May 26, 2015
The amalgamation of man and machine will be the ‘biggest evolution in biology’ claims Professor Yuval Noah Harari
Wealthy humans are likely become cyborgs within 200 years as they gradually merge with technology like computers and smart phones, a historian has claimed.
Yuval Noah Harari, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the amalgamation of man and machine will be the ‘biggest evolution in biology’ since the emergence of life four billion years ago.
Prof Harari, who has written a landmark book charting the history of humanity, said mankind would evolve to become like gods with the power over death, and be as different from humans of today as we are from chimpanzees.
He argued that humans as a race were driven by dissatisfaction and that we would not be able to resist the temptation to ‘upgrade’ ourselves, whether by genetic engineering or technology.
“We are programmed to be dissatisfied, “ said Prof Harari. “Even when humans gain pleasure and achievements it is not enough. They want more and more.
“I think it is likely in the next 200 years or so homo sapiens will upgrade themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through biological manipulation or genetic engineering of by the creation of cyborgs, part organic part non-organic.
“It will be the greatest evolution in biology since the appearance of life. Nothing really has changed in four billion years biologically speaking. But we will be as different from today’s humans as chimps are now from us.”
Yuval Noah Harari holds a homo sapiens skull
However he warned that the ‘cyborg’ technology would be restricted to the wealthiest in society, widening the gap between rich and poor in society. In the future the rich may be able to live forever while the poor would die out.
Prof Harari said humans had become such a dominant species because of our ability to invent ‘fictions’ which held society together, such as religion, money and the idea of fundamental human rights, which have no basis in nature.
“God is extremely important because without religious myth you can’t create society . Religion is the most important invention of humans. As long as humans believed they relied more and more on these gods they were controllable.
“But what we see in the last few centuries is humans becoming more powerful and they no longer need the crutches of the Gods. Now we are saying we do not need God just technology.
“The most interesting place in the world from a religious perspective is not the Middle East, it’s Silicon Valley where they are developing a techno-religion. They believe even death is just a technological problem to be solved.
“What enables humans to cooperate flexibly, and exist in large societies is our imagination. With religion it’s easy to understand. You can’t convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana with the promise it will get 20 more bananas in chimpanzee heaven. It won’t do it. But humans will.
“Most legal systems are based on human rights but it is all in our imagination. Money is the most successful story ever. You have the master storytellers, the bankers, the finance ministers telling you that money is worth something. It isn’t. Try giving money to a chimp. It’s worthless.”
Prof Harari most recent book is entitled Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind which was originally published in Hebrew under the title A Brief History of Mankind, has been translated in to more than 30 languages.