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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

by Yuval Noah Harari

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Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and


Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

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 McDonalds 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. This is Homo Deus.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Harari (Sapiens), professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, provocatively explores what the future may have in store for humans in this deeply troubling book. He makes it clear that it is impossible to predict the future, so claims to be offering “possibilities rather than prophecies”—and builds a strong case for a very specific outcome. The future to which he affords the greatest probability is, in many ways, a dystopian world in which humanism has given way to “dataism”—the belief that value is measured by its contribution to information transfer—and humans play an insignificant role in world affairs or have gone extinct. The roles humans play are diminishing, Harari argues, because increasingly our creations are able to demonstrate intelligence beyond human levels and without consciousness. Whether one accepts Harari’s vision, it’s a bumpy journey to that conclusion. He rousingly defends the argument that humans have made the world safer from disease and famine—though his position that warfare has decreased remains controversial and debatable. The next steps on the road to dataism, he predicts, are through three major projects: “immortality, happiness, and divinity.” Harari paints with a very broad brush throughout, but he raises stimulating questions about both the past and the future. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Harari (history, Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) recaps the cognitive, agricultural, industrial, and scientific revolutions from Sapiens, his previous best seller, to highlight a shift in the locus of divinity, from shared beliefs about nature to gods to social systems and, ultimately, to humankind itself. He posits that current efforts to cure disease, disability, and death will result in biological augmentation that creates a human species beyond Homo sapiens and that this will necessarily happen along socioeconomic lines. Humanistic systems currently holding sway, such as capitalism or socialism, will disappear if humans no longer are subject to scarcity or disease. Accepting the current idea that all change is controlled by deterministic algorithms (social, biological, or computational), Harari foresees a future of data-driven technological utilitarianism if we continue to off-load decision-making responsibility to artificial intelligence. This work is speculative, obviously, and posits that if something is technologically possible, we will try it, not that we will succeed. It leaves readers with questions about consciousness and conscience and whether unrestricted data flow will necessarily lead to wisdom. VERDICT While still appealing to those of a political, historical, or anthropological bent who enjoyed Sapiens, this title will be equally thought provoking to biologists and technological futurists. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/16.]—Wade M. Lee, Univ. of Toledo Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-11-23
In an intellectually provocative follow-up to Sapiens (2015), Harari (History/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) looks to the future.Throughout history, humans prayed for deliverance from famine, disease, and war with spotty success. For centuries, prophets agreed that all of the suffering was "an integral part of God's cosmic plan." Today, obesity kills more humans than starvation, old age more than disease, and suicide more than murder. Having reduced three horsemen of the apocalypse to technical problems, what will humans do next? Harari's answer: we will become gods—not perfect but like Greek or Hindu gods: immortal and possessing superpowers but with some foibles. Although an atheist, the author does not demean religion. "Up until modern times," he writes, "most cultures believed that humans play a part in some cosmic plan…devised by the omnipotent gods, or by the eternal laws of nature, and humankind could not change it. The cosmic plan gave meaning to human life, but also restricted human power." Even without this agency, this belief gave our lives meaning: disasters happened for a reason, and everything would work out for the best. Deeply satisfying, this remains a core belief of most humans, including nonchurchgoers. Since the Enlightenment, the explosion of knowledge has produced dazzling progress but limited the influence of God. Many thinkers—if not the general public—agree that there is no cosmic plan but also that humans are no longer humble victims of fate. This is humanism, which grants us immense power, the benefits of which are obvious but come at a painful price. Modern culture is the most creative in history, but, faced with "a universe devoid of meaning," it's "plagued with more existential angst than any previous culture." As in Sapiens, smoothly tackles thorny issues and leads us through "our current predicament and our possible futures." A relentlessly fascinating book that is sure to become—and deserves to be—a bestseller.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

Meet the Author

Yuval Noah Harari has a PhD in history from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in world history. Sapiens has been translated into 26 languages, and has already become an international bestseller in the UK, Spain, Slovenia, Taiwan, and Israel.