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Why the rise of AI makes "mental resilience" so important

"Mental resilience" and the rise of AI
Why the rise of AI makes "mental resilience" so important 06:05

As artificial intelligence continues to advance, Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah Harari is examining how we are preparing our youth to head into a world where they will need to continuously reinvent themselves to compete with intelligent machines.

Harari, the author of international bestsellers "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus," presents and dissects some of the most pressing issues facing humanity in his new book, "21 Lessons for the 21st Century." Though there is widespread fear about how AI could be the downfall of humanity, Harari told "CBS This Morning" Monday that's not necessarily inevitable.

"Technology is not deterministic. You can build very different societies with the same technology just as you can use trains, electricity, and radio to build communist dictatorships or fascist regimes or liberal democracies in the 20th century. So also in the 21st century you can use AI and biotechnology to build paradise or hell. It's up to us," Harari said.

Despite a strong labor market, there are millions of jobs with a high risk of bowing to automation in the next decade. Harari says workers will face a constant struggle to remain relevant as they lose their economic value and consequently their political power. 

"The big question is whether people will be able to retrain and reinvent themselves in time and whether they can do it again and again and again because if you have a 50, 60-year career as life expectancy also increases, you'll have to do it not just once," Harari said.  "And here the biggest question -- the biggest problem -- may be psychological. Whether people have the mental ability to reinvent themselves at age 40 and again at 50 and again at 60."

What concerns Harari and many other experts is that schools aren't prioritizing -- or even teaching at all -- the kind of emotional intelligence people will desperately need to do just that.

"It may be the first time in history we have no idea whatsoever how the job market would look like in 30 years. So the best bet is to focus on emotional intelligence and mental stability and mental resilience," Harari said.

But how one does that? Harari doesn't know. Though he meditates two hours per day, he acknowledges teaching that, or emotional intelligence in general, is not "easily scalable."

"We don't have the tools in the present to scale up this kind of teaching. So most of what we see in most schools is just inertia. We do what's relatively okay in the 21st century," Harari said.

Harari also discussed how information overload has become the new form of censorship and why it's transformed into the most important political currency.

"In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information, and information was very valuable. Today, censorship works by flooding people with enormous amounts, not just of disinformation, conflicting information and irrelevant information," Harari said. "In ancient times, land was the most important asset in the economy, so politics was a struggle to control land. In the last 200 years machines replaced land as the most important economic asset. So politics became the struggle to control the machines. And now data is replacing machines as the most important asset. So politics is really a struggle about who owns and who controls the flows of data in the world."

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