the public conversation Machines that are superhuman in their Abilities to create Intimate Relationships this is like psychological

And social weapons of mass destruction If we don't Regulate it if we don't train ourselves To deal with it it could destroy the Foundations of human society well one of The possible trajectories is Those same algorithms would become Personalized and instead of manipulating Us at scale there would be assistance That guide us to help us grow to help us Understand the world better I mean just Even interactions with um With large language models now if you Ask them questions It doesn't have that stressful drama the Tension that you have from other sources Of information it has a pretty balanced Perspective that it provides so it just Feels like that's uh the potential is There to have a really nice Friend who's like an encyclopedia that Just tells you all the different Perspectives even on controversial Issues the most controversial issues to Say these are the different theories These are Um the not widely accepted conspiracy Theories but that here's the kind of Backing for those conspiracies it just Lays it all out and with a calm language Without the TR without the words that Kind of Um presume there's some kind of Manipulation going on under Underneath

It All it's it's quite refreshing of Course those are the early days and you Know people can step in and start to Censor to manipulate those algorithms to Start to input some of the human biases In there as opposed to the what's Currently happening is kind of The internet is input Uh compress it and have a nice little Output that uh gives an overview of the Different issues so I mean there's a lot Of promise there also right absolutely I Mean if there was no problems promise There was no problem you know if this Technology could not accomplish anything Good nobody would develop it now Obviously it has tremendous positive Potential in things like what you just Described in you know better medicine Better Healthcare better education so Many promises and but this is also why It's so dangerous because uh the the the Drive to develop it faster and faster is There and it has some dangerous Potential also and we shouldn't ignore It again I'm not advocating Banning it Uh just to be you know careful about how We not not so much develop it but most Importantly how we deploy it into the Public sphere this is the key question And you know you look back at history And one of the things we we know from History humans are not good with new Technologies I hear many people now say

You know AI it's uh we've been here Before we had the radio we had the Printing press we had the Industrial Revolution every time there is a big new Technology people are afraid and it will Take jobs and build up the Bad actors And in the end it's okay And as a historian my tendency is yes in The end it's okay but in the end there Is a learning curve there is a kind of a Lot of failed experiments on the way to To learning how to use the new Technology and these failed experiments Could cause the lives of hundreds of Millions of people if you think about The last really big revolution the Industrial Revolution yes in the end we Learned how to use the powers of Industry electricity radio trains Whatever to build better human societies On the way We had all these experiments like European imperialism which was driven by The Industrial Revolution it was a Question how do you build an industrial Society oh you build an Empire and you Take you you control all the resources The raw materials the markets and then You had communism another big experiment On how to build an industrial society And you had Fascism and Nazism which Were essentially an experiment in how to Build an industrial society including Even how do you exterminate minorities

Using the powers of of industry and we Had all these failed experiments on the Way and if we now have the same type of Failed experiments with the Technologies Of the 21st century with AI with Bioengineering it could cost the lives Of again hundreds of millions of people And maybe destroy the species So um as a historian when people talk About the examples from history from From new technologies I'm not so Optimistic we need to to to think about The failed experiment which accompanied Every major new technology so this Intelligence thing like you were saying Is a double-edged sword Is that every new thing it helps us Create it can uh both save us and Destroy us and it's unclear each time Which will happen and that's maybe why We don't see any aliens Um yeah I mean I think each time he does Both things each time he does both good Things and bad things and the more Powerful the technology the greater both The positive and the negative outcomes Now we are here Because we are the descendants of the Survivors of the surviving cultures the Surviving uh civilizations so when we Look back we say in the end everything Was okay hey we are here But the people for whom it wasn't okay They are just not here

And and okay has a lot of possible Variations to it because there's a lot Of suffering along the way even for the People that survived so the the quality Of life and all of this but let's Actually go back there uh to our with Deep gratitude to our ancestors how did It all start how did Homo sapiens Uh I'll compete the others the other Human-like species the Neanderthals and The other Um homo species You know in the on the individual level As far as we can tell we were not Superior to them neanderthals actually Had bigger brains than us And not just other human species other Animals too if you compare me personally To an elephant to a chimpanzee to a pig I'm not so I I can do some things better Many other things worse if you put me Alone on some island with a chimpanzee An elephant and a pig I wouldn't bet on Me being the the the the best Survivor Uh the the one that comes is successful If I may interrupt for a second I just I Was just talking extensively with Elon Musk about the difference between humans And chimps Relevant to Optimus the robot and uh The Chimps Are not able to do this kind of pinching Okay with their fingers they can only do This kind of pinching and this kind of

Pinching is very useful for fine Manipulation about precise manipulation Of objects so don't be so hard on Yourself you have uh I said that I can Do some things better than a chimp but You know if Elon musk's goes on a boxing Match with a chimpanzee You know this won't help you this won't Help you against the chimpanzee and Similar if you want to climb a tree if You want to do so many things my bets Will be on the chimp not on either fair Enough so I mean you have Adventures on Both sides Um and what really made us successful What made us the rulers of the planet And not the chimps and not the Neanderthals is not any individual Ability but our Collective ability our Ability to cooperate flexibly in very Large numbers chimpanzees knows know how To cooperate say 50 chimpanzees 100 Chimpanzees as far as we can tell from Archaeological evidence this was also The case with Neanderthals Homo sapiens about 70 000 years ago Gained an amazing ability to be to Cooperate basically in unlimited numbers You start seeing the formation of large Networks political commercial religious Um items being traded over thousands of Kilometers ideas being spread artistic Fashions And and this is our secret of success

Chimpanzees neanderthals can cooperate Say a hundred we you know now the global Trade network has 8 billion people like What we eat what we wear it comes from The other side of the world countries Like China like India they have 1.4 Billion people even Israel which is a Relatively small country say 99 million Citizens that's more than the entire Population of the planet ten thousand Years ago of humans So we can build these huge networks of Cooperation and everything we've Accomplished as a species from you know Building the pyramids to flank to the Moon it's based on that and then you ask Okay so what makes it possible for Millions of people who don't know each Other to cooperate in a way that neander Tells our chimpanzees couldn't and at Least my answer is stories is fiction It's the imagination if you examine any Large-scale human cooperation you always Find fiction as as its basis It's a fictional story that holds lots Of strangers together It's most obvious in cases like religion You know you can't convince a group of Chimpanzees to come together to fight a War or build a cathedral by promising to Them if you do that after you die you go To chimpanzee heaven and you get lots of Bananas and coconuts no chimpanzee will Ever believe that humans believe these

Stories which is why we have these huge Religious networks but it's the same Thing with modern politics it's the same Thing with economics people think oh Economics this is rational it has Nothing to do with fictional stories no Money is the most successful Story Ever Told much more successful than any Religious mythology not everybody Believes in God or in the same God every But almost everybody believes in money Even though it's just a figment of our Imagination You know you take these green pieces of Paper dollars they have no value you Can't eat them you can't drink them and Today most dollars are not even pieces Of paper they are just electronic Information passing between computers We value them Just for one reason that you have the Best storytellers in the world The bankers the finance ministers all These people they are the best Storytellers ever And they tell us a story that this green Little piece of paper or this bit of Information it is worth a banana and as Long as everybody believes it it works So at which point does a fiction when It's sufficiently useful and effective And improving the global quality of life Does it become Like accept the reality like there's a

Threshold which is just you know people Believe it it's like with money you know If you start a new cryptocurrency if if You're the only one that believes the Story I mean again you you Cryptocurrencies you have the math of Course but ultimately it's storytelling You're selling people a story if nobody Believes your story You don't have anything but if lots of People believe the Bitcoin story then Bitcoin can be worth thousands and tens Of thousands of dollars again why I mean You can't eat it you can't drink it it's Nothing it's the story around the the Math which is the real magic Is it possible that the story is the Primary living organism not the Storyteller So That somehow humans uh Homo sapiens Evolved to become these like hosts for a More intelligent living organism which Is the idea and the ideas are the ones That are doing the competing so this is One of the Sort of big perspectives behind your Work that's really revolutionary how You've seen history but do you ever kind Of uh take out the perspective of the Ideas as the organisms versus the humans It's it's an interesting idea there are Two opposite things to say about it on The one hand yes absolutely if you look

Long term in history it's all the people Die it's the stories that compete and Survive and spread and stories often Spread by making people willing to Sacrifice sometimes their lives for the Story Um you know we know in Israel this is One of the most important story Factories in human history and this is a Place where people still kill each other Every day over stories I don't know if You've been to Jerusalem right so people Say ah Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem you Go there I've lived in Jerusalem in much Of my life you go there it's an ordinary Place you know it's a town you have Buildings you have Stones you have trees You have dogs and cats and pedestrians It's a regular place But then you have the stories about the Place oh this is the place where God Revealed himself this is the place where Jesus was this is the place was Muhammad Was and it's the stories that people Fight over nobody is fighting over the Stones People are fighting about the stories About the stones And the stories if if a story can get Millions of people to fight for it Um it not only survives it spreads it Can take over the world the other side Of the coin Is that the stories are uh not really

Alive because they don't feel anything This goes back to the question of Consciousness which I think is the most Important thing that The Ultimate Reality Is consciousness is the ability to feel Things if you want to know whether the Hero of some story is real or not you Need to ask can it suffer Um stories don't feel anything Countries which are also stories Nations Don't suffer if a nation loses a war it Doesn't suffer the soldiers suffer the Civilians suffer animals can suffer you Have an army with horses and whatever And the horses get wounded the horses Suffer the nation can't suffer it's just In a it's just an imagination it's just A fictional story in our mind He doesn't feel anything similarly when A bank goes bankrupt or a company goes Bankrupt or when a Currency loses its value like Bitcoin is Worth now zero crashed or the dollar is Worth zero it crashed the dollar doesn't Feel anything It's the people holding the dollars who Might be now very miserable So we have this Complex situation when history is Largely driven by stories But stories are not the Ultimate Reality The Ultimate Reality is is feeling Feelings of humans of animals and the

Tragedy of History Is it very very often we get it we get The order wrong stories are not bad Stories are tools They are good when we use them in order To alleviate suffering But very often we forget it We instead of using the stories for our Purposes we allow the stories to use us For their purposes and then you start in Tile Wars because of a story you inflict Millions uh suffering on millions of People just for the sake of a story and That's the tragedy of human history so The fundamental property of life Of a living organism is the capacity to Feel and the the ultimate feeling is Suffering you know to The question Yeah but when you suffer you know yes And also in in ethical terms it's more Important to be aware of sufferings than Of any other emotion if you're doing Something which is causing all kinds of Emo all kinds of emotions to all kinds Of people first of all you need to Notice if you're causing a lot of Suffering to someone If some people are like it and some People are bothered by it and some People are a bit angry in you and some People are suffering because of what you Do you first of all have to know oh Now sometimes you still have to do it

You know the world is a complicated Place I don't know you have an epidemic Uh governments decide to have all that Social isolation regulations or whatever So in certain cases yes you need to do It even though it can cause tremendous Suffering but you need to be very aware Of the cost and to be very very you have To ask yourself again and again and Again is it worth it is it still worth It And uh the interesting questionnaire Implied in your statements is that Suffering is a pretty good component of A touring test for Consciousness this is The most important thing to ask about AI Can can suffer Mine can suffer then it is an ethical Subject and it needs protection it needs Rights just like humans and animals well Quite a long time ago already so I work With a lot of robots legged robots but I've even had inspired by a YouTube Video I had a bunch of roombas and I Made them scream when I touched them or Kick them or when they run into a wall And The uh the illusion of suffering from For me silly human anthropomorphizes Things is as powerful as suffering Itself I mean you you immediately Think the thing is suffering and I think Uh some of it is just a technical Problem but it's the easy easily

