Chris Skinner's blog

Shaping the future of finance

Reality is just the fiction in our own minds

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

When I wrote Digital Human, the book was partly inspired by Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Hariri.

Yuval’s moved on since then, written several more great books, and is now focused upon artificial intelligence (AI). So, I just watched a fascinating presentation from Yuval at the Frontiers conference.

Most of the presentation is about how AI could destroy us, something we’ve heard from many in recent years. But it finishes on a positive which is that, if we regulate AI properly, it will be good for us.

The presentation starts with how the media and entertainment industry has warned us for years about the threat of AI, dating back to 2001: A Space Odyssey and before (did you notice that the AI in the film is called HAL which is one letter before IBM?).

Yuval makes the point that there is a big challenge for AI, which is how does it become sentient and can robots move around with the physical abilities of humans? More on that later but, right now, it’s not here. It will come.

Yuval goes on to make a number of catchy quotes (these are not exact, but my take on his speech):

  • AI has just hacked the operating system of humans.
  • AI has just mass produced the ability to create intimacy with everyone on Earth.
  • Why bother searching yourself when you can just ask the AI oracle?
  • Why bother looking for news when you can just the AI oracle?
  • Why bother shopping when you can just the AI oracle what to buy?
  • Will AI take over human cultures?
  • AI will speak every language of the world and then talk back to us in our native cultures.
  • AI can eat our culture and then gush out a flood of new cultural ideas.
  • AI is different to every invention in history because it can create stories.
  • The printing press and telephone couldn’t create content, but AI can.
  • We grew up with cultures created by humans but, in the near future, we may grow up with cultures created by the computer network.
  • Historically, priests and politicians have used story telling to shape society. Now, machines can do it.

Reality is just the fiction in our own minds.

I often make this point in my own presentations, which is that countries, companies, time and money have all just been creations of the human mind.

Yuval goes on to make a specific point about money. Again, this is an inexact quote but it goes something like this:

Money is not a biological or physical reality. Banknotes are just worthless pieces of paper and, right now, 90% of the money in the world is not even banknotes. It’s just electronic information in computers, passing from here to there. What gives money value of any kind is only the stories that bankers and finance ministers and cryptocurrency gurus tell us about money. Sam Bankman-Fried, Elizabeth Holmes and Bernie Madoff didn’t give us anything of value. They were just extremely good storytellers.”

He then finishes with a view that there are a few positives for AI. It can improve our lives and abilities, but he underscores this by saying that, like nuclear bombs, we have to regulate it. Nuclear bombs are bad, so we ban them, but nuclear energy is good, so we promote it. In a similar way, AI could destroy humans but also enable them. The key is that we need to regulate AI and how it is used. We must not unleash hell, until we understand what hell it could create and regulate it. We need to regulate AI before it regulates us. For example, an AI dialogue must start with the other person saying whether they are an AI or not.

In conclusion, he ends by asking: can you be sure my presentation was created by me? The answer is that the slides weren’t but maybe the text was?

It’s well worth a watch:


Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

Intelligent Money: Our Future Is Where We Do Not Think About Money, As Our Money Thinks For Us

What is the future?

Learn more

Learn more about Chris

About Chris Skinner

The Past, Present And Future Of Banking, Finance And Technology

Fintech expert Chris Skinner: countries need digital transformation to remain competitive

Join me on Linkedin

Follow Me on X!

Hire Chris Skinner for dinners, workshops and more

Learn directly from from one of the most influential people in technology, gain insights from the world's most innovative companies, and build a global network.

Chris’s latest book

Order now

Chris Skinner’s ‘Digital For Good’ Book Launch Event – CFTE

Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on FinTech 2023

Chris Skinner
Commentator, CEO of The Finanser and best-selling author at The Finanser

Thinkers360 Thought Leader

Contact Me

Global Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award

Global 100 - 2024 Winner

Chris Skinner - Financial Markets Advisor of the Year - The Finanser - UK 2023

Best Financial Markets Advisor of the Year 2023

30 Best Regtech Blogs and Websites 2023

Kids creating the future bank | TEDxAthens

Captain Cake and the Candy Crew

Captain Cake Winner of a Golden Mom’s Choice Award


Alex at the Financial Services

Gaping Void's Hugh MacLeod worked with the Finanser