Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. T...

Title:Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Reviews

  • Nir

    Harari is a fantastic historian: he writes effortlessly and fascinatingly about historic trends, and has a great big picture perspective of the revolutions and contexts of historical progression.

    Harari, however, is not a good futurologist and an absolutely terrible cognitive scientist. Being educated in Cognitive Science and technology myself, all I can say, with the utmost respect I can offer to a fellow Israeli, is that he's full of shit.

    Homo Deus is an attempt to make a sequel to the wildly p

    Harari is a fantastic historian: he writes effortlessly and fascinatingly about historic trends, and has a great big picture perspective of the revolutions and contexts of historical progression.

    Harari, however, is not a good futurologist and an absolutely terrible cognitive scientist. Being educated in Cognitive Science and technology myself, all I can say, with the utmost respect I can offer to a fellow Israeli, is that he's full of shit.

    Homo Deus is an attempt to make a sequel to the wildly popular (and actually quite good) "From Animals into Gods" - its main thesis is that in the 21st century, liberal humanism would progress into "techno humanism"; and that humanity's main efforts would be to upgrade humans into some bizarre godlike cyborg entity. He focuses on some aspects of modern progress (e.g. genetic engineering) and extrapolates completely insane uses. An example of a claim that he makes: In the near future, the efforts of medical science would be tuned to upgrading the rich rather than healing the diseases of the poor.

    His underlying zeal for a hunter gatherer sociological eco-utopia notwithstanding - this is bullshit, and focuses on a remote obscure threat rather than a very real threat that's already here: If there's a threat to modern society from modern medical science, it's is the personalization of medicine, rather than "upgrades". That is, drugs would be concocted to be maximally efficient according to a genotype. This is already happening at a very rough scale (for instance, there are drugs that are more effective on people of African American descent) - but in the near future, rather than upgrade themselves, the rich people would simply have far more effective cancer treatment because they'd be able to afford genotyping and personal medicine.

    If the cyborg-upgrade part sounds to you like a bad synopsis of a Neal Stephenson novel, you're absolutely right. Let's all jack into the Matrix now!

    Needless to say, the views have the grounding in scientific and research reality that a SciFi fanfic about Kirk banging Uhura has, and it is written with the same brain addling juvenile exuberance.

    Read the first book of his; avoid the second.

  • Atila Iamarino

    Que livro amigos, que livro. Não lembro do que li que me fez pensar tanto e mudar a forma como vejo o mundo. Uma ótima análise rápida sobre como chegamos aqui, que se conecta muito bem com o

    , e uma análise mais extensa sobre para onde podemos ir. A análise em terceira pessoa sobre humanismo, capitalismo e tendências futuras é excelente. E a reflexão que ele traz sobre os valores que damos para o valor individual, consciência e autonomia só deve ganhar import

    Que livro amigos, que livro. Não lembro do que li que me fez pensar tanto e mudar a forma como vejo o mundo. Uma ótima análise rápida sobre como chegamos aqui, que se conecta muito bem com o

    , e uma análise mais extensa sobre para onde podemos ir. A análise em terceira pessoa sobre humanismo, capitalismo e tendências futuras é excelente. E a reflexão que ele traz sobre os valores que damos para o valor individual, consciência e autonomia só deve ganhar importância nos próximos anos. E tudo isso em uma linguagem acessível e ao alcance de qualquer audiência. Com certeza algo que vou reler muito ainda.

    p.s. O livro sai em alguns meses ainda, tive a oportunidade de fazer a revisão técnica da versão em português.

  • David

    This is a powerful book by a truly insightful author. I recently read Harari's previous great book,

    , and I enjoyed this one just as much. There is so much packed into

    , that it is hard to do justice to the book in a review. Yuval Harari has such a unique insight into how the world turns. He is sometimes very blunt, but he "tells it like he sees it." The first two-thirds of the book is devoted to a description of how the

    This is a powerful book by a truly insightful author. I recently read Harari's previous great book,

    , and I enjoyed this one just as much. There is so much packed into

    , that it is hard to do justice to the book in a review. Yuval Harari has such a unique insight into how the world turns. He is sometimes very blunt, but he "tells it like he sees it." The first two-thirds of the book is devoted to a description of how the humanist philosophy developed, while the last third is about how humanism may very well fall to the wayside in the not-too-distant future.

