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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Book Review: Why is Homo Deus so thought provoking?

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Homo Deus is written in clear and easy-to-understand language. There are eleven chapters spread across three parts, with a sizable amount of puns thrown in for good measure. The book briefly traverses over nearly 100,000 year known history of man and poses some highly provocative questions along the way. In addition to that, the book is sprinkled with some startling facts that compel one to think of how rapidly the world has changed as a result of the ‘scientific revolution’.

All the scenarios outlined in this book should be understood as possibilities rather than prophecies.

You are more likely to commit suicide than getting killed in a war. More people die of diseases resulting from obesity than starvation. It is technically possible to delay death and perhaps, even eliminate the danger of a natural death altogether.

How come we are the only human species left when there were at least two or three other types of humans just like us? Cats and dogs have various species. Why not us? How much of a problem can robots be to the role we have assumed on the planet?

As the author himself narrates, “This book traces the origins of our present-day conditioning in order to loosen its grip and enable us to think in far more imaginative ways about our future.”

Read more: The Power of deep thinking: essence of creativity

There is little doubt that the book will make you pause and think about your place in the vast expanse of the universe and time as well. The humans living in the stone-age, those living as hunter-gatherers and those living in the dark ages were no more or no less smart than the people of today.

We tend to think that, since we have made so much progress in science in the modern age, we must be special among all generations of humanity and that we have it better. That myth is shattered once you have read Homo Deus. In fact, it is even possible that our ancestors living as hunter-gatherers may have been happier and healthier than people living today, or so the author argues. Whose life would you rather have: a peasant toiling all day and struggling to make ends meet in rural China or a hunter-gatherer living before the stone-age who goes on an adventure every day and comes home to spend the evening with his friends and family?

Read more: Let’s talk science!

It is true, however, that some concepts in the book were hard to swallow at first. Humanism, liberalism, communism are all included in the category of religion. But the more one reads the book, the more it becomes difficult to argue against the author’s positions.

At times, there appeared to be lack of continuity between each chapter. You might be lost in reading about human consciousness and our limitations in understanding it. Turn the page and the next chapter begins on the increasing importance of data and how society, economy and politics are being shaped by it.

Read more: Was Fukuyama really wrong in his ‘End of History’ predictions?

Whether or not you like reading history or science, this book guarantees to make you stop and think about both.