In Order To CHANGE YOUR LIFE In 2023, You Need To DO THESE 3 Things First! | Yuval Noah Harari | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "In Order To CHANGE YOUR LIFE In 2023, You Need To DO THESE 3 Things First! | Yuval Noah Harari".


Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Intro (00:00)

- You all know a Harari, welcome back to the show. - Thank you, it's good to be here again. - Dude, I'm very excited. This is a very strange time that we are living through. I wanna start with a quote of yours, which I think really captures the spirit of the moment. It is much worse psychologically to feel worthless than to feel exploited. So given what's happening in the world right now with things being automated, going to AI, what are three things, let's say, that people can do to make sure that they're poised to thrive in this time of massive change? - First of all, I mean, that's what everybody's saying, but it's true that you have to embrace change, that the idea that you can learn something in your youth, profession, a way of life, and it will just be there for the rest of your life, which was the situation for most of history.

Adjusting To Change And World View

Embracing change (00:30)

This is no longer the case. We have to keep learning and keep changing throughout our lives, otherwise we will be left behind. So that's one key principle related to that is that maybe the most important quality to survive and flourish in the 21st century is to have mental flexibility. Not just to keep learning and changing again and again, also to keep letting go. Part of what makes it difficult to learn new things that we hold on.

Mental flexibility (01:27)

Like, I spent so many years learning something and now the world has changed. And I just don't want to let go and letting go, maybe I'll give an example of how deep it goes. Like, it's not just what you learn in college or what you learned in kindergarten. It's even what you learned as a baby, as a toddler, like learning how to see or learning how to walk. And what does that mean, if I have to relearn how to see and walk? Well, as virtual reality improves, and you know, we've all the talk of the metaverse and so forth that we'll discuss later on, increasingly it's likely that there will be many more activities shifting from the physical, biological world that we know into a new reality, a virtual reality, which has different physical and biological laws. Even the laws of physics there are different. So whether you want to interact socially there, or maybe you have a job in virtual reality, in the metaverse, or maybe you design, you have a new job designing fashion, designing shirts for virtual reality, because people want to look good there. You need to forget how physics and light and gravity works here, because it works in a different way, in that reality. So just, what does it mean? Like, I'm now 46. Let's say I have a new job designing fashion for the metaverse. How can I at age 46 kind of forget what it means to see and learn from scratch? How to see things? - Are you optimistic that adults can do that? - Humans have an amazing ability to adapt and to change. You know, it's often said that AI is no near its full capabilities, but human beings too, no near their full capabilities. We really have no idea what we can still do, what our mind can still do. If you think about jobs again, so you know, the biggest change in the job market of the 20th century, looking at the previous century, it didn't come from any technological invention. It actually came from unlocking the potential of half the human species. Women, which were barred from so many jobs, because people thought they were incapable of doing that, and they didn't have the education and training and so forth. And the feminist revolution and the changes in general relations just completely changed the job market. And you didn't need to genetically engineer women's DNA or to kind of connect them to some new device. No, the potential to be presidents, to be judges, to be journalists, to be scientists was always there, but it wasn't tapped. And to a large extent, I hope we'll see something similar in the 21st century, that yes, we have all these new challenges, but we also have this amazing untapped potential within us. But this links to the third thing, which is we can't do it alone.

Individuals cant do it alone (04:58)

Like placing all-- - We can't do it alone, or individuals can't do it alone. - Individuals can't do it alone. Like placing all the responsibility on individuals, the world is changing, now it's your job to adapt, to change yourself, to learn, it doesn't work like that. It's too much for an individual to do just by themselves. We'll probably have, we'll require organizations, governments to step in, to make sure that people are not left behind. You know, just retraining people. You lose your old job to a computer or a robot or a self-driving vehicle. There are new jobs. I don't think there'll be a problem of just an absolute lack of jobs. All jobs disappear, but new jobs emerge. The really difficult thing will be the transition. And the transition, first of all, you need some kind of financial assistance. Like you lost your old job, you need to retrain for a couple of months for a new profession maybe, who is going to support you during this time. So just as in the 20th century, governments built this huge infrastructure for educating the young, schools and colleges and so forth, will now need to build another infrastructure to educate and to retrain people in the 40s and 50s. Do you see that as... One last thing is that they'll also need psychological help.

Psychological help (06:35)

That's what I... Again, because it's going to be extremely stressful. To kind of invent yourself when you're 16, this is what you do when you're 16. But when you're 46, you want to take it easy. I don't want to start all over again. So it's psychologically very, very stressful. And I think that we will have to see more government support for mental health just to cope with immense stress of the 21st century. Do you know the learn to code meme?

Learn to code (07:10)

Then? Learn to code meme. Oh, learn to code. So people are getting booted off of social media for saying it. It's one of those things that took me so by surprise. So anybody I think that spends enough time contemplating, okay, AI, what's the future? I'm sure we'll get into data harvesting and stuff like that. You really do that begin to understand that the future belongs to the Technically Savvy. And if you are a 46 year old truck driver, sort of the classic example, because that's going the way of the dodo, and it's not something that requires a high degree of education or necessarily even a ultra high IQ, not saying that drivers don't have a high IQs. I'm just saying it doesn't necessarily max your IQ to do that job. And so when people say, okay, if the future belongs to the Technically Savvy, we know drivers are gonna be without that job, then they should learn to code to get a new job. And my instinct was, yes, that's absolutely true. And I came to that debate super late. And so by the time I got there, people were already getting banned off social media for saying it and I was like, wait, what? So going back, I couldn't understand why, telling the individual that you're gonna be a participant in this. I'm not opposed to, I think it's a great idea for governments to create a safety net. I think it's a bad idea for governments to drag you across the finish line. And I think that ends in tyranny every time. So where do you see because it will be hard and there will be people left behind? I don't see any way around that. And nature, so curious to see if you agree with this, nature does not care. Nature will leave you behind in a heartbeat. Mother nature is more than happy to obliterate people, watch an entire generation get eaten by a change. Doesn't care. So how do we, without incapacitating the people that have to relearn and do this very difficult thing, how do we encourage them to move forward without either abandoning them on one side or dragging them forward on the other? Well, first of all, I have to say that I'm not sure that coding is such a safe job because coding too could be automated.

theres no safe job (09:20)

Maybe you could also need a lot of therapists who will need community organizers who will even need philosophers because a lot of these new questions, they actually, suddenly the big tech companies need people who understand deep philosophical questions because they become technical questions. You need a lot of people in the taking care of other people. In a way, it's easier to automate the job of a coder than the job of a nurse. Like coding is in the end, it's just data, it's just information, it's just information coming in and out. So I can see more easily how you automate the job of a computer scientist, or at least some of these jobs, than the job of a nurse who needs to replace a bandage or to give an injection to a screaming child and things like that, partly because it demands a much wider range of abilities. It's not just, of course, a nurse needs to understand information and to analyze information and so forth, but also needs motor skills, also needs social skills, and the combination of these skills, this is much harder to automate. So I wouldn't place all my bets on something like coding.

governments are essential (10:48)

