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The decoupling of intelligence from consciousness


Throughout history, intelligence always went hand in hand with consciousness. The only intelligent entities were conscious entities. The only ones who could play chess, drive vehicles, fight wars and diagnose diseases were conscious – aware – human beings. But intelligence is now decoupling from consciousness. We are developing non-conscious algorithms that can play chess, drive vehicles, fight wars and diagnose diseases better than us. When the economy has to choose between intelligence and consciousness, the economy will choose intelligence. It has no real need for consciousness.

Within a century or two, Homo sapiens will disappear and will be replaced by completely different kinds of beings. Beings more different from us than we are different from Neanderthals.

— Yuval Noah Harari is Senior Lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. These excerpts are drawn from “The Humankind Revolution” in Abstrakt No. 14. His 2014 book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind theorizes the origin and destination of humanity.

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