The technological society doesn’t “need” most of us – but who defines “need”?


Yuval Noah Harari is one of the policy gurus assisting the World Economic Forum.  He has a distinctly jaundiced view of the future of humanity, as illustrated by these quotations:

“AI is not even near its full potential; it’s just in its infancy. We haven’t seen anything yet. So, every 10 years, you are likely to lose your job or your job is going to be completely transformed by the new wave of the latest machine learning wizardry. And if you want to stay in the game, you will have to basically reinvent yourself — and not just once, but repeatedly.”

“What you try to do a thousand years ago with the priest preaching from the pulpit you will be able to do in a far more invasive way in 10 or 15 years with all kinds of brain-computer interfaces and direct biological interventions.”

“One of the dangers in the 21st century is that machine learning and artificial intelligence will make centralized systems much more efficient than distributed systems, and dictatorships might become more efficient than democracies.”

It’s no surprise, then, that in a recent TED podcast, Harari is not very optimistic about the future of most of the human population.  Breitbart provides this partial transcription.

“A lot of people sense that they are being left behind and left out of the story, even if their material conditions are still relatively good. In the 20th century, what was common to all the stories — the liberal, the fascist, the communist — is that the big heroes of the story were the common people, not necessarily all people, but if you lived, say, in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, life was very grim, but when you looked at the propaganda posters on the walls that depicted the glorious future, you were there. You looked at the posters which showed steel workers and farmers in heroic poses, and it was obvious that this is the future.

“Now, when people look at the posters on the walls, or listen to TED talks, they hear a lot of these these big ideas and big words about machine learning and genetic engineering and blockchain and globalization, and they are not there. They are no longer part of the story of the future, and I think that — again, this is a hypothesis — if I try to understand and to connect to the deep resentment of people, in many places around the world, part of what might be going there is people realize — and they’re correct in thinking that — that, ‘The future doesn’t need me. You have all these smart people in California and in New York and in Beijing, and they are planning this amazing future with artificial intelligence and bio-engineering and in global connectivity and whatnot, and they don’t need me. Maybe if they are nice, they will throw some crumbs my way like universal basic income,’ but it’s much worse psychologically to feel that you are useless than to feel that you are exploited.

“Now, fast forward to the early 21st century when we just don’t need the vast majority of the population, because the future is about developing more and more sophisticated technology, like artificial intelligence [and] bioengineering, Most people don’t contribute anything to that, except perhaps for their data, and whatever people are still doing which is useful, these technologies increasingly will make redundant and will make it possible to replace the people.”

That’s precisely the problem with many modern governments, and with organizations such as the W.E.F.  It’s easier and more convenient for them to manage a technological society in which the people have little or no say.  Technology doesn’t vote;  it doesn’t get hungry;  it doesn’t ask whether something is right or wrong;  it has no emotions.  It’s told what to do, and it does it without argument or demur.  It’s a heck of a lot easier managing a society in which everything important functions like that, than it is a human society where people question, debate, object, discuss, and want changes.

Look at the laws being passed all over the world to control carbon output, combat climate change, and implement “green” policies and philosophies.  They’re being imposed on people willy-nilly, by technocrats who insist that they have The Truth and they’re going to implement it, whether the people like it or not.  Canadian truckers, Dutch farmers, American democracy, Covid everybody . . . they’re all inconveniences to be brushed aside on the road to the Great Technological Future, where everything will be Organized and Arranged as the powers that be want it, and (they presume) we’ll put up and shut up.

You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy.”  That’s not a pious wish, or a pipe-dream.  That’s an order, comrade!



  1. The utterly unreflexive narcissism of Harari's comments is flabbergasting. He thinks that "we" don't "need the vast amount of the population," without defining to whom he refers by "we." He actually means "he," of course, since it is his opinion that he and those of his ilk will be the beneficiaries of the AI revolution of which he appears so fond. In reality, it is equally likely that "he" and his coevals will be put up against the wall and disposed of, inasmuch as "they" add nothing to the general welfare of "the population." His is precisely the same mindset of those who wish to reduce the world's population, the "green movement," the Sierra Clubbers and Earth Firsters who always want to reduce the excess population but never for a single moment seem to contemplate the possibility that it is they who will be among the cohort selected for elimination. I am sure that the Ceaucesceaus never once thought it was they who would be eliminated, but we all know how that ended. Sic semper tyrannus.