Governments are essential, and then partly because in many countries, you know, I think about, I don't know, you mentioned truck drivers, also textile workers. You imagine, you think about many countries in Latin America, that they don't have a high tech sector, they have a textile industry, lots and lots of people working in textile, producing shirts, and suddenly all of this is automated. It's cheaper to produce shirts in California than in Mexico or in Guatemala. And in addition to that, there is an entirely new line of textile industry, which is virtual shirts. Like I spend hours in virtual reality, I want to look good, the latest fashion in virtual reality. And somebody needs to design it. Now, how do you take, again, a 40 year old, unemployed textile worker from Guatemala and turn her or him into a designer of virtual shirts? So without government support, and in this case, I mean, these countries could, even they can't afford it, they will have to get support from the richer countries, otherwise we are facing a global catastrophe. So I'm not saying that governments kind of will force people to do something. It's, you know, like with basic education for young people, I mean, you can still fail, you can still drop out, but at least you are given the chance. And then whether you use this chance that you're given wisely or not is up to you. But I think most of the successful systems in history, they are complex. They don't place all the responsibility just on individuals, because then a lot of people are left behind, not because of even their fault. It's just they weren't given the proper opportunity. On the other hand, trusting only government, then you get these kind of communist nightmares that we definitely don't want to thrive this, this mistake again. - Yeah, that to me is the problem.

Authoritarian values fulfilling out is destiny (12:52)

And when I look at the culture war right now, which quoting you again, you said, this is a paraphrase, but I'm gonna get really close. So by all means, if I say anything wrong, jump in. But you said, if Putin had waited five or 10 years to invade the Ukraine, the West probably would have imploded on his own and he could have gotten away with it. And I was like, wow, that is, it feels terrifyingly accurate. So the way that the West is tearing itself apart right now, I find deeply distressing. So the reason that that ties into this for me is that there is a necessary tension between, and I don't know if you'll agree with this, but by all means, jump in. If you don't, there's a necessary tension between the left and the right. And I think the left and the right are evolution solution to, if you're a social creature, you want to try to help everybody. But as you try to help everybody, there's the freeloader problem. And so you get people that will take advantage of the system. So you need people on the other side that demand personal responsibility. But if you only have personal responsibility, that will also lead to tyranny. So you have tyranny on both sides. And so what you need is the tension in the middle, but you can't have the tension if each side thinks that the tension is the problem. If they're both trying to be right and they're trying to silence the other side, that feels like the core problem of the West is that we no longer realize, oh, it's good that not everybody's on my side, whatever side you're on. Because if everybody were on my side, we wouldn't have the tension, we'll have tyranny. - Yeah. - Is that how you see it? Or is there something more nuanced? - No, I think the good thing about democracy is that you have multiple voices and you don't see the other people as your enemies. You can think that they are mistaken. You can even think that they are stupid, but they're not evil. They're not your enemies. Once people in a democracy start seeing their political rivals as their enemies and as people who are trying to destroy the way of life, democracy just cannot survive in this situation. You can have a civil war, you can have a dictatorship, but you cannot have a democracy because if Americans think that the other side, the other Americans, are their enemies out to destroy them, then they will do anything to win the elections because this is now like a war and they have no incentive to accept the result if they lose. And that's the biggest danger. I think that not just the United States, but many countries in the West are facing. That increasingly people are seeing the neighbors, the people in the other state, in the other town as their enemies. It's not so clear why this is happening because actually the ideological differences today are much smaller than they were 50 years ago or 100 years ago. Or you finished that. Can I set something up? I'd never heard anybody talk about this before. I know where you're going. Okay. So you said this is all you. I thought this was so brilliant and gave me a way to understand what's happening. You said in the 20th century, there were three big ways of viewing the world. Do you had fascism? You had communism and you had liberalism. Yes. Explain the three because the punchline is where you're going now, which is why didn't people go with liberalism? But please explain the three and then we can get into why liberalism is breaking down because I actually don't understand why. Well, that's a lot to explain in brief. But basically fascism says that the state is the only, the state and the nation are the only thing that matters. There is nationalism in itself is a force for good.

Don't see other people as your enemies. (16:51)

Nationalism, when it's understood correctly, it means simply that you love the other people in your nation and you're willing to make some sacrifices for them, for instance, to pay taxes so that they get good healthcare. When it's good, nationalism is about love, not about it hating foreigners or minorities. Fascism is when somebody says that the nation is the only thing that matters. Individuals, groups, they don't matter at all. Everything should serve the needs of the nation of the state. The truth is whatever helps the nation. Good is what other is good for the nation. Even beauty, like films and art and so forth, it's all political. A good film is a good that advances the interests of the nations, that's it. And anybody who opposes this is a traitor and should be eliminated. This is kind of the basic worldview of fascism. The symbol of fascism is that the word fascism, it means it comes from Latin, for fascii, that it's a kind of bundle of breeds, or bundle of small kind of twigs. And which is very strange, I mean, why is the symbol of one of the most evil and ferocious movement in history, a bundle of twigs? What's the sense there? And the idea is that each twig by itself is nothing. It's easy to break it, it's nothing. But when you take a lot of twigs together, you can't break them. So that's the message of fascism, that you're nothing in yourself as an individual, but the group as a whole, it's the only thing that matters. And then communism is actually a variation on that. It also has no regard for the individual. It thinks more in terms of class, it's not so much the nation, which is in the center, it's the class to which you belong, which is at the center. And the hero of communism is not the nation, it's the working class. But again, to make a very long story short, it's the same idea. This is why also you see that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, they constantly copy each other. Because at the basic level, there is the same idea that individual human beings count for nothing, and it's only the interests of the collective, which are important. And liberalism says that no, that we put, yes, we need also collective action, collective cooperation, again, to build a healthcare system, to build an education system, people need to cooperate. But still at the center, we have the individual. And there is a very simple test to test yourself whether you're liberal. So the word liberal is just as fascism comes from this fasket, this bundle of reads and communism from communal, everything together. So liberalism is from liberty, freedom, and unsuggest for simple question. Do you think people should have the liberty to choose their own government? Do you think people should have the liberty to choose their own religion? Do you think people should have the liberty to choose their own profession? And do you think people should have the liberty to choose their own spouse? If you answer yes to all four questions, congratulations, you're a liberal. And again, it sounds like, who will object? But for most of history, most people object it. Like, you know, you had the American Revolution against the King of England. And the whole idea of monarchy is that people don't have the liberty to choose their own government. There is a king appointed by God or whatever. And this is the government. And similarly in the Soviet Union or in Nazi Germany, people don't get to choose the government to replace the government. Similarly, if you think about profession, so in a communist society, you don't get to choose your profession. The communist party tells you that you now go to the farm to raise cabbages and he now goes to the factory to produce cars. And we tell you how many cabbages to produce or what kind of cars to produce. And if you go, I don't know, to the Middle Ages. So again, you don't have any liberty to choose your profession. If you're a born to a peasant family, you'll be a peasant. If your father was a cobbler, you'll be a cobbler. That's it. You have no choice there. And of course, when it comes to choosing your spouse, same thing. It doesn't matter who you love. It matters what your elders tell you, what your church tells you, what the nation needs. And today, in the big ideological war of the 20th century, liberalism came on top. And when I said earlier that actually, the ideological differences that I see today in the United States or in the West as a whole, in the world as a whole, are much smaller than 50 years ago or 100 years ago, because almost all people are liberal. Even the conservatives who hate, who think liberal, it's terrible, I hate these liberals, they are liberal in the long-term historical sense.

