Yuval Noah Harari’s video on AI falsely linked to a conspiracy theory

By: Ankita Kulkarni
August 23 2023

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Yuval Noah Harari’s video on AI falsely linked to a conspiracy theory


The Verdict False

Yuval Noah Harari is not a WEF official; his statements have been misinterpreted to claim that AI will be used to control people.

Claim ID 5b4a1d54


A video of a speech given by author and historian Yuval Noah Harari on the potential dangers of AI (Artificial Intelligence) is circulating on social media, claiming that AI will be used to "gain control over the population." One such post on X shared by "Wall Street Silver,” an account that regularly posts misinformation, shared the video with the caption, “This is Yuval Harari. He is Klaus Schwab's advisor at the WEF (World Economic Forum). ‘You don’t need to implant chips in people’s brains in order to control or manipulate them. Now AI will be likely be able to do that. So we don’t need to send robots to eliminate humans. AI will likely be able to get humans to do it’.” The video is also being shared on Facebook with similar claims.  The archive posts can be found here, here and here. 

Screengrabs of claims made online
(Source: Facebook/@Ankie Withagen, @Nilesh Sahu/Altered by Logically Facts)

However, Harari is not a WEF official, and his statements have been misrepresented. 

In fact

Research led us to a longer version of Harari’s speech uploaded on his official YouTube channel on May 14, 2023. The description details that Harari spoke about the future of AI at a Frontiers Forum and responded to questions like “What threat is posed to humanity when AI masters human intimacy? Is AI the end of human history?”

YouTube video of Yuval Noah Harari's conference from May 2023

Around 20:03 minutes in the video, we can hear Harari saying that the potential danger of AI is very different from how things have been imagined in science fiction movies and books. He said that earlier humans feared physical threats posed by intelligent machines as they assumed that “AI should first gain physical control of the human brain and then connect brains to computer networks.” He added, “But this is wrong simply by gaining mastery of human language. AI has all it needs to cocoon us into an illusory world.” 

In this context, he notes that unlike what conspiracy theorists believe, “we don't need to implant chips in people's brains in order to control them or to manipulate them.” He states that for thousands of years, prophets, poets, and politicians have used language to manipulate people and reshape society, and if AI can likely do it, there is no need to “send killer robots to shoot us as it can get humans to pull the trigger if it really needs to.” 

Harari said that AI has the potential to control people if it masters human language and did not say that WEF will control people through AI, as claimed in the post. 

Moreover, Harari is not a top WEF official; he is often mistakenly attributed to the WEF on social media. Logically Facts has debunked this misconception earlier as well, which can be read here.

We have also discredited such similar narratives where Harari’s statements were taken out of context; read here and here

Furthermore, the claim that organizations like WEF are trying to control people is part of the New World Order (NWO) and The Great Reset conspiracy theory, which falsely states that elites are planning to drag humans into totalitarian dystopia. 

The verdict 

Yuval Noah Harari is not a WEF official. His talk on how AI can control humans if it masters human language has been taken out of context to claim that WEF is trying to control the population from AI. These narratives are part of conspiracy theories. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before