Homo Deus is Yuval Noah Harari’s sequel to Sapiens. Where Sapiens dealt with our past as a species, Homo Deus is very much preoccupied with our future. This book is chock-a-block with prophecies… Nostradamus eat your heart out.
I was massively looking forward to reading Homo Deus having recently devoured Sapiens – which has to go down as one of my favourite books of all time. The thing is a book like Sapiens is a hard act to follow and Homo Deus didn’t quite manage to grip me in the same way. Perhaps it is my obsession with all things historical that was being fed with Sapiens. A book that deals with potential futures is another beast entirely. This book is about guess work and conjecture, and maybe conjecture isn’t my thing.
The beginning of the book starts in a similar way to Sapiens, recanting human history so far. The first part will be very familiar to those who have read Sapiens, but then we move onto a different type of narrative entirely. Harari suggests that the future looks very different to today. In the future technology has gone on leaps and bounds and has solved all our ailments so it now seeks to enhance humans or rather upgrade them into superhumans. He suggests that computers and algorithms will know us better than we know ourselves so there won’t be any point in running elections any more for example; the computer will decide. The thing is, whilst there could be some truth in this, I wonder how long it would genuinely take to get us, as a society, to the stage where we abandoned democracy. Changing mindsets is the work of generations. And as for fixing all our ailments, the day when nobody has to die from cancer doesn’t genuinely seem that close to me.
Some of the stuff he talks about is so technologically advanced that only the super rich could afford it and this is an issue that he discusses. As Harari sees it, one possibility for the future is that the microscopic amount of super rich people become these super humans, while the rest of us are left to fester. It’s an unappealing thought, particularly since this isn’t exactly science fiction we are dealing with. Harari wraps up the book by reminding us that these are just theories. He isn’t saying that the world will go one way or another just that, in his opinion, it is likely to.
Overall whilst Homo Deus didn’t enthrall me as much as it’s predecessor it puts forward some interesting scenarios. If you’re one of those people that likes thinking about what the future of humankind may hold then you’re sure to find some food for thought here.
Next Monday I’ll be reviewing Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, a brand spanking new psychological thriller that’ll keep you guessing. Come back next week to find out more!