The Source of Ideologies (22:25)

So of course, we know these hot, hot button issues like abortion, like gun control and these things. And there you have arguments, but underneath it all, there is much deeper and more widespread ideological agreement than anything we have seen 50 years ago or 100 years ago. Even these kind of hot button subjects like abortion, like gay marriage, they're actually the aftershocks of the big bang of the 1960s, of the sexual revolution, the really big argument about these issues were in the 1960s. - The truth is hitting your career goals is not easy. You have to be willing to go the extra mile to stand out and do hard things better than anybody else. But there are 10 steps I wanna take you through that will 100 X your efficiency so you can crush your goals and get back more time into your day. You'll not only get control of your time, you'll learn how to use that momentum to take on your next big goal. To help you do this, I've created a list of the 10 most impactful things that any high achiever needs to dominate. And you can download it for free by clicking the link in today's description. All right, my friend, back to today's episode. - The depth there was much, much bigger and in the end, almost everybody accepted the liberal position. You know, in the 1950s, universities could expel students from university if they had sex before marriage. - Wow. - This was sex before marriage, this is, and who wants to go back there? I mean, you know, a divorce was kind of, was unthinkable. Marriage between a white person and a black person was legally prohibited. - So crazy. - And this was, you know, 56 years ago. So I'm not saying that there are no ideological differences remaining, or that there are no kind of debates, but if people could step back and look at the long-term view, they will be amazed how close actually Republicans and Democrats in the US are. You know, Republicans today are far more liberal on, say, LGBT rights than Democrats were in the 1960s. So, and another, I think people should ask themselves, okay, we have these remaining disagreements. Is it a good enough reason to destroy the American Republic over that? To destroy basically Western civilization over that? So you know, you think about the American Civil War and people today, some people say, okay, we are approaching another Civil War. Imagine a high school student in 100 years having to write a test about American history and they get two questions. What was the first Civil War about? That's easy slavery. What was the second Civil War about? Is there anything as clear as selling to ticker? It was about that. It was about gun control. It was about whether it was transgender people can go to the same toilet or not. What was it about? And I think that the tragedy of what's happening now in the US and in much of the West is that, again, the ideological differences are small on the ground, but they are very big in people's imagination. People have fantasies about what the other side is planning to do, which are completely divorced from reality. You know, in the 20th century, you didn't need to fantasize what these communists want to do. They told you that you listen to somebody like Lenin or Stalin, they tell you, we want to completely abolish private property. It's not a fantasy in the minds of some liberals that this is what the communists want to do. The same thing was the fascists. You just need to listen to Hitler. - He literally detailed everything he wanted to do. I'm gonna do this and this and the Juicerah problem. And we're gonna do this. I was like, what? I could not believe he published all of that.

The Tragedy of History (26:51)

- Yeah, it was in the open. - But when he rose to powers, insane. - It was in the open. And now much of the kind of gap is mostly in the imagination of people. And the tragedy is that in history, you can get terrible, terrible wars. I'm not saying everything that I said now is not like it's not going to be a civil war. It's not going to be civil strife indeed. No, the tragedy of history is that very often, you get terrible things happening for without any good reason at all. At afterwards, when you look back, you ask, what was this all about? Like you think about the world of religion in Europe, in the 16th and 17th century? Which by the way, was part of the reason that people fled Europe to come to the United States and Protestants and Catholics killing each other by the millions. Like a third of the population of Germany died in the 30 years war between Protestants and Catholics. A third of the population. And you look back today, even as a protestant or a Catholic, and you ask yourself, what was this about? And it's completely incomprehensible. To the people back then, it looked like the most important things in the world. Like whether you believe in this theological view or that theological view, whether you do the mass with this ritual or with like a very big issue, whether it was whether you give the ordinary Christians during pass, only the holy bread or also the wine. And you look, yeah, are you going to have a big war over that? Yes, they did have a very, very big war over that. And also people sometimes have big wars over fantasies in their minds.

Fantasies and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine (28:50)

And we have now just an example, it's the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So Putin had all these fantasies in his mind for instance that NATO is threatening Russia. You know, very simple question. Name the country, which was about to invade Russia in 2022. But the Germans were about to invade Russia. Have you been to Germany lately? Do you think these people, what they want to do in life is going invade Russia? Do you think the French want to invade Russia? Napoleon will come out of his grave and lead the Grand Almeer again to Moscow? This is complete fantasy. But fantasies often shape history. And cause people to do terrible things.

Power, Nationalism And Optimism

To Have Power (29:34)

Yeah, this is, so I have a hypothesis. I know you don't believe that history repeats, but that humans do have a biology. We have a nature. Humans are like something. And I think there's two things, man, and this is like a random entrepreneur stabbing in the dark here, but I've engaged with people enough that I'm pretty confident that I'm on the right track. I think there's two things that lead to this kind of thing where we're fighting over something that in the end really isn't that important. One, some people need to be chased by a lion. So without an extrinsic, real danger that forces you to be like, yo, we may not see eye to eye, but you can help me keep my family safe. And in return, I will help you keep your family safe. Without that, that impulse to protect or whatever goes awry, or just that they can't handle boredom. Something we talked about briefly before I started rolling. And then the other thing is Nietzsche's will to power. And I did not understand the culture war until I started reading about Nietzsche. And the idea that we have, we want to, it can manifest beautifully. We want to get better. We want to improve. We want that control over our life to manifest what we could be. But then there's also the toll booth person that isn't gonna let you through if you don't have exact change because they can. And that they get to feel that sense of, okay, I matter. I have some control over the world. And that desire to have power, coupled with there's nothing real to fight against, puts humans in a very weird situation where they will pick up on minor things and we just run in opposite directions. So that we have the expression of the will to power. Now, I am new to Nietzsche, so I do not claim to fully understand him. But it seems like he saw it as a pretty broad spectrum. Could be a beautiful thing. It could be an ugly petty thing. So I don't want to paint it with like these dark overtones and wolves howling in the background, but like that it can manifest in a pretty ugly way. - I completely agree that much of what we see now is not an ideological battle. It's certain politicians who, as you say, what is driving them is power, not ideology. And they are using divisive issues. The way to gain power is to take a certain issue and politicize it. And they are searching for issues that can get people enraged. And then harnessed this energy to get to power. So a lot of the issues that people are fighting over, if they were depoliticized, they could have been solved much more easily. But you take these issues and you turn them into these big ideological battles, and then nobody wants to back down and become this tribal affair. And this is the way that these leaders are right to power. And again, we see it so many times in history. It's really terrible. I think that the job of leaders should be actually to heal the community, to bring it together. And this is why also I think that many people today say that we see the resurgence of nationalism all over the world. But actually, much of the world, you see a crisis of nationalism and the resurgence of tribalism, of tearing nations into their components and destroying actually the national community. Like I said before, nationalism, when it is understood correctly, it's a force for good in the world.

