Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Mark Zuckerberg intends to govern Facebook? What Barack Obama regrets in Obamacare? The dangers Yuval Harari sees in our future? What Michael Pollan learned on psychedelics? The lessons Bryan Stevenson learned freeing the wrongly convicted on death row? The way N.K. Jemisin imagines new worlds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.
Yuval Noah Harari’s first book, “Sapiens,” was an international sensation. The Israeli historian’s mind-bending tour through the trump of Homo sapiens is a favorite of, among others, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama. His new book, Homo Deus, is about what comes next for humanity — and the threat our own intelligence and creative capacity poses to our future. And it, too, is fantastically interesting. I’ve wanted to talk to Harari since reading Sapiens. I’ve had one big question about him: what kind of mind creates a book like that? And now I know. A clear one.Virtually everything Harari says in this conversation in fascinating. But what I didn’t expect was how central his consistent practice of vipassana meditation — which includes a 60-day silent retreat each year — is to understanding the works of both history and futurism he produces. We talk about that, and also:-His theory on how all large-scale collaboration is based on fictions, from mythologies and religions to nationalism to human rights-Why he sees money as one of the greatest stories human beings have ever told-Why he reads only 5-10 pages of a huge number of books-His theory that human beings have moved from venerating gods, to venerating themselves, to venerating data — and what that means for our future-How we treat other animals and what that might imply for how artificial intelligences could treat us -Whether wide swaths of human beings will be rendered useless by advances in computing-The ways in which a narrow idea of what intelligence is — and the way it relates to consciousness — is holding us back from understanding AIThis is one of my favorite conversations we’ve had. Enjoy! Books:-Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, & Steel-Frans de Waal’s Chimpanzee Politics-Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World