    In the beginning of the book, Harari describes two new human agendas. The first is how humans attempt to extend their lifetimes, and the second is to increase happiness. The goal is to upgrade homo sapiens into homo deus. That is, the desire to re-engineer our bodies and minds, escape old age, death and misery. Basically, to attain divinity. Harari gives numerous examples of how were technologies developed to aid ill or handicapped people, and then were borrowed to help "normal" healthy people; prosthetics, bionics, Viagra, memory aid drugs, plastic surgery, and genetic engineering. (In 2000, a baby girl was born with genetic inheritance from three parents; nuclear genes from mother and father, and mitochondrial DNA from another woman! A year later, the U.S. government banned this special treatment, but the U.K. has since approved it.)

    Harari contends that historians study the past, not in order to repeat it, or to foretell the future, but to be liberated from it. He gives a marvelous example of the history of the grass lawn. He writes that the best reason to study history is not to predict the future, but to "free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies."

    Harari has some interesting insights into the founding of modern religions. He writes that they were founded when humans switched from hunting/foraging to agriculture. A central point of the religions was to give humans dominion over all animals, in order to justify their domestication and superiority, and to justify the terrible suffering humans cause for animals. The agricultural revolution was both an economic and a religious revolution, used to justify brutal exploitation of animals. Agricultural societies also started treating some classes of people as property. I wonder, though, didn't pre-agricultural societies practice slavery? When I try to do some simple online research in this subject, it seems like Harari might be correct; slavery was established to mimic the domestication of animals. And, the agricultural revolution was bad for humans in other ways, as well. A peasant in 1850 in China or Britain had a worse life than an archaic hunter-gatherer, from the point of view of diet and hygiene.

    Harari has some unique insights into the dichotomy between religion and science. He describes science as a new "religion" that replaced theist religions with humanist religions, replacing gods with humans. The hatred of monotheists for the theory of evolution is inspired by the lack of scientific evidence for a human soul. A soul has no parts, and evolution operates through incremental changes to various parts of a whole. But, both religion and science, in theory at least, are both devoted to the truth. But since their truths are different they seem doomed to clash. However, since neither religion nor science really care much about truth, they can coexist. Religion is mostly interested in social order and structure, while science is mostly interested in power. That is, the power to cure disease, fight war and produce food. So, since religion and science prefer order and power over truth, they "make good bedfellows."

    Modernity is a simple deal based on a contract: Humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power. Plagues, droughts and wars have no cosmic meaning to modern humanism, but we have the power to eradicate them. Paradise does not await us after death, but we have the power, in principle, to create paradise here on Earth. Modernity is based on the belief that growth is essential. Growth is the supreme value. Because avarice and greed help to fuel growth, they are encouraged.

    Traditional religions offer no alternative to liberalism because they are reactive instead of creative. This wasn't always true. During the Middle Ages, Christian monasteries were among the most advanced centers for innovations--Harari lists a number of their innovations. But today religions look to scriptures for answer. But scriptures are no longer a source of creativity, as they say nothing about modern technologies such as genetic engineering or artificial intelligence. Harari describes three different possible futures for humanism. In one of these, liberalism may die out as technology displaces humans. The masses will lose their economic and military importance. Harari suggests that "Dataism" may appear as a new religion. Dataism advances the first truly new value in nearly 200 years; the value of freedom of information. Dataism is firmly entrenched in its two mother disciplines, computer science and biology. Organisms are seen by scientists as data-processing systems. The stock market is the most powerful of all data processing systems, and centralized government is one of the worst. Capitalism defeated Communism during the Cold War, not because it is more ethical or because individual liberties are sacred, but because in times of rapid technological change, distributed processing systems work better than centralized systems.

    Humanists rely on feelings to make important decisions, and these feelings evolved over millions of years. But often our feelings are just irrational and wrong. Computer algorithms can surpass feelings in making good decisions. So, the humanist recommendation to "get in touch with your feelings" may not he given in the future. Perhaps, meaning in life will not lie in our experiences, until they are shared with others, through social media. And, these social media will analyze our experiences, and be able to give expert advice on important decisions. Harari gives some pretty good evidence that this trend may come to pass.

    I do want to quibble with some numbers that Harari proposes. He writes that the one billion cars owned around the world could be reduced to 50 million, if they were jointly owned and operated autonomously. People could share rides. However, people want to commute to work in cars all at the same time. They sit in parking lots at work and at home because people have no need for them during work hours and overnight.

    But this is perhaps a minor point in Harari's argument. Many people will pooh-pooh much of what Harari has to say. But, it is all extremely thought-provoking. I have just scratched the surface of this book. I highly recommend it to all open-minded people who are not afraid to think a bit differently about the meaning of life, about our political structures, and the future.