Good nationalism vs bad nationalismkind causes divisions (33:13)

The basic kind of message of nationalism is the ability to care about people you don't know, which is amazing. You know, from a biological perspective, we are kind of programmed to care about a very small number of people that we know personally, our family, our friends, and to prefer them over everybody else. And the big task of nationalism is to come and say to us, "No, there is a much larger community of people that you need to care about." So for instance, you take money away from your family and you give it to build a healthcare system, these are taxes, so that strange people that you never met in your life, on the other side of the country, you'll never meet them, but because you're a good patriot and you care about them, you pay your taxes honestly so that they get some basic healthcare or education or a sewage system. And similarly, like you now, I don't know, you're a mayor or you're a prime minister or something, and you need to appoint somebody for a job, and you have two options. You have your cousin, which is not qualified at all, but he's your cousin, man. And you have like a very qualified person. Who is a stranger? Millions of years of evolution are screaming in your ear, "Are you an idiot? Give it to your cousin." But patriotism tells you, "No, you should give the job to the qualified person, because they would do a better job for the community." And that's the good side of nationalism. And what we see now in many parts of the world is politicians who describe themselves as nationalists, but they are actually not trying to create harmony in the national community. They don't strengthen the national community. They tear it apart. They deliberately look for any crack, for any wound in kind of the national body. Hey, here, there's a problem. This is something that people don't agree on. And instead of trying to heal it, they kind of poke their finger into it and try to enlarge it as much as possible to inflame it, because this is their ticket to power. And in this way, they destroy the national community and turn the nation into warring tribes.

Political optimism: Humans are moving towards a more peaceful future (35:52)

And then they place themselves at the head of one tribe and tell people, "You have to follow me, otherwise the other tribe will destroy you." And you're completely right. This is simply the will to power. It works. We see, unfortunately, in many parts of the world, we see that it is working. Not just in the US. I mean, the elections this week in Brazil, the elections next week in my country in Israel, it's exactly the same. Instead of leaders who are trying to heal the national community, you see leaders that try to destroy it and get power by kind of leading just one tribe. Yeah, this is why, I'm a super optimistic guy, as I was saying before, we started rolling, when it comes to AI, the metaverse, all that stuff, you're gonna have to slap me back to reality because I'm so optimistic. But on this, I am pessimistic, only because when I look at the human animal and the way that we're wired and what biology tells us to do, I don't see, it feels like a positive feedback loop that has been magnified 1,000 fold by social media. And so now information is coming out of so fast, it's meme-ified, so it becomes very easy to digest. I have a level of confusion because so much is coming at me. If I feel insecure, nothing from a biology perspective, nothing is more intoxicating than the certainty of righteous indignation. So the reason that somebody can acquire power by poking at something is they're telling me exactly how to feel about something very concrete. And so it's like, you should hate those people because they have guns, you should hate those people because they believe in abortion, you should hate those people because on and on and on. And so now in all of my confusion, I have absolute certainty and through a weird quirk of evolution that calms my mind and distracts me from all the internal emotional turmoil that I was having. And it's like the only way that I see that running its course so that it's like labor, once a woman goes into labor, there is no stopping it. She's either gonna die or she's gonna give birth to the child. Those are your two options, there's nothing in between. Because you're in that positive feedback loop.

Positive Feedback (38:22)

I feel like, and Lord knows I want you to tell me that we're not, but I feel like we're in a positive feedback loop right now of people racing away from each other. And the only way that they will come back to the middle is through enough suffering. And every war proves that after a while, you just don't wanna fight anymore. And you've seen too many people die and it's like, "Oh my God, this is so horrible. "Now I'm willing to compromise. "Now I'm willing to come back to the table." And if you see a way out of this, because I am a big believer in Nelson Mandela. When I read Long Walk to Freedom, that changed me at some deep fundamental level where he was like, "Hey, they imprison me for 27 years. "And what's my answer when I come back out "to find what I've heard you referred to as a middle way?" So way number one is to remain oppressed. Clearly he wasn't prepared to do that. Way number two is to become the oppressor. And he was like, "You give up your humanity "when you become the oppressor." So he's like, "You might be in power, "but you give something up that's not worth giving up." The third way, the way in the middle, is to heal people, to bring them back together. And so I'm like, if he can do that, like none of us have an excuse, but I don't think that we can. I think he was such a freakishly rare human, I just don't know who we turn to. - Well, I'm less optimistic about the metaverse and all that and we'll discuss this in a minute.

Optimism (39:42)

But I'm more optimistic. - We can trade optimism. - Well, yeah, the opposite. I'm more optimistic about, I'm not terribly optimistic, but a little more optimistic. - All right, let's hear. - About how chances, you know, kind of politically and so forth. First of all, I look at the long-term process of history. We started tens of thousands of years ago, hundreds of thousands of years ago, as isolated bands. I mean, a hundred thousand years ago, you have humans living in small hunter-gatherer bands or a few dozen individuals. And over history, you see that the direction is very, very clear. Humans find ways to trust more and more strangers to come together into larger and larger groups. Even though kind of evolutionarily, it makes no sense. I mean, we have programmed to trust just a very, very small number of individuals that we know personally. And yet, we have nations, we have countries of hundreds of millions of people. We have a trade network, which covers basically the entire globe. So humans find ways how to overcome these tendencies and to develop trust. And when you look specifically, even at the issue of violence and war, the last few decades have been the most peaceful era in human history. Now, I know there have been conflicts and wars in the last few decades. I come from Israel, you don't need to tell me. I lived in the Middle East all my life. But when you look at the statistics, it's the most peaceful era in human history. It's an era when humans had more chance to die from eating too much than from human violence. In most of the world, it became unacceptable for one country to just invade and conquer its neighbors because it's stronger. You see it in the state budgets, maybe in better than in any other place. For most of history, the number one item on the budget of every king and southern emperor is the army. The army, the navy, the fortress, the military. In recent decades, the average expenditure of governments all over the world together, the average on the military is about 6%. That's amazing because this is what enabled the resources to shift to, again, education, welfare, healthcare. Most countries spend much more on education, healthcare, and welfare than they spend or than on their military. What is up, my friend, Tom Bill, you here. And I have a big question to ask you, how would you rate your level of personal discipline on a scale of one to 10, if you're answer? Is anything less than a 10? I've got something cool for you. And let me tell you right now, discipline, by its very nature, means compelling yourself to do difficult things that are stressful. Boring, which is what kills most people, are possibly scary or even painful. Now, here is the thing, achieving huge goals and stretching to reach your potential requires you to do those challenging, stressful things and to stick with them even when it gets boring and it will get boring. Building your levels of personal discipline is not easy, but let me tell you, it pays off. In fact, I will tell you, you're never going to achieve anything meaningful unless you develop discipline. All right, I've just released a class from Impact Theory University called How to Build Ironclad Discipline that teaches you the process of building yourself up in this area so that you can push yourself to do the hard things that greatness is going to require a view, right, click the link on the screen, register for this class right now and let's get to work. I will see you inside this workshop from Impact Theory University, and tell them my friends, be legendary, peace out. And that tells us that it's possible. Now, we shouldn't be complacent and think that, oh, this is now, that's it. We have peace, we can just relax. No, peace didn't come from some change in the laws of nature or because of divine intervention. It came because people, countries built good institutions, not just on a national level, but on the international level. Since 1945, countries have built a rule-based international system which had many problems, but still managed to provide more peace than in any previous era. This is now in question. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and other developments are so frightening because they endanger the biggest achievement of humanity, this era of relative peace. If Putin is allowed to get away with what he's trying to do in Ukraine, then you will see defense budgets all over the world's sky rocket. Already now, lots of countries, Germany, Japan, countries in Europe are doubling, tripling, their defense budgets. It's basically like, you know, you had the biggest taboo in the international system, was you cannot invade another country and conquer it just because you're stronger. And he is now breaking this taboo, and everybody around the world is watching to see what will happen. It's like in a school when you have a bully who picks on a smaller kid and starts beating him, and all the kids are watching what will happen. If the bully gets away with it, nobody intervenes, then it's clear to everybody that's it. The laws of the school, the laws of the school have changed. Now everybody knows this can happen. If on the other hand, people intervene, the bully is stopped, you give support to the victim, then the norm actually gets strengthened. People realize, hey, you can't do that. And this is now what is happening. Dictators and regimes all over the world are watching to see what will happen in Ukraine. So far, Putin is not getting away with it. There's been massive support from Ukraine, from the West. The Ukrainians themselves are fighting more bravely and efficiently than anybody could have imagined. And this also goes back to kind of where my optimism about what's happening inside nations come from. You look at Ukraine. Ukraine is a very new country, just 30 years, since it gains its independence from the Soviet Union. It's made of different ethnic groups. You have people speaking Russian, people speaking Ukrainian, you have Jews and so forth. And it was under the most intense kind of disinformation campaign coming from Russia, trying to divide the Ukrainians against themselves, trying to do exactly that, to tear apart the fabric of the Ukrainian society, of Ukrainian nation, and turn Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers against each other. And they completely failed the Russians. Putin gambled, one of the reason what's happening in the war, put in gambled, that the moment his tanks would enter Ukraine, Ukraine would just collapse, the Lensky would run away, the Ukrainian army would surrender, and lots of Ukrainians would throw flowers on the Russian tanks. And it didn't happen. The Ukrainians actually came together. The Lensky didn't flee. The Ukrainian army didn't surrender, and people threw monotopeuktils on the Russian tanks. And the Lensky himself, he is Jewish, coming from a Russian speaking family. Now, if Ukrainian fallen victim to this kind of tribalism, then the Ukrainian would think that, well, his Russian speaking, his Jewish, he's not fully Ukrainian, we can't trust it. But he became this national hero. And I think that I hope that more countries around the world would learn from this example, that nationalism doesn't mean that you hate minorities or you hate your neighbors. No, it means that the people come together. - It's an interesting take on nationalism that I thought a lot about because I grew up in the '80s when it was self-evident that you loved America. I mean, that was certainly the prevailing thing. To be against America was like punk rock. Like it was so anti, it was like way outside the pale. And now that's become so commonplace that it isn't even punk rock anymore. It's like it's, I don't know that it's the dominant voice, but it's a big enough voice that it isn't uncommon to bump into. - And the amazing thing you see it from both sides. It's not like you say, oh God, these kind of extreme radical lefties. You also see it on the right that people are against the federal government, against the FBI, against the postal office, like anything that smells of the state. And they have all these conspiracy theories about the deep state.

