Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari [Book Review]

Sapiens is where we came from, Deus is where we’re going. Although I’ll admit, I haven’t even read the first book in this (sort of) series. But I should- Homo Deus is a phenomenal book, and I’m sure Homo Sapiens is too.

Now what is this phenomenal book all about? Is it a sort of sci-fi book that talks about our amazing future of full of blockchain for everything, microchips embedded in everyone, a future where the singularity is not just near, but here? Not exactly. What this book really delivers is a wonderful philosophical discussion of humanism. Throughout the book, Harari outlines the current trends in science, technology, and society, and warns if this is really the direction want to be going.

Harari opens the book by stating that society has two things on the human agenda: achieving immortality, and achieving happiness. We don’t want to be just Homo Sapiens, we want to be Homo Deus. We want to be superhumans. But how do we know how superhumans will treat regular humans? Take a look at how we, as regular humans, treat animals. In short, we’re doomed. Humans treat animals like garbage. As Harari points out, cows are extremely emotional and intelligent, but raising cows and milking them is based on breaking the most fundamental emotional bond. Click here for more info, if you want to get into it sort of thing. It’s very sad.

After this initial discussion that essentially highlights how awful humans are, things get really philosophical. Be prepared for a lot of thinking and introspection.

On religion, Harari states that religion is just a system of moral rules that humans need to obey- in this sense, our laws, politics, and the drive towards economic growth, are all religion. The goal of religion is to provide order to create social structure. The goal of science, on the other hand, is to provide power, in order to eradicate disease. Both science and religion, while often thought of in opposition to each other, actually are both pretty much the same. There’s an agenda behind both.

Intelligence and consciousness together are what make us human, supposedly, according to humanism. But as we rely on data and algorithms more and more, the importance of intelligence fades. Does this mean we become less human, or should we change our definition of what being human really is? At the end of the day, we’re really just driven by biology, and biology is just algorithms.

Harari even throws in a discussion of the narrating self vs the experiencing self, notes that 96% of studies on the human mind and experience have been done on Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic (WEIRD) societies, and explores techno-humanism and data religion. There’s really a lot to unpack in this book, and it’s hard to summarize, because there’s just so much.

Overall, if you want a read where you’ll really be forced to think about our society, and what this means for our future, this is the book for you. Be prepared to be sad, confused, angry, or feel all of the emotions!

Rating for Homo Deus: 5/5. So thought provoking. And it makes me sad.

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