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The rise of the Chinese robots, and what it means for humanity

Published on February 15, 2018


The rise of the Chinese robots, and what it means for humanity

By Stan Grant.

Here’s the future: our cars drive themselves, computers run our homes, robots have taken our jobs and they perform surgery and fight our wars. In this world we are useless.

This is not fantasy: it is beginning right now.

Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli academic who teaches a course on the history of everything.

He is one of the world’s most in-demand thinkers and speakers: an oracle for the robot age.

Harari has published a global best-selling book Homo Sapiens, charting the course of humanity’s journey and what gave us mastery over the planet.

Now, Harari has turned his attention to humanity’s next big frontier: we become like gods. In his latest book, Homo Deus, he argues that as a species “we acquire for us divine powers of creating and destruction”.

His vision is at times inspiring and chilling: Harari believes that “there is no soul”, we really worship ourselves. And in this new high-tech future, “our world of meaning might collapse within decades”.

In Harari’s future we are economically redundant, but that doesn’t matter. He imagines a global wage where we are paid to enjoy ourselves and pursue happiness while the robots do the work. We are, indeed, gods.

Religion, and other virtuality games
What do these new gods do? Says Harari, invent new religions.

He sees humans existing in 3D virtual worlds, he says providing us with “more excitement and emotional engagement than the ‘real world’ outside”.

“In the past, we have called these virtual reality games ‘religions’,” he says.

Harari says “what is religion if not a big virtual reality game”: we set out rules and tell stories that exist “only in the human imagination”.

Is this god-like future some sort of utopia? Or is it a brave new world where we surrender to machines?

Is a life of driverless cars, robot doctors and endless hours in cyberspace a meaningful life? Are we sowing the seeds of our demise?

There is a possibility that rather than becoming gods, we become enslaved to artificial intelligence that is more intelligent than us.


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