History professor Yuval Noah Harari led a life of relative obscurity teaching at Hebrew University of Jerusalem until 2014, when he compiled his lectures and published a book, “Sapiens,” about the history of humankind. It was published in the hope that it would be interesting to a few “history geeks”. Little did Harari know, “Sapiens” would go on to be translated into 65 languages and land on the New York Times bestseller list for 96 consecutive weeks, taking the world by storm and vaulting Harari among the world’s most influential public intellectuals.
This Sunday, 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper sat down with Harari to discuss his work, his life, and his now three best-selling books that brief readers on the history of mankind while proposing where the species could be headed in the future.
Harari’s original work and study focused on “world history, medieval history, and military history” at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After completing his doctorate at Oxford, Harari would return to Jerusalem and continue postdoctoral history studies. His book Sapiens was based on 20 of his undergraduate world history lecture notes.
Part of the premise of Harari’s book “Sapiens” is that “[humans] are one of the last generations of Homo sapiens.” Harari states, “Within the next century, Earth will be controlled by entities more unlike us than we are from chimpanzees.” “
In his interview with 60 Minutes, Harari explained he believes that because of rapidly developing technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, we will “soon have the ability to re-engineer our bodies and brains,” creating a new species of human. Harari explained that this would not be the first time different species of human have lived together.
At his home in Israel outside of Tel Aviv, Yuval Noah Harari talked with Anderson Cooper about his daily meditation practice.
Mediation, Harari said, became his means of reconnecting with himself. Before the pandemic, he attended 60-day long meditation retreats every year. It’s not only silent, it is also not possible to talk with others. It’s also not reading, not writing, no phone, no computer, or anything like that… nothing,” Harari explained to 60 Minutes.
Yuval Noah Harari is well known for raising warnings about technology, but he admits it’s been hugely beneficial to his personal life.
Harari met his husband Itzik Yahav, on Israel’s first dating app for gay people, called ‘Check Me Out,’ in 2001.
In addition to teaching and writing, Harari and his husband co-founded a company called “Sapienship” in 2019. Harari and his husband are creating entertainment and education products in an effort to bring attention to the world’s most pressing challenges. They said that they want to encourage and stimulate critical thinking as well as promote global responsibility.
The videos above were edited by Stephanie Palewski Brumbach.
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