Today, humankind (Homo Sapiens) has dominated the world, and gained control of famine, plague and war under control. Yuval Noah Harari believes that we will next turn our attention to attaining eternal youth and happiness. And, these pursuits could ironically bring an end to our species and herald a new age of Homo Deus. Harari examines our past, present and future, and highlights some difficult questions and choices that could shape our collective future. In this free Homo Deus summary, you’ll get an overview of these key ideas.
Let’s take a quick look at how humans came to dominate this world, and the possible futures in store for us if we were to continue our current path.
How Humans Conquered the World
Homo sapiens are the first species to single-handedly change the world’s ecology in 4 billion years since life first appeared on Earth. Today, 90% of the large animals around the world are either humans or our domesticated animals.
It’s important to understand how we came to where we are, and how we justify our place in the world, so we can understand our actions and see our possible futures more clearly. Harari presents many thought-provoking ideas, facts and examples. You can get more details from our complete 13-page book summary but here’s an overview:
FROM HOMO SAPIENS TO HOMO DEUS
Beliefs & Ideologies
Harari details how our beliefs, ideologies, and relationships with other living creatures have evolved over time, from Animism (during the times of the hunter-gatherers) to Theism (during the Agricultural Revolution), and Humanism (during the Scientific Revolution). Check out our full Homo Deus summary for more details.
Essentially, Theism was only popularized during the Agricultural Revolution. People believed that the Gods favored humans over other species, and this gave us justification to domesticate other animals and even offer them as sacrifices in return for the Gods’ blessings. During the Scientific Revolution, Gods were slowly removed from the picture,as humans could now use sciences to heal ourselves, improve crops, breed animals and forecast the weather—all without the Gods’ assistance.
Are We Truly Enlightened Beings?
Humans want to believe that we’re special and are enlightened beings. However, Harari explains why (a) we probably don’t have eternal souls, and (b) we’re not unique in having consciousness–animals and even non-organic beings can have consciousness too.
Instead, he argues that all organisms are algorithms, and many of these algorithms are woven into our genetic makeup from millions of years of evolution. He moves on to explain the real reason why we became the dominant species, and shows how our organizations, societies, and entire civilizations are organized around such algorithms and our ability to create meaning and spin stories. In short, human societies are held together by a self-perpetuating web of meaning, and we can’t really distinguish between fact and fiction.
Our full Homo Deus summary elaborates on these ideas in detail, with more examples and specific insights.
Science & Religion
Science and Religion are complementary and should coexist side by side. Science gives us power, using fact-based solutions to produce food, cure diseases, and fight wars. However, it can’t make ethical judgments to tell us how to act. Religions are basically rules that’re attributed to a wider moral law, and thus provide order, subjective goals, and guidelines on what we should do.
In our full 13-page summary you’ll learn more about the vital roles of both science and religion, and why we need both to address real-world issues like: What can we do when artificial intelligence replaces our jobs? Where do we draw the line for gene enhancements and life extensions?
Where are Humans headed as a Species?
In the book Harari addresses various developments and perspectives that are shaping our future, and the dilemmas that they bring. We’ll outline them very briefly here–do get a detailed overview from our complete Homo Deus summary for a detailed breakdown.
Capitalism & Growth
Capitalism has brought mankind amazing growth, progress, power and control. However, Capitalism assumes the wheel of growth will spin constantly and indefinitely. The dilemma is this: continuing our growth will likely lead to a total ecological collapse, but stopping the wheel of growth can crash our global systems. Will mankind ever be prepared to slow down our growth to address the ecological crisis?
The New Human Agenda
Besides our need for never-ending growth, humans also have ambitions for immortality (eternal youth) and lasting happiness. Our full summary looks at what could happen as humans push for more growth and biological upgrades, and why we may end up with a new species of Homo Deus that is no longer human.
The Humanist Revolution
Humanism is the dominant religion today, placing humans at the centre of the universe. We no longer depend on the Gods and religious scriptures to tell us what’s good or right, but believe in our free will, and depend on our inner feelings and desires to guide our decisions. In our full 13-page summary, we’ll explore:
• The 3 sub-branches to Humanism;
• Why our modern ideals are built on myths;
• Why humans may eventually lose our value as unique individuals; and
• The 3 key scenarios we could end up with in the future.
Getting the Most from Homo Deus
This is a comprehensive and thought-provoking book, filled with research, examples, theories and hypotheses. Most of Harari’s ideas are not prophecies, but a projection of our possible futures, based on lessons from our own history.
Our choices today are what will define our future outcomes. Harari prompts us to ponder questions like: Are organisms really algorithms? What if our life expectancy is doubled to 150 years old or more? What will happen if algorithms can know us better than we know ourselves, or a superior species were to emerge? What’s more valuable: intelligence or consciousness? Explore these ideas in more detail with our complete book summary bundle which includes an infographic, a 13-page text summary, and a 27-minute audio summary.
About the Author of Homo Deus
Homo Deus: A Brief History Of Tomorrow is written by Yuval Noah Harari—an Israeli historian, author and a tenured professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Harari also authored many books and articles, including international bestseller “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. Harari has won several awards, including twice winning the Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality, in 2009 and 2012.
Homo Deus Quotes
“History isn’t a single narrative, but thousands of alternative narratives. Whenever we choose to tell one, we are also choosing to silence others.”
“We want to believe that our lives have some objective meaning… Yet in truth the lives of most people have meaning only within the network of stories they tell one another.”
“Religion is created by humans rather than gods, and it is defined by its social function rather than by the existence of deities.”
“The same technologies that can upgrade humans into gods might also make humans irrelevant.”
“In pursuit of health, happiness and power, humans will gradually change first one of their features and then another, and another, until they will no longer be human.”
“To attain real happiness, humans need to slow down the pursuit of pleasant sensations, not accelerate it.”
“As long as people die of something, we will strive to overcome it.”
“If organisms indeed lack free will, it implies that we can manipulate and even control their desires using drugs, genetic engineering or direct brain stimulation.”