Homo Deus

A Brief History of Tomorrow

by Yuval Noah Harari

Number of pages: 448

Publisher: Harvill Secker

BBB Library: Technology and Globalization

ISBN: 9780062464316

About the Author

Yuval Noah Harari is the author of international bestsellers ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ and ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’. Born in Haifa, Israel, in 1976, Harari received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is currently a lecturer at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prof. Harari is a two-time winner of the Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality, which he was awarded in 2009 and 2012. In 2011 he won the Society for Military History’s Moncado Award for outstanding articles on military history.


Editorial Review

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow examines what might happen to the world when these old myths are coupled with new godlike technologies such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. What will happen to democracy when Google and Facebook come to know our likes and our political preferences better than we know them ourselves? What will happen to the welfare state when computers push humans out of the job market and create a massive new “useless class”? How might Islam handle genetic engineering? Will Silicon Valley end up producing new religions, rather than just novel gadgets?   As Homo sapiens become Homo deus, what new destinies will we set for ourselves? As the self-made gods of planet earth, which projects should we undertake, and how will we protect this fragile planet and humankind itself from our own destructive powers? The book Homo Deus gives us a glimpse of the dreams and nightmares that will shape the 21st century.

Book Reviews

“This is a very intelligent book, full of sharp insights and mordant wit.” The Guardian

“Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow… is lively, provocative and sure to be another hit among the pooh-bahs.”— The New York Times

“While it throws up thousands of questions about where we are heading as a species, Homo Deus does a remarkable job of answering them. The plausibility of some ideas will leave the reader enthralled, but perhaps very uncomfortable.” — Financial Review

“Homo Deus is hugely ambitious in the breadth of topics and disciplines it covers, tracing how we got where we are today as a civilisation in order to better understand the possibilities and pitfalls that await us in the future.” — Star2.com

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Wisdom to Share

For the first time in history, more people die from eating much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious disease; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists, and criminals combined.

Success breeds ambition, and our recent achievements are now pushing humankind to set itself even more daring goals. Having secured unprecented levels of prosperity, health, and harmony, humanity’s next targets are likely to be immortality, happiness, and divinity.

Our ideological commitment to human life will never allow us simply to accept human death. As long as people die of something, we will strive to overcome it.

The right to the pursuit of happiness has imperceptibly morphed into the right to happiness—as if human beings have a natural right to happiness and anything which makes us dissatisfied is a violation to our basic human rights.

We are not here to serve the state—it is here to serve us.

We don’t become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations.

The shift from a homo-centric to a data-centric world view won’t be merely a philosophical revolution. It will be a practical revolution. All truly important revolutions are practical. The Dataist idea that “organisms are algorithms” is significant due to it day-to-day practical consequences. Ideas change the world only when they change our behaviour.

If humankind is indeed a single data-processing system, what is its output? Dataists would say that its output will be the creation of a new and even more efficient data-processing system, called the Internet-of-All-Things. Once this mission is accomplished, Homo sapiens will vanish.

Dataism declared that the universe consists of data flows, and the value of any phenomenon or entity is determined by its contribution to data processing.

Dataism collapses the barrier between animals and machines, and expects electronic algorithms to eventually decipher and outperform biochemical algorithms.

The new projects of the twenty-first century—gaining mortality, bliss, and divinity—hope to serve the humankind. However, because these projects aim at surpassing rather than safeguarding the norm, they may well result in the creation of a new superhuman caste that will abandon its liberal roots and treat normal humans no better than nineteenth-century Europeans treated Africans.

Twenty-first-century technology may enable external algorithms to “hack humanity” and know me far better than I know myself. Once this happens, the belief tin individualism will collapse and authority will shift from individual humans to networked algorithms.

The algorithms constituting a human are not free. They are shaped by genes and environmental pressures, and take decisions either deterministically or randomly—but not freely.

Most of us identify with our narrating self. When we say “I”, we mean the story in our head, not the onrushing stream of experiences we undergo. We identify with the inner system that takes the crazy chaos of life and spins out of it seemingly logical and consistent yarns.