Homo Deus

I finished Homo Deus. It was incredibly entertaining. The book made me think, and it was also very frightening.

Homo Deus offers insights into what the potential future of Homo Sapiens might be.

Harari argues convincingly that the seemingly eternal problems of war, famine, and plague that have haunted humanity forever are now problems that humans can solve. Where we humans used to believe these problems were acts of gods and an unavoidable part of life, we now have the power to overcome these problems. Political divisions are the largest barrier to solving these issues universally, but to the ancients our power over these evils would seem divine.

Now that we have solved these issues what do we do next? It isn’t entirely clear, but we do have a choice.

The raw computing power available now enables complex algorithms to solve problems that were once only possible in the conscious human mind. We are at a tipping point where intelligence is decoupling from consciousness. Computers are intelligent without the human construct of consciousness.

In a world where intelligence no longer requires human minds, humans will become economically irrelevant. Virtually no field of employment is safe. Think a Medical Doctor would be safe? No way, replace her with an IBM watson that has immediate access to health statistics, pre-defined algorithms that can precisely diagnose illnesses. These algorithms would continually improve, enabling Dr. Watson to be incomparably more effective than its human counterpart. This machine could be available 24/7, anywhere in the world, and would enable much cheaper access to health care.

Lawyers, who spend their time reading cases looking for loopholes and legal exceptions would not be immune from the power of an intelligent computer that could solve such problems in an instant.

If humans want to “stay in the game” they will need to evolve to super humans, or upgraded humans.

We could upgrade humans, using medicine, augmenting humans with technology to make humans that are no longer Homo Sapiens, instead they are Homo Deus, or essentially Human gods.

The elite and wealthy would be the most likely to be upgraded, and this could create two classes of humans who fundamentally different.

Where in the past we had the rich and the poor, they were the same, just in a different financial situation. Upgraded humans would be something entirely different, and would actually be more capable than natural humans.

These concepts are a lot to take in. My brief summary only scratches the surface of issues that Yuval Noah Harari discusses in this incredible book.

Posted by Paul in Futurist