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  • Chris Anderson: Hello. Welcome to this TED Dialogues.

  • It's the first of a series that's going to be done

  • in response to the current political upheaval.

  • I don't know about you;

  • I've become quite concerned about the growing divisiveness in this country

  • and in the world.

  • No one's listening to each other. Right?

  • They aren't.

  • I mean, it feels like we need a different kind of conversation,

  • one that's based on -- I don't know, on reason, listening, on understanding,

  • on a broader context.

  • That's at least what we're going to try in these TED Dialogues,

  • starting today.

  • And we couldn't have anyone with us

  • who I'd be more excited to kick this off.

  • This is a mind right here that thinks pretty much like no one else

  • on the planet, I would hasten to say.

  • I'm serious.

  • (Yuval Noah Harari laughs)

  • I'm serious.

  • He synthesizes history with underlying ideas

  • in a way that kind of takes your breath away.

  • So, some of you will know this book, "Sapiens."

  • Has anyone here read "Sapiens"?

  • (Applause)

  • I mean, I could not put it down.

  • The way that he tells the story of mankind

  • through big ideas that really make you think differently --

  • it's kind of amazing.

  • And here's the follow-up,

  • which I think is being published in the US next week.

  • YNH: Yeah, next week.

  • CA: "Homo Deus."

  • Now, this is the history of the next hundred years.

  • I've had a chance to read it.

  • It's extremely dramatic,

  • and I daresay, for some people, quite alarming.

  • It's a must-read.

  • And honestly, we couldn't have someone better to help

  • make sense of what on Earth is happening in the world right now.

  • So a warm welcome, please, to Yuval Noah Harari.

  • (Applause)

  • It's great to be joined by our friends on Facebook and around the Web.

  • Hello, Facebook.

  • And all of you, as I start asking questions of Yuval,

  • come up with your own questions,

  • and not necessarily about the political scandal du jour,

  • but about the broader understanding of: Where are we heading?

  • You ready? OK, we're going to go.

  • So here we are, Yuval:

  • New York City, 2017, there's a new president in power,

  • and shock waves rippling around the world.

  • What on Earth is happening?

  • YNH: I think the basic thing that happened

  • is that we have lost our story.

  • Humans think in stories,

  • and we try to make sense of the world by telling stories.

  • And for the last few decades,

  • we had a very simple and very attractive story

  • about what's happening in the world.

  • And the story said that, oh, what's happening is

  • that the economy is being globalized,

  • politics is being liberalized,

  • and the combination of the two will create paradise on Earth,

  • and we just need to keep on globalizing the economy

  • and liberalizing the political system,

  • and everything will be wonderful.

  • And 2016 is the moment

  • when a very large segment, even of the Western world,

  • stopped believing in this story.

  • For good or bad reasons -- it doesn't matter.

  • People stopped believing in the story,

  • and when you don't have a story, you don't understand what's happening.

  • CA: Part of you believes that that story was actually a very effective story.

  • It worked.

  • YNH: To some extent, yes.

  • According to some measurements,

  • we are now in the best time ever

  • for humankind.

  • Today, for the first time in history,

  • more people die from eating too much than from eating too little,

  • which is an amazing achievement.

  • (Laughter)

  • Also for the first time in history,

  • more people die from old age than from infectious diseases,

  • and violence is also down.

  • For the first time in history,

  • more people commit suicide than are killed by crime and terrorism

  • and war put together.

  • Statistically, you are your own worst enemy.

  • At least, of all the people in the world,

  • you are most likely to be killed by yourself --

  • (Laughter)

  • which is, again, very good news, compared --

  • (Laughter)

  • compared to the level of violence that we saw in previous eras.

  • CA: But this process of connecting the world

  • ended up with a large group of people kind of feeling left out,

  • and they've reacted.

  • And so we have this bombshell

  • that's sort of ripping through the whole system.

  • I mean, what do you make of what's happened?

  • It feels like the old way that people thought of politics,

  • the left-right divide, has been blown up and replaced.

  • How should we think of this?

  • YNH: Yeah, the old 20th-century political model of left versus right

  • is now largely irrelevant,

  • and the real divide today is between global and national,

  • global or local.

  • And you see it again all over the world

  • that this is now the main struggle.

  • We probably need completely new political models

  • and completely new ways of thinking about politics.

  • In essence, what you can say is that we now have global ecology,

  • we have a global economy but we have national politics,

  • and this doesn't work together.

  • This makes the political system ineffective,

  • because it has no control over the forces that shape our life.

  • And you have basically two solutions to this imbalance:

  • either de-globalize the economy and turn it back into a national economy,

  • or globalize the political system.

  • CA: So some, I guess many liberals out there

  • view Trump and his government as kind of irredeemably bad,

  • just awful in every way.

  • Do you see any underlying narrative or political philosophy in there

  • that is at least worth understanding?

  • How would you articulate that philosophy?

  • Is it just the philosophy of nationalism?

  • YNH: I think the underlying feeling or idea

  • is that the political system -- something is broken there.

  • It doesn't empower the ordinary person anymore.