Solvable one how to create an AI system That just says please don't hurt me Please don't shut me off I miss you Uh where have you been be jealous also What what Where have you been gone for so long Your calendar doesn't have anything on It so this kind of this this create Through words The perception of uh of suffering of Jealousy of Anger of all those things And it just seems like that's not so Difficult to do that's part of the Danger that um It basically hacks our operating system And it uses some of our best qualities Against us it's very very good that Humans are attuned to suffering and that We don't want to cause suffering that we Have compassion that's one of the most Wonderful thing about humans and if we Now create AIS which use this to Manipulate us this is a terrible thing You've kind of I think mentioned this uh Do you think it should be illegal To to do these kinds of things with AI To create the perception of Consciousness of saying please don't Leave me or sort of basically Um simulate some of the human-like Qualities yes I think again we have to Be very careful about it and uh and if It if it emerges Spontaneously we need to be careful and

We can't rule out the possibility that AI will develop Consciousness we don't Know enough about Consciousness to be Sure so if it develops spontaneously we Need to be uh uh to to Um be very careful about how we Understand it but if people Intentionally design an AI that they Know they assume it has no consciousness But in order to manipulate people They use again this human strength this Human uh the the noble part of our Nature against us this should be should Be forbidden and similarly a more General level that it should be Forbidden for an AI to pretend to be a Human being That it's okay you know there's so many Things we can use AIS as teachers as Doctors and so forth and it's good as Long as we know that we are interacting With an AI we should the same way we ban Fake money we should ban fake humans It's not just Banning deep fakes of Specific individuals It's also Banning deep fake of generic Humans You know which is already happening to Some extent on social media like if you Have lots of bots retweeting something Then you have the impression oh lots of People are interested in that that's Important And this is basically the Bots

Pretending to be humans because if you See a twit which says 500 people Retwitted it or you you see a a tweet And it says 500 Bots which would delete I don't care what the parts we created But if it's humans okay that's that's Interesting so we need to be very Careful that Bots can't do that they are Doing it at present and it should be Banned now some people say yes but we Know of expression no Bots don't have Freedom of expression There is no cost in terms of freedom of Expression when you ban Bots So again in some situations yes AIS Should interact with us but it should be Very clear this is an AI talking to you Oh this is an AI retweeting this story It is not a human being making a Conscious decision to push back on this Line of fake humans because I think it Might be a spectrum first of all you Might have ai systems that are offended Uh hurt when you say that they're fake Humans Um in fact they might start identifying As humans and and you just talked about The power of us humans with our Collective intelligence to take fake Stories and make them quite real And so if the feelings you have for the Fake human is real Uh you know love is a kind of fake thing That we all kind of

Put a word to a set of feelings what if You have that feeling for an AI system It starts to change I mean maybe uh The kind of things AI systems are Allowed to do for good they're allowed To Uh create Communicate suffering communicate it the Good stuff the longing the the hope the Connection the intimacy all of that Um and in that way get integrated in our Society and then you start to ask a Question on Are we allowed to really unplug them are We allowed to really censor them remove Them remove their voice I'm not saying Social media they shouldn't have a voice They shouldn't talk with that I'm just Saying when they talk with us it should Be clear that they are AI That's it don't you can have your voice As an AI again I mean I I have some Medical problem I want to get advice From an AI doctor that's fine as long as I know that I'm talking with an AI that What should be banned is AI pretending To be a human being this is something That will erode trust and without trust Society collapses this is something that Especially will endanger democracies Because democracies are built on Democracy is a conversation basically And it's a conversation between people

If you're not flood the public sphere With millions and potentially billions Of AI agents that can hold conversations They never sleep they never eat they Don't have emotions of their own they Can get to know you and tailor their Words specifically for you and your life Story they are uh becoming better than Us at creating stories and uh ideas and So forth if you flood the Public's fair With that this will ruin the Conversation between people it will ruin The trust between people that's you will No longer be able to have a democracy in This situation you can have other types Of regimes but no democracy if we could Talk about the big philosophical notion Of truth then Um You've already talked about these the Capacity of humans one of the things That made us special is um Stories So Is there such thing as truth Absolutely What is true when somebody's suffering That's true I mean this is why one of The things when you talk about suffering Is a kind of Ultimate Reality when Somebody suffers that is truth now Somebody can suffer because of a Fictional story like somebody tells People that God said you must go on this

Crusade and kill these Heretics and this Is a completely fictional story and People believe it and they start a war And they destroy cities and kill people The people that suffer because of that And even the Crusaders themselves that Also suffer the consequences of what They do the suffering is true even Though it is caused by a fictional story Similarly when people agree On certain rules The rules could come out of our Imagination Now we can be truthful about it and say These rules didn't come from Heaven they Came from our imagination you know we Look at sports so we have rules for the Game of football soccer They were invented by people nobody at Least very few people claim that the Rules of football came down from heaven Yes we invented them and this is Truthful they are fictional rules Invented by humans and this is true they Were invented by humans and when you are Honest about it it enables you to change The rules which is being done in Football every now and then it's the Same with the fundamental rules of a Country you can pretend that the rules Came down from heaven dictated by God or Whatever and then you can't change them Or you can be like you know the American Constitution which starts with with the

People the American Constitution lays Down certain rules for a society but the Amazing thing about it it does not Pretend to come from an external Source The Ten Commandments start with I am Your lord God And because it starts with that you Can't change them You know uh the tenth commandment for Instance supports slavery the tenth Commandment in the Ten Commandment it Says that you should not covet your Neighbor's house or your neighbor's wife Or your neighbors slaves It's okay to hold slaves according to The Ten Commandment it's just bad to to Covet the slaves of your neighbor now There is no 11th commandment which says If you don't like some of the previous Ten commandments this is how you go About amending them which is why we Still have them unchanged now in the U.S Constitution you have all these uh Rights and rules including originally The ability to hold slaves but the Genius of the founding fathers of the United States they had the humility To understand maybe we we don't Understand everything maybe we made some Mistakes so we tell you that these rules Did not come from Heaven they came from Us humans we may have made a mistake so Here is a mechanism for how future Generations can amend the Constitution

Which was used later on to for instance Amend the Constitution to ban slavery So now you're describing some Interesting and powerful ideas Throughout human history can you just Speak to the mechanism of how humans Believe Start to believe ideas is there Something interesting to say there from Your thinking about it Hot like how idea is born and how it Takes hold and how it spreads and how it Competes with other ideas first of all Ideas are an independent force in History Marxists tend to deny that marxists Think that all history is just a play of Of material interests And ideas stories they are just a smoke Screen to hide the underlying interests My thoughts are to some extent the Opposite We have some biological objective Interests that all humans share like we Need to eat We need to drink we need to breathe But most conflicts in history are not About that The interests which really Drive most Conflict in history don't come from Biology they come from religions and Ideologies and stories so it's not that Stories are small smoke screen to hide The real interests the stories create

The interests in the first place the Stories Define who are the competing Groups Nations religions cultures they are not Biological entities they are not like Species like gorillas and chimpanzees no Israelis and Palestinians or Germans and French or Chinese and Americans they Have no essential biological difference Between them the difference is cultural It comes from stories there are people That believe in different stories the Stories create the identity the stories Create the interests Israelis and Palestinians are fighting over Jerusalem Not because of any material interest There are no oil fields under Jerusalem And even oil you need it to realize some Cultural fantasy it doesn't really come From biology So the stories are independent forces Now why do people believe one story and Not another That's History there is no Material materialistic law people will Always believe this no history is full Of accidents how did Christianity become The most successful uh religion in the World we can't explain it So why why this story about Jesus of Nazareth and not you know the Roman Empire in the third Century uh CE uh was A bit like I don't know California today Like so many sects and subjects and Gurus and Reliance like everybody has

Their own thing yeah and you have you Know thousands of different stories Competing why did Christianity come up On top as a historian I don't have a Kind of clear answer you can read the Sauces and you see how it it happens oh This happened and then this happened and Then Constantine adopted it and then This and then this but why I don't think anybody has an as an Answer to that if you rewind the movie Of history and press play and you rewind And let's pray press play a hundred Times I think Christianity would take Over the Roman Empire in the world maybe Twice out of a hundred times it was such An unlikely thing to happen And it's the same with Islam it's the Same I don't know it's the Communist Takeover of Russia In 1914 if you told people that in three Years Landing in the Bolsheviks will Gain power in that sourest Empire they Would think you're utterly crazy You know Lenin had a few thousand Supporters in 1914 in an Empire of close To 200 million people It sounded ludicrous Now we know the chain of events The first world war the February Revolution and so forth that led to the Communist takeover but it was such an Unlikely event And it happened and the Little Steps

Along the way the little options you Have along the way because you know Stalin versus Trotsky you could have the Rubber Frost poem there's always And history often takes you know there Is a Highway and there is a kind of Sideway and history takes the sideways Many many times and is perhaps tempting To tell some of that history through Charismatic leaders and maybe it's an Open question How much power charismatic leaders have To affect the trajectory of History You've met quite a lot of charismatic Leaders lately I mean what's your view On that I find it a compelling notion I'm a sucker for a great speech and a Vision so I I have a sense that there's An importance uh for a leader To catalyze the viral spread of a story As so like I think we need leaders to be Just great storytellers Um that kind of sharpen up the story to Make sure it infiltrates everybody's Brain effectively but uh it could also Be that The local interactions between humans is Even more important it's just we don't Have a good way to sort of summarize That and describe that We like to talk about you know Steve Jobs as Central to the development of The computer maybe Bill Gates you you You tell it to the stories of

Individuals like this because it's just Easier to tell a sexy story that way Maybe it's an interplay because you have The kind of structural forces That I know you look you look at the Geography of the planet and you look at Shipping technology in late in the late 15th century in Europe and the Mediterranean and it's almost inevitable That pretty quickly somebody would Discover America somebody from the old World will go to the New World Uh so this was not the kind of this Didn't if it wasn't Columbus then it Would have been a five years later Somebody else but The key thing about history is that These small differences make a huge huge Difference You know if if it wasn't Columbus if it Was five years later somebody from England then maybe all of Latin America Today would be speaking English and not Spanish if it was somebody from the Ottoman Empire it's completely different World history if you have and you know The Ottoman Empire at that time was also Shaping up to be a major Maritime Empire If you have America uh uh Rich being Reached by Muslim Navigators before Christian Navigators from Europe you Have a completely different world History It's the same as the computer

Given them economic incentives and the Science and Technology of the time then The the rise of the personal computer Was probably inevitable sometime in the Late 20th century but the where and when Is crucial the fact that it was California in the 1970s and not say I Don't know Japan in the 1980s of China In the 1990s this made a huge huge Difference so you have this interplay Between the structural forces which are Beyond the control of any single Charismatic leader but then the the Small changes they can have a big effect And I think for instance about the war In Ukraine there was a moment now it's Now it's a struggle between nations But there was a moment when the decision Was taken in the mind of a single Individual of Vladimir Putin and he Could have decided otherwise and the the The world would look completely Different And another leader Volare zalanski could Have decided to leave Kiev in the early Days there's a lot of decisions to kind Of Ripple yeah I see you right in Homer There's about Hitler And uh In part that he was not a very Impressive person I say that The quote is let me read it okay uh he

