The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer

More Than Human

March 6, 2017

The dawn of a technologically enhanced super-species is upon us

This review of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (Harper, 2017. ISBN 9780062464316) appeared in The American Scholar in March 2017.

As one of the most far-seeing visionaries of our time, the science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke often opined on the nature of science in relation to humanity’s future, never more elegantly than in his famous three laws:

Clarke’s First Law: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

Clarke’s Second Law: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

Clarke’s Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The “laws” have been quoted and modified over the decades, including by me in my suggestion that any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence or far-future human would be indistinguishable from God.

The latter is what the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari has in mind in his appositely titled Homo Deus—Man God—his considerations of what humanity is about to become as a result of our advanced science and technology. This is not a book of prophecy; Harari is not trying to be Nostradamus. Neither does it include a litany of predictions that investors can use to bank on what and when the Next Big Thing will be. Instead, Homo Deus is a meditation on what could be our long-term future given our nature and our past, which he wrote about in his prior best-selling and widely praised Sapiens. To that end, given the obvious limitations of any book about the future, Homo Deus succeeds. It is beautifully written, stylish, wide-ranging across disciplines and intellectual geographies, integrative of diverse ideas not obviously connected, creative in perspectives most scholars do not normally take, and reflective on what our species might become if current trends continue. […]

To continue reading this review, download the PDF.

Download the PDF

topics: , , , ,

Comments are closed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how Akismet processes your comment data.