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Bill Gates-approved historian says AI will make some people totally useless

Technically Incorrect: Yuval Harari's latest book offers a very dark view of the future, one in which some people will have no reason to get out of bed.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Will Microsoft's Cortana outsmart Siri?

Will digital assistants make some people totally useless?


Making dire predictions is easy and safe.

If you're wrong, you'll have a nice surprise. If you're right, however, everyone will respect your fine judgment.

Still, some dire predictions simply make sense.

Historian Yuval Harari is a touch pessimistic about the human race.

In essence, he thinks we're losing it to the robots.

As The Guardian reports, his new book, "Homo Sapiens: A Brief History of Tomorrow," to be published in September, presents a dire prognostication.

He concedes that artificial intelligence might make some people gods. This will cheer the likes of Google's director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, who truly can't wait to rise to the level of deity.

Kurzweil reasons this will be bliss because he'll finally be able to say something witty to his boss Larry Page.

Harari, though, also foresees "the rise of the useless class."

Technology will move swiftly. No one will know what to study at college because no one will know what skills will be useful as time runs apace.

Personal reinvention will have to happen faster and faster in order to assure mere survival. Not everyone will be able to keep up.

Some will therefore be deemed useless.

"I choose this very upsetting term, useless, to highlight the fact that we are talking about useless from the viewpoint of the economic and political system, not from a moral viewpoint," he says.

Harari believes that governments might choose to pay these people enough to keep them alive.

However: "What might be far more difficult is to provide people with meaning, a reason to get up in the morning."

Those who see themselves as cheery futurists will say they've heard this sort of thing before. For hundreds of years, in fact.

"I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far," says Harari. "It's basically the boy who cried wolf. But in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time."

The difference for Harari is that previous machine inventions replaced our physical abilities. The current machines being created by Google and many more actually try to replicate and replace our cognitive skills.

Once that's done, what good are we to anyone?

You might still think him a miserable crank. His previous book, however, "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" appeared this week on Bill Gates' list of 5 books to read this summer.

So if Microsoft's co-founder thinks Harari has something interesting to say, perhaps even he fears for many in the world.

If you're still unsure whether Harari makes any sense, ask Siri, Cortana, Amazon Echo or Google Now what they think.

I'm sure they'll offer a very objective view. My Siri did. I asked her whether robots would take over the world.

"It doesn't matter what I think," she said.

So I asked her whether there will be a useless class in the future.

She replied cryptically, "After all I've done for you."