Book review: Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

At times I am definitely guilty of over-estimating how scientific advancements will radically change our lives, and I keep telling myself that a pill which will bring me deep contentment and quash my insecurities is right around the corner. Or at least a pill that will halt my receding hairline, either would be fine… So the subject of this book, a discussion of how scientific advancements may influence humanity, is something that I spend a great deal of time thinking about.

It’s never going to be easy to speculate about the future, but I feel that Harari has done a pretty good job here, and by bringing insights from a range of disciplines, has written a book that will make even the most skeptical of readers think deeply about their own lives, in the not too distant future.

You can tell the guy is a historian, and at parts of the book I felt he took longer than necessary to make a point, however the surrounding information which initially seemed irrelevant was always pulled together to make the argument even more convincing. Topics such as genetic manipulation and artificial intelligence are presented in an accessible way, and while I don’t agree with all of his opinions, I feel that some cannot be contested, and ideas which some people may initially find laughable are pretty much inevitable.

I’ve not got a great interest in History, however, it cannot be disputed that we can gain real insights into what drives people’s actions, and I feel that in order to talk about the future with any great confidence you need to understand people; Harari’s knowledge of the subject definitely helps illustrate the disposition of the human mind, and how its primitive nature will determine the future fate of our species, in a time where we may literally be playing what seem like divine powers. And if you enjoy philosophy you will definitely enjoy the style in which this book is written.

This book has been recommended by the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama, but more importantly, it’s made it onto my highly selective list of recommendations – so if you’re looking for an interesting, easy to read book which discusses how technological advancements are likely to affect your day to day life – give it a read.

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