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“In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.”
Yuval Noah Harari
What is the relationship between history and biology? What is the essential difference between Homo sapiens and other animals? Is there justice in history? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history unfolded? What ethical questions do science and technology raise in the 21st century?
These are the queries that compel Yuval Noah Harari — a man unafraid to tackle the biggest questions of our time.
For those unfamiliar, Yuval is a renown historian who received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2002 and is currently a lecturer at the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
But Yuval is best known as the author of three groundbreaking, massive bestsellers. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind* is a narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution —a #1 international hit that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” A worldwide sensation recommended by Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, Sapiens has sold over 15 million copies, been translated into nearly 50 languages, was listed on the Sunday Times bestseller list for over six months in paperback, and was a New York Times top 10 bestseller.
Whereas Sapiens peered into our past, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow* tunes Yuval’s perspicuity on his estimation of our species’ future — specifically our quest to upgrade humans into gods. Within two years of publication, the book has sold in excess of four million copies and been translated into nearly 50 languages.
Yuval’s latest work is 21 lessons For the 21st Century*, a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. Here he stops to take the pulse of our current global climate, focusing on the biggest questions of the present moment: What is really happening right now? What are today’s greatest challenges and choices? And what should we pay attention to?
I can’t adequately express the profound extent to which Yuval’s work has impacted my perspective on humanity’s past. The bizarre future that will undoubtedly reshape our species. And the unprecedented predicaments we currently face — acute problems that if not adequately solved will harken the end of humanity as we currently understand it.
Yuval’s work is defined by his ability to see things clearly – with a distance and objectivity that provides a welcome and much needed expanse to explore big ideas.
It’s a clarity he credits to meditation, a ritual he diligently practices two hours daily with an annual 60 day silent retreat.
Today I sit down with one of the world’s great public intellectuals to explore these urgent questions — and what might befall humanity should should we fail to craft solutions — all through the clarity of Yuval’s finely ground lens.
We discuss the problem of disinformation and distraction. How artificial intelligence is rapidly reshaping our world. The profound implications presented by convergent advances in both biotech and infotech. And why Big Data harkens the end of humanism.
We explore the problematic nature of our outdated education system. The importance of professional flexibility in the age of automation. Why clarity is the new superpower. And the practices Yuval relies upon to deploy his prodigious intellectual acumen.
I only had a tight hour with Yuval, so I couldn’t probe as deeply as I would have preferred. But nonetheless this conversation is packed with plenty to ponder.
It was truly an honor to sit down with one of the great minds of the 21st century. I sincerely hope you enjoy this exchange as much as I enjoyed having it.
Peace + Plants,
Photo of Yuval by Olivier Middendorp
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Thanks to this week’s sponsors
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Check out Yuval’s latest book: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century*
Background, Context & Reference
- Connect with Yuval: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
- Book: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind* by Yuval Noah Harari
- Book: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow* by Yuval Noah Harari
- NY Times: What Are the Biggest Problems Facing Us in the 21st Century? by Bill Gates
- The Atlantic: Why Technology Favors Tyranny by Yuval Noah Harari
- Wired: Why Science Fiction Is the Most Important Genre
- Wired UK: Yuval Noah Harari on what the year 2050 has in store for humankind
- New Statesman: Why here’s no such thing as a civilisation by Yuval Harari
- The Guardian: Yuval Noah Harari: The Myth of Freedom
- The Economist: Anti-immigration, like pro-immigration, is a legitimate political position by Yuval Noah Harari
- New York Post: Why no job is safe from the rise of the robots by Reed Tucker
- The Guardian: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari review – a guru for our times? by Helen Lewis
- The Guardian: Yuval Noah Harari: the myth of freedom by Yuval Noah Harari
- The Guardian: Yuval Noah Harari: ‘The idea of free information is extremely dangerous’ by Andrew Anthony
- Kirkus: Review: 21 Lessons For The 21st Century
- The Economist: Big data is reshaping humanity, says Yuval Noah Harari
- Evening Standard: Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari on rewriting the rule book after a cult best-seller by David Sexton
- The Star: Yuval Noah Harari on big data, a post-truth world and why you need to meditate — now by Deborah Dundas
- Live Mint: Opinion | The beautiful evil of Yuval Noah Harari by Manu Joseph
- TED 2018: (video) Why Facsism is so Tempting – and How Your Data Could Power It | Yuval Noah Harari
- TED Global London: (video) What Explains The Rise of Humans | Yuval Noah Harari
- Film: Minority Report*
Notable People Discussed
- Bruce Friedrich: Executive director at The Good Food Institute, founding partner at New Crop Capital and podcast guest
- Paul Shapiro: Author of Clean Meat*, TEDx speaker, TryVeg founder and podcast guest
- Uma Valeti, MD: Cardiologist, entrepreneur and CEO of Memphis Meats
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy
- RRP #332: Guru Singh On Building Emotional Infrastructure, New Educational Modalities & The Impact Of Diet Beyond The Physical
- RRP #185: Sailesh Rao On Why Ahimsa (Nonviolence) Is An Essential Response To Climate Change
- RRP #142: From Monk To Entrepreneur: How Andy Puddicombe Became The Modern Voice Of Meditation & Mindfulness
- RRP #342: What Is “Clean Meat”? Paul Shapiro On The Future Of Food
- RRP #356: Susan David, Ph.D On The Power Of Emotional Agility & Why Discomfort Is The Price Of Admission To A Meaningful Life
Thanks to Jason Camiolo for audio engineering, production, show notes and interstitial music; graphics by Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis. Theme music by Ana Leimma.
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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