  • Emma

    This is a profoundly shocking piece of writing, a tactic which Yuval Noah Harari uses to great effect in getting readers to think about society today. The book is ostensibly about the future of mankind, but really is a means of highlighting how current trends in science, technology, humanity etc may progress and asks if that's really how we want things to go. It's philosophy. That big question that has been posed throughout the ages: how should we live? He makes clear that his hypotheses are onl

    This is a profoundly shocking piece of writing, a tactic which Yuval Noah Harari uses to great effect in getting readers to think about society today. The book is ostensibly about the future of mankind, but really is a means of highlighting how current trends in science, technology, humanity etc may progress and asks if that's really how we want things to go. It's philosophy. That big question that has been posed throughout the ages: how should we live? He makes clear that his hypotheses are only potential ways the future might unfold, but the text comes across as a warning as much as anything else.

    For me, the most interesting and thought-provoking was his argument for the better treatment of animals. While we have placed ourselves at the top of the species ladder, new advents in technology may bring about computer technologies which replace us in the number one spot. Considering we may well end up in the unenviable position of the underdog, perhaps we should take more care of those who, like us, may well depend on the goodwill of this higher in the chain. Not only that, modern technology has increasingly allowed us to understand the emotional and intellectual complexity of animals in a way that should make it difficult to treat them as lesser beings. This is an issue that has been playing on my mind for some time. It seems like every week now we are getting news reports of another animal ripped from its habitat for a selfie and dying as a result. Pictures of intensive farming that have animals in cages so small they can't lay down. My social media newsfeed of animals mistreated, dumped, abused, given no more thought than a piece of trash. Harari is a vegan and his specific set of beliefs come across in the text. Yet, as a current meat eater, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify my position. I don't know what to do that can help and the book doesn't offer any concrete plans for change, but it has added another dimension to the considerations I have been struggling with myself.

    Overall though, it is Harari's style which is the most engaging. I rushed though this book because even the most complex issues are dealt with in accessible language and an approachable tone. It's fun and despite the subject matter, doesn't take itself too seriously. It felt like the starting point of a conversation, somewhat controversial of course, but isn't that the best way to get a debate going?

    Many thanks to Yuval Noah Harari, Random House/Vintage, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Safat

    We are not so taken aback when we hear computer programs can beat human chess masters. After all, computers are far more efficient calculators than humans, and chess can be broken down to calculations (In fact, nowadays chess masters don't stand a chance against present day computer Chessmaster programs. It's simply not possible for a human mind to beat them). And we're also not at all shocked when Google and Tesla present us automated cars driven by computer programs. Nevertheless, we reason,co

    We are not so taken aback when we hear computer programs can beat human chess masters. After all, computers are far more efficient calculators than humans, and chess can be broken down to calculations (In fact, nowadays chess masters don't stand a chance against present day computer Chessmaster programs. It's simply not possible for a human mind to beat them). And we're also not at all shocked when Google and Tesla present us automated cars driven by computer programs. Nevertheless, we reason,computers can never rival humans in arts, because arts require something distinctively(perhaps even spiritually) humane, which can never be replicated by computers.

    If you're a believer in this sort of human distinctiveness, perhaps you would naturally be thrown off upon hearing that a computer program written by a professor of musicology produced musical piece that the audience thought was superior to Bach. In other words, AI has already passed the Turing test in music.

    If programs can outperform us in our allegedly distinct 'human art' form, there's really no reason to think that it can't outperform us in every other field. Programs may lack subjective consciousness like us, but that doesn't stop them to outperform us in intellectual and artistic fields.

    Harari's new book explores the dimensions of the marriage between man and machine. He basically paints a dystopian vision of the future where humanity is by and large subjugated to non conscious intelligent machines. He even entertains the idea with the rise of brain-machine interfaces, where today's elite class of human beings would upgrade themselves to a biologically improved version of humans, which the general mass couldn't possibly afford for their lives. This would create a real caste system with real biological hierarchies.

    After reading Harari's previous book

    , I must say that I am a bit disappointed with this book. Much of the book is reiteration of the previous book which seemed to me largely redundant. However, although this book is not as articulated or entertaining as the previous one, it is probably more important, considering the topics it deals with.

  • Cj Dufficy

    Certainly a disappointment when compared to Sapiens. The insights were generally already well presented in the earlier book. The section on animal lives is not convincingly warranted for inclusion but more obviously just a passion for the author leading me to feel I was being preached too. His criticism of Dawkins et al although correct could be equally pointed at himself. The universe will move from hot to cold regardless of quantum mechanical randomness at the quanta scale and equally at our b

    Certainly a disappointment when compared to Sapiens. The insights were generally already well presented in the earlier book. The section on animal lives is not convincingly warranted for inclusion but more obviously just a passion for the author leading me to feel I was being preached too. His criticism of Dawkins et al although correct could be equally pointed at himself. The universe will move from hot to cold regardless of quantum mechanical randomness at the quanta scale and equally at our barely greater scale (in universal terms) the path of the universe need not worry about human probabilistic behaviour, our free will is irrelevant to the progress of the universe. The fact that it is buried in our consciousness where language based thought is absent is hardly surprising as without it we could never have arrived at language based thought.

