In a December 2015 post about my book recommendations for entrepreneurs, I wrote about how, at the time, I was reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. At the time, I was 200 pages into the 400 page book which covers the history of humanity. What makes the book interesting is that it’s written from the perspective of a curious social observer rather than the perspective of a historian.
Since I really enjoyed Sapiens, I was quick to pick up Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari’s new book. While Sapiens was about humanity’s past, Homo Deus is about our future. I’m 100 pages into the once again 400 page book and so far it has been just as gripping as the original.
In Homo Deus, Harari’s core thesis is that the biggest problems which humanity faced in the past, namely famine, plague, and war, have been reined in. Although each of these problems still exists, their incidence has declined significantly relative to the past. As such, it’s now possible to envision a world with plentiful access to food, limited disease, and overall peace.
Harari argues that, as a result of the important progress that we’ve made and continue to make in addressing famine, plague, and war, we’re now turning our attention to immortality (or at least eliminating death due to aging), bliss (basically constant happiness), and divinity (basically genetically engineered super-humans). While I don’t think that we’ll reach any of these any time soon, I think that Harari’s assessment of where we’re headed is directionally correct. And while each of these developments represents a big opportunity for humanity, each also comes with ethical concerns and practical risks.
100 pages into the book, Harari is doing a great job dissecting each development.