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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2017)

by Yuval Noah Harari

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,642773,750 (3.99)65
"Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style--thorough, yet riveting--famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonald's than from being blown up by Al Qaeda. What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century-- from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution" --… (more)

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» See also 65 mentions

English (56)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (4)  French (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Contains many interesting ideas (referenced, not original) and several flashes of brilliance once it gets going after a long introduction. Would be four stars if it were less repetitive and didn’t stop to explain its own structure and upcoming chapters so much. ( )
  brandonlee | Jun 11, 2020 |
For all you technogeeks out there interested in transhumanism, the world-as-story theory of everything human, or you SF lovers, there really isn't all that much new inside this book. You're probably well versed in these ideas. Money, cultural realism, trust, and how we use technology or religion is al based on a fiction that we all accept. No problem.

When it comes to imagining what might come next, from singularities, man-machine hybrids, or the idea that AIs might consider us superfluous (an idea I am increasingly starting to agree with), there really isn't anything groundbreaking here.

So why do I give it a four rather than a three or lower?

It's entertaining, well-written, and while it doesn't scratch my itch to learn anything new, it is a fairly comprehensive backdrop of what might come next. Of course, we're dealing with future prediction here. Most of what we assume will never come about. :)

Oh, well! At least it's consensual food-for-thought. Zeitgeist stuff. Our current hopes and fears rather than reality. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I read Harari’s Sapiens a few years ago and found it a refreshing take on human history and where we came from. In Home Deus, Harari attempts to show us not only where we came from but where we’ll end up going, with a healthy disclaimer that no one actually knows what’s going to happen.

As a casual history enthusiast, I enjoy reading Harari’s books not only because they offer a new perspective that is different from what we usually go through, but also because he ends up writing exquisitely at times. The web of words he weaves has a lilt and a harmony to it that is not usually found in books written by historians and philosophers. He makes you aware of certain facts that seem obvious but have hitherto been obscured to you because you never thought about them deeply – the agricultural revolution being a religious one for example. It’s doubly enjoyable to the casual reader because of the multidisciplinary topics that are covered in the books and how they’re artfully melded together for the layman to read and enjoy. I think the book is quoteworthy as well – “We read history to liberate ourselves from it” – not something we discussed in history class at university. I think my unfortunate friends will be exposed to my Harari quote-dropping for the next few days.

Some passages in the book are brilliant and cause you to stop reading and absorb something that is bigger and has much wider implications than the mere words on the page itself. You suddenly start connecting things, making assumptions and discovering the nature of human existence. Curiously, this is not always connected to what the chapter is discussing at the moment – the passage will talk at length about something else but your brain will kick into overdrive itself. I found the book to be highly conducive to thought.

Content wise, I had some concerns. Unfortunately, as with Sapiens, I found the book to be overly reductive at times. It often seems to me that Harari misses the forest for the trees and follows a reductive approach in his reasoning. I generally found myself agreeing with the arguments but then there are small passages where he argues something technical that leave me less than impressed. Neurotransmitters cause PTSD, depression and stress instead of bombs, war and poverty. Kind of disingenuous. Biologically, that is absolutely correct but the very essence of life is reaction to a stimulus. Remove the stimulus and the action doesn’t take place. It’s like saying you don’t jerk your hand away because fire is hot but because electrical signals cause a contraction in your muscles. Absolutely true. Absolutely missing the point. There are times where a bit of clarification in word usage wouldn’t go amiss either. Harari redefines what he means by religion and keeps using the word in the context of this new definition – the word “belief system” might have saved me some wondering in the earlier chapters.

While the book made for fantastic reading and was filled with great nuggets, I found the final third to be lacking and quotidian. Perhaps I expected Harari to cover some new ground but it seemed like we were going over things that I had already been exposed to in Brave New World, and for the anime fans – Psycho Pass. The ending isn’t as satisfying either as we cover old ground and too-far-in-the-future ideas.

Nevertheless, while I found Sapiens overly biological and not sociological enough, reading Homo Deus made me understand the last book a bit better. It made for exciting reading and opened me up to new ideologies and definitions I hadn’t heard of or properly thought of before. The abrasive style of writing is also quite interesting and while I found myself not agreeing with everything, it was still made for worthwhile reading if merely for the exposure to some great ideas and different way of thinking. Recommend. ( )
  Fitzgeralds_Cat | May 28, 2020 |
Presente da Tia Leni, no natal de 2017 ( )
  Nagib | May 24, 2020 |
Very good follow up. I feel like most of what this book does is explain the categories and models that help thinking about the modern world. He breaks down larger trends throughout the 20th and 21st century and simplifies things quite a bit to make them graspable and describable. Not as mind-glowingly informative, but good, conservative futurism.

The one thing that removes the star is the lack of an in-depth discussion of his conception of algorithms. He does not delineate between explanatory models and descriptive models; that is: we have models that we use to describe the world as it is, to classify things, and just *how* they work doesn’t really matter as long as they *do* work. We also have explanatory models that simplify the world into parameters churned together. We understand how the latter work, because that’s what they’re meant to do. We don’t care about understanding the former. There’s little discussion in the book about the “because” behind why facebook or google may be able to run your life more smoothly. When AlphaGo wins a game, it’s only humans that are capable of describing “why” it won the game. That “why” is a source of humanity, and that discussion and meditation was lacking in the later chapters. ( )
  jtth | May 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harari, Yuval NoahAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Giménez, Esther RoigTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heijne, BasForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holdorf, JürgenErzählersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perkins, DerekNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Retzlaff, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ros i Aragonès, JoandomènecTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wirthensohn, AndreasÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
林俊宏Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
יהב, איציקיועץsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To my teacher, S. N. Goenka (1924 - 2013), who lovingly taught me important things.
First words
The New Human Agenda

At dawn of the third millenium, humanity wakes up, stretching its limbs and rubbing its eyes.
Quotations
The study of the human mind has so far assumed that Homo sapiens is Homer Simpson.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
"First published as A History of Tomorrow in Hebrew in Israel in 2015 by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir."
"Previously published in Great Britain in 2016 by Harville Secker, a division of Penguin Random House Group Ltd."--Title-page verso.
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Contents:

The new human agenda -- Homo sapiens conquers the world. The Anthropocene ; The human spark -- Homo sapiens gives meaning to the world. The storytellers ; The odd couple ; The modern covenant ; The humanist revolution -- Homo sapiens loses control. The time bomb in the laboratory ; The great decoupling ; The ocean of consciousness ; The data religion.
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