The future is (almost) now
What is the next step in human evolution? Will human beings become cyborgs, implanted with chips that enable us to control our environment? Or will humans, in their never-ending quest for perfection, become gods, erasing the human altogether?
In his provocative and lively new study, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, author of the 2015 bestseller Sapiens, asks challenging questions about the future of humanity and the longstanding belief that places humans at the center of the universe (humanism). In the first section of the book, Harari examines the relationships between humans and animals, contending that if we want to understand how super-intelligent cyborgs might treat humans, we should examine how humans treat their less intelligent animal cousins. He then proceeds to explore how humans elevated themselves to the center of the universe, developing a humanist creed that continues to have both liberating and oppressive consequences (economic prosperity, democratic institutions, wars, poverty).
In a final section, Harari looks at the next stage of human development, or demise, by asking how humanity’s search for “immortality, bliss, and divinity shake the foundations of our belief in humanity.” Harari refuses the role of prophet, but he does contend that Homo sapiens will disappear once technology gives us the ability to re-engineer human minds.
Thought-provoking and enlightening, Harari’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of our species.
This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.