Non Fiction

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

This is one person’s take on the recent history of humankind, extrapolating into the future. Homo Deus is full of propositions to think about and argue with. I suspect this is the approach the author takes in his lectures (at Hebrew University in Jerusalem) to encourage classroom discussion. I found myself frequently disagreeing with his pronouncements, but since you can’t talk back to a book, I plowed on through his discussions of ascendent religion, now that God has died, what religion is for, anyway, and on to his conclusions that perhaps a select few people might live forever, that life is data flows, and what would happen if artificial intelligence outperforms anything humans can come up with?
It’s a book that covers a lot of history and ideas in unique ways that are often very interesting, but it paid rather short shrift to the one issue that we humans absolutely must deal with in the next decade. Good if you’re just looking for one man’s broad discussion of possible futures in a world that simply rocks along as it has been; not so good if the future that stares us in the face is one you want to avoid. But I find hope in what he says on page 57 “…prediction is less of a prophesy and more a way of discussing our present choices. If the discussion makes us choose differently, so that the prediction is proven wrong, all the better. What’s the point of making predictions if they cannot change anything?”

 

~Alison