Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus was likely the best book I read in 2018. To be fair, I actually listened to it on Audible (audiobook here), which for non-fiction I frequently find more enjoyable than reading in print. Harari walks the reader from humanity’s history through to its current status as planetary hegemon, and then he lays out his views on where we’re headed as a species. He goes deep into algorithms, AI, big data, meaning, philosophy, and religion among other topics. I won’t possibly do justice attempting to review it in detail, but if you’re interested in the story of how we got where we are and a roadmap for what’s in store, this is the book. A few choice quotes below:

  • “In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the 21st century, censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information. People just don’t know what to pay attention to, and they often spend their time investigating and debating side issues.”
  • “For the first time in history, more people die today 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 combined.”
  • “At present, more than 90 per cent of the large animals of the world (i.e. those weighing more than a few kilograms) are either humans or domesticated animals.”
  • “If Kindle is upgraded with face recognition and biometric sensors, it can know what made you laugh, what made you sad and what made you angry. Soon, books will read you while you are reading them.”

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