Review of Homo Deus

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Rating

9

Qualities

  • Controversial
  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening

Review

 

In this smart, original and compelling book, bestselling historian Yuval Noah Harari shares his take on the consequences of humanism and the pursuit of divinity. He suggests a vision of a world in which humans create AI which comes to dominate society. In this future, machines treat people like slaves or animals. More likely, though, they can expect algorithms and AI to exterminate them. In 400 pages, Harari offers only a page or two describing how humankind might avoid this future, and he seems unconvinced that it will. “Homo sapiens” don’t really have free will, he contends, and consciousness is mostly a mirage. People operate more like computers and their programming contains the seeds of their destruction. Harari’s original ideas are thought provoking, but it will take a great leap of faith for most readers to accept his characterization of consciousness as useless and humans as programed automatons, undeserving of freedom or even life once a superior intelligence arrives on the scene, even a superior intelligence of their own devising.

About the Author

Yuval Noah Harari, PhD, lectures on world history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also wrote the bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. His books have been translated into more than 50 languages with more than 12 million copies sold worldwide

 

Society now believes in human life and experience. Humanism is the new religion.

Harari synthesizes information from a range of disciplines through the lens of world history to offers a unique perspective on humanity. He begins with the contention that humans rule the world because they organize and tell stories. Harari acknowledges that people are still dying of starvation, disease and violence, but he suggests that people are safer now than ever. Their main dangers are self-inflicted – obesity and suicide.  

The author regards the average person as less intelligent and less capable than the earliest humans. Hunters and gatherers didn’t rule the world, bigger animals did, so ancient people's survival depended on sharp, curious, creative minds. Today, people rule the world, not because they're smarter than early humans but because they have imagination. They tell stories and weave narratives about everything. These stories contain mostly half-truths and outright lies, but, Harari contends, they determine society’s actions. Only humans can cooperate on a large scale because only humans create “fictions,” including governments, corporations, money, laws, religion and nations. 


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