‘Humanity’s key challenges: War, ecological collapse and tech disruption’

Yuval Noah Harari, best-selling author of Sapiens, discusses AI, future threats and nationalism, at the Penguin annual lecture in Mumbai.
’Famine was humanity’s greatest enemy... today, more people die due to terminal illness like cancer,’ Harari said.(Satyabrata Tripathy / HT Photo)
’Famine was humanity’s greatest enemy... today, more people die due to terminal illness like cancer,’ Harari said.(Satyabrata Tripathy / HT Photo)
Published on Dec 17, 2018 04:21 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByJayati Bhola

“Many jobs, if not all, may disappear by 2050,” said historian and bestselling Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari, delivering the 12th Penguin annual lecture in the city on Sunday. His talk explored the new challenges facing the 21st century.

Harari, the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and, more recently, of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, on Sunday, spoke on topics ranging from technology to war and the power of the human brain.

Hundreds turned up for the lecture, held at a suburban hotel. “Famine was humanity’s greatest enemy... today, more people die due to terminal illness like cancer,” Harari said.

The three main challenges of the 21st century, he added, are the return of war, ecological collapse and technological disruption. “Technology is now upgrading human beings into gods using artificial intelligence. But we still don’t have enough knowledge of the human body or brain to completely rely on AI to be able to trust the artificially created species,” he said.

Responding to a question on Trump, Brexit and growing nationalist movements around the world, he added that the ideas of being a nationalist and a globalist cannot contradict each other. “The only way to ensure a safer nation is by ensuring a safe world. Nationalism goes in hand with globalism.”

So what will 2050 look like? Our best bet, Harari said, is to focus on emotional intelligence and mental resilience, especially for the younger people. “That’s the education newer generations need to prepare for the future.”

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