Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
factory-closedworkers-stressed-that-the-factory-closed-unemployed-workers-industrial-and-industrial-workers-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Factory closed.Workers stressed that the factory closed. unemployed workers. Industrial and industrial workers concept
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

A Great Reset Historian Muses on What To Do With “Useless” People

Transhumanist Yuval Noah Harari, a key advisor to the World Economic Forum, thinks free will is “dangerous” and a “myth”

Historian Yuval Noah Harari an advisor to Klaus Schwab, co-author with Thierry Malleret of COVID-19: The Great Reset, and head of the World Economic Forum, had some interesting things to tell the movers and shakers of the world about ordinary people last April:

Again, I think the biggest question in maybe in economics and politics of the coming decades will be what to do with all these useless people?

The problem is more boredom and how what to do with them and how will they find some sense of meaning in life, when they are basically meaningless, worthless?

My best guess, at present is a combination of drugs and computer games as a solution for [most]. It’s already happening…

I think once you’re superfluous, you don’t have power.

– from a transcript at RielPolitic Alexandra Bruce, “BRAVE NEW WORLD: Yuval Noah Harari Ask’s, ‘What To Do With All These Useless People?’,” (May 17, 2022)

Harari goes on to outline a transhumanist vision of the future in which brain-computer interfaces make our footedness in the material world obsolete, human relationships become meaningless due to artificial substitutes, and the poor die but the rich don’t.

Wesley J. Smith points out:

Transhumanism, boiled down to its bones, is pure eugenics. It calls itself “H+,” for more or better than human. Which, of course, is what eugenics is all about.

Alarmingly, transhumanist values are being embraced at the highest strata of society, including in Big Tech, in universities, and among the Davos crowd of globalist would-be technocrats. That being so, it is worth listening in to what they are saying under the theory that forewarned is forearmed.

Wesley J. Smith, “Transhumanism Is Pure Eugenics” at Evolution News (April 27, 2022)

The introductory material for the video tells us who admires Harari’s vision:

Yuval Noah Harari is a lead advisor for Klaus Schwab. Klaus Schwab is the author of COVID-19 / The Great Reset and the founder of The World Economic Forum. Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum Are Implementing “The Great Reset.” Yuval is praised by the likes of Klaus Schwab, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates, who reviewed Harari’s latest book on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. Harari speaks at the World Economic Forum at Davos, New York Times, Stanford, TED, and TimesTalks. At the time of this writing, his books occupied the top two slots on the New York Times’ nonfiction best-seller list.

An aphorism from Harari’s own site: “History began when humans invented gods, and will end when humans become gods.” But not all humans, as he makes clear in the video; only the non-“useless” one who go along with transhumanism.

So that’s part of what they mean by “The Great Reset,” in case we wondered…

What to make of itall? In 2018, Slate accounted for Harari’s rapid rise to influence as follows:

… it’s all due to Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, a book based on that survey course that no one else wanted to teach—a book that has leapt far beyond the original audience for which Harari intended it and has been embraced by the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley and Hollywood. On the West Coast, half a world away, this young Israeli academic has been informally elected the man best equipped to tell those industries what matters to them most: what will happen next. He can explain why the sleek, friction-free technological utopia they once promised has slid back in primal conflict and turmoil. And he assures them that they—the engineers, the scientists, and the storytellers—still hold the power to radically transform the world.

Laura Miller, “The History Disruptor” at Slate (November 1, 2018)

Clearly, the prospect of becoming gods when the rest of humanity sinks into uselessness and drug abuse excites some people. But how probable is it?

Tech philosopher George Gilder, author of Life after Google (2018) and Gaming AI (2020), dismisses the assumption that artificial intelligence is so much better than the human intelligence that created it, an assumption that seems implicit in Harari’s vision. Gilder points out that AI has triumphed over humans in games like chess because the map is the territory. Thus programming for the rules of chess and vast calculation power enable powerful computers to win over humans:

Games like chess, go, and poker are vastly more complex than checkers in their degrees of freedom. But they all resemble checkers in one important way: In all cases, the map is the territory. And that limits the resemblance to reality. As Gilder puts it, “Go is deterministic and ergodic; any specific arrangement of stones will always produce the same results, according to the rules of the game. The stones are at once symbols and objects; they are always mutually congruent.” (Gaming AI, pp 50–51)

Mind Matters News

However, that all falls apart in situations where the map is not the territory: “That’s one reason that AI has had more mixed results in medicine than in Go: Diseases don’t have to follow rules.”

Business prof Jay Richards, author of The Human Advantage (2018), points out that the main change AI will truly make in the workplace is to enable workers to focus more on the creative aspects of their work: “The kinds of jobs that are not going to go the way of the dodo bird are both manual and mental jobs that involve, as I have said a number of times, creativity—but also complex modeling, know-how, and movement.”

Similarly, business prof Gary Smith (The AI Delusion, 2018) and data analyst Jeffrey Funk, point out that “doomsayers typically don’t notice that many jobs have components that can be automated but others that can’t be. That would apply to, say, law, medicine, accounting, career advice, fashion design, hairdressing, interior design, creative writing and many other tasks.” Sop how many people will really be “useless”?

But there’s another side to all this — probably a more important one: Harari considers free will a “dangerous” myth, a point on which neurosurgeon Michael Egnor has taken issue with him here. On the contrary, Egnor argues, denial of free will is a cornerstone of totalitarianism: “Without free will, we are livestock, without the presumption of innocence, without actual innocence, and without rights.”

But then, it’s not clear that, given his intense, dramatic focus on “useless,” “meaningless,” and “worthless” people, that Harari is far off from totalitarianism anyway.


You may also wish to read: Can physics prove there is no free will? No, but it can make physicists incoherent when they write about free will. It’s hilarious. Sabine Hossenfelder misses the irony that she insists that people “change their minds” by accepting her assertion that they… can’t change their minds. (Michael Egnor)


Mind Matters News

Breaking and noteworthy news from the exciting world of natural and artificial intelligence at MindMatters.ai.

A Great Reset Historian Muses on What To Do With “Useless” People