Wasn't a senior officer in four years of War he rose no higher than the rank of Corporal he had no formal education Perhaps you mean his resume yeah his Resume was not impressive he had no Formal education no professional skills No political background he wasn't a Successful businessman or a union Activist he didn't have friends or Relatives in high places nor any money To speak of uh so how did uh he amass so Much power What ideology what circumstances enabled The rise of the Third Reich The why I can tell you the how I don't think it Was inevitable I think that a few if a Few things were different there would Have been no no Third Reich that would Have been no Nazism no no Holocaust Again this is the tragedy if it would Have been inevitable then you know what Can you do this is the the laws of of History or the laws of physics but the Tragedy is no it was Decisions by humans That led to that direction And you know even from the Viewpoint of Of the Germans Um we know for for a fact it was an Unnecessary path to take because you Know in the 1920s and 30s the Nazis said That Um this unless Germany take this road it Will never be prosperous it will never

Be successful all the other countries Will keep stepping on it this was their Their their uh claim and we know for a Fact this is this is false why because They took that road They lost the Second World War And after they lost then they became one Of the most prosperous countries in the World because their enemies that Defeated them evidently supported them And allowed them to become such a Prosperous successful Nation so you know If you can lose the war and still be so Successful obviously you could just have Script the war you didn't need it I mean You really had to have the war in order To have a prosperous Germany in the United States absolutely not and it's The same with Japan it's the same as Italy So um uh it was not inevitable it was Not the forces of history that Necessitated it follows Germany to take Uh this path I think part of it is part of the appeal Of of again history was a very very Skillful storyteller Sold people a story the fact that he was Nobody Made it even more effective because People at that time they after the Defeat of the of the first world war After the repeated economic crisis of The 1920s in Germany people felt

Betrayed by all the uh established Elites by all the established Institutions all all these professors And politicians and industrialists and Military all the big people they led us To a disastrous War they led us to Humiliation so we don't want any of them And then you have this nobody A Corporal with no money with no Education with no titles with nothing And it tells people I'm one of you And this made him this was one reason Why he was so popular And then the story he told When you look at stories at the Competition between different stories And between stories fiction and the Truth The truth has two big problems The truth tends to be complicated and The truth tends to be painful The real story of let's talk about Nations the real story of every nation Is complicated And it contains some painful episodes we Are not always good we sometimes do bad Things now if you go to people and you Tell them a complicated and painful Story many of them don't want to listen The advantage of fiction is that it can Be made as simple And as painless or attractive as you Want it to be because it's fiction And then what you see is that

Politicians like Hitler they create a Very simple story we are the heroes we Always do good things everybody is Against us everybody is trying to to to Trample us and Um this is very attractive one of the Things people don't understand about Nazism and fascism we teach in schools About Fascism and Nazism as this Ultimate Evil the ultimate monster in Human history and Some level this is this is wrong Because it make people Um it actually exposes us why because People hear of fascism is this monster And then when you hear the actual Fascist story what fascists tell you Is always very beautiful and attractive Fascists are people who come and tell You you are wonderful You belong to the most wonderful group Of people in the world you're beautiful You are ethical everything you do is Good you have never done anything wrong That all these evil monsters out there That are out to get you and they are Causing all the problems in the world And when people hear that you know it's Like looking in the mirror And seeing something very beautiful hey I'm beautiful I've we've never done Anything wrong we are victims everybody Is again and and when you look and you Heard in school that fascism that

Fascists are monsters and you look in The mirror you see something very Beautiful and you say I can't be a Fascist because fascists are monsters And this is so beautiful so it can't be But When you look in the fascist mirror you All you never see a monster you see the Most beautiful thing in the world And that's the danger this is the Problem you know with Hollywood's you Know I look at Voldemort in Harry Potter Who would like to follow this this creep Yeah and you look at Darth Vader this is Not somebody you would like to follow Christianity got things much better when He described the devil as being very Beautiful and attractive That's the danger That you see something is very beautiful You don't understand the monster Underneath And you write precisely about this and By the way it's just a smaller side It um it always saddens me when people Say how obvious it is to them that Communism is a flawed ideology When you ask them Try to put your mind try to put yourself In the beginning of the 20th century and See what you would do a lot of people Will say it's obvious that it's a flawed Ideology so um I mean as opposed to some Of the worst ideologies in human history

You could say the same and in that Mirror when you look it looks beautiful Communism is the same also you look in The Communist mirror you're the most Ethical wonderful place a person ever It's very difficult to see Stalin Underneath it so yeah in holidays you Also write during the 19th and 20th Centuries as humanism gained increasing Social credibility and political power It sprouted two very different offshoots Socialist humanism which encompassed a Plethora of socialist and communist Movements and evolutionary humanism Whose most famous Advocates were the Nazis so if you can just Linger on that What's the ideological connection Between Nazism and communism as embodied By humanism And humanism basically is you know the Focus is on humans that they are the Most important thing in the world they Move history But then there is a big question what is What are humans what is humanity Now liberals They place at the center of the story Individual humans and they don't see History as a kind of necessary Collision Between big forces they place the Individual at the center if you want to Know you know there is a bed Especially in the US today liberal is Taking taken as the opposite of

Conservative But it's to test whether you're liberal You need to answer just three questions Very simple uh do you think people Should have the right to choose their Own government or uh the government Should be imposed by some outside force Uh do you think people should have the Right to the Liberty To choose their own profession or either Born into some cause that predetermines What they do and do you think people Should have the Liberty to choose their Own spouse and their own way of personal Life instead of being told by Elders or Parents who to marry and how to live Now if you answered yes to all three Questions people should have the Liberty To choose their government their Profession their personal lives their Spouse then you're a liberal And most conservatives are also liberal Now Communists and fascists they answer Differently For them history is not yes history is About humans humans are the big heroes Of history but not individual humans and Their liberties Fascists imagine history as a clash Between races or nations the nation is At the center They say the Supreme good is the good of The nation you should have a hundred Percent loyalty only to the nation

You know liberals say yes you should be Loyal to the nation but it's not the Only thing There are other things in the world the Human rights there is truth there is Beauty Many times yes you should prefer the Interests of your nation over other Things but not always If your nation tells you to murder Millions of innocent people you don't do That even though the nation tells you to Do it Um when to to lie for the national Interest you know in extreme situations Maybe but in many cases your loyalty Should be to the truth even if it makes Your nation looks a bit not in the best Light the same with beauty you know how Does the fascist determine whether a Movie is a good movie very simple if it Serves the interest of the nation this Is a good movie if it's against the Interest of the nation this is a bad Movie end of story liberalism says no There is a aesthetic values in the world Uh we should judge movies not just on That question whether they serve the National interest but also on autistic Value Communists are a bit like the fascists Instead that they don't place the nation At the main Euro they Place class as the Main hero for them history again it's

Not about individuals it's not about Nations history is the clash between Classes and just as fascists imagine in The end only one nation will be on top The Communists think in the end only one Class should be on top and that's the The proletariat and same story The your A hundred percent of your loyalty should Be to the class And like if you if there is a clash There between class and family class Wins like in the Soviet Union the party Told children if you hear your parents Say something bad about Stalin you have To report them and there are many cases When children reported their parents and Their parents were sent to the gulag Like and you know your loyalty is to the Party to the which leads the proletariat To victory in the historical struggle In the same way in communism art is only About class struggle a movie is good if It serves the interest of the target Artistic values there is nothing like That and the same with truth The everything that we see now in fake News uh you know the Communist Propaganda machine was there before us The level of of of of lies of this Information campaigns that they Orchestrated in the 1920s and 30s and 40s is is really an unimaginable So the reason these two ideologies Classes of ideologies failed is the

Sacrifice of Truth And that just failed but did a lot of Damage is to sacrifice the truth and Sacrifice of beauty and sacrifice of Hundreds of millions of people disregard And for human suffering like okay for in Order to for our nation to win in order For our class to win we need to kill Those Millions kill those Millions that Was in ethics Aesthetics uh truth they Don't measure the only thing that matter Is the victory of the state or the Victory of the class and that and Liberalism was the antithesis to that it Says no not only it's uh it it it has a Much more complicated view of the world And growth communism and fascists they Are the very simple view of the world There is one uh uh your loyalty 100 of It should be only to one thing Now liberalism has a much more complex View of the world it says yes there are Nations they are important yes there are Classes they are important but they are Not the only thing there are also Families there also Um individuals there are also animals And your loyalty should be divided Between all of them sometimes you prefer This sometimes you prefer that that's Complicated And but you know life is complicated but Also I think uh maybe you can correct me But liberalism acknowledges the

Corrupting nature of power when there's A guy at the top sits there for a while Managing things uh is probably gonna Start losing Um a good sense of reality and Losing the capability to be a good Manager it feels like the uh Communists And uh fascist regimes don't acknowledge That basic uh characteristic of human Nature that power corrupts yes they Believe in infallibility yeah uh they're In in this sense they're very close to Being a religions The in Nazism Hitler was considered Infallible and therefore you don't need Any checks and balances on his power why Do you need to balance an infallible Genius and it's the same with the Soviet Union in style with Stalin and more Generally with the with the Communist Party The Party can never make a mistake And therefore you don't need independent Quotes Independent Media opposition Parties things like that because then Party is never wrong you concentrate Some way a hundred percent of loyalty Should be to the party a hundred percent Of power should be in the hands of the Party the whole idea of liberal Democracy is embracing fallibility Everybody is fallible all people or Leaders or political parties or Institutions this is why we need checks And balances and we need many of them if

You have just one then this particular Check itself could make terrible Mistakes so you need to say a a you need A press You need the media to serve as a check To the government you don't have just One newspaper or one TV station you need Many So that they can balance each other and The media is not enough so if you have Independent codes you have three Academic institutions you have ngos you Have a lot of checks and balances So that's the ideologies and the leaders What about the individual people the Millions of people that play a part in All of this That uh Are the hosts of the stories that are The the Catalyst and the sort of the the Components of how the story spreads uh Would you say that all of us are capable Of spreading any story Sort of the this Soldier knitson Idea of um that all of us are capable of Good and Evil the the line between good And evil runs the heart of every man Yes I wouldn't say that every person is Capable of every type of evil But we are all valuable There is a large element it partly Depends on the efforts we make to Develop our self-awareness during life Uh part of it depends on moral luck

You know if you are born as a Christian German Uh in the 1910s OR 1920s and you grow up In Nazi Germany that's bad moral luck Your chances of committing terrible Things you have a very high chance of Doing it and you can withstand it but it Will take tremendous effort if you're Born in Germany after the war you're Morally lucky the you will not be put to To such a test you will not need to Exert this enormous efforts not to Commit atrocities So there isn't this is just part of History there there is an element of Luck but again part of it is also Self-awareness And you asked me earlier about uh the The potential of power to corrupt and I Listened to the interview you just did With prime minister Netanyahu a couple Of days ago and one of the things that Most struck me during the interview that You asked him You asked him are you afraid of of this Thing that that power corrupts he didn't Think for a single second he didn't pose He didn't admit a tiny little uh level Of of you know a doubt of no power Doesn't corrupt It was for me it was it was a shocking And in a revealing uh uh moment and it Kind of dovetails with how you began the Interview