  2. And most of these academics have no idea how complex the supply chains are, nor the mountain of varied skills required just to support a society with indoor plumbing and HVAC let alone one with aircraft, smart phones and robots. I guarantee very few understand modern agriculture.

    > "He actually means "he," of course, since it is his opinion that he and those of his ilk will be the beneficiaries of the AI revolution of which he appears so fond."

    I'll give you exactly one guess who his narcissistic "ilk" is.

    (People living up to their very worse stereotypes makes it really hard for someone to be open-minded and openhearted about their "ilk" when it is currently over-represented in vanguard of those currently attempting to destroy the world through famine and economic warfare.)


  3. There isn't enough power to go around as it is, they want to increase the need for computing power, and electric vehicles.

    I am to misbehave.

    Nice data center ya got there, shame if something were to happen to it…

  4. "They're being imposed on people willy-nilly, by technocrats who insist that they have The Truth and they're going to implement it, whether the people like it or not."

    Oh, noes! You mustn't say such things! Any impediment to the Transnational Progressive Administrative State (and especially any suggestion that laws should be made by elected legislatures) is an existential threat to Our Democracy(TM).

  5. Technology doesn't protest.
    Technology doesn't hang politicians and their hacks from lamp posts.

    Technology is safer for some people.

  6. I’m skeptical when it comes to AI usefulness as “replacement” for “humanware”. I think Sir Roger Penrose is right in regard to Gödel’s incompleteness theorem as a limiting factor for AI based on Turing machines, which make current AI architecture incredibly dumb and prone to absurd errors from a human perspective. So Harari is trying to push an unrealistic scenario based on inflated promises and politically loaded “visions”. Adding to that is the question who’s going to develop, maintain and operate all this infrastructure in his technocentric society – him and his political masters couldn’t and wouldn’t (them “elites” don’t work -they “manage”) and their big tech compadres have already started to “layer” their employees into ants and queens with ants being gradually pushed to irrelevance for decisions making purposes. On top of that is the status of the current infrastructure which has grown on less than optimal foundation – think TCP/IP and all the patchwork required to keep it working – and you have the premise for a monumental screw-up.

  7. For Harari, this is mild. This guy is one of the most creepy, horrifying people to ever show up on the public stage. I could go on about how his vision for AI is unrealistic, but that's almost irrelevant.

    He goes on to paint a future where the useless eaters in society (his term, if I recall) have a life of nothing but playing video games and staying on drugs. Of course, if those people are useless, health care doesn't cost society anything because the government just lets them die. Or just kills everyone off.

    He's one of those people that's so horrific it's actually worth listening to him to see just how deranged the globalists are.

  8. Wonder if their tune will change when they find out we don't think we need them or their AI/technology all that much.

  9. There's no place for the human, not just "the common man". The human being is being squeezed out of existence. When people don't know what it is to be human, when that has become a concept and is no longer a felt experience, that's the way things will go. Compare "primitive man's" expressions of being alive with anything coming out of the mouth of any of these dumb "smart" people! Where's the joy? Where's the awe? Where's the passion? It's all been traded for clever ideas. Some of these people are so sharp they'll cut themselves, and a lot of others too.

    I think there's a limit to the benefits of uncovering what these people are up to. After a point, it becomes debilitating, it drains me of strength and hope and courage. It doesn't make me stronger to think about these dark people with their boringly dark ambitions. In a way, they are victims of their own minds.

  10. These technocrats – specifically the one quoted – need to be hunted down and killed with fire, dying screaming deaths of indescribable and unmitigated agony, to drive the point well home:

    People are not things.

  11. The track record for these autistic-savant types ain't what I'd term even vaguely "encouraging". The list of things they have gotten wrong is nearly endless, from how best to teach children how to read to dealing with homelessness and drug abuse. Everything they touch turns to shit.

    Now, realizing the world is far more complex than they can encompass in their finite minds, they propose to drastically simplify things by ridding themselves of all those troublesome "normies" they think superfluous. These are, however, people who can't manage fixing their own damn doorknobs when they break, and they think they know how to run a complex modern society? I would laugh, were it not so tragically stupid.

    This ain't going to end well, for them. The mob, once awakened, is going to do unto them well before they can do unto the mob. The Dutch bureaucrats and elites ought to reflect on the fate of a prior Dutch prime minister.

    His constituents ate him. After tearing him to shreds.

  12. Perhaps smart people will be able to pretend to be part of the 'lumpen proletariat' and game the system to profit themselves. The rest will be dumbed down by stupid schooling and be happy with the bread and circuses (basic income, drugs and video games).

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