Read: April 2022
Inspiration: Wanted to read more of Harari after reading “Sapiens” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”
Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.
“Homo Deus”, published in 2015 by author and professor Yuval Noah Harari, discusses the future of humanity. In the book, Harari argues that humans are on the cusp of creating a new type of society, one that is driven by technology and data rather than religion or politics. This new society will be characterized by unprecedented levels of prosperity, but also by unprecedented levels of inequality. The book discusses the implications of these developments for the future of work, education, and politics, as well as for the very concept of what it means to be human. Ultimately, Harari argues that the key to ensuring a positive outcome for humanity in this new world will be to find ways to use technology and data to enhance human virtues rather than to replace them.
Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.
More people dying today from too much food than starvation (starvation now a political issue), more die from suicide than human combat, obesity kills 3m per year vs terrorism under 10k, peace now means implausibility of war vs previously meant absence of war, death now a technical problem with a solution, modern medicine prevents premature death vs extending life, using medicine to heal vs upgrade is not always clear—plastic surgery started ww2 for injured then realize can beautify healthy people, knowledge spreads faster and alters behavior faster which speeds up time until obsolete/outdated, history seems inevitable but really is an accidental chain of events played out by those wondering about the uncertain future as we are today, lawms became relevant only to french/english aristocrats to flaunt wealth (really no purpose, but well kept is sign of wealth, and has spread everywhere without questioning), an algorithm is a method to some end—sensations/emotions are algorithms we rely on (all animals), mind vs brain—why do we need to feel fear if all electrochemical processes in brain that trigger reaction (what is purpose of mind and subjective), ether is an old abandoned scientific concept which said light was waves of ether and ether filled universe—explains mvmt of light, now ditch idea of a soul so why not ditch idea of mind, mind and subjective experience key to moral reality, can view consciousness as just there (mental pollution, byproduct), humans real advantage is being able to cooperate flexibly in large numbers, humans unique due to stories and ability to imagine realities, stories change (why fight wars 1000 years ago ridiculed today, can be same in future about democracy/human rights), mao great leap forward derailed as aim to triple gain output but farmers lie to hit targets and say 50% above actual so famine when sell to foreign on false numbers, god’s existence fairly moot point—key is god inspiring people to do things, science relies on religion for guidance on how to behave given findings/what is appropriate, capitalism succeeded in comparison to history—used to not think humans could deal with famine, plague, war, humanism is the new religion that drives us—humans create meaning for a meaningless world, humans not gods are source of meaning and authority, elections only work when voters share some common bond/myth (need to agree on basic otherwise do not accept verdict), nazis based on evolutionary humanism (hitler had nothing but appealed based on war experiences and connected), world wars were wars of humanism sects (liberal, socialist, evolution), socialism looked to be prevailing until nukes MAD pact, now viewing decision as combo of random neurochemical processes and reactions to deterministic processes so not really free will (probabilistic will), if by free will mean act on desires then yes but do we control desires fully, transcranial simulators in military have electrodes in helmet to increase focus and block mental fog—working but early, computers are decoupling the relationship between intelligence and consciousness, no reason to believe idea humans will always be able to do something better than AI (e.g. facial recognition used to be thought as this), as humans now specialize more—easier to be replaced by AI, most studies are on WEIRD societies (western educated industrialized rich and democratic), distributed data processing functions better than centralized in rapid change environment (why communism fails), political systems no longer can keep up with data—no longer leading (more reactive to tech), hand of the market is invisible and blind to future, freedom of information is the value of dataism and the first real new value in centuries (old values of humanism, nationalism, religion, etc.), free flow and sharing of data is really what separates human experience, humanism tell to look inward and listen to feelings vs now say to look towards external algos and data, are organisms really just algos and is life just data processing?, intelligence vs conscious—more valuable?, what happens when non conscious but intelligent algos know us better than we know ourselves