A compelling Book Review of “Homo Deus”

“Having reduced mortality from starvation, disease and violence, we will now aim to overcome old age and even death itself. Having saved people from abject misery, we will now aim to make them positively happy. And having raised humanity above the beastly level of survival struggles, we will now aim to upgrade humans into gods, and turn Homo sapiens into Homo Deus. ”

The above lines seem to be an excerpt from some future-predicting Science- fiction movie where a group of scientists are shown to be experimenting with human beings to convert them into some form of Super humans. A two to three hours long movie that you enjoy with pop-corns and family. But when it comes to believe them you just cannot. But here, Harari starts with the most imaginative and fictional idea that you can only suppose to be true in your wildest dreams. He further constructs on this idea. He proceeds, as if continuously creating sand dunes and then perishing them then constructing again. He makes you shift your thoughts from one idea to another and then fin ally taking you to His idea. He proves all these ideas with unquestionable arguments. You have a question in your mind to challenge his idea and as you read further, there he is, with an answer to your doubts.

The book starts with “The Human Agenda” where humanity is personified as a human being waking up in third millennium from a long sleep and observing today’s agenda. Here, Harari starts the story of Human civilization, the problems it used to face and future promises. How problems of today have changed as compared to the past ones. How Humans have learnt to co-ordinate with each other. The reality of death and our struggles to defeat it. How Humans used to pray before their own created gods with firm belief. Then he makes you question, “Are there any brakes of the vehicle in which the humanity is moving?” What is its destination ? Where will it stop and shout, ‘Yes! Today, we have achieved it. ‘ Now we can take rest, have a look at our creation and penalize our mistakes. But the cycle continues. So, what is new to the menu? Evolution has always been a major determiner on Earth. Man plays the key factor in evolution. But today, Man has got the power to evolve even nature. He will be the one to pave way for Super-humans who will eventually replace him.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is “Homo Sapiens Conquers the World”. Here he questions the Human superiority over all species of animals. He questions certain human beliefs and explains their logic. He also proves that there is no such thing as Emotion. In fact, there are all algorithms that help us in making a decision.

“Even Nobel Laureates in economics make only a tiny fraction of their decisions using pen, paper and calculator; 99 per cent of our decisions- including the most important life choices concerning spouses, careers and habitats – are made by the highly refined algorithms we call sensations, emotions and desires.”

He also debates the difference between mind and brain, the legitimacy of laboratory experiments and most importantly, cooperation among human beings. Harari proves his point by citing some historically significant evidences. There is also thoughtful discussion on meanings. What is the magic spell that gives so much power to a piece of paper as to finish wars and annihilate countries?

The second part is “Homo Sapiens Gives Meaning to the World “. Here he argues how Humans have given meaning to this world through their self-created stories. Stories that made them believe in gods or Kings in past and various Brands in present. The influence of these stories is so much so that they have given meanings to our reality, our struggles an d even our existence. The invention of writing revolutionized the entire Human society by preserving the stories, saving records (and manipulating) and most significantly, the Holy scriptures that proclaim to contain “the answers to all our questions”. In the words of Harari,
“Written language may have been conceived as a modest way of describing reality, but it gradually became a powerful way to reshape reality. ”

The third and the last part, “Homo sapiens loses control . Here he questions the directions of technology and where will it lead us? Technology is continuously giving meaning to our lives. But the question arises, is this meaning beneficial or harmful? We are stepping into a society where electronic gadgets know us better than our own parents. So, may be these gadgets will one day surpass us and take hold of the world. This evolution will be the same as that of vehicles where we replaced horses with engines. Similarly, soon there will be a time when machines will replace humans.

The book ends with a thought-provoking advice. Harari says, “Today having power means knowing what to ignore.” Today, when we are facing the problems of pandemic, power imbalance, terrorism, disharmony, inequality and many more issues, the need of the hour is to focus on the “immediate problems” to quote the words of Harari.

This book is a must read in these days where times are changing fast and we are stepping into an age of digital revolution. The world is becoming more and more digital. Harari provides significant insights into the way technology works and how the world is changing.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are the writer’s own opinion. Dunya News will not be held responsible for any kind of discrepancy. 

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