Book Review – Homo Deus

Homo Deus (41)

by Yuval Noah Harari

I read Yuval Noah Harari’s first book ‘Sapiens’ with no expectations and was entirely blown away.

I’d read some decent reviews of the book and wanted to give it a chance but feared that a book trying to cover the entire history of mankind in 400 odd pages written by an academic might be a bit, erm, dull.

However the author has a knack of finding interesting perspectives and sharing fascinating facts which provided me with not only a renewed interest in certain periods of human history (for me it renewed a fascination in ancient South American culture) but also found me making some strange noises whilst reading (“mmmm”, “ooooh”, “I didn’t know that!”)

You see I enjoyed ‘Sapiens’ so much I was looking forward to ‘Homo Deus’, the second book from this author.

‘Homo Deus’ in many ways reminded me of ‘Sapiens’ (as you’d probably expect from the same author).

It’s interesting, full of fascinating facts and has the ability to take a seemingly random subject and provide fresh historical insight (my favourite insight in this book was the ‘history of lawns’…which is genuinely fascinating!)

The book also explores the fact that one of the strengths of sapiens over and above other animals is our ability to work in massive networks, something relatively unique in the animal kingdom.

It also makes some startling suggestions on how the future might look and how technology will render much of what we do as humans effectively obsolete but also means that we will lose much of what makes us individuals.

The author makes an interesting argument on the death of humanism and the rise of a data driven world where the owners are the data are our true leaders.

The argument is a compelling one and the author gives plenty of examples of how data is used to control (and you could argue manipulate) our behaviour today.

However at times the argument seems too extreme, too dystopian to believe and Harari is careful to state that the future is seemingly unknown and therefore his predictions might not come to pass.

However for more historical insights and for an interesting read about one potential future where individualism is a thing of the past and data (and the owners of the data) are truly kings then Homo Deus is worth reading.

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