The Deep State (48:57)

And you know what the deep state really is? The deep state is the sewage system. You know, somebody built this system under our houses and streets and towns and it's a good system. You know, you go to the toilet, you flush down what you've done and it's gone somewhere. And it's being taken care of. If there was no sewage system, we would die of cholera. Because somebody needs to take care to separate say the drinking water from the sewage system that you don't get germs in your drinking water. And who is this somebody? This is the job of the government. This is the job of the state. And that's the deep state. And when you see that people are kind of turning, even against that. And again, it's coming from both sides. This is so unfortunate that humanity is managed on many levels to reach this, you know, amazing achievements. Whether it's the most peaceful era in history, whether it's building sewage systems so that we don't get cholera epidemics. And then people take it for granted. And then people just neglect it. That, you know, it's like living in a house that everybody inhabits, but nobody wants to repair. And eventually it falls down. And like you said, then people realize what they missed. Like when you have a war, and you see people dying and suffering around you, then you look back and you say, "Actually, we had it so good before. How do we get back there?" And hopefully we realize in time what we can lose. And we don't get into the war in the first place. And it feels to me as a story that we are kind of at the edge of the precipice. Like we've climbed up. We've been so far below in the jungle in kind of this conflict for survival with violence and disease and poverty. And we've climbed up to the top, to a very high place. But we are still at the edge of the precipice. We can fall down all the way down very, very quickly, within just a few years. And people don't really realize it.

Reflection On Modern Civilization And Identity

Deeper Reflections on Our Current Civilization (51:24)

- Yeah, so you just made me think of Oppenheimer's quote, "I am become death destroyer of worlds." We're living in a really, we're living in an amazing time. I wouldn't want to live at any other time. But it is a moment of that requires deep reflection on the stories that we tell ourselves. So I know that as you look at the long arc of history, you think a lot about, okay, the reason that humans become the most dominant predator this world has ever seen is not because we're the strongest, fastest, sharpest, teeth, claws, whatever. It's because we could organize flexibly in groups via the stories that we effectively bond over and come together over. And when we were talking about fascism, communism, and liberalism, when I first heard you talk about that, you said these are the dominant stories that over history, people have been fighting over. So you have the story of the state is the only thing that matters and that what life is going to be is an eternal struggle between warring states. One will violently conquer all the rest and then there will finally be peace. So it's like, hey, as Germans, we're the one. Like it's us. Like all we have to do now is take over, like it was meant to be. Then communism, same idea. It's the story that the only the state matters, but the way that we get there is by distributing everything equally and then liberalism, the story. And you said World War II ended the idea of fascism. The Cold War ended the idea of communism. Liberalism actually worked, but it's still tearing itself apart. And so then the question becomes why. Okay, so now if we're on this precipice and it's this incredibly important moment where we've got the potential for gene editing, which you've said could destroy all of humanity, we've got the potential for AI or AI is here, man. Anybody that doesn't recognize like how, like now that we're using it in our own business on both the traditional content side. So what we're doing now will be tremendously influenced by our ability to find our audience using AI. And then on the other side, so we're building in the metaverse. So who's designing those shirts? It's largely humans, but now they're being augmented with AI. You can literally type something and it will give you a design. It's insane, that's today. So it becomes a question of what story are you telling yourselves? Now, I think the thing, 'cause you and I agree on a lot, but if I had to guess on the thing that maybe makes me slightly more pessimistic than you is I believe ultimately the collective is a reflection only of the individual. And I do think that even if you want collective change, it has to spring forth from the individual. Now, we get into the deep complexities of what that looks like. So when you have somebody like an Elsa Mandela who can actually, as an individual, sway the collective, okay, that's very special. And so there's clearly a relationship. It's not an individual in isolation. We're not whatever 7.4 billion individuals in isolation. It's very much the way that I say it is, we are both the shout and the echo. So you are what you do and you are the reflection that comes back from other people about how they feel about what you do. And you can never disentangle those. I don't think the human mind is designed to disentangle those two things. They are effectively one and the same. But the thing that gets in there, the way that we're able to take all of these variables and make sense out of it is through a narrative, which then deeply simplifies this incredibly complex world. And so the thing that I cling to as hope on this precipice is that people take the responsibility to tell themselves a narrative that brings people back together. That's the only path I see forward. And so my thing is, as somebody with a platform, I think a lot about, is that good? - No, but there is a narrative. Actually, this is the main story that I tell in my new book, "Anestopable Loss", which is aimed at kids, but to give them the understanding that their identity is closely connected to all the other people in the world, and actually even beyond people to other animals.