    All living things will die (even if capable of life spans we can't comprehend now) something terminal eventually happens to everything. As finally when the universe is so cold nothing can happen, long after this proton decay will plant the last nail in all coffins. Dr Hariri is no different to a WW1 general asking people to sacrifice some of their one and only life to benefit some unknown present or future person or animal with zero guarantees the sacrifice pays off but 100% certainty of the personal cost. Technology won't replicate humans, why would anyone want to copy such an imperfect organism when so many better options would be available?

    He admits, to paraphrase Dr King, that the arc of history is towards justice. The future is not a destination we choose any effort to dictate global outcomes never succeeds and this book is just another "I know best contribution" that will soon be forgotten.

    Generally the book feels as a world view supported selectively and not the wonderful voyage of discovery presented in Sapiens. Like Dawkins hating God though not believing, the author to object to humanism sneers at humans. No one ever said humans should act justly towards anything as a result of evolution but wth curiosity, generosity and empathy we have achieved a lot and are headed to achieve more although doomed anyway either in the long or short term. He fails completely to demonstrate any logic for a human that is mortal caring the exact length of time left to the species and acting altruistically as a result, and so totally unaware his action would have a measurable affect. If Mr Schickelbach hadn't changed his name to Hitler how different would the 20th century have been? What is the possibility of picking out causal events like these or knowing preventing them offers a better present. Everyone alive today must selfishly accept all of the great or horrible past or simply not exist.

    I'm happy I read it just a little deflated that so little eye opening left field explanations are in it and so many unsupported claims are made.

    To sum up he reminds me of the experimenter that forgets he is part of the experiment and can never not be.

  • Andrej Karpathy

    This book reads like the author read a number of popular science articles, watched some sci-fi movies, attended a transhumanist meetup, got just a bit high on weed and then started writing.

  • Darwin8u

    ― Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

    Harari takes us, with this continuation to his blockbuster book

    , from the past to t

    ― Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

    Harari takes us, with this continuation to his blockbuster book

    , from the past to the future. This book shares a lot of the same limitations of the previous book. But because "speculation" is inherent in writing about the future, Harari's jumps are easier to forgive when talking about tomorrow than when talking about today.

    I'm a diabetic and have an insulin pump and I've thought of myself, only partially in jest, as a early, unsophisticated, cyborg the last ten years. I walk around with my iphone plugged into my ears, my artificial pancreas plugged into my thigh, my sensor for my pump plugged into my stomach. It isn't very neat. We have miles to go before all of this technology becomes aesthetically amazing, and loses all the wires and clunky functionality, but it still gives me pause about the future. My friend's Tesla drives by itself, big data seems able to predict what I will buy next, my smart phone really is smart. Perhaps we are all surfing towards some Omega Point.

    I have a friend who is a Transhumanist and it has been interesting to hear him discuss the values and virtues of Transhumanism. I'm a little more hesitant. I'm no Luddite, but I DO worry about these big technological/cultural/commercial shifts. Will technology make Homo Sapiens the next Homo Neanderthalensis? Will these gains through AI, technology, genetic modification, etc., be well-thought-out? Harari hedges by saying he doesn't know what the future brings (If he did, perhaps we should just join his church), but is only using this discussion to suggest the type of ethical and moral and even survival discussions we SHOULD probably be having. As we incrementally crawl towards some form of technological singularity, perhaps we need to give pause to not just the benefits, but costs of self-driving cars and sex robots.

  • Helen 2.0

    Obviously I need to get a copy of

    because I loved this book. I can't claim to be well-read in the topic of

    , so I'm definitely biased in my opinion that

    . Every few pages my copy has lengthy passages highlighted, brilliant bits I just knew I would want to reference when I pitched this book to family and friends later on.

    In Homo Deus, Harari holds that now that humanity has all but solved the mammoth pr

    Obviously I need to get a copy of

    because I loved this book. I can't claim to be well-read in the topic of

    , so I'm definitely biased in my opinion that

    . Every few pages my copy has lengthy passages highlighted, brilliant bits I just knew I would want to reference when I pitched this book to family and friends later on.

