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

Now what?

That’s the question that the best selling author of Sapiens, Harari, asks in his latest work.  Humans have achieved great things.  The destructive matters which struck fear into humans from past centuries – famine, disease, and war – have largely been reduced.  As Harari points out, obesity kills more humans than starvation, old age more than disease, and suicide more than war/murder.  Humans no longer have to pray to God(s) to deliver us from these evils, we have managed to deliver ourselves from them.  So where does the human race go from here?  Harari believes that just as the Enlightenment limited the influence of God leading many of us to believe that there is no cosmic plan and mortals are not merely victims of fate, our current world is replacing that humanistic view with a sort of “dataism” – where humans play a smaller and smaller role in the affairs of the world.  Where a decision used to be made by a real person, more and more these decisions are being made by algorithms and the artificial intelligence which understands and controls them.  Given that this work is largely speculative, there is much to debate here.  But even if you largely disagree with Harari’s beliefs and conclusions there is still much fodder for pondering the future of our existence.

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