Why do we fear innovation? With Yuval Noah Harari and Mayim Bialik

TOA Klub
4 min readJul 1, 2021


01.07.2021 | TOA Klub

Humans have adaptive brains which are geared towards learning and development. So why are transformative thinking and onward technologies always met with wonder, fear, and rejection? It’s hard to rationalise a nostalgia complex or facilitate a future utopia — and looking through history books, we wouldn’t necessarily want to go back there either.

Are the recent crossovers between technology, life, politics, and science impeding on our (supposed) Free Will the reason for this acute fear? Or did the same feelings arise during the agricultural revolution?

Curious? Same. We invited two phenomenal pioneers in the philosophical and scientific realm to untangle, discuss, and contemplate the rapid innovation that we’re living through and what this means for our future.

Mayim Bialik and Yuval Noah Harari took the stage and they really need no introduction. But just in case you have been sleeping for the past decade…

Mayim Bialik: Actress, author, and neuroscientist. You may recognise her from The Big Bang Theory, have listened to her podcast on mental health: Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown, OR you have had the chance to read both of her #1 New York Times bestsellers. Multi-talented and impressive doesn’t even come close.

Yuval Noah Harari: Professor, historian, and bestselling author. He made macro-historical topics digestible and non-fiction popular… no wonder he’s considered one of the world’s most influential public intellectuals today.

Below are 5 key takeaways from the discussion. So close your other tabs, mute your slack, and dedicate a few minutes to reading about you.

Fearing change or changing fears?

With fear and change on the brain, what won’t change is human connection. Mayim argues that human touch and interaction are irreplaceable, and external influences like technology or the pandemic won’t change this. Yuval proposed three reasons why we’re cautious to accept change.

  1. It’s inconvenient to learn new things and start again.
  2. It’s dangerous — biology shows that an incredibly small percentage survives, and at best improves things.
  3. Moderate-sized revolutions do better… too much change too quickly can be catastrophic.
  4. Although our brains are geared towards learning and adapting, seeking the path of least resistance comes out on top.

We think in stories, not statistics

Stories and false truths have an intrinsic advantage over the truth when uniting communities. It shines brighter in political, religious, and social rhetoric because it bridges complexities and translates to understandable biases.

How can we be rational and logical in solving a particular problem, and then completely irrational when evaluating larger societal or political movements?

Mayim explains that although the prefrontal cortex has a senior role in deciding and judging certain behaviours and ethics, it’s dangerous to assume that the connection between brain science and the human connection is linear.

There is a distinction between the brain and the mind. However, looking for the ‘ethical seat’ in the brain is close to pointless because pressures of the environment, community, and the individual themselves can continually shift this.

Antivirus for the mind

In this post-truth era and the revolution in information technology, fake news is getting harder to decipher because bots and hackers are getting smarter.

What happens when the revolution in infotech merges with an equivalent revolution in biotech? The possibilities of hacking your brain are incredibly high. Gathering and manipulating your brain data and tapping into your prefrontal cortex will be far easier than on your social media because your thoughts are raw and unimpeded by performance bias. It’s coming faster than you think…


It’s not all bad. Humans are far better off, we’re more peaceful and far healthier than ever before. The planet and animals less so, but we are smart enough to fix it — so why are we putting using the smartest minds to determine how to make consumers click on ads? Why aren’t they working on something else?

For instance, we are in a better position to deal with this pandemic than ever before in human history. If we fail, it is a political issue rather than the laws of nature and human development.


An overarching learning from this talk is that collaboration progressed humans in the past and we need to continue this to succeed in the future.

Maintaining simple universal orders like the economy involves a constant progression and innovation to flourish. The economy is based on future expectation, universal knowledge, and universal trust — all three involve a collaboration between the big and the small; the corporate and the startup.

Co-creating bridges between these two worlds are imperative for future growth. Innovation thrives when diversity is in the mix, which is why we’re taking action to educate and inspire both sides of the net to work together.

Co-Creators Klub will teach you how to navigate bridges between the startup and corporate world through our experts and mentors delivering masterclasses and AMAs, and a supportive cohort to support you along the way. Go futureproof, join the Klub.

This conversation was brought to you by Leaps by Bayer, and you can watch the full talk here.

We had a live Q&A with Yuval after, where he spoke about the value of money, critically depicting facts from fiction, and ensuring that we don’t lose trust in science.

Watch full Q&A here.



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