    In Homo Deus, Harari holds that now that humanity has all but solved the mammoth problems plaguing it before the 21st century - disease, famine, and violence - it will turn to a new agenda, namely

    . This is what the blurb will tell you, but the book addresses many more topics beyond the above.

    The author writes about our potential future in terms of our recent and ancient past (he is, after all, first and foremost a historian). He explains how humans distinguished themselves from the animal world and came to recognize the human experience and economic growth as the ultimate powers of the recent centuries. Harari then turns to look at where the unstoppable tide of technology and progress may take us in a few decades -

    .

    His ideas, put starkly, may sound like far-fetched science fiction, but Harari supports his assertions with historical and current evidence as well as deep insights that make his

    . Even though he states that Homo Deus is meant to help readers explore all possible future routes of humankind, the book still induced an ominous feeling in me the whole way.

    One of my favorite passages concerns the belief in a potential scientific "Noah's Ark" which will deliver the rich and social elite from detrimental future effects of climate change, leaving the poor masses to deal with the fallout:

    Touché.

    And one of the best "food for thought" snippets, in a chapter discussing (among other things) the moral implications of farming animals:

    All that being said, the book does have a tendency to ramble a bit. Harari hammers his main points into the reader through

    and returns. There are 50 page chapters in Homo Deus, elaborating on and illustrating one single-sentence argument. However, lots of the evidence the author presents is interesting in itself - often it was a historical case applicable to current events - so it never gets boring.

  • Riku Sayuj

    The audacious first act, Sapiens, ended with a wild and apocalyptic prophesy - that the Sapiens were cooking up the next epochal revolution that will overshadow the previous three: the cognitive, agricultural and scientific/industrial revolutions. Home Deus, the second act, is the full exploration of that prophesy.

    Both Sapiens and Homo Deus are compulsory reading in my book, even though the macro-history presented is plenty vulnerable to all sorts of attacks. But then, it might be

    The audacious first act, Sapiens, ended with a wild and apocalyptic prophesy - that the Sapiens were cooking up the next epochal revolution that will overshadow the previous three: the cognitive, agricultural and scientific/industrial revolutions. Home Deus, the second act, is the full exploration of that prophesy.

    Both Sapiens and Homo Deus are compulsory reading in my book, even though the macro-history presented is plenty vulnerable to all sorts of attacks. But then, it might be better to think of these as works of philosophy and not of history. Just like Sapiens is not a History, Home Deus is not a prophesy, both are explorations.

    This line can be taken as the transition line that links the first book with the second one:

    The old enemies of mankind— plague, famine and war—are now under control. Except for the potentially restrictive energy constraint, Sapiens has very little standing in our way now. The result is that the Sapiens are becoming more and more God-like, Harari says, and one is forced to pause and reflect: by any previous standards of our history, are we not already Gods? Have we not already exceeded most wild power fantasies? Well yes, but even more God-like attributes are coming: cheating death and creating new life being primary.

    And along with this march towards the godlike we are marching towards being machine-like too, as we outsource more and more of our internal algorithms to better data-based external algorithms. And the march is relentless, Homo Deus is taking birth before our eyes. The tomorrow is already upon us, and so forth.

    However, just like the previous three revolutions that infused the Sapiens with power, this revolution too will come at a price, the price of a ratcheting up of inequality. The new Gods will be the techno-super-rich. BTW, reading Harari is good motivation to work on getting rich faster: he hints at a possibility that anyone who is rich enough to afford it, some 50 years into the future, should be able to buy proxy-immortality. And it will probably be a window that closes quickly, since the super-rich would soon take over the monopoly on immortality. So if you are rich enough at the right point in time, then you can be part of Olympus too. That might not be a deal many would want to miss out on…

    There is one more catch: as technology takes over most of the functions, even the godlike sapiens will find themselves stuck in a universe devoid of real meaning. Bulk of humanity will have no economic, social or cultural purpose since anything we can do our new creations would be able to do even better. “Organisms are algorithms,” and the new algorithms will be so much better than the imperfect ones we are made of. As Bill Gates asked in his article about the book, “What If People Run Out of Things to Do?” We will be stuck in an immortal meaninglessness, our own creations clearly our betters. We will need a new religion to make sense of all this, since the powerful combo of Humanism+Science will not work in world where the sanctity of being Human has lost meaning. Harari feels that “Dataism” will be the religion that will fill the avoid left by Humanism.

    The whole of Humanity, the Earth, and maybe the entire Universe will become servants to data - a huge data-processing system, the eternal all-knowing Atman. And serving this goal will be the only meaningful pursuit left for us.

    Immortal, All-powerful, Obsolete: this is the future of the Sapiens.


Books Finder is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.