“For the first time in history, more people die 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. In the early twenty-first century, the average human is far more likely to die from bingeing at McDonald’s than from drought, Ebola or an al-Qaeda attack.
Hence even though presidents, CEOs and generals still have their daily schedules full of economic crises and military conflicts, on the cosmic scale of history humankind can lift its eyes up and start looking towards new horizons. If we are indeed bringing famine, plague and war under control, what will replace them at the top of the human agenda? Like firefighters in a world without fire, so humankind in the twenty-first century needs to ask itself an unprecedented question: what are we going to do with ourselves? In a healthy, prosperous and harmonious world, what will demand our attention and ingenuity? This question becomes doubly urgent given the immense new powers that biotechnology and information technology are providing us with. What will we do with all that power?
… Success breeds ambition, and our recent achievements are now pushing humankind to set itself even more daring goals. Having secured unprecedented levels of prosperity, health and harmony, and given our past record and our current values, humanity’s next targets are likely to be immortality, happiness and divinity. Having reduced mortality from starvation, disease and violence, we will now aim to overcome old age and even death itself. Having saved people from abject misery, we will now aim to make them positively happy. And having raised humanity above the beastly level of survival struggles, we will now aim to upgrade humans into gods, and turn Homo sapiens into Homo deus.”
~ Yuval Noah Harari from Homo Deus
Yuval Noah Harari is a brilliant historian and thinker. He has a PhD in history from Oxford and is a tenured professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
After finishing my Note on his first bestselling book Sapiens I immediately picked up this one. While Sapiens features a “A Brief History of Humankind,” Homo Deus gives us “A Brief History of Tomorrow.” <- “A brief history of TOMORROW” -> coolest sub-title ever?
Wonder what the future might look like and how artificial intelligence and biotechnology will fundamentally change the world and our species? Well, this is the book for you. It’s incredibly well-written and thoughtful and thought provoking. I HIGHLY recommend it. (Get a copy here.)
Of course, this kind of book is a little different than the types of books we typically discuss, but if we (and our kids, colleagues, communities, etc.) are going to be the best (aka most Optimized!) versions of ourselves today and tomorrow, it helps to know what tomorrow might look like, eh?
Of course, we’ll barely scratch of this great book but I’m excited to share a few of my favorite Big Ideas and see how we can integrate the wisdom into our lives TODAY, so let’s jump straight in!
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