Yuval Noah Harari: ‘In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power’

How can we protect ourselves from nuclear war, ecological cataclysms and technological disruptions? What can we do about fake news or the threat of terrorism? What should we teach our children? Yuval Noah Harari explores the immediate future of humankind through his latest book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Read the full transcript below.

Hello, my name is Yuval Noah Harari, and I am a historian.

My first book, Sapiens, surveyed the human past, examining how an insignificant ape became the ruler of planet Earth.

Homo Deus, my second book, explored the long-term future of human life, contemplating how humans might eventually become gods, and what the ultimate destiny of intelligence and consciousness might be.

The present book focuses on current affairs and on the more immediate future of humankind. In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power. Censorship works not by blocking the flow of information, but rather by flooding people with disinformation and distractions. So what is really happening right now? What are today’s greatest challenges and choices? What should we pay attention to?

Billions of us can hardly afford the luxury of investigating these questions, because we have more pressing things to do: we have to go to work, take care of the kids, or look after elderly parents. Unfortunately, history gives no discounts. If the future of humanity is decided in your absence, because you are too busy feeding and clothing your kids – you and they will not be exempt from the consequences. This is very unfair; but who ever told you history was fair?

A book doesn’t give people food or clothes – but it can offer some clarity, thereby helping to level the global playing field. If this book empowers even a handful of additional people to join the debate about the future of our species, it has done its job.

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