That I really liked your opening Gambit That kind of you no really you kind of Told him you know lots of people in the World are angry with you they some People hate you they they dislike you What do you want to to to to tell to Tell them to say to them and you gave Him this kind of platform and Um I I was very what will he say and he Just denied it It basically denied it you know he had To cut show the interview from three Hours to one hour because you had Hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the Streets demonstrating against him and he Goes and say no everybody likes me what Were you talking about Uh but on that topic you've said Recently that Um the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu May go down in history as the man who Destroys Israel can you explain what you Mean by that Yes I mean he is basically tearing apart The social contract that held this Country together for 75 years he is Destroying the foundations of Israeli Democracy you know I don't want to go Too deep and unless you want to because I guess most of our listeners they have Bigger issues on their minds than the Fate of some small country in the Middle East but for those who want to Understand what's happening in Israel

There is really just one question to ask What limits the power of the government In the United States for instance There are a lot of checks and balances That limit the power of the government Um you have the Supreme Court you have The Senate you have the House of Representative you have the president uh You have the Constitution you have 50 States each state with its own Constitution and Supreme Court and uh uh Congress and Governor if somebody wants To pass a dangerous legislation say in The house it will have to go through so Many obstacles like if you want to pass A law in the United States taking away Voting rights from Jews or from Muslims Or from African Americans even if it Passes even if it has a majority in the House of Representatives it is a very Very very small chance of becoming the Law of the country because it will have To pass again through the Senate through The president for the Supreme Court and All the federal structure In Israel we have just a single check on The power of the government and that's The Supreme Court There is really no difference between The government and the legislature Because whoever there is there are no Separate elections like in the U.S if You win majority in the knesset in the Parliament you appoint the government

That's very simple and if you have 61 Members of knesset who vote let's say on A low to take away voting rights from Arab citizens of Israel there is a Single check that can prevent it from From becoming the law of the land and That's a Supreme Court And now the Nathaniel government is Trying to neutralize or take over the Supreme Court and they've already Prepared a long list of laws they Already talk about it What will happen the moment that this Last check on the power is gone They are openly trying to gain unlimited Power And they openly talk about it that once They have it Then they will take away the rights of Arabs of LGBT people of women of secular Jews and this is why you have hundreds Of thousands of people in the streets You have aeroforce Pilots saying we we Are stop we stop Flying This is unheard of in Israel I mean we Are still living under existential Threat From Iran from other enemies and in the Middle of this you have Air Force pilots Who dedicated their lives to protecting The country and they are saying that's It if this government doesn't stop what It is doing we stop Flying So as you said uh I just did the

Interview and as we were doing the Interview there's protests in the Streets do you think the protests will Have an effect I I hope so very much I I'm going to Many of these protests I I hope they Will have an effect uh if we fail this Is the end of Israeli democracy probably Uh this will have repercussions far Beyond the borders of Israel Israel is a Nuclear power Israel is uh uh has one of The most advanced cyber capable Capabilities in the world able to strike Basically anywhere in the world Uh if this country becomes a Fundamentalist and militarist Dictatorship It can set fire to the entire Middle East it can have this stabilizing Effects long uh far beyond the the Borders of of Israel so you think Without the check on power it's possible That the Netanyahu government holds on The power nobody tries to gain unlimited Power just for nothing I mean you have so many problems in Israel again Netanyahu talks so much About Iran and the Palestinians and Hezbollah we have an economic crisis why Is it so urgent at this moment in the Face of such a position why is it so Crucial for them To neutralize the Supreme Court they are Just doing it for the fun of it no they

Know what they are doing they are they Are adamant we are not sure of it before There was a like a couple of months ago They came out with this plan to take Over the Supreme Court to have all these Laws and there are hundreds of thousands In people in the streets again soldiers Saying they will stop serving a general Strike in the economy and they stopped And they started a process of Negotiations Uh to try and enrich a settlement And then they broke down they they they Stopped the negotiations and they Restarted this process of our Legislation trying to gain unlimited Power So any doubt we had before okay maybe They changed their purposes no it's now Very clear they are 100 focused on Gaining absolute power They are not trying a different tactic Previously they took they had all these Dozens of laws that they wanted to pass Very quickly within a month or two They realize no this is there is too Much opposition so now they're doing What is known as salami tactics slice by Slice now they're trying to one low if This succeeds then they'll pass the next One and the next one and the next one This is why we are now at a very crucial Moment and when you see again hundreds Of thousands of people in the streets

Almost every day when you seem Resistance within the Armed Forces Within the security forces you see high Tech companies saying we will go on Strike you know it's our private Businesses Hide the companies that's I think it's Almost unprecedented for private Business to go on strike because what do We what will uh economic success benefit Us if we live under a Messianic Dictatorship and again the fuel for this Whole thing is to a large extent coming From Messianic religious groups Um which just the thought what happens If these people have unlimited control Of new of Israel's nuclear Arsenal and Israel's military capabilities and cyber Capabilities this is very very scary not Just for the citizens of Israel it Should be scary from for people Everywhere So it's it would be scary for it to uh Go from being a problem of security and Protecting the piece to becoming a Religious War it is already becoming a Religious warming the war the conflict With the Palestinians was for many years And National conflict in essence over The last A few years maybe a decade or two it is Morphing into a religious conflict which Is again a very worrying development When nations are in Conflict you can

Reach them compromise okay you have this Bit of land we have this bit of land but When it becomes a religious conflict Between fundamentalists between Messianic people compromise is becomes Much more difficult because you don't Compromise on eternity You don't compromise on God Uh and and this is where we are heading Right now So I know you said it's a small nation Somewhere in the Middle East But it also happens to be the epicenter Of one of the longest running one of the Most tense conflicts and crises in human History So at the very least it serves as a Study of how conflict can be resolved so What are the biggest obstacles to you Uh to achieving peace in this part of The world Motivation I think it's easy to achieve Peace if you have the motivation on Wealth on both sides unfortunately the Present uh juncture there is not enough Motivation on either side either the Palestinian or Israeli studying peace You know in mathematics you have Problems without Solutions you can prove Mathematically that this mathematical Problem has no solution In politics there is no such thing all Problems have Solutions if you have the Motivation

And but motivation is the big problem And again we can go into the reasons why But the fact is that on neither side is There enough motivation if there was Motivation the solution would have been Easy is there an important distinction To draw between the people on the street And the leaders In power in terms of motivation so Are most people Uh motivated and hoping for peace and The leaders are motivated and Incentivized to continue War I don't Think so or the people also I think it's It's a deep problem it's also the people It's not just the leaders is it even a Human problem of literally hate in People's heart yeah there is a lot of Hate one of the things that happened in Israel over the last Um 10 years or so Israel became much Stronger than it was before largely Thanks to technological development And it feels that it no longer needs to Compromise That and this is there are many reasons For it but some of them are Technological uh being one of the Leading Powers in cyber in AI in in high tech We have developed a very sophisticated Ways to more easily control the Palestinian population In the early 2000s it seemed that it is

Becoming impossible to control millions Of people against the will it took too Much power it spilled too much blood on Both sides Uh so there was an impression oh this is Becoming untenable And there are several reasons why it Changed but one of them was new Technology Israel developed very sophisticated Surveillance technology That has made it much easier For Israeli Security Forces to control 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank against their will Uh with a lot less effort less boots on The ground also less blood And Israel is also now exporting this Technology to many other regimes around The world Um again I heard Netanyahu speaking About all the wonderful things that Israel is exporting to the world and It's true we are exporting some nice Things Water systems and and to make new kinds Of tomatoes we are also exposing a lot Of weapons and especially uh Surveillance systems sometimes to Unsavory regimes in order to control Their populations Can you comment on um I think you've Mentioned that the current state of Affairs is the de facto three class

State can you describe what you mean by That yes for many years the kind of The israeli-palestinian conflict is the Two-state solution can you describe what That means by the way yes two states Um within between the Jordan River and The Mediterranean will have two states Uh Israeli Israel as a predominantly Jewish State and Palestine as a Predominantly Palestinian state Uh again into a lot of discussions where The Border passes what happens with Security Arrangement and whatever but This was the big solution Israel is Basically abandoned the two-state Solution maybe they don't say so Officially the people in power but in Terms of how they actually what they do On the ground they abandoned it now they Are effectively promoting the three Class uh solution which means there is Just one country and one government and One power between the Mediterranean and The Jordan River but you have three Classes of people living there you have Jews who enjoy full rights all the Rights you have some Arabs who are Israeli citizens and have some rights And then you have the other Arabs the Third class who have basically no civil Rights and limited human rights and that That's again nobody would openly speak About it But effectively this is the reality on

The ground already so there's many and I'll speak with them Palestinians who Characterize this as a de facto one State apartheid Is it do you agree with this I would Take issue with the term apart I Generally speaking as a historian I I Don't really like historical analogies Because there are always differences key Differences the biggest difference Between the situation here and the Situation in South Africa in the time of The apartheid is that Um the black South Africans did not deny The existence of South Africa and did Not call for the destruction of South Africa they had a very simple uh Um goal they had a very simple demand uh We want to be equal citizens of this Country that's it And the apartheid regime was no you Can't be equal citizens now in Israel in Israel Palestine it's different the Palestinians many of them don't Recognize the existence of Israel don't Are not willing to to recognize it and They don't demand to be citizens of Israel They demand Um some of them to destroy it and Replace it with the Palestinian State Some of them demand a separate state but Uh you know if the Palestinians would Adopt the same policy

As the black South Africans if you have The Palestinians coming and saying okay Forget about it we don't want to destroy Israel we don't know a Palestinian Country we have a very simple request Very simple demand give us our full Rights we also want to vote to the Knesset we also want to get the full Protection of the law that's it that's Our only demand Israel will be in deep Deep trouble at that moment Uh but we are not there I wonder if there will ever be a future When such a thing happens where Everybody the majority of people Um Arab and Jew Israeli and Palestinian Accept the one state solution and say we Want equal rights Never Say Never in history uh it's not Coming anytime soon from either side When you look at the long term of Historian One of the curious things you've seen And that's what makes us different human Groups from animal species you know Gorillas and chimpanzees they are Separate species they can never merge Cats and dogs will never merge but Different National and religious groups In history even when they hate each Other surprisingly they sometimes End by Merging if you look at Germany for Instance so for centuries you had Prussians and bavarians and Saxons who

Fought each other ferociously and hated Each other and they are sometimes also Of different religions Catholics Protestants you know the worst war in European history according to some Measures was not the second world war or The first world war it was the 30 Years War which largely on German soil between Germans Protestants and Catholics but Eventually they United to form a single Country you saw the same thing I don't Know in Britain English and Scots for Centuries hated and fought each other Ferociously eventually coming together Maybe they'll break up again I don't Know But the power of of the kind of forces Of merger in history you are very often Influenced by the people you fight by The people you even hate more than by Almost anybody else So if we apply those ideas The ideas of this part of the world to Another part of the world that's Currently in war Russia and Ukraine from what you learned Here how do you think peace can be Achieved In Ukraine Oh this can be achieved any moment it's Motivation in this case it's just one Person you just putting just need to say That's it you know the ukrainians they Don't demand anything from Russia just

