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'Never underestimate human stupidity,' says famous historian Yuval Harari

The world is in the midst of a crisis of sorts with environmental issues topping the charts. Over the last few years, the spurt in natural disasters that have affected countries the world over has not been a good sign. Yet world leaders today seem to be unconcerned about addressing these pressing issues on a global footing. Instead, they would rather spend that time dwelling on the so-called ‘glorious past’ rather than planning something worthwhile for the future.

Renowned Israeli historian, Yuval Noah Harari, a tenured professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, spoke on these very same lines to CNBC’s Martin Soong in an interview in 2018. He said that one “should never underestimate human stupidity. It’s one of the most powerful forces in the world.”

He was speaking about the populist leaders and the growing concern that they were “selling people nostalgic fantasies about the past instead of real visions for the future.”

Harari emphasized that the world was faced with greater problems like climate change, nuclear war and technological disruption that transcended the boundaries of nationalism. He called upon leaders of the world to look beyond problems faced by their individual nations, and address these issues which required a broader understanding.

He said trusting humans or human leaders to do “what is best for humanity” wasn’t an easy thing to do as there was no certainty about their actions.

When he was asked about what lay in store for humanity with the advancement of various technologies, Harari replied that although these developments do have the capability to bring about a change in the world, as history has highlighted, they are “never deterministic” by themselves.

He said when the last big industrial revolution brought out new creations like electricity, television, and automobiles, “it didn’t tell us what to do with it.”

Hariri said that new technological advancements like biotechnology and artificial intelligence were still at a nascent stage and humanity could make an informed choice about how this technology will be used. The fact that the public is “quite ignorant about these issues,” makes things worse because academicians or experts who are more than aware of the adverse implications of misusing new technology are not in a position to regulate these new inventions.

“This is the job of the governments,” Harari said about controlling emerging technologies. However, he said that the governments had no real interest in these new developments in technology but chose to focus on “old problems.”
'Never underestimate human stupidity,' says famous historian Yuval Harari 'Never underestimate human stupidity,' says famous historian Yuval Harari Reviewed by Tim on March 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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