Title: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Genre: Nonfiction, Sociology
Date published: February 21st 2017
Page Count: 450
Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.
What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.
Like the first novel, Homo Deus begins by exploring a bit of the history of Homo Sapiens up until the present. However, this installment focuses more on the philosophical aspects of how a society functions and how this has shifted over time.
It’s packed with a lot of information and details. And while it was dense to read at times, I found some of the points that Yuval Harari makes really enlightening. He identifies and explores the pivotal moment where society switches from religion and god to humanism and free will. In addition, he takes a detour into capitalism and communism with a brief crash course on its philosophy and history.
This book is quite heavy on moral philosophy as well as self-identity, and applies it through different lenses. Whether it’s determining whether organisms simply follow organisms or if humans truly possess free will, Homo Deus brings up a lot of provocative questions that are left to be solved.
The last part of the book delves into the role that data and technological progress has on altering/replacing the humanist view that the world has taken on in the last two centuries. Explaining the decoupling of consciousness from intelligence through the emergence of self-driving cars and AI, Harari encourages readers to decide which is more important.
In the end, he concludes that society will shift towards “Dataism” which will replace humanism. The concept that the world will be driven by data and that human’s roles are to simply serve this greater data-processing system is albeit bleak, but I agree that Harari has an interesting point.
Yuval Noah Harari’s has a really approachable writing style which makes it easy for readers to follow along some of his more complex concepts. He introduces a lot of compelling arguments in his book that has kept me thinking. There’s a chockful of information here; so I’m still trying to digest a lot of it (not gonna lie, my head is spinning a bit).
If you’ve enjoyed Sapiens, I recommend you check this out!
While reading the book, it made me think of other articles and videos that were relevant to his points. Even if you haven’t read the book, you can check some of these clips out!