Why humans run the world | Yuval Noah Harari - TED Talk Summary

Duniatera.com - Seventy-thousand years ago, our ancestors were insignificant animals. Today, we are the rulers of planet Earth.

We want to believe that we are superior to other animals, but we are actually embarrassingly similar to them. If we were placed on a lonely island with a chimpanzee, I would definitely place my bet on the chimpanzee.

The real difference between humans and other animals is not on the individual level, but on the collective level. Humans control the planet because they can cooperate both flexibly and in very large numbers.

If I don't know you personally, how can I cooperate with you?

Humans are the only animal that can cooperate both flexibly and still do so in very large numbers. Chimpanzees cannot cooperate at all, and if you try to cram 100,000 chimpanzees into Oxford Street, you will get chaos, complete chaos. Think about this talk that I'm giving: I don't know the people in the audience, I don't know the people who organized this event, and I don't know the people who are watching this talk online.

Even though we don't know each other, we can work together to create this global exchange of ideas. Chimpanzees cannot do this because they don't travel to distant chimpanzee bands to give talks about bananas or elephants.

We can cooperate flexibly in large numbers because we can create and believe fictions, fictional stories. And as long as everybody believes in the same fiction, everybody obeys the same rules.

All other animals use their communication system only to describe reality. Humans use their language to create new realities, fictional realities, which is why humans control the world, whereas chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.

In the religious field, humans cooperate by believing in the same fictions, but the same mechanism underlies all other forms of mass-scale human cooperation.

Human rights are just a story that we've invented, just like God and heaven. They are not an objective reality, they're just stories that we've spread around over the last few centuries.

The most important factors in modern politics are states and nations, but these are just stories we've invented.

Companies and corporations are legal fictions, invented and maintained by the powerful wizards we call lawyers. They try to make money, yet money has no objective value. The dollar bill has no value, but the master storytellers tell us that it is worth 10 bananas. If I believe them, I can give this worthless piece of paper to a complete stranger and get real bananas in exchange. Money is the most successful story ever invented and told by humans, because everybody believes it. Even Osama Bin Laden believed in money, and was fond of American dollars.

We humans live in an objective reality, but we have constructed a second layer of fictional reality on top of it, and this fictional reality has become more and more powerful so that today, the very survival of rivers, trees, lions and elephants depends on these fictional entities.

In the industrial revolution, a new class of urban proletariat was created, and much of the political and social history of the last 200 years involved what to do with this class.

Computers will eventually out-perform humans in most tasks, and then the question will be: What do we need humans for?

The book suggests that we are just at the beginning of a process that will result in the creation of a new massive class of useless people, or the division of humankind into different biological castes.


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