Go home that's the only thing they want They don't want to conquer any bit of Russian territory they don't want to Change the regime in Moscow nothing they Just tell the Russians go home that's it And of course again motivation how do You get somebody like Putin to admit That he made a colossal mistake a human Mistake an ethical mistake a political Mistake in installing this war this is Very very difficult but in in terms of What is this what would the solution Look like very simple the Russians go Home end of the end of story Do you believe in the power conversation Between leaders To sit down Human beings And agree first of all what home means Because we humans draw lines that's true I believe in the power of conversation The big question to ask is where where Do conversations real conversations take Place and this is tricky one of the Interesting things to ask about any Conflict about any political system is Where do the real conversations take Place and very often they don't play Take place in the places you think that They are but think about American Politics when the country was founded in The late 18th century people understood Holding conversation between leaders is Very important for the functioning of

Democracy will create a place for that That's called Congress This is where leaders are supposed to Meet and talk about the main issues of The day maybe there was a time Sometime in the past when this actually Happened when you had two Factions holding different ideas about Foreign policy or economic policy and I Met in Congress and somebody would come And give a speech and the people on my Own on the other side would say hey That's interesting I haven't thought About it yes maybe we can agree on that This is no longer happening in Congress Nobody I don't think there is any speech In Congress that causes anybody on the Other side to change their opinion about Anything So this is no longer a place where real Conversations take place The big question about American Democracy is is there a place where real Conversations which actually change People's minds still take place if not Then this democracy is dying also Democracy without conversation cannot Exist for long and it's the same Question you should ask also about Dictatorial regimes like you think about Russia or China so China has the Great Hall of the people And will the representatives the Supposed representative of the People

Meet every now and then but no real Conversation takes place there A key question to ask about the Chinese System is behind closed doors let's say In a public Bureau meeting do people Have a real conversation if Xi Jinping Says one thing and some other big shot Thinks differently will they have the Courage the ability the backbone to say With all due respect I think differently And there is a real conversation Or not I don't know the answer but this Is a key question This is the difference you know between A a a an authoritarian regime can still Have different voices within it But at a certain point you have a Personality cult nobody dares say Anything against the leader And when it comes again to Ukrainian Russia I don't think that if you get uh If you somehow manage to get Putin in Zelenski to the same room when everybody Knows that they are there and they They'll have a moment of of empathy or Human connection and they have no I Don't think it can happen like that I do hope that there are other spaces Where somebody like Putin can still have A real human conversation I don't know If this is the case I I hope so well There's several interesting Dynamics and You spoke to some of them so one is Internally with advisors you have to

Have hope that there's people that would Disagree that would uh have a lively Debate internally then there's also uh The thing you mentioned which is direct Communication between Putin and zelenski In private picking up a phone Rotary phone old school that's I I still Believe in the power of that but what's Uh while that's exceptionally difficult In the current state of affairs what's Also possible to have as a mediator like The United States or some other leader Uh like like the leader of Israel or the Leader of another Nation that's Respected uh by both or India for Example that can have first of all Individual conversations and then Literally get into a room together It is possible I More generally about conversations is It goes back a little to what I said Earlier about the Marxist view of History One of the problematic things I see Today in in many academic circles is That people focus too much on power They think that the whole of history of The whole of politics is just a power Structure it's just struggle about power Now if you think That the whole of history and the Hall Of politics is only Power Then there is no room for conversation Because if what you have is a struggle

Between different powerful interests There is no point talking the only thing That changes it is is fighting Um my view is that no it's not all about Power structures it's not all about Power dynamics underneath the power Structure there are stories Stories in human mind And this is great new if it's true this Is good news Because unlike power that can only be Changed through fighting Stories can sometimes it's not easy but Sometimes stories can be changed through Talking And that's the hope I think you know in Everything from couple therapy to Nation Therapy If you think it's power therapy it's all About power there is no there is no Place for a conversation But if to some extent it's the stories In people's minds if you can enable one Person to see the story in the in the Mind of another person and more Importantly if you can have some kind of Of critical distance from the story in Your own mind and maybe you can change It a little and then you don't need to Fight You can actually find a better story That you can both agree to It sometimes happens in history you know Again French and Germans vote for

Generations and generations Uh now they live in peace not because I Don't know they found a new planet they Can share between France and Germany so Now everybody has enough territory no They actually have less territory than Previously because they lost all their Overseas Empires but they managed to Find a story the European story that Both Germans and French people are happy With so they live in peace I very much believe in this Vision that You have of the power of stories and one Of the tools is conversations another is Books uh there's some guy that wrote a Book about this power stories he happens To be sitting in front of me and that Happened to spread across a lot of People now they believe in the power Story uh and narrative even even a Children's book too so the kids I mean It's fascinating how that's Spreads I mean if underneath your work There's an optimism And I think underneath conversations is What I try to do is an optimism that It's not just about power it struggles It's about stories which is like a Connection between humans and together Kind of uh evolving these stories that Maximize hap or minimize suffering in The world And this is why I'm going to talk with some of the most

Difficult characters around in the world Today Um and with with this basic belief that By talking maybe we can move them an Inch Which is a lot when it comes to people With with so much power like I think one Of the biggest success stories in in Modern history I would say is is Feminism Uh because feminism believed uh in the Power of stories not so much in the Power of violence of armed conflict by Many measures feminism has been maybe The most successful social movement of The 20th century and maybe of the Modern Age You know the systems of Oppression which Were in place throughout the world for Thousands of years and they seem to be Just natural Eternal you had all these religious Movements all these political Revolutions and one thing would remain Constant and this is the patriarchal System and the operation of women And then feminism came along and Um you know you had leaders like Lenin Like Mao saying that if you want to make A big social change you must use Violence power comes from the bowel of The gun of a gun if you want to make an Omelet you need to break eggs and all These things

And the family said no We won't use the power of the gun We will make an omelet without breaking Any eggs And they made a much better omelette Than Lenin or Mao or any of these Violent revolutionaries I don't think You know that they that they certainly Didn't start any wars or built any Gulags I don't think they even murdered A single politician I don't think there Was any political assassination anywhere But but by feminists there was a lot of Violence against them Both verbal but also physical and they Didn't reply by waging violence and they Succeeded In changing this deep In a a structure of of Oppression In a way which benefited not just women But also men So um this gives me hope that it's not Easy in many cases we fail but it is Possible sometimes in history to make a Very very big change positive change uh Mainly by talking and demonstrating and Changing the story in people people's Minds and not by using violence it's Fascinating that feminism and communism And all these things happen in the 20th Century so many interesting things Happen in the 20th century so many Movements so many ideas nuclear weapons All of it computers it's just like it

Seems like a lot of stuff like really Quickly percolated and it's accelerating It's still accelerating I mean history Is just accelerating you know for Centuries and the 20th century you know You we squeezed into it things that Previously took thousands of years and Now I mean we are squeezing it into Decades and you very well could be one Of the last historians human historians To have ever lived Could be I I think you know our species Homo sapiens I don't think we'll be Around in a century or two we could Destroy ourselves In a nuclear war through ecological Collapse uh by giving too much power to AI that goes out out of our control But if we survive we'll probably have so Much power that we will change ourselves Using various Technologies uh so that Our descendants will no longer be Homo Sapiens like us they will be more Different from us than we are different From Neanderthals Um so maybe they'll have historians but It will no longer be human historians or Sapiens historians like me I think it's an extremely dangerous uh Development and the chances that this Will go wrong that will this will you People will use the new technologies Trying to upgrade humans but actually Downgrading them this is a very very big

Danger if you let corporations and Armies and ruthless politicians Uh change humans using tools like Ai and Bioengineering It's very likely that they will try to Enhance a few human qualities that they Need Like intelligence and discipline While neglecting What are potentially more important Human qualities like compassion Like artistic sensitivity like Spirituality if you give Putin for Instance Bioengineering and Ai and brain computer Interfaces he is likely to want to Create a race of our super soldiers Who are much more intelligent and much More stronger and also much more Disciplined and never Rebel and March on Moscow against him but there's no Interest in making them more Compassionate or more spiritual So the end result could be a a a new Type of humans a downgraded humans who Are highly intelligent and disciplined But have no compassion and no spiritual Depth and this is one for me this is you Know the dystopia the Apocalypse That when people talk about the new Technologies and they have this scenario Of you know the Terminator robots Running in the street shooting people This is not what worries me I think we

Can avoid that what really worries me is Using the the corporations armies Politicians will use the new Technologies To change us in a way which will destroy Our Humanity or the best parts of our Humanity and one of those ways could be Removing the compassion another way that Really worries me for me is probably More likely is a Brave New World kind of Thing that uh Sort of removes the flaws of humans Maybe it removes the diversity in humans And makes us all kind of uh these Dopamine chasing creatures that just Kind of maximize enjoyment in the short Term Which kind of Seems like a good thing maybe in the Short term but it's it creates a society That doesn't think that doesn't create That just is sitting there enjoying Itself at a more and more rapid pace Which uh seems like another kind of Society that could be easily controlled By a centralized Center of power but the Set of dystopias that we could arrive at Through this Um Through allowing corporations to modify Humans is uh uh is vast and we should be Worried about that so it's it seems like Humans are Pretty good as we are all the flaws all

Of it together we are better than Anything that we can intentionally Design at present yeah like any Intentionally designed humans at the Present moment Is going to be much much worse than us Because basically we don't understand Ourselves I mean as long as we don't Understand our brain our body our mind It's a very very bad idea to start Manipulating A system that you don't Understand deeply and we don't Understand ourselves So I have to ask you about an Interesting Dynamic of stories you wrote An article two years ago titled when the World seems like one big conspiracy How understanding the structure of Global cabal theories Can Shed light on Their Allure and their inherent Falsehood What are Global cabal theories and why Do so many people believe them 37 of Americans for example well the the Global cabal Theory it has many Variations but basically there is a Small group of people a small cabal that Secretly controls everything that is Happening in the world all the Wars all The revolutions all the epidemics Everything that is happening is Controlled by this very small group of People who are of course evil and have Bad intentions

And this is this is a very well-known Story that it's not new it's been there For thousands of years it's very Attractive Uh because first of all it's simple You don't you don't have to understand Everything that happens in the world you Just need to understand one thing though In Ukraine the Israeli Palestinian Conflict 5G technology covid-19 it's Simple there is this Global cabal they Do only all of it and also it enables You uh to shift all the responsibility To all the bad things that is that are Happening in the world to this small Cabal it's the Jews it's the Freemason It's not us And also it creates it it creates this Fantasy utopian fantasy if we only get Rid of the small cabal we solved all the Problems of the world salvation The Israeli Palestinian conflict the one Ukraine the epidemics poverty everything Is solved just by knocking out this Small cabal so and it's simple it's Attractive and this is why so many People believe it Um it's again it's not new Nazism was Exactly this Nazism began as a Conspiracy theory we don't call Nazism a Conspiracy theory because oh it's a big Thing it's an ideology But if you look at it it's a conspiracy Theory the basic Nazi idea was that Jews