Identity and Nationality (55:32)

Because if you want to understand who you are, so you get these kind of national stories, which are important, but they are so limited. Because nations have been around for just something like 5,000 years. The oldest nations in the world like Egypt, they go back 5,000 years, most nations go back just a couple of hundred years. And each of us is made of bits and pieces that came from all over the world, from the whole of history. It starts with the food that we eat, that if I like to eat chocolate, and chocolate was discovered by the Olmecs in Central America, something like 4,000 years ago. So this is a bit of Olmec in me that I like chocolate, and I like my chocolate sweet, and sugar was domesticated in New Guinea, something like 8,000 years ago. So I had a bit of New Guinea in me that I like sugar. And going much, much deeper, like our most basic emotions. As a kid, I sometimes would wake up in the middle of the night, afraid that there is a monster under the bed, and I would call my mom. Mom, there is a monster. And where is this coming from? This is not Jewish culture. This is not Israeli invention. This is coming from millions of years of evolution. It's actually historical memory. Tens of thousands of years ago, when we lived in the wild, there were actually monsters that came in the night to eat children, lions and cheetahs and so forth. And if you continue to sleep, the lion eats you. If you wake up and call your mom, you could be saved. And again, calling your mom, where is this coming from? Moms are not a Jewish invention or an American invention. I get all mammals and all birds have a very close connection between mother and offspring. I mean, this is a very definition of being a mammal. Now, mammals means that, you know, you have, I don't know, you have turtles. So the mother turtle, she would just climb at night from the ocean, dig a hole, lay eggs, cover it, go back to the ocean, that's it. My job is not to luck. The best of luck to you. Now, as a mammal, all mammals eat their mother. Like your born? - It's a crazy way to say it, but yeah, it's true. - She not only carried you in her womb, after your born, she actually feeds you from her body. And if something happens in the connection between mother and child, you don't survive. And this is so basic in who we are. And you know, as a Jewish kid, you should know that it's the same with Muslim kids. And it's the same with Russian and Ukrainian kids. And it's the same with American and Mexican kids. So this is something very, very deep in us that connects all of us. And I think this is a basis for a narrative for the 21st century, because we now face also collective challenges that threaten the existence, the humanity of all of us. And it's not just nuclear war and climate change. It's also what you mentioned. I see new technologies like genetic engineering. And to some extent also AI, as existential dangers to all of us, that we should unite to face. - Is genetic engineering the one that freaks you out the most? - It depends because it develops much more slowly than AI.

Choosing the fewer (59:24)

So in terms of like what it can do, then tele-continuing is probably the most frightening. - Germ line only, or do you not want people even messing with their own? - At this stage, we just don't understand our body and our brain and our mind well enough to start messing with it. You know, basically, if you give corporations and armies and governments, the technology to start changing the human body. So they will start changing, kind of developing, upgrading the human qualities that they need. - Yeah. - They want discipline. They want intelligence. Like armies want disciplined and intelligent soldiers. So they will try to mess with our genes, with our body to make a small discipline and more intelligent. Now other things like compassion or like spirituality, they don't want that. You know, putting needs disciplined and intelligent soldiers to fight his war. It doesn't want compassionate soldiers or spiritual soldiers. So even without trying to eliminate these qualities, just by focusing on what they want, we might get kind of highly intelligent and highly disciplined humans who lack compassion and lack any spiritual depth. And the terrible thing about that is that it will not be a temporary change. It could go on for generations. If you look back in history, so figures like Hitler, like Stalin, they also try to re-engineer humans. But they, it had a time limit. Like with education and with mass political control, they could for a few years, change the characteristics of entire populations. Like brainwashed them with Nazi ideology or communist ideology. But eventually when they fell, you get back to ground zero. You get back to this body, to this brain. They didn't manage to change it. So over time, we can start again. But once you give these kinds of regimes, the ability to actually change the human body like permanently, maybe even germline, then their legacy can last indefinitely. They can create a new human species.

Giving up theory (01:02:01)

- How closely did you follow the Chinese doctor that supposedly was addressing HIV, but Oops, it also makes you more intelligent. This was like very, very frightening to see that it's actually starting to happen. And again, the thing to realize that people dreamt about it throughout history. People always dreamt to kind of re-engineer humanity. It came from different places. I think about China. So if you're a Chinese emperor, like 2,000 years ago, one of the biggest problems in life is that if you give too much power to your ministers and generals, they might rebel against you, the will to power, and want to kill you and your family and establish their dynasty. And they found a solution, which is based on bioengineering. Now you can ask bioengineering 2,000 years ago in China. Yes, it's called castration. - Whoa. - Castration is bioengineering. You take a man, you cut something off, you get a different kind of man that is perfectly fit for the purposes of the emperor. - I didn't know they did that. - Yes, you, Unix. I mean-- - Do Unix existed? I didn't know they were generals. - You had unique generals and unique ministers because they pose much less of a threat. They can't establish their own dynasty. - Wow.

Religious castration (01:03:24)

- And you had, there are periods in Chinese history when most of the imperial administration was Unix. - Do you have a dark view of humanity? - Like, you know, you want a government job? - Yes, just give us your testicles and give you a government job. And this was not just China. You see the same thing happening in the Byzantine Empire, in the Caliphate, in the Islamic Caliphate because this was kind of bioengineering of a thousand to 2,000 years ago that again, you need this special kind of human which has intelligence and discipline but doesn't pose the threat of establishing their own dynasty. That's the solution. So, of course this was very limited. But you had, you know, you have the Christians. They also have a problem with humans as they are because humans are not very good in obeying all the kind of dictates of Christianity. So they try to change humanity, but they fail. They don't have the ability to really intervene deep inside the human genome, the human brain. Like Christianity doesn't like sex very much. It doesn't have, it doesn't have, it has a negative view of sex. But what to do, I mean, you can't change the human sexual earth. They tried a lot of times. But even monks and nuns didn't always keep their vows of chastity. You have hopes for children. So Christianity had a very big trouble like overcoming this sexual urge of humans. And, you know, you fast-forward to the future, what would some fundamentalist religious regime, Christian or Muslim or whatever, do with genetic engineering, they can, what I often say is that the people who develop the technology, they usually think about the good usages. We will use this to cure disease. We will use this to improve people's lives.

