Yuval Noah Harari's books examine topics such as free will, consciousness and artificial intelligence. Yuval Noah Harari's books examine topics such as free will, consciousness and artificial intelligence. Yuval Noah Harari's books examine topics such as free will, consciousness and artificial intelligence. (Photo: Courtesy)

What job skills will we need to succeed in 2050?

Yuval Noah Harari, bestselling author and world-renowned historian, tackles the future of work and other topics in his latest book, '21 Lessons for the 21st Century.'

Some of the world's biggest companies – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google – didn't exist 30 years ago. So who's to say what firms we'll be angling to work for in 2050? That's a question posed by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari in his new book "21 Lessons for the 21st Century."

He argues that because technology is changing so fast, it's one of the first times in human history when we don't know what jobs will look like in the coming three decades. "So the best bet is to focus on emotional intelligence and mental resilience," he said. And it's much harder to teach students these skills rather than physics and history. "Information is the last thing the kids need. They have far too much of it anyway."

You'd think that Harari, who is a tenured professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, would be the last person to seemingly shun the transmission of knowledge to the next generation. But it's exactly this contrarian point which he tackles head-on in his new book.

In it, he highlights the various challenges facing us today. As he writes in the book's introduction: "What are today’s greatest challenges and most important changes? What should we pay attention to? What should we teach our kids?”

One area where these questions crop up is with artificial intelligence. In his thinking, Harari believes that AI will drastically impact the job market for the next generation of workers. He discussed this issue when he visited the set of "CBS This Morning" earlier this week.

Harari is no outlier. He is a rock star on the thought leader circuit, giving TED Talks and selling out lecture halls wherever he goes.

Born near the coastal Mediterranean city of Haifa and now living near Jerusalem, Harari leads a bit of a monastic life: he eats vegan food and says he doesn't even own a smartphone. Harari also meditates for a whopping two hours a day.

His first two books – "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" – became international bestsellers, selling more than 12 million copies worldwide. They were praised by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. Harari's books, about the past and future of humanity, attract a wide spectrum of fans. Fellow Israeli, actress Natalie Portman, is a fan. So is American R&B star Janelle Monáe. American actor Dax Shepard, who got his start on MTV's prank show "Punk'd" and now hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the iTunes store, often cites his love of Harari's books on his weekly show.

As for Bill Gates, he might be Harari's biggest fan, recommending Harari's tomes on his annual summer reading lists and to whomever will listen to him. So when the New York Times asked the philanthropist and Microsoft founder to review Harari's latest book, he jumped at the opportunity. "All three of his books wrestle with some version of the same question: What will give our lives meaning in the decades and centuries ahead?" Gates wrote in his review. "So far, human history has been driven by a desire to live longer, healthier, happier lives. If science is eventually able to give that dream to most people, and large numbers of people no longer need to work in order to feed and clothe everyone, what reason will we have to get up in the morning?"

Readers of the New York Times got an extra dose of Harari this week. The newspaper hosted Harari in a packed theater last night for one of their popular "Times Talks." The deep conversation touched on philosophy, futurism ... and soccer. You can watch the entire broadcast below. Grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy!


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