Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Non-fiction, Philosophy, History, Science
Pages: 464 pages (US paperback edition)
Published: 8th September 2016 by Harvill Secker (UK) & 21st February 2017 by Harper (US)
Not as good as Homo Sapiens but Homo Deus did provide me with additional informative knowledge and intriguing speculations told in an engaging and thought-provoking style.
“People are usually afraid of change because they fear the unknown. But the single greatest constant of history is that everything changes.”
I will first say that Harari is a good writer, he really knows how to make interesting topics more compelling and he also kept me focused on information that would’ve been boring to read usually. Frankly speaking, there were indeed some sections in Part II—liberalism—that in my opinion was super dull and dry to read, but Part 1 and Part 3 of the book was superb; I found the majority of my attention grabbed by the way Harari discussed topics that evidently relevant in our society. Unlike Homo Sapiens which mostly dealt with facts and how humanity progressed—or stay the same—from the past up to the present, in Homo Deus Harari tells and speculates what comes after; what kind of futures humanity might be facing or going for based on the data and theories gathered from our history and present timeframe. There are so many topics that I could talk about here, but I feel like talking too much would diminish the benefit of reading this book itself; I’ll refrain from doing that and gives a bit of my opinion regarding one of the topics discussed: the power and curses of social media.
“In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century, censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information. […] In ancient times having power meant having access to data. Today having power means knowing what to ignore.”
The passage above speaks a loud volume to the way humanity lives these days. You want to know about something? Search it on Google. You want to see beautiful places you’ve never been to or bookish pictures? Search it on Instagram. Do you want to learn how to do something? Search it on Youtube or Pinterest. Book reviews? Search it on Goodreads/Amazon. There are many more examples, but the conclusion is that we live in an era where we have incredibly easy access to information that wasn’t possible to gain more than a decade ago. There’s no doubt that internet and social media have changed the way we live completely and there’s simply no going back from here. I’ve seen and heard some people complained about the way their privacy and data are used, and yes, their reasons are valid and I do believe that privacy of each individual should be respected. But this isn’t actually a hard-to-find knowledge; majority of social media users know that they’re giving away their data when they used their applications. Knowing all the risk of data sacrificial, we arrive at the most important question:
Will we/they continue to use the applications?
Most likely yes, the convenience and strength given by social media are simply way too powerful to ignore. I don’t have many issues against social media; most of my lives are enriched because of it. you’re reading this—and my other—review through social media, after all. However, it truly saddens me to see how many people have their lives destroyed by social media. Depression is at an all-time high; jealousy sparked easily; we constantly feel unsatisfied by what we have because of the beauty and unrealistic expectations set by filtered lenses.
“We do not become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon.”
The heavy reliance on social media usage might be responsible for many issues these days, honestly speaking, though, I personally don’t think that social media should take the blame entirely. It’s easier said than done, but internet/social media should be treated with the same rule of drinking alcohol: use it responsibly and it has a chance of bringing you happiness instead of harm/problems. Anything that’s too much is never good and that notion applies here, on our way to increase our quality of life by becoming a user of internet/social media, the opposite happens when we’re not in control: social media doesn’t become the product we use, WE become the social media’s product.
“Every day millions of people decide to grant their smartphone a bit more control over their lives or try a new and more effective antidepressant drug. In pursuit of health, happiness and power, humans will gradually change first one of their features and then another, and another, until they will no longer be human.”
There are still many more words I could write regarding this topic, but this is a book review and I plan to keep it that way. Please don’t take the long paragraphs I wrote about data, social media, and internet as a way of me saying that these are the only prominent topics that Harari talked about, there were still many other VERY important topics such as food, history, human dominance, belief, and religions that Harari elaborated with effectiveness, but I think it would be better for you to read them for yourself.
“This is the best reason to learn history: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies. Of course this is not total freedom – we cannot avoid being shaped by the past. But some freedom is better than none.”
Overall though, despite finding this book interesting and engaging, I still think that Homo Sapiens is the superior book. Now, I have no idea whether it’s due to Homo Sapiens being the first book I read instead of Homo Deus or not, but it really felt like some of the discussions and ideas gets repetitive to read. Plus, I had mixed feelings regarding Part 2 of the book where a lot of sections were uninteresting and told in an almost text-book manner. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow is a thought-provoking book about societies, dataism, humanism, and the power of beliefs. As always, my rating speaks more for enjoyment rather than technicality, and I honestly believe that this, and Homo Sapiens, are books that should be read at least once whether you enjoy them or not. I agree and don’t agree with Harari on several topics, but the reasonings he gave will most likely make you reflect on many important topics.
“Fiction isn’t bad. It is vital. Without commonly accepted stories about things like money, states or corporations, no complex human society can function. We can’t play football unless everyone believes in the same made-up rules, and we can’t enjoy the benefits of markets and courts without similar make-believe stories. But stories are just tools. They shouldn’t become our goals or our yardsticks. When we forget that they are mere fiction, we lose touch with reality. Then we begin entire wars `to make a lot of money for the cooperation’ or ‘to protect the national interest’. Corporations, money and nations exist only in our imagination. We invented them to serve us; why do we find ourselves sacrificing our life in their service.”
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)