Out television host Anderson Cooper’s latest interview for 60 Minutes left him “freaked out” and “terrified.”
Cooper’s guest – Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari who wrote the bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – has boldly claimed that ours will be “one of the last generations of homo sapiens.”
“Within a century or two, Earth will be dominated by entities that are more different from us than we are different from chimpanzees,” Cooper quoted from Harari’s latest book.
“Yes,” Harari replied.
“What the hell does that mean?” Cooper asked. “That freaked me out!”
“You know, we’ll soon have the power to re-engineer our bodies and brains,” Harari replied, “whether it is with genetic engineering or by directly connecting brains to computers, or by creating completely non-organic entities.”
“If true, that creates a whole other species,” Cooper gasped.
“This is something that is way beyond just another species,” Harari said.
Artificial intelligence could solve problems faster while biological advancements could give the hybrids a competitive advantage in areas like work, sports, and science. But Harari warns that advancing technology will spur even more inequality in humanity as the wealthy take advantage of new technology faster than others. Will the artificial intelligence have a form of morality or feel responsibility for decisions, he wonders.
“For the first time it will be real biological inequality,” he said. “If the new technologies are available only to the rich, or only to people from a certain country, then homo sapiens will split into different biological castes.”
On his CNN show earlier this month, Cooper said Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s description of the Republican attacks on democracy this past year are “terrifying.”
Levitsky and Ziblatt wrote When Democracies Die after the 2016 elections, where they focused on how “mutual toleration” in political systems – that is, having enough respect for one’s political opposition to see their power as legitimate even if one doesn’t agree with them – is eroded as countries descend into authoritarianism.