Book Review: Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus

A Brief History of Tomorrow

– Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus - Book Cover

Finally, after 9 weeks or so, I just finished reading this book. But this doesn’t imply in any sense whatsoever that this book is uninteresting to read. This read just happened to collide with other responsibilities of mine due to which I was not able to give proper time to complete reading it within the time frame I’d have liked. So, without further gossip let’s get right into the book, why I read it & what you get to learn from it.

Why I wanted to read this book?

I learned about this book as I was just about to start reading the other book “Sapiens” by the same author, Yuval Noah Harari. And after reading the Sapiens I knew I ought to read this book to know what our future holds from Harari’s perspective. This book provides a sequel to the first book & looks into the future (next 100-200 years) of human beings & talks about humanism in great detail. It discusses the role of human beings & their importance & their meaning of their existence.

General idea about what you get to read in the book:

The book begins with a remark that present day human beings have now moved on from their past where they woke up each day thinking about survival, food & fighting disease which was their primary agenda then. But since these are no longer the primary agenda of today’s & won’t be primary agenda of tomorrow’s human beings, they now need to find new purpose & meaning in life.

… Going to the bathroom, humanity washes its face, examines its wrinkles in the mirror, makes a cup of coffee and opens the diary. ‘Let’s see what’s on the agenda today.’

For thousands of years … Famine, plague and war were always at the top of the list.

According to the author while seeking this agenda, human beings will look to advance & upgrade their technology. And finally when human beings are able to replace every manual work by technology they will then seek to upgrade themselves to super-humans which might be completely different from humans that we are today.

The book also goes to great length in enlightening us that technology & non-conscious intelligence may ultimately replace human beings as it sees humans as very inefficient machines with un-necessary consciousness which will ultimately become a hindrance than a blessing.

And having raised humanity above the beastly level of survival struggles, we will now aim to upgrade humans into gods, and turn Homo sapiens into Homo deus.

Harari also discusses the development that had been going on till the time of writing this book (2016) in the field of bio-science & engineering and what its progress has for human beings of the future. He discusses religion & why it will have no significance in the future of human beings. Likewise politics will lag behind technology and elections will ultimately become obsolete as intelligent algorithms begin to understand an individual more than the individual itself. He also points out politicians & politics might just be needed in the short-term future for managing mundane tasks like maintaining roads & sewers as technology leaves them in dust in the matters that decide where the society or a nation should be headed.

Liberal habits such as democratic elections will become obsolete, because Google will be able to represent even my own political opinions better than myself.

The book also discusses the massive ecological impact this planet will have to endure as human beings & technology progresses to reach the apex of evolution. This will then result in division in society between those elite few who have access to & ability to use the latest advanced technology, algorithms & data, and the masses who do not have, who the author calls a useless class of people. This will be the biggest divide between the haves & have nots in society that the society has ever seen, far bigger than any financial, racial or religious divide since the dawn of civilization.

History is often shaped by small groups of forward-looking innovators rather than by the backward-looking masses.

The author also predicts that data will continue to hold high value & the precise reason behind creating any data will be to flow the data across the global network of the internet, which will have become by then, what Harari calls, the Internet of All Things. This data & its flow will be analyzed & re-analyzed by thousands of different super intelligent algorithms to generate wide ranging information which homo sapiens will never be able to do. And homo sapiens themselves will then gradually dissolve into the stream data.

Yet once the Internet-of-All-Things is up and running, we might be reduced from engineers to chips, then to data, and eventually we might dissolve within the data torrent like a clump of earth within a gushing river.

My personal opinion about the book:

The good:

The book was very interesting & amazing to read from the start, with the author picking up right where he left in his last book. Harari does a great job of covering wide ranging aspects of human society from the future. Moreover it puts a great light into what excitement the future holds, which unsurprisingly will be the result of even faster technological progress in every field where technology can be used. The book also talks about the threats that these technological progress will bring, including the existential threat to human beings once humans start to lose their purpose & give meaning to life. The author also talks about the ecological impact of this technological progress which humans will never seize to want. The chapters covering the existential threats of human beings from technology it itself created were the most interesting ones for me to read.

After reading this book, you too, may start seeing our existence & our control of the planet & nearly all lives on it from a very different perspective than you ever used to. You too, may start asking questions as to why humans became who we are today. If you ever feel excited to learn answers to such questions then, this book is definitely for you & I personally strongly urge you to read it along with the Sapiens. I will not tell if you will find answers to such questions in the book as I don’t want to spoil the contents of the book for you. But I’m 100% sure that you’ll be a different person (at least thinking wise) after reading the book than you were before it. I’m also sure you’ll be a tad wiser on Human history.

What would have been better?

As with his first book Sapiens, it’s incredibly difficult to mention anything that the author could have written or described better. But since I’m an optimistic person who thinks that things tomorrow will be better than they are today I’ll never say anything is perfect today. So, the one thing I’d have liked the author to do is to delve more into the future of human society in the least developed countries & countries with extreme dictatorial leadership (like North Korea) and discuss how these societies would evolve or whether they would continue to exist at all.

Anyway I understand why he didn’t discuss these things in the book, which I think is because he didn’t want the book to become an encyclopedia from the future and wanted to discuss more about human beings at their technological best. So, I think I must appreciate the great length the author went to put forward such an interesting story of Homo Sapien’s future for the next 100-200 years.

To whom I recommend this book?

I didn’t expect this book to dive into technological progress humans would make the way it has done. So, any tech enthusiast who is curious to know what technological progress means to human beings in general, should definitely read this. I’d also like to recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what human society would look like & what new challenges await them in the next 100 to 200 years. But, all-in-all, no-one will go wrong reading this book. It will surely keep anyone reading it fascinated & wanting more until the end.

What’s next from me?

I’ve long wanted to read the next book that I’ve decided to read. The book itself is very controversial with its author being one of the least liked persons of the twentieth century. After saying this if you thought about Mein Kampf & Adolf Hitler then you got my next book to read right. I know reading this book & understanding it will not be easy but I think it will be quite an interesting read. I wanted to explain why I wanted to read this book here in this blog but this blog has already become too long. So, I will be writing a separate article on why I wanted to read the book, hopefully in the next few days. Thanks for reading this far. Until next time keep learning.

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