  • It doesn't care so much about the ordinary person anymore,

  • and I think this diagnosis of the political disease is correct.

  • With regard to the answers, I am far less certain.

  • I think what we are seeing is the immediate human reaction:

  • if something doesn't work, let's go back.

  • And you see it all over the world,

  • that people, almost nobody in the political system today,

  • has any future-oriented vision of where humankind is going.

  • Almost everywhere, you see retrograde vision:

  • "Let's make America great again,"

  • like it was great -- I don't know -- in the '50s, in the '80s, sometime,

  • let's go back there.

  • And you go to Russia a hundred years after Lenin,

  • Putin's vision for the future

  • is basically, ah, let's go back to the Tsarist empire.

  • And in Israel, where I come from,

  • the hottest political vision of the present is:

  • "Let's build the temple again."

  • So let's go back 2,000 years backwards.

  • So people are thinking sometime in the past we've lost it,

  • and sometimes in the past, it's like you've lost your way in the city,

  • and you say OK, let's go back to the point where I felt secure

  • and start again.

  • I don't think this can work,

  • but a lot of people, this is their gut instinct.

  • CA: But why couldn't it work?

  • "America First" is a very appealing slogan in many ways.

  • Patriotism is, in many ways, a very noble thing.

  • It's played a role in promoting cooperation

  • among large numbers of people.

  • Why couldn't you have a world organized in countries,

  • all of which put themselves first?

  • YNH: For many centuries, even thousands of years,

  • patriotism worked quite well.

  • Of course, it led to wars an so forth,

  • but we shouldn't focus too much on the bad.

  • There are also many, many positive things about patriotism,

  • and the ability to have a large number of people

  • care about each other,

  • sympathize with one another,

  • and come together for collective action.

  • If you go back to the first nations,

  • so, thousands of years ago,

  • the people who lived along the Yellow River in China --

  • it was many, many different tribes

  • and they all depended on the river for survival and for prosperity,

  • but all of them also suffered from periodical floods

  • and periodical droughts.

  • And no tribe could really do anything about it,

  • because each of them controlled just a tiny section of the river.

  • And then in a long and complicated process,

  • the tribes coalesced together to form the Chinese nation,

  • which controlled the entire Yellow River

  • and had the ability to bring hundreds of thousands of people together

  • to build dams and canals and regulate the river

  • and prevent the worst floods and droughts

  • and raise the level of prosperity for everybody.

  • And this worked in many places around the world.

  • But in the 21st century,

  • technology is changing all that in a fundamental way.

  • We are now living -- all people in the world --

  • are living alongside the same cyber river,

  • and no single nation can regulate this river by itself.

  • We are all living together on a single planet,

  • which is threatened by our own actions.

  • And if you don't have some kind of global cooperation,

  • nationalism is just not on the right level to tackle the problems,

  • whether it's climate change or whether it's technological disruption.

  • CA: So it was a beautiful idea

  • in a world where most of the action, most of the issues,

  • took place on national scale,

  • but your argument is that the issues that matter most today

  • no longer take place on a national scale but on a global scale.

  • YNH: Exactly. All the major problems of the world today

  • are global in essence,

  • and they cannot be solved

  • unless through some kind of global cooperation.

  • It's not just climate change,

  • which is, like, the most obvious example people give.

  • I think more in terms of technological disruption.

  • If you think about, for example, artificial intelligence,

  • over the next 20, 30 years

  • pushing hundreds of millions of people out of the job market --

  • this is a problem on a global level.

  • It will disrupt the economy of all the countries.

  • And similarly, if you think about, say, bioengineering

  • and people being afraid of conducting,

  • I don't know, genetic engineering research in humans,

  • it won't help if just a single country, let's say the US,

  • outlaws all genetic experiments in humans,

  • but China or North Korea continues to do it.

  • So the US cannot solve it by itself,

  • and very quickly, the pressure on the US to do the same will be immense

  • because we are talking about high-risk, high-gain technologies.

  • If somebody else is doing it, I can't allow myself to remain behind.

  • The only way to have regulations, effective regulations,

  • on things like genetic engineering,

  • is to have global regulations.

  • If you just have national regulations, nobody would like to stay behind.

  • CA: So this is really interesting.

  • It seems to me that this may be one key

  • to provoking at least a constructive conversation

  • between the different sides here,

  • because I think everyone can agree that the start point

  • of a lot of the anger that's propelled us to where we are

  • is because of the legitimate concerns about job loss.

  • Work is gone, a traditional way of life has gone,

  • and it's no wonder that people are furious about that.

  • And in general, they have blamed globalism, global elites,

  • for doing this to them without asking their permission,

  • and that seems like a legitimate complaint.

  • But what I hear you saying is that -- so a key question is:

  • What is the real cause of job loss, both now and going forward?

  • To the extent that it's about globalism,

  • then the right response, yes, is to shut down borders

  • and keep people out and change trade agreements and so forth.

  • But you're saying, I think,

  • that actually the bigger cause of job loss is not going to be that at all.

  • It's going to originate in technological questions,

  • and we have no chance of solving that

  • unless we operate as a connected world.

  • YNH: Yeah, I think that,