People you hate and AI (01:05:22)

But you also need to take a moment, think about the politician you most hate in the world, or think about the religious movement, or the ideological movement, that, which was the worst in history, from your perspective, and take a few minutes to think, what would they do with the technology that I'm developing right now? It doesn't mean we stop all technological development, but it means that we have to be very careful, especially about something like genetic engineering, which is, to some extent, irreversible. We have never seen something like that in history, that the Chinese emperor, they could create eunuchs, but it was just one generation. They could not create an entire kind of new species of human eunuchs, it doesn't work. But now it could be done. So that's one very big danger, and the other big danger, it comes from AI, because AI also is something completely new in human history. It's the first time that we invent something that can take power away from us, going back to the will to power. Every previous invention in history gave more power to humans, because even if the tool was extremely powerful, an atom bomb, the decision how to use it always remained in human hands. It was not the atom bomb that decided to bomb Hiroshima. It was Truman, and the American army. It was human beings. So even a nuclear bomb actually empowers humanity. AI is the first invention that breaks this, because it can make decisions by its own. That's the whole idea. So it potentially can take power away from us. We already see it beginning to happen. Increasingly you apply to the bank to get a loan, and the bank says no, and why not, because the algorithm said no. And you apply for a university, or you apply for a job, and increasingly it's an AI, making a decision about your life. And we will see it in more and more areas. Now again, it's not all bad. It can improve many decision-making processes. It can really improve medicine, but we should be aware of the danger when this technology is in the wrong hands. All when we don't understand its true potential, because another new thing about AI, and I think we talked about this the last time I was here, so I won't go into too much details, it could eliminate human privacy completely. Throughout history, again, emperors and kings and popes always dreamt about following people all the time, and watching them, supervising them, they couldn't do it. They didn't have the technology.

Social Media And The Metaverse

International cooperation (01:08:19)

What do you think? So I've heard you say that imagine that North Korea gets a hold or a government like, gets a hold of a device that can read effectively your moods. So when you see a poster of the Supreme Leader and you have anger, up cool, you're arrested, you're locked away. What is the real world response to that? Like, how do we, like, do you have a... - The response is just political. I mean, don't get there. - But you know that other countries are going to do it. So there's gonna be the tragedy of the comments. This is where I get into the, "Hey, I'm optimistic, I'm living my life, I'm trying to create beautiful things." But at the same time, in the back of my mind, I'm like, "Humans are never going to stop. We're never going to stop." The tragedy of the commons is real, and so whatever solution we put in place has got to deal with the tragedy of the commons. - Yes, I mean, again, this is where I'm not optimistic, because the only way to really regulate a technology like AI is through international cooperation. If you think about autonomous weapons systems, which are extremely dangerous, if only America bans them, but the Chinese or the Russians keep developing them, then very soon America will say, "Hey, we don't want to be left behind. We have to do it also, we don't want to do it, but we have to do it." So the only way you can regulate it is through some kind of international agreement, which is in international cooperation, and as international tensions in the world just increase, then I'm not optimistic at all about the potential to regulate this technology. Within a country, you can regulate it to some extent.

Regulating social media (01:09:56)

You can protect people's privacy. For instance, you can have laws that say that if somebody collects my private information, you help me, they cannot use it to manipulate me or to sell it to a third party. Now, this is obvious because we have these kinds of laws about so many other things, like with my personal doctor, it's known for years, for generations, that you have this exactly these kinds of laws. My personal doctor has a lot of very private information about me, and he or she use it in order to help me. They are not allowed to use it to manipulate me or to sell it to some political party or to some corporation. So why is Facebook allowed to do it? So this should be very, very simple. That's one defense of our privacy. Another thing that we can regulate is that we should never allow all the information to be concentrated in one place. Whether this one place is a government agency or whether this one place is a corporation, this is the high road to a dictatorship. Somebody that has all the information of all the people, they basically control everybody. You know, I mean, even if you think about it on a global scale, that you think in 20 years, you have some country that somebody in China or somewhere have the entire personal records of every politician, every judge, every journalist, every military officer in that country from the time they were little, like every illness they had, every sexual encounter, every bribe they took, they know that. This is no longer an independent country. This had become a kind of data colony. To control that the colony, you don't need to send soldiers in to police people, you just take the data out. And if you have enough information, you can control this country by remote control from afar. So I think we need to have regulations against these kinds of things, and it can be done. And similarly, when you think about the new developments like the metaverse, we have to think very, very carefully about what's happening there. Again, I'm a historian, so I always look at things from a very long-term perspective, but we know this. This has been a fantasy of humans for thousands of years. It really goes back to ancient philosophical and religious debates about what is a human being. You know, you go back to early Christianity, so you have two camps. You have one camp which says, humans are embodied beings. The body is in the center, which was the old Jewish view. You are not your mind. You are not a spiritual entity as so. You are a body. In the book of Genesis, God creates Adam and Eve from clay, and they don't exist before that. They exist only as bodies. In the New Testament, Jesus rises from the dead in the flesh. And when he preaches to people about the kingdom of God, he means a physical kingdom here on earth with physical bodies, with biological bodies. So this was one view, as humans are bodies, are biological entities. And then there was the other view, which was influenced by Greek philosophy and so forth, and which increasingly became dominant, which says, no, humans are not bodies. Humans are an immaterial, soul, or spirit trapped within a physical body. The body is bad, is evil, is corrupt, is dirty, is ugly. The soul is completely pure and spiritual. Back to narratives. Which of those narratives do you believe? - I'll get to that in a moment. I'll just complete my thought that what we see now in the metaverse is exactly this argument being replayed. That is, can we, as humans, just shift to the immaterial realm of the metaverse and leave our biological bodies behind? Or is it impossible or even dangerous to try and separate our mental existence from our bodily and physical existence?

The metaverse (01:14:29)

- I'll maybe give you a little bit of hope for some of the people working in the metaverse.

Cassandra Szoeke gives opinions about the metaverse. (01:14:39)

So I am very grounded in biology. So the things that I'm interested in with that very much coexist. Now, will it be interesting for a entirely virtual species to inhabit? Maybe that could be cool, but that doesn't help us. So even people thinking about uploading their consciousness, I've thought through that one a lot. It would be a copy of me, but it wouldn't be me. So all of the sadness of death and all that that I would be hoping to avoid by doing that doesn't help. Maybe it kind of gives the same sense of having a kid, but it wouldn't by any means save me from having to deal with death. But the metaverse is still really interesting to me. Now, I'm a person, when I say I'm grounded biology, I'm talking about understanding the microbiome and how wildly that influences my thoughts and am I just a shell for microbes, maybe? And so I take a very, very grounded approach to that. Now, having said that, so hopefully that gives you a little bit of optimism, not everybody's trying to divorce from the body. It's, I think of it-- - But if you spend most of the day-- - Well, that I would caution again. - All the important, increasingly your social life, your job is increasingly in the metaverse. The biology of the situation will make that a disaster. - Is that okay? - So I would highly, as somebody developing in the metaverse, I will highly caution people against that because you have to feed your microbes. You have to love and bond and there's, there's so many things that we pick up on. Anyway, I totally see how it, it derails, but if people are talking about like, "Hey, you can't ignore the body, this is a very real thing. "You have to pay attention to this fun place to visit. "You can't live there." Hopefully we can avoid some of the nonsense that comes along with social media where nobody even talked about, let's talk about how this becomes deranging. 'Cause social media has been incredible in my life.

Drawbacks of social media (01:16:30)

I don't have an addictive personality, so that probably helps. So it's very easy for me to go. I spend a little bit of time on it. What time I do spend is incredibly empowering because I have trained the algorithm to give me useful things. Not things that compare me to other people and make me feel terrible. So it's like, you have to be very thoughtful about stuff like that. So my hope is that we get a little bit wiser. Of course, not everybody will, but it really does come back to this idea of narrative. Like, I tell myself a narrative about what the virtual space is. It's gonna keep me, I think, from hitting the major roadblocks. I'm sure there will be things I can't anticipate yet, but the thing that I wanna make sure that we touch on is I am not religious, but I worry that the thing that you're talking about, where we have to be thoughtful about gene editing and we have to come together as a big cooperative. I don't know how that happens without something filling the Godlike whole and all of our brains, where we want some grand meaning, some thing that we can orbit around.