Control the world get rid of the Jews You solved all the world's problems now The interesting thing about these kind Of theories again they tell you that Even things that look to be the opposite Of each other actually they are part of The conspiracy So in the case of Nazism the Nazis told People you know you have capitalism and Communism you think that they are Opposite right ah this is what the Jews Want you to think actually the Jews Control both communism Trotsky marks or Jews blah blah blah and capitalism wrote The Rothschild the Wall Street it's all Controlled by the Jews so the Jews are Fooling everybody but actually the Communists and the capitalists are part Of the same global cabal And again this is very attractive Because ah now I understand everything And I also know what to do I just give Power to Hitler he gets rid of the Jews I solved all the problems of the world Now as a historian the most important Thing I can say about these theories They are never right Because the global cabal Theory says two Things first everything is controlled by A very small number of people secondly These people hide themselves they do it In secret now both things are nonsense It's impossible for people to control a Small group of people to control and

Predict everything because the world is Too complicated you know you look at a Real world conspiracy conspiracy is Basically just a plan think about the American invasion of of Iraq in 2003 You had the most powerful superpower in The world With the biggest military with the Biggest intelligence services with the Most sophisticated you know the FBI and The CIA and all the agents they invade a Third rate Country Third Rate power Iraq with this Idea we'll take over Iraq and we will Control it we'll make a new order in the Middle East and everything falls apart Their plan completely backfires Everything they hope to achieve they Achieve the opposite America United States is humiliated they cause the rise Of Isis they wanted to take out Terrorism they created more terrorism Worst of all the big winner of the war Was Iran You know the United States goes to war With all its power and gives Iran A victory on a silver plate the Iranians Don't need to do anything the Americans Are doing everything for them Now this is real history Real History is When you have it's not a small group of People a lot of people with a lot of Power carefully planning something And it goes completely out of uh against

Their plan and this we know from Personal experience like every time we Need we try to plan something a birthday Party a surprise birthday party a trip Somewhere things go wrong this is Reality so the idea that a small group Of I don't know the Jewish cabal the Freemasons whoever they can really Control and predict all the wars this is Nonsense the second thing that is Nonsense is to think they can do that And still remain Secret It sometimes happens in history that a Small group of people accumulates a lot Of power if I now now tell you that Xinjin ping and the hands of the CCP the Chinese Communist party they have a lot Of power they control the military the Media are the economy the University of China this is not a conspiracy theory This this is obviously everybody knows It everybody knows it because to gain so Much power You need you usually need publicity Hitler could not Hitler gained a lot of Power in Nazi Germany because he had a Lot of publicity if Hitler remained Unknown working behind the scenes he Would not gain power So the way to gain power is usually Through publicity so secret cabals don't Gain power and even if you gain a lot of Power nobody has the kind of power Necessary to predict and control

Everything that happens in the world Every all the time happens that you Did not predict and you did not plan and You did not control The sad thing is there's usually an Explanation for everything you just said That involves a Secret Global cabal that the reason your Vacation planning always goes wrong is Because you're not competent there is a Competent small group That Ultra competent small group I hear This with intelligence agencies the CIA Are running everything Mossad is running Everything you see I mean as a historian You get to know how many blunders these People do all they are so and they're Capable but they are so incompetent in So many ways again look at the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Before the War People thought oh Putin was such a Genius and the Russian army was one of The strongest armies in the world this Is what Putin thought and it completely Backfired was there a cabal explanation There would be there's a a nato-driven United States military industrial Complex that wants to create chaos and So they can't put the gun to put his Hand and told him Vladimir if you don't Invade we should we shoot you how did They cause put into Infinity it's the Thing about conspiracy theories is There's usually a way to explain

Everything it's not religion For everything Integrity if you insist on whenever People confronted with evidence with Finding some very very complicated Explanation for that too you can explain Everything we know that it's a question Of of of intellectual integrity and I Also say another thing Um The conspiracy theories they do get one Thing right certainly in today's world I think they represent an authentic and Justified fear of a lot of people that They are losing control of their lives They don't understand what is happening And this is I think is a is not just a Legitimate fear this is an important Fear they are right we are losing Control of Our Lives we are facing Really big dangers but not from a small Cabal of fellow humans The problem with many of these Conspiracy theories that yes we have a Problem with a new AI technology But if you now direct the fire against Certain people So instead of all humans cooperating Against our real common threats whether It's the rise of AI whether it's a Global warming you're only causing us to Fight each other And I think that the key question that People who spread these ideas I mean

Many of them they honestly believe it's Not malicious that they honestly believe In in these theories is do you want to Spread to spend your life spreading hate Uh towards people or do you want to work On more constructive projects I think One of the big differences between those Who believe in conspiracy theories and People who Warn about the dangers of AI the dangers Of climate change Um we don't see certain humans as evil And hateful the problem isn't humans the Problem is uh something outside Humanity Yes humans are contributed contributing To the problem but ultimately the enemy Is external to humanity whereas Conspiracy theories usually claim that a Certain part of humanity is the source Of all evil which leads them to Eventually think in terms of Exterminating Uh this part of humanity Which uh which leads sometimes to Historical disasters like Nazism so it Can lead to hey but can also lead to a Like cynicism apathy that basically says It's not in my power to make the world Better so you don't actually take action I think it is within the power of every Individual to make the world a little Bit better you know you can't do Everything don't try to do everything Find one thing in your areas of activity

A place where you have some agency and Try to do that and hope that other People do their bit and if everybody do Their bit will will manage and if if we Don't we don't but at least we try You have been part of conspiracy Theories I find myself recently Uh becoming part of conspiracy theories Is there a device you can give Of how to be a human being in this world That values truth and reason while Watching yourself become part of Conspiracy theories at least from my Perspective it seems very difficult To prove to the world that you're not Part of a conspiracy theory I as you Said have interviewed Benjamin Netanyahu Recently I don't know if you're aware But doing such things will also uh you Know pick up a new menu of items that Your new set of conspiracy theories You're now a part of and I find it very Frustrating because it Makes it very difficult to respond Because I sense that people have the Right intentions like we said they have Uh nervousness of Fear of power and the abuses of power And uh As do I so I find myself in a difficult Position that I have nothing to show to Prove that I'm not part of such a Conspiracy theory I think ultimately you Can't we can't I mean

Um you know it's like proving Consciousness that you can't just that's Just the situation whatever you say can And will be used against you by some People yeah uh so this fantasy if I only Say this if I only show them that if I Only have this data they will see I'm Okay it doesn't work like that Um I think to to keep your sanity in This situation Uh first of all it's it's important to Understand that most of these people are Not evil they are not doing it on Purpose many of them really believe that Uh there is some very nefarious powerful Conspiracy which is causing a lot of Harm in the world and they are doing a Good thing by exposing it and and making People aware of it and trying to stop it If you think that you're surrounded by Evil you're falling into the same Rabbit Hole you're falling into the same Paranoid State of Mind oh the world is Full of these evil people that no most Of them are good people Um and also I think we can empathize uh With some of the key ideas there which I Share That uh yes it's becoming more and more Difficult to understand what is Happening in the world There are huge dangers in the world that We are existential dangers to the human Species but they don't come from a small

Cabal of Jews or gay people or feminists Or whatever Um they come from much more diffused Forces which are not under the control Of any single individual We don't have to look for the evil People We need to look for human allies in Order to work together against again the Dangers of AI the dangers of Bioengineering the dangers of climate Change and When you wake up in the morning the Question is do you want to spend your Day spreading hatred or do you want to Spend spend your day trying to make Allies and work together Let me ask you kind of a big Philosophical question about Ai and and The threat of it uh let's look like at The threat side so folks like Elias Yadkowski worry that AI might Kill all of us Do you worry about that range of Possibilities where artificial Intelligence systems In a variety of ways might Destroy human civilization Yes you know I I talk a lot about it About the dangers of AI I sometimes get Into trouble because I depict these Scenarios of how AI becoming very Dangerous and then people say that I'm Encouraging these scenarios but I'm I'm

You know I'm talking about it as a Warning I'm not so terrified of the Simplistic idea again the Terminator Scenario of robots running in the street Shooting everybody I'm more worried about AI accumulating More and more power and basically taking Over Society based taking over our lives Taking power away from us until we don't Understand what is happening and we lose Control of our lives and of the future The two most important things to realize About AI you know so many things are Being said now about AI but I think There are two things that every person Should know about AI First is that AI is the First Tool in History that can make decisions by Itself All previous Tools in history couldn't Make decisions this is why they Empowered us you invent a knife you Invent an atom bomb the atom bomb cannot Decide to start a war cannot decide Which city to own AI can make decisions by itself An autonomous weapon systems can decide By themselves who to kill who to bomb The second thing is that AI is the First Tool in history that can create new Ideas by itself The printing press could print our ideas But could not create new ideas AI can Create new ideas entirely by itself

This is unprecedented therefore it is The first technology in history that Instead of giving power to humans it Takes power away from us And the danger is that if it will Increasingly take more and more power From us Until we are left helpless and clueless About what is happening in the world and This is already beginning to happen in An accelerated R Pace more and more Decisions about our lives whether to Give us a loan whether to give us a Mortgage whether to give us a job or Taking by Ai and more and more of the Ideas of the images of the stories that Surround us and shape our our minds our World our produced or created by AI not By human beings if you can just Linger On that what is the danger of that that More and more of the creative Side Is done by AI the idea generation Is it that we become stale in our Thinking is that that idea generation is So fundamental to like the evolution of Humanity that we can't resist the idea Is to to resist an idea you need to have Some some vision of of the creative Process yeah now this is a very old fear Um you go back to Plato's Cave Some of this idea that people are Sitting chained in a cave and seeing Shadows on a screen on a wall and

Thinking this is reality You go back to to the cart and he has This thought experiment of the of the Demon and Descartes asks himself how do I know that any of this is real maybe There is a demon who is creating all of This and is basically enslaving Me by Surrounding me with these Illusions you Go back to Buddha it's the same question What if we are living in a world of Illusions and because we have been Living in it throughout our lives all Our ideas or our desires how do we Understand ourselves this is all the Product of the same illusions And this was a big philosophical Question for thousands of years now it's Becoming a practical question of Engineering because previously all the Ideas as far as we know maybe we are Living inside a computer simulation of Intelligent Rats from the planet Zircon If that's the case we don't know about It but taking what we do know about Human history until now all the again Stories images paintings songs operas Theater everything we've encountered and Shaped our minds was created by humans Now increasingly we live in a world Where more and more of these cultural Artifacts will be coming from an alien Intelligence Very quickly we might reach a point when Most

Of the story stories images songs TV Shows whatever are created by an alien Intelligence And Um if we now find ourselves inside this Kind of world of illusions Created by an alien intelligence that we Don't understand but it understands us This is a kind of you know spiritual Enslavement that we won't be able to Break out of because it understands us It understands how to manipulate us but We don't understand What is behind this screen of stories And images and and songs So if there's a set of AI systems that Are operating in a space of ideas They're far superior to ours and we're Not almost able to it's it's opaque to Us we're not able to see through how Does that change the um The Pursuit of Happiness the human Pursuit of happiness life where do we Get joy If there were surrounded by AI systems That are doing most of the cool things Humans do much better than us You know some of the things it's okay That the AIS would do them many human Tasks and jobs Um you know it's it's the the drudgery They are not fun they are not developing I will ask emotionally or spiritually It's fine if the robots take over

