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Yuval Noah Harari: Does an AI Suffer?


Yuval Noah Harari: Does an AI Suffer?

By Max Israel · Jan 19, 2024

I'm a regular listener to Lex Fridman's excellent podcast. Over the summer Fridman has scored several wonderful interviews, and today I’ll share one we had playing in the office this week: his long-form discussion with author, historian and professor Yuval Noah Harari.

Harari’s books (Homo Deus and Sapiens are next on my reading list) examine free will, consciousness, intelligence, happiness and suffering.

That last bit – suffering – turns out to be important if you, like me, wonder about where all this AI stuff is headed. Harari probes the difference between intelligence and consciousness. One involves solving problems and the other involves feelings and – in particular – the capacity to suffer.

This is an important concept for us to ponder as our society wrestles with what AI is and how we might engage with it. I keep wondering when an AI will achieve consciousness, hire a lawyer and demand civil rights, so this is an important subject.

Link to the podcast here. I hope you find it compelling!