By: Toibah Kirmani
June 22 2023
Comments made by Yuval Noah Harari have been misinterpreted to falsely claim that he called for religious texts to be written by AI.
A Twitter user shared a screenshot of a news article dated June 10, 2023, that claims Yuval Noah Harari, a supposed high-ranking official with the World Economic Forum (WEF), called for artificial intelligence (AI) to rewrite the Bible.
The headline reads, "WEF calls for AI to rewrite Bible, create religions that are actually correct." The user captioned the tweet, "WEF Calls for AI to Rewrite Bible, Create 'Religions That Are Actually Correct' The WEF wants to Rewrite the Bible… create a new 'globalized Bible'…tells you everything you need to know about the WEF. Yuval Noah Harari, the senior advisor to the WEF and its chairman Klaus Schwab, argues that using AI to replace scriptures will create unified "religions that are actually correct" (sic)." The tweet has spread, gaining significant attention with 13,000 views and 187 retweets.
The claim first surfaced on the website Slay, which identifies itself as "alternative media." The article "WEF calls for AI to rewrite Bible, create religions that are actually correct," was published on June 10, 2023.
Slay based its article on an interview uploaded to Harari's YouTube channel on June 6, 2023, in which journalist Pedro Pinto and Yuval Noah Harari discuss the future of artificial intelligence. Harari is a professor of history at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his profile can also be found on the official website of the WEF. However, there is no mention that he is an advisor or a part of WEF.
At the 8:11 mark of the interview, Harari says, "Throughout history, religions dreamt about having a book written by a superhuman intelligence, by a nonhuman entity... Every religion claims our book, all the other books of the other religions—oh humans wrote them, but our book, no, no, no, no, no. It came from some superhuman intelligence. In a few years, there might be religions that are actually correct. That, just think about a religion whose holy book is written by an AI. That could be a reality in a few years."
Harari did not explicitly call for the rewriting of the Bible by AI. He discussed the potential emergence of new religions in the future based on foundational texts created by AI.
We contacted Yann Zopf, Head of Media and Member of the Executive Committee at the WEF, who clarified that Harari is neither an employee nor an advisor of the organization.
"The World Economic Forum never called for AI to rewrite the Bible. These are false claims to discredit the important work that the World Economic Forum does on serious global challenges," Yann added.
We contacted Yuval Noah Harari's office and received a response from Naama Wartenburg, the Chief Marketing Officer & Director of Content. Wartenburg clarified that Harari did not propose rewriting religious scripture using AI. Furthermore, Wartenburg clarified that Harari did not mention the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the interview and has never worked for the WEF. However, Harari was invited to speak at the WEF's Davos conference twice, in 2018 and 2020, alongside other thinkers and political leaders from various political factions.
The claim that WEF called for AI to rewrite the Bible and create new religions is a misinterpretation of remarks made by Yuval Noah Harari. Harari is not an advisor for the WEF, and WEF never made such a statement. Therefore, we have rated this claim as false.