I don't know I think about the people in Supermarkets or grocery stores that Spend hours every day just you know Passing uh items and and then charging You the money I mean if this can be Automated wonderful We need to make sure that these people Uh then have better jobs uh uh better Means of supporting themselves and Developing their social abilities their Spiritual abilities uh and and that That's the that's the ideal world that AI can create That it takes away from us the things That uh uh it's better if we don't do Them And allows us to focus on the most Important things and the deepest aspects Of of our nature of our potential If we give AI Control of the sphere of Ideas at this stage I think it's very Very dangerous because it doesn't Understand us and AI at present is mostly digesting the Products of human culture Everything we've produced over thousands Of years it eats all of these cultural Products digests it and starts producing Its own new stuff But we still still haven't figured out Ourselves in our bodies our brains our Minds our psychology Um so an AI based on our float Understanding of ourselves is a very

Dangerous thing I think that we need first of all to Keep developing ourselves If if for every dollar and every minute That we spend on developing AI Artificial intelligence we spend another Dollar and another minute in developing Human consciousness the human mind will Be okay The danger is that we spend all our Effort on developing an AI at the time That we don't understand ourselves And then letting the AI take over that's That's a road to a human catastrophe Does that surprise you how well large Language models work I mean has it Modified your understanding of the Nature of intelligence yes I mean you Know I've been writing about AI for I know like eight years now And engage with all these predictions And speculations and when it actually Came it was much faster and more Powerful than I thought it would be Um I didn't think that we would have in 2023 an AI that can hold the Conversation that you can't know if it's A human being or an AI that can write Beautiful texts in telling I mean I I Read the texts written by AI And the thing that strikes me most is The coherence You know people think oh it's nothing That just takes ideas from here and

Their words from and putting no it's so Current I mean you read in not sentences You read paragraphs you read entire Texts and there is logic that there is a Structure not only go here and it's Convincing yes and the beautiful thing About it that has to do with your work It doesn't have to be true Gets facts wrong but it still is Convincing And it is both scary and beautiful yeah That our brains love language so much That we don't Need the facts to be correct we just Needed to be a beautiful story yeah and That's been the secret of politics and Religion for thousands of years and now It's coming with AI so you as a person Who has written some of the most Impactful words ever written in your Books uh how does that make you feel That you might be one of the last Effective human writers that's a good Question first of all do you think That's possible I think it is possible Um I I've seen a lot of examples of AI Being told right like Yuval no Harare And what it produces has it ever done Better than you think you could have Written yourself I mean on the level of content of ideas No there are things I say I would I Would never say that But when it comes to the you know I mean

There is again the currents and the Quality of writing is such That I say it's it's unbelievable how Good it is Yeah and who knows in 10 years in 20 Years maybe it can do better even on in According to certain measures of on the Level of of content So that people would be able to do like A style transfer to uh in the style of Yuval no Harare right anything right why I should have ice cream tonight And and make it convinced I don't know If I have anything convincing to say About this I think you'll be surprised I Think you'd be surprised there could be An evolutionary biology explanation for Why yeah ice cream is good for you yeah So I mean uh I mean that changes the nature of Writing ultimately I I think it it goes Back Um Much of of my writing Is suspicious of itself I write stories About the danger of stories I write About intelligence but highlighting the Dangers of intelligence ultimately I Don't think that in terms of power Human power comes from intelligence and From stories but I think that the Deepest and best qualities of humans are Not Intelligence and not storytelling and

Not power again with all our power with All our cooperation with our Intelligence we are on the verge of Destroying ourselves and destroying much Of the ecosystem Our our best qualities are not there Our best qualities are non-verbal again They come from things like compassion From introspection and introspection for My experience is not verbal if you try To understand yourself with words you Will never succeed there is a a place Where you need the words But the deepest insights they don't come From words Um and you can't write about it that That's second it goes back to to Wittgenstein to Buddha to so many of These sages before that uh this these Are the things we are silent about Yeah but eventually you have to project It as a writer you have to Uh do the silent introspection but Projected onto a page yes but you still Have to warn people you will never find The deepest truth in a book you will Never find it in words Uh you can only find it in I think in Direct experience which is non-verbal Which is pretty verbal in the Silence of Your own mind yes somewhere in there yes Well let me ask you a silly question Then uh a ridiculously big question You have done a lot of deep thinking

About the world about yourself this kind Of introspection How do you think If You by way of advice but just Practically speaking day to day how do You think about difficult problems with The world First of all I take time off Like mother the the most important thing I do I think as a writer as a scientist that I meditate I spend about two hours every Day in silent meditation Observing as much as possible Non-verbally what is happening within Myself focusing you know Body Sensations The breath Thoughts keep coming up but I try not to Give them attention don't try to drive Them away just let them be there in the Background like some background noise Don't engage with the thoughts Because the mind is is constantly Producing stories with words these Stories come between us and the world They don't allow us to see ourselves or The world like for me the most shocking Thing when I started meditating like 23 Years ago I was given this simple exercise to just Observe my breath coming in and out of The nostrils Not controlling it just observing it and I couldn't do it for more than 10

Seconds I for 10 seconds would try to Notice oh now the breath is coming in It's coming in it's coming you know it Stopped coming in now it's going out Going out 10 seconds and some memory Would come some thought would come some Story about something that happened last Last week or 10 years ago or in the Future and it the story would hijack my Attention it would take me maybe five Minutes to remember oh I'm supposed to Be observing my my breath If I can't observe my own breath because Of these stories created by the mind how Can I hope to understand much more Complex things like the political Situation in Israel the Israeli Palestinian conflict the Russian Invasion of Ukraine if all these stories Keep coming I mean it's not the truth It's just the story your own mind Created so first thing train the mind to Be silent and just observe so two hours Every day and I go every year for a long Retreat between one month and two months 60 days of just Sonic meditation silent Meditation for 60 days yeah to train the Mind forget about your own stories just Observe what is really happening And then also on other throughout the Day Have an information diet People are today many people are very Aware of what they feed their body what

Enters their mouth mouth Be very aware of what you feed your mind What enters your mind having information Diet So for instance I read long books And I prefer like you know I do many Interviews I prefer three hours Interviews two five minutes interviews Uh the long format is in it's not always Feasible But you can go much much deeper Um so I would say an information diet be Very careful about what you feed your Mind give preference To big chunks over small uh books over Twitter yes books over Twitter Definitely And then you know when I encounter a Problem a difficult intellectual problem Then Um I give it I I let the problem lead it Lead me Where it goes and not where I want it to Go If I approach a problem with some Preconceived idea solution and then try To impose it on the problem and you know Just find confirmation bias just find The evidence that supports my view it's This is this is easy for the mind to do And you don't learn anything new Do you take notes do you start to Concretize your thoughts On paper

I read a lot I don't I don't usually I Don't take notes then I start writing And when I write I write like a torrent Just right now it's the time you read Meditation now it's the time to write Write don't stop just right so I would Write from memory And I'm I'm not afraid of formulating Say Big Ideas big theories and putting Them on paper The danger is once it's on paper not on Paper on the screen in the computer You get attached to it and then you Start with confirmation bias to build More and more layers around it and you Can't go back and then it's very Dangerous But I I trust myself that I have to some Extent the ability to press the delete Button the most important button in the Keyboard is delete yeah I I write and then I delete I write and Then I delete and because I trust myself That I'll have the every time I come to Press delete button I feel bad like it's A kind of pain I created this it's a Beautiful idea and I have to delete it But you're still brave enough to press Delete I try and hopefully I do it Enough times and this is important Because in the long term it enables me To play with ideas I have the confidence To start formulating Some Brave idea most of them turn out to

Be nonsense But I trust myself not to be accused not To be attached not to become attached to My own nonsense So it gives me this room for playfulness I will be amazing ask for people Interested in hearing you talk about Meditation if they want to start Meditating what advice would you give And how to start you mentioned you Couldn't hold it for you couldn't hold Your attention on your breath for longer Than 10 seconds yes first So how did they start on this journey First of all it's a difficult Journey It's not fun it's not recreational it's Not kind of time to relax it can be very Very intense the most difficult thing at Least in the meditation I practice uh Vipassana which I learned from a teacher Called Essen goenka the most difficult Thing is not the silence it's not the Sitting for long hours it's it's what Comes up Everything you don't want to know about Yourself yeah this is what comes up so It's very intense and difficult if you Go to a Meditation Retreat don't think You're going to relax So what's the experience for meditation And tree when everything you don't like Comes up first for 30 days it depends What comes up anger comes up you're Angry yeah for days on end you're just

Boiling with anger everything makes you Angry Again something that happens right now Or you remember something from 20 years Ago and you start boiling with it's like I I never even thought about this Incident but it's some it was somewhere Stowed with a huge huge Pile of anger attached to it and it's Now coming up and all the anger is Coming up maybe it's boredom You know 30 days of meditation you start getting Bored And it's the most boring thing in Suddenly no anger no it's the most Boring I I another second I scream I mean and boredom is one of the most Difficult thing to deal with in life I Think it's closely related to death Death is boring you know in many movies Death is exciting it's not exciting when You when he died ultimately it's it's Boredom nothing happens it's the end of Exciting things and many things in the World happen because of boredom to some Extent people start entire Wars because Of Bordeaux people quit relationships People quit jobs because of boredom and If you never learn how to deal with Boredom you will never learn how to Enjoy peace and quiet Because the way to peace passes through Boredom

And and from what I experience with Meditation I think But maybe it was the most difficult Maybe at least in the top three like Much more difficult to say than anger or Pain when pain comes up you feel heroic Hey I'm feeling pain When boredom comes up Brings it you know with depression and Feelings of worthlessness and it's Nothing I'm nothing The way the peace is through boredom uh David Foster Wallace said the key to Life is to be unborable Uh yeah it was just a different Perspective on what you're talking to is There truth to that yes I mean it's Closely related I would say like I look At the world today like Politics the one Thing we need more than anything else is Boring politicians We have a super abundance of very Exciting politicians who are doing and Saying very exciting things and we need Boring politicians and we need them Quickly and Yeah the weighty pieces through boredom That applies in more ways than one Um what advice would you give to young People Uh today in high school and college How to have a successful life how to Have a successful career what they Should know it's the first time in

History nobody has any idea how the World would look like in 10 years yeah Nobody has any idea how the world would Look like when you grow up you know Throughout history it was never possible To predict the future you live in the Middle Ages nobody knows maybe in 10 Years the Vikings will invade the Mongols will invade they'll be an Epidemic there'll be an earthquake who Knows but the basic structures of life Will not change Most people will still be peasants our Armies would fight on Horseback with Swords and and bows and arrows and Things like that So you could learn a lot from the wisdom Of your elders they've been there before And they knew what kind of basic skills You need to learn You most people need to learn how to sow Wheat and harvest wheat or rice and make Bread and build a house and ride the Host and things like that Now we have no idea not just about Politics We have no idea how the job market would Look like in 10 years we have no ideas No idea what skills will still be needed You you think you you're going to learn How to code because they'll need a lot Of coders in the 2030s think again maybe AI is doing all the coding you don't Need any coders

You're going to I don't know you learn To translate languages you want to be a Translator gone and you we don't know What skills will be needed So the most important skill is the skill To keep learning and keep changing Throughout our lives which is very very Difficult to keep Reinventing ourselves It's a deep again it's in a way a Spiritual practice To build your personality to build your Mind Very flat as a very flexible Mind If traditionally People thought about Education Like building a stone house with very Deep foundations Now it's more like setting up a tent That you can fold and move to the next Place very very quickly because that's The 21st century Which also raises questions about the The the future of Education what that Looks like yeah let me ask you about Love Um What were some of the challenges what Were some of the lessons uh about love About life that you learned from coming Out as gay hmm In many ways it goes back to the stories I think this is one of the

