Similarly, now, artificial intelligence and bioengineering and all of that — they don’t predetermine a single outcome. Humanity can rise up to the challenge, and the best example we have of humanity rising up to the challenge of a new technology is nuclear weapons. In the late 1940s, ’50s, many people were convinced that sooner or later the Cold War will end in a nuclear catastrophe, destroying human civilization. And this did not happen. In fact, nuclear weapons prompted humans all over the world to change the way that they manage international politics to reduce violence.
And many countries basically took out war from their political toolkit. They no longer tried to pursue their interests with warfare. Not all countries have done so, but many countries have. And this is maybe the most important reason why international violence declined dramatically since 1945, and today, as I said, more people commit suicide than are killed in war. So this, I think, gives us a good example that even the most frightening technology, humans can rise up to the challenge and actually some good can come out of it.
The problem is, we have very little margin for error. If we don’t get it right, we might not have a second option to try again.
CHRIS ANDERSON: That’s a very powerful note, on which I think we should draw this to a conclusion. Before I wrap up, I just want to say one thing to people here and to the global TED community watching online, anyone watching online: help us with these dialogues. If you believe, like we do, that we need to find a different kind of conversation, now more than ever, help us do it.
Reach out to other people, try and have conversations with people you disagree with, understand them, pull the pieces together, and help us figure out how to take these conversations forward so we can make a real contribution to what’s happening in the world right now. I think everyone feels more alive, more concerned, more engaged with the politics of the moment. The stakes do seem quite high, so help us respond to it in a wise, wise way. Yuval Harari, thank you.