Did a video on social media capture "the lead advisor to the World Economic Forum" advocating for making "useless people" addicted to drugs and video games? No, that's not true: The recording showed a pre-pandemic discussion about the societal dangers stemming from rapid technological development and growing health care inequalities. One of the two participants, Yuval Harari, is not "the lead advisor to the World Economic Forum," and the context makes it clear that he was concerned about the potential challenges of the future.
This is the lead adviser to the World Economic Forum. And this is what he's saying out loud, out loud. They're telling you what they're planning and this is insane.
That was followed by a video quote from a different man's speech:
The problem is more boredom and how to, what to do with them and how will they find some sense of meaning in life when they are basically a meaningless, worthless? My best guess at present is a combination of drugs and computer games.
This is what it looked like at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Nov 7 13:32:49 2023 UTC)
The video quote appeared with the text overlay:
[Yu]val Noah Harari is a lead advisor to Klaus Schwab.[Kla]us Schwab is the author of COVID-19 / The Great Reset ...
The quote derived from his videotaped conversation (archived here) on March 4, 2015, with Daniel Kahneman (archived here), an Israeli-American scholar whose work exploring the intersection of psychology and economics led to a Nobel Prize in 2002 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Contrary to the claim, the scholars do not make any evil plans in public -- they express concern about the dangers the world may witness as the societal response to technological advancements simultaneously spreads to different areas of human lives.
KAHNEMAN: What I find difficult to imagine is that as people are becoming unnecessary, the translation of that into sort of 20th-century terms is mass unemployment. Mass unemployment means social unrest. And it means there are things going to happen, processes going to happen in society, as a result of people becoming superfluous, and that is a gradual process, people becoming superfluous.
We may be seeing that in the growing inequality now, we may be seeing the beginning of what you're talking about. But have you thought, in the same way as you're thinking in interesting and novel ways about technology, have you thought about the social side?
HARARI: Yes, the social side is the more important and more difficult one. I don't have a solution, and the biggest question maybe in economics and politics of the coming decades will be what to do with all these useless people. I don't think we have an economic model for that. My best guess, which is just a guess, is that food will not be a problem. With that kind of technology, you will be able to produce food to feed everybody. The problem is more boredom, and what to do with people, and how will they find some sense of meaning in life when they are basically meaningless, worthless.
My best guess at present is a combination of drugs and computer games as a solution for most ... it's already happening. Under different titles, different headings, you see more and more people spending more and more time, or solving their inner problems with drugs and computer games, both legal drugs and illegal drugs. But this is just a wild guess.
What I can say is that maybe we are again in analogous position to the world in 1800. When the Industrial Revolution begins, you see the emergence of new classes of people. You see the emergence of a new class of the urban proletariat, which is a new social and political phenomenon. Nobody knows what to do with it. There are immense problems. And it took a century and more of revolutions and wars for people to even start coming up with ideas what to do with the new classes of people.
The idea about the loss of meaning in ordinary people's lives as a response to an imbalanced society comes from the theory of alienation.
The conversation was published by Edge.com, which describes itself as a "nonprofit private operating foundation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code," not by the World Economic Forum.
While both organizations largely function as platforms for the exchange of ideas, they are not the same entity.
Like many other intellectuals and political figures, Harari did address the World Economic Forum and published articles on its website, but his name is nowhere to be found on the page describing the Forum's governing structure (archived here):
While false statements about both generally vary, this particular post on Instagram tied the claim that is the focus of this fact check to the Great Reset conspiracy that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. In that worldview, the spread of the virus was somehow orchestrated by the global elite plotting to depopulate the Earth, among many other evil objectives.
As reported by the BBC (archived here), the name of the conspiracy is a reference to King Charles III, still the Prince of Wales in the summer of 2020: At the time, he called to look at the pandemic as a Great Reset of the global economy; that take was supported by the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab. The project (archived here) aimed "to bring the world's best minds together to seek a better, fairer, greener, healthier planet as we rebuild from the pandemic."
Other Lead Stories fact checks on claims related to Great Reset are here.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about COVID-19 can be found here.