Book Review: Homodeus

Homodeus: This book is packed full of so many ideas. If you're interested in the future of our planet, buy this book! I read this while writing my latest novel, Sentient, a science fiction story set in the year 2120. Futurism fascinates me. That's why I write speculative fiction. Harare's book ignites with potential futures we may face, some exhilarating, some terrifying. If you were like me and missed the massive hype that surrounded this book a few years ago, pick it up. It is illuminating, challenging and always interesting.

Yuval Noah Harare's book, Homodeus creatively takes on the challenge all futurists face - the uncertainty of the future. Harare clearly states the magnitude of that difficulty, given the rapid pace that technology is moving, but he bravely tackles the task. A major premise is that human nature will be transformed by Google-like information networks so powerful, human intelligence will be uncoupled from consciousness. Even today, vast data processing networks are beginning to know our feelings better than we know ourselves. This can only accelerate as technology continues to rapidly advance. He suggests evidence that the human capacity to re-shape their environment is all around. War, famine and disease have fallen into retreat, as a result of our ability to effectively communicate in networks.

As this capability grows exponentially through processes such as machine learning, the fundamental of what it means to be human will be challenged. Harare postulates that homosapiens could be coming to the end of their remarkable evolutionary reign. Modern human belief systems such as liberalism and democracy will give way to a new frontier where lifespans are extended by the power of technology. A new belief will evolve where early adopters, a small priestly caste of seers, could gain access to the ultimate source of knowledge, leading to a new belief system - dataism.

This brave new world will pose new threats and challenges to the human race. For example, what will humans do in a world where they increasingly become irrelevant? Harare likens it to the same situation animals faced in a human dominated world. Will superior, highly intelligent robots treat us with similar violent indifference?