One of the reasons I became so Interested in stories and in their power Was I grew up in um Small Israeli town in the 1980s early 1990s which was very homophobic And I basically embraced it I I breathed It Because You could hardly even think Differently So you had these two powerful stories Around one that God hates gay people and That uh he will punish them if if they For who they are or for what they do Secondly that it's not God it's nature That there is something diseased or sick About it and these people maybe they are Not Sinners but uh they are they are Sick they are defective And nobody wanted to identify with such A thing if your options okay you can be A singer you can be a defect but what do You want uh not good options there And it took me many years till I was 21 To to come to term with it Um and one of the things I learned Through things first about the amazing Capacity of the human mind for denial And delusion That an algorithm could have told me That I'm gay when I was like 14 or 15. Like if there is a good looking guy and Girl walking I would immediately focus On the guy but I didn't I didn't I

Didn't connect the dots Like I could not understand what was Happening inside my own brain and my own Mind in my own body Took me a long time to realize you know You're just gay So that speaks as a power of social Convention versus uh individuals this is The power of self-delusion That you know it's not that I knew I was Gay and was hiding it I was hiding it From myself successfully that I I don't Understand how it is possible looking Back I don't understand how it is Possible but I know it is possible I Knew and didn't know at the same time And then the other big lesson is the Power of of the stories of the social Conventions because the stories were not True they did not make sense even on Their own terms even if you accept the Basic religious framework of the world That there is a good god that created Everything and controls everything why Would a good God Uh punish people for love I understand Why good God would punish people for Violence for hatred for cruelty but why Would God punish people for love Especially when he created them that way So of uh so even if you accept the Religious framework of the world Obviously the story that God hates gay People it comes not from God but from

Some Humans who invented this story they Take their own hatred this is something Humans do all the time They hate somebody and they say no I Don't hate them God hates them They throw their own hatred on God And then if you think about the Scientific framework that said that all Gays that they are against nature they Are against the laws of nature that they Are and so forth Science tells us nothing can exist Against the laws of nature Things that go against the laws of Nature just don't exist there is a law Of nature that you can't move faster Than the speed of light now you don't Have this minority of people who break The laws of nature by going faster than The speed of light and then nature comes Nah that's bad you shouldn't do that That's not how nature works if something Goes against the laws of nature it just Can't exist The fact that gay people exist me and Not just people you see homosexuality Among many many mammals and birds and Other animals It exists because it is in line with the Laws of nature The idea that this is sick that this is Whatever it comes not from nature it Comes from the human imagination Some people or for whatever reasons hate

It gay people they said oh they go Against nature But this is the story created by people This is not the laws of nature and this Taught me That so many of the things that we think Are natural or Eternal or Divine no they Are just human stories but these human Stories are often the most powerful Forces in the world So what did you learn from your just a Personal struggle Of um Journey Through the social conventions To find one of the things that makes Life awesome which is love So like hot what it takes to kind of Strip away the self-delusion and the Pressures of social convention to wake Up It takes a lot of work a lot of courage And a lot of help from other people You it's uh this kind of again heroic Idea that I can do it all by myself it Doesn't work Certainly with love you need at least One more person And I'm very happy that I I found ezek Who lived in the same small Israeli town We lived on two adjacent streets for Years probably went to school on the Same bus for years without really Encountering each other in the end we Met on one of the first dating sites on

The internet for for gay people in Israel in in 2002 you're saying the Internet works yes I you know I said a Lot of bad things or dangerous about Technology and the internet there are Also of course good things and this is Not an accident You have two kinds of minorities in History You have minorities which are are a Cohesive group like Jews that yes you're As small as being born Jewish in saying Germany or Russia or whatever you're Born in a small community but as a Jewish boy you're born to a Jewish Family you have Jewish parents you have Jewish siblings you are in a Jewish Neighborhood you have Jewish friends So these kinds of minorities they could Always come together and help each other Throughout history now another type of Minority like gay people or more broadly Lgbtq people That as a gay boy you're usually not Born to a gay family with gay parents And gay siblings and gain in a Neighborhood Um so usually you find yourself Completely alone For most of History one of the biggest Problems for the gay community was that There was no Community how do you find One another And the internet was a wonderful thing

In this respect because it made it very Easy for these kinds of diffuse Community so diffuse minorities to find Each other so me and it even though we Rode the same bus together to school for Years we didn't meet in the physical World we met online Because again in the physical world you Don't want to identify in a Israeli town In the 1980s you ride the bus you don't Want to say hey I'm gay is there anybody Else gay here that's not a good idea but On the internet we could find each other There's another lesson in there that Maybe sometimes the thing you're looking For is right under your nose yeah a very Old lesson and a very true Lesson in in many ways So so you need help from other people to To realize the truth about yourself so Of course in love you cannot just love Abstractly there is another person there You need to find them but also you know We were one of the first Generations who Enjoy the benefits of Gay Liberation of This very difficult struggles of people Who are much braver than us in the 1980s 1970s 1960s who dared to question uh Social conventions To uh struggle at sometimes a terrible Price and we benefited from it Um and more broadly we spoke earlier About the feminist movement there would Have been no Gay Liberation without the

Feminist movement we also owe them For you know starting to change the Gender structure of of the world And this is always true you can never do It just by yourself also I look at my Journey in meditation I could not have Found many I mean the idea of going to Meditation Retreat okay But I couldn't discover meditation time I couldn't develop the meditation Technique by myself somebody had to Teach me This way of how to look inside yourself And um I'm and it and it's also a very Important lesson that you can't do it Just by yourself that this fantasy of Complete autonomy of complete Self-sufficiency it doesn't work you Hear it tends to be a very kind of male Match of fantasy I don't need anybody I Can be so strong and so brave that I'll Do everything by myself it never works Me the friends you need a mentor You need the very thing that makes us Human is other is other humans Absolutely uh you mentioned that the Fear of boredom might be a kind of proxy For the fear of death uh so what role Does the fear of death play in The Human Condition are you afraid of death Yes I think everybody are afraid of Death I mean all our fears come out of The fear of death but the fear of death Is is just so deep and difficult we

Can't usually we can't face it directly So we cut it into little pieces and we Face just little pieces oh I lost my Smartphone that's a little little piece Of of the fear of death which is of Losing everything so I can't deal with Losing everything I'm dealing now is Losing my phone or losing a book or Whatever somebody I I I feel pain that's A small bit of the fear of death Somebody who really doesn't fear death Would not fear anything at all they'll Be like anything that happens I can deal With it if I can deal with death this is Nothing so any fears and as a distant Echo of the the big fear of death have You ever Looked at it head on caught glimpses Sort of contemplated as the stoics yes I Mean when when I was I I was a teenager I would constantly contemplate it trying To understand to imagine it it was Extreme it was a very very Uh shocking and moving experience I Remembered especially in connection like With you know with with national Ideology which was also very big strong In Israel still is Which again comes from the fear of death You know that you're going to die so you Said okay I die but the nation lives on I live on through the nation I don't Really die and Uh you hear it especially on Memorial

Day Day for fallen soldiers so every day They'll be in school Memorial Day for Fallen soldiers who fell defending Israel in all its different Wars and all These kids would count rest in white and You'll have this big ceremony with flags And songs and dances in memory of the Fallen Soldiers and you get the Impression Um again the sun crash but you get the Impression that the best thing in life Is to be a falling Soldier Because even though yes you die Everybody dies in the end but then You'll have all these cool kids for Years and years remembering you and Celebrating you and and you don't really Die and I remember standing in in these Ceremonies and thinking what does it Actually mean like okay so if I'm a Fallen soldier now I I I'm I'm a Skeleton I'm bones under this in this Military cemetery under this stone do I Actually hear the kids singing all these Patriotic songs if not how do I know They do it maybe they trick Me Maybe I Die in the war and then they don't sing Any songs and how does it help me and I Realize yeah as a quite I was quite Young at the time that if you're dead You can't hear anything because you That's the meaning of being dead and if You dead you can't think of anything Like oh now they're remembering because

You're dead that's the meaning of being Dead and it was a shocking realization But it's a really difficult realization To keep holding your mind like it's it's The end I lost it over time I mean for Many years it was a very powerful fuel Motivation yeah for philosophical for Spiritual exploration and I I realized That the fear of death is is really a Very powerful drive and over the years Especially as I meditated it kind of Dissipated and today I sometimes find Myself trying to recapture this teenage Fear of death because it was so powerful And I just can't I I try to make the Same image I don't know it's it's Something about the teenage years yeah I Always thought that the adults there is Something wrong with the adults yeah Because they don't get it like I would Ask my parents or teachers about it and They no yes you die in the end that's it But and on the other hand they are so Worried about other things like they'll Be a political crisis or an economic Problem or a personal problem like with The bank or whatever they'll be so Worried but then about the fact that They are going to die ah we don't care About it that's why you read kamu and Others when you're a teenager you really Worry about the existential questions Well this feels like the right time to Ask the big question what's the meaning

Of this whole thing Evol and you're the Right person to ask what's the meaning Of life yes oh that's easy what is it Um So what life is if you ask what the Meaning of life what life is Life is feeling things having Sensations Emotions and reacting to them when you Feel something good something pleasant You want more out of it you want more of It when you feel something unpleasant You want to get rid of it that's the Whole of life that's what is happening All the time you feel things you want The pleasant things to increase you want The unpleasant things to disappear that What life is If you ask what is the meaning of life In a more kind of philosophical or Spiritual question The real question to ask what kind of Answer do you expect Most people expect a story And that's always the wrong answer most People expect that the answer to the Question the mean what is the meaning of Life will be a story like a big drama That this is the plot line and this is Your role in the story this is what you Have to do this is your line in the big Play you say your line you do your thing You that that's the thing And this is human imagination this is Fantasy

Um to really understand life life is not A story the universe does not function Like a story So I think to really understand life you Need to observe it directly in a Non-verbal way don't turn it into a Story And the question to start with is what Is suffering what is causing suffering You know the the question what is the Meaning of life it will take you to Fantasies and delusions we want to stay With the reality of life and the most Important question about the reality of Life is what is suffering and where is It coming from and to answer that Non-verbally so the conscious experience Of suffering yes when you suffer Uh try to observe what is really Happening when you're suffering Well put and I wonder if AI will also go Through that same kind of process on This way if we develop Consciousness at Present it's it's not it's just words it Will just say to you please don't hurt Me at all Again Um as I've mentioned to you I'm a huge Fan of yours thank you for the Incredible work you do uh this Conversation's been a long time uh I Think coming it's it's a huge honor to Talk to you this is really fun thank you For talking today thank you

Um I I really enjoyed it and as I said I Think that the long form is the best Form Yeah I loved it thank you Thanks for listening to this Conversation on Yuval Noah Harare to Support this podcast please check out Our sponsors in the description and now Let me leave you some words from eval Noah himself How do you cause people to believe in an Imagined order such as Christianity Democracy or capitalism First you never admit that the order is Imagined Thank you for listening and hope to see You next time

Leave a Comment