Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari – A Brief History of Tomorrow is the second book I read by Harari. Like the one before that, Sapiens, this is a must read. I’ve enjoyed reading it and I will re-read it. I mentioned when I was reviewing Sapiens that when I was reading that one, I stopped and ordered his next two books, as I was enjoying his writing style and his ideas.

It is a history book about tomorrow. Harari envisages alternative futures and talks about the difficulties we and our children might have in the future. Because of that, I’ve included the book into the Philosophy category and not history.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

The idea is that we’ve changed the world we live in. From animals, as most of Earth is populated by humans and their livestock, to its temperature with climate change. This is why he said Homo Sapiens becomes Homo Deus, as we are engineering new plants, new animals, and the whole landscape around us. He said that we can also engineer new people and this is one of the things that made me think. We have or we can develop the capabilities to engineer people, to change the DNA or clone. Who would benefit from this? How can we regulate it?

He talks a lot about, what he calls Data Religion, how we can “hack” humans. Hack as in a government or company knowing someone better than that someone knows themselves. It sounds SCI-FI, but is not. He made a comparison I liked, that a few hundred years ago people would sell their lands to newly arrived settlers for some coloured beads and now we are giving vital information about us to companies for a bit of convenience and cat movies. He also gives a striking example with a fictional conversation about his choice in partners, which one is better suited for him and how Google could give him a more pertinent answer based on real data.

The future is not pre determined and we can change it, but we should think of the philosophical problems we face right now. How much should companies know about us, how are we going to use the data that is collected about us, what we can do about the people whose jobs will be made obsolete due to technological improvements. It is a book worth reading.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Details about the picture: It doesn’t have any relation to the book (topic or otherwise), but the lily is from my garden.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Penguin Random House
Year it was published: 2017 (1st edition in 2016)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Philosophy
Pages: 514

About the author: Professor Harari was born in Haifa, Israel, to Lebanese parents in 1976. He received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is now a lecturer at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He specialized in World History, medieval history, and military history. Prof. Harari won the Polonsky Prize twice. In 2011 he won the Society for Military History’s Moncado Award for outstanding articles in military history.
Books by Harari: Sapiens, Homo Deus, 21 Lessons for 21st Century.
Website & Social Media Links: ynharari

4 thoughts on “Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari”

  • This sounds very interesting, yet I might find it a bit depressing, frightening, and/or frustrating. It’s touching on a lot of hot topics for today, some of which I’m not sure how I feel. While I’m normally all for advancement and new technology, I also have great reservations (paranoia?) about what that sometimes entails. As for my government (or some company or even my smartphone, for that matter) claiming to know what’s best for me? No. I do not believe that.

    • I thought it might come across like that, but the book is not depressing or frightening. He is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but just describes his views on what might happen. Knowing what can lie ahead can make us more aware and less trusting (or more if we are happy with that).
      He says (in interview on youtube, I watch him often when I’m exercising) that the technology doesn’t care how we use it. A knife doesn’t care if we use it to cut bread or kill someone and this is how new technologies work too, we are the ones deciding what to do. In these interviews he is often asked about the three major challenges we face: technological disruption, nuclear war, and climate change. It’s so interesting to hear his ideas. If you don’t want to commit to reading his books, have a look online for an interview or two, you might like him as well.

      • I might take a closer look at his books as well as looking him up on YouTube. The technological topic sounds the most intriguing to me. If you’re interested in reading about nuclear warfare, you should look up the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. I reviewed it last October and found it to be a fascinating, yet frightening account.

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