My first read of the year – Homo Deus, A brief history of tomorrow, took a total of 20 days or approx 3 weeks to finish. Not because, its a difficult read, thought-provoking yes, but not difficult, and we can thank Dr.Yuval Noah Harari for that. I have read Sapiens and was spell-bound by that book especially with the soothing, inquisitive voice of Dr.Harari guiding me through each page. Homo Deus had the same communicative voice and a rich narrative laced with some dry humor but somehow couldn’t captivate me as much as Sapiens did. One major put off was that Dr.Harari kept reiterating many of the statements and points he had already made in his first book. Homo Deus begins with an introductory chapter that sets the tone for the entire book, which is further divided into three parts. The introductory chapter is titled ‘The new human agenda’ and Dr.Harari states, that the future of humanity could be summed in attainment or pursuit of three categorically important virtues- Immortality, Bliss, and Divinity. Harari argues that by seeking immortality and perpetual bliss, humans or homo sapiens are trying to upgrade themselves in homo Deus, superhumans, gods or achieve divinity. It’s a huge claim to make and Harari goes on to chart the part of history once again and talks about how homo sapiens were able to climb the ladder of natural selection and conquered the world, slowly Harari moves on to the present and underlines the progress in different realms of the academic world- microbiology, history, computer science. He talks about the advances in the fields of nanotechnology, gene methodology, microbiology and artificial intelligence. Harari even argues that in this so-called post-liberal world, individuality or individuals won’t matter anymore, and the collective would regain its power. During his erudition of the present, Harari asks many questions and make some bold statements, some of which struck a chord with me such as,
“In the twenty-first century our personal data is probably the most valuable resource most humans still have to offer, and we are giving it to the tech giants in exchange for email services and funny cat videos.”
Slowly he builds up a future of humanity that is bleak, data-driven and looks a lot like the world of the matrix, without, a cute Keanu Reevs possibly saving the world. Harari also warns and states multiple times that these claims are not prophecies but possibilities of how the world might look like. Many a time, I was taken by Harari’s argument and was forced to acknowledge the reality I could see around myself, but I wasn’t entirely convinced either. At the end of the book, Harari leaves the reader with three questions:
- Are organisms really just algorithms and is life really just data processing?
- What’s more valuable- intelligence or consciousness?
- What will happen to society, politics daily life when non-conscious (aka artificial intelligence) but highly intelligent algorithm know us better than we know ourselves?
Should you read this book? Yes, I would recommend it, but read it to understand one person’s perception of how the world might look like based on some facts and the current reality, read it so you are intellectually stimulated, and start asking more questions about the world and reality which we live in today, and your current choices are better informed, read it but do not make it a bible, do not start arguing with the world that artificial intelligence will take over the world.
If you wish to buy the book, click here.
The next book on my list is Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant. My first brush with French literature and I am quite excited.
Did you like Homo Deus? Have you read it? Leave a comment and let me know.