The Big Ideas (01:17:18)

But there is no God's whole in our brain. Interesting. I mean, people think-- You don't worry about God is dead at all. No. It doesn't phase you. I mean, we managed without him for many periods in history, and we've been doing quite well in recent generations without him. I think that some people connect God and morality. How do we come together then as a huge species? Like, as one planet to fight the big things. What's the big narrative we all revolve around? I think the big narrative is the biological narrative that we are all Homo sapiens, that we are all have the same basic experiences that we all want to fall in love, that we all have very deep ties with our family members, that we all we don't want to be sick. It's we don't like pain, that we don't want to die, that we're afraid to die. I mean, these are things that are common to all humans. You don't need God for them. And also very important, you don't need God for morality. Some people say that-- And it was common in history to have this argument that even if God doesn't exist, we have to believe in him because without God, people will just kill and murder and rape. And we now have empirical evidence that this is absolutely not true. I don't think it breaks down like that. I think people are missing something more subtle with that. I'm just playing with these ideas, please. I hope it doesn't come across like I think I know. But I feel like the thing is more subtle. So I haven't believed in God since I was like 15. So I totally get, as I've never felt, compelled to steal, murder, rape, none of that-- like none of that entered my mind. But when I look at sort of the broad sweep of humanity, I realize that people will fall in line with whatever the sort of dominant philosophy of their tribe is. So by way of example, I feel almost ridiculous bringing this up to you because you're a historian and I am very much not. But the thing that stopped the conquistadors from coming up and taking over what we now think of as America, the thing that originally stopped the Americans from coming across the Camachas tribe, I believe is a name. And so how do they become the tribe? When all the other Native American tribes were falling by the wayside and getting relegated to reservations, why didn't they? Because of sheer brutality. And reading the book, "Empire of the Summer Moon" was utterly fascinating when he was like, they were the only tribe that fought on horseback instead of riding the horse to the fight and getting off. And so they were able to just bring this level of viciousness that we've seen throughout history and all different kinds of tribes and peoples. But hearing it described, you realize, oh, it was actually really effective. So thinking of yourself as a warrior, treating the other people as the other, that you need to stop them, kill them, torture, maim, whatever, you kill all adults, you take either the women and the adult males, you take women and children, but if they're infants and you kill them too, because it's too much for hassle, it's actually effective, but it's super gnarly. And so what is the thing that, given how many times we've seen that, whether it's the Nazis? - The gods have not stopped it. I mean, the conquistadors did the same thing and they believed in God. So God doesn't stop these kind of terrible things from heaven.

Human Behavior Towards Biological Threats

Humans Usually Dont Fight Biological Things (01:21:04)

- Thousands in percent agree. So that's why I said God's shape tall. I'm trying to figure out what that, 'cause it isn't God. I wanna be very clear in my stance. - I mean, we need morality. That's certainly true. - So how do we make that like a thing that everyone's like, yeah, because as you were describing, getting everybody to recognize the biology of it. So I have said a thousand times, on my tombstone, I want them to put, you're having a biological experience. That, like you and I could not agree more about, like, I want that to work, I just don't think it will. And so how, or maybe this, how do we make your having a biological experience? So cool and so infectious that it propagates and people come together. - You know, first of all, we forgot what the example you gave. So yes, throughout history, viciousness was an effective way to build empires, but now with nuclear weapons, it's only a way to destroy all of us. So the same way that AI is a game changer and the same way that genetic engineering is a game changer, nuclear weapons were also a game changer, that you can no longer conquer the world by force. The only thing you will achieve is the annihilation of everything. - Just to be clear really fast, on that all I'm saying is that they became the tribe, not by being genetically superior, by having a belief system that made them unstoppable. - Yes. So, and this now becomes more and more dangerous to have this kind of belief system. We need, I mean, again, if you have a lot of people in the world, different groups with this kind of belief system, you end up with World War III. And with the type of weapons we now have, not just nuclear weapons, but also increasingly AI and robotics and so forth, this is the end of humanity. - Unless the thing, the belief system, that's powerful is one of beauty, I just don't know how to make beauty contagious in the way that the will to power is contagious. - Well, I don't either, but one thing that makes me hopeful is that you don't see a kind of constant level of violence throughout history. You do see periods of peace and periods of war. We just, we have just experienced, as I said earlier, some of the most peaceful decades in human history. So this makes me hopeful. And we need to find ways to connect people. I don't think God is a good way because different people have different gods. And coming from Israel, both sides believe in God. But he tells them different things. And he tells the Jews, the Jerusalem is yours. And he tells the Muslims, Jerusalem is yours. And then they fight over it. And the tragedy is that it's a completely unnecessary conflict. If it was some kind of objective necessity, like you have two people alone on an island, there is the last apple or the last piece of bread whoever gets it survives, the other dies, then I say, okay, you know, this is a situation when conflict is maybe inevitable. But this is not the case in my concrete. There is enough food, there is enough territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River to feed and to house everybody. Humans usually don't really fight about objective, biological things the same way that wolves or chimpanzees fight. They don't really fight about territory. They fight about fantasies in their minds. That both sides have a fantasy about Jerusalem, which is just incompatible with the story, with the mythology of the other side. And this is what they fight about, about the fantasy in their mind. I mean, going back to the to the metaverse in a way, when you go to Jerusalem, I teach them at the Hebrew University, so it's a place like with biological glasses of an ape, you see, it's just like every other place. You have trees, you have stones, you have buildings, it's just same like Los Angeles, like any other place. But then you put on a different set of glasses, you put on religious glasses and you see ancient shells, and you see divinity, and you see sacred stones and sacred trees and everything is sacred. You know, a sacred place is a place plus a story about the place. And this is at the bottom of most conflicts in the world. Also, you look at, again, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Is it about territory? Russia is the biggest country in the world. They need more territory? This is the thing they need, more territory? No, it's about the fantasies in the head. I think that the more we come back to the level of, or in of the body, of biology, the more common ground that we have. Throughout history, you got the opposite narrative. You got a narrative, again, from religions like Christianity that the body is the source of all the bad things in life. And the mind, this is a kind of the more spiritual, more beautiful, better part. And most of the time, it's the opposite. That on the level of the body, we can relate to every other human being in the world, because biologically, we are the same. What creates this huge distance between us is the fantasies that the mind imagines and produces. So I think that, again, if I have hope for humanity in the 21st century, is actually getting a little away from thinking too much, from the mind, and grounding ourselves a little more in our body. I love it.

Closing Remarks

Where to Follow Yuval (01:26:45)

Where can people follow you? Where can people follow me? I have a website, And from there, you can get to all kinds of other stuff, like books and videos and whatever. I have clung to every word of every one of your books. So thank you, and thank you for being on today. It was amazing. Guys, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. Peace. If you're looking to really understand yourself and thrive in the future, be sure to watch this next episode, which is all about finding success in life. If we saw it completely into ourselves, we would hate ourselves so thoroughly, that we wouldn't get out of bed, we'd all be killing ourselves.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Wisdom In a Nutshell.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.