Synopsis (Goodreads): Humans today enjoy unprecedented levels of power and an increasingly god-like status. The great epidemics of the past – famine, plague and war – no longer control our lives. We are the only species in history that has single-handedly changed the entire planet, and we can no longer blame a higher being for our fate.
But as our gods take a back seat, and Homo Sapiens becomes Homo Deus, what are we going to do with ourselves? How do we set the agenda for our own future without pushing our species – and the rest of the world – beyond its limits?
Mind blown. Yuval Noah Harari has demonstrated again how he is one of the most unique thinkers alive today. I’ve said it before, and I’d repeat it here, but books like this are insanely difficult to review just because they leave your mind reeling from the contents and completely change your way of thinking.
In his first book, Sapiens, Harari discussed the history of humankind and how Homo Sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth. In this provocative and thoughtful follow-up (which can also very easily be read as a stand-alone book), he looks at the future, taking us through his thoughts on the new human agenda now that we have largely eliminated the major problems of war, famine and plague which dominated before the 21st century.
One of my favourite insights from the book is Harari’s argument that the greatest things humans have to fear is themselves – for the first time, we are more likely to die by committing suicide than by being killed in war, or by eating too much rather than too little. He argues how whilst modern culture is at its most powerful point in history, ceaselessly researching, inventing, discovering and growing, it is at the same time plagued by more existential angst than in any previous time period.
The author uses his vast reservoirs of social and historical knowledge to forecast the general direction the human race will move in over the coming years, covering a lot of ground from how the evolution of humanism as a religion defined how we think, to what may happen when non-conscious algorithms make better decisions for us because they know us better than we know ourselves.
While making it clear that he doesn’t have all the answers, Harari does raise a lot of important questions that will leave you brooding for quite while, especially if you don’t agree with everything he says. Summarising this book in the simplest of terms…I loved it.