50 Books each year

Chapter 4, Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari

July 01, 2020 Mijndert Burger Season 1 Episode 4
50 Books each year
Chapter 4, Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari
50 Books each year
Chapter 4, Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari
Jul 01, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Mijndert Burger

In Chapter 4 of our podcast 50 Books each year Mijndert reviews ' Homo Deus ' by Yuval Noah Harari. Mankind is changing, are we aware of it, are we in control of it and are we participating in it? This Chapter asks certain questions about he past, present and future and gives real world examples of what is happening right now in the world. Thank you Yuval Noah Harari to make us thing so deep and so broad. If you are interested in a piece of the book listen to the podcast. If you want the full spectrum of changes, Harari's thoughts and examples than buy the book, we recommend it! Contact us at info@50bookseachyear.com or on twitter @50_books

Show Notes Transcript

In Chapter 4 of our podcast 50 Books each year Mijndert reviews ' Homo Deus ' by Yuval Noah Harari. Mankind is changing, are we aware of it, are we in control of it and are we participating in it? This Chapter asks certain questions about he past, present and future and gives real world examples of what is happening right now in the world. Thank you Yuval Noah Harari to make us thing so deep and so broad. If you are interested in a piece of the book listen to the podcast. If you want the full spectrum of changes, Harari's thoughts and examples than buy the book, we recommend it! Contact us at info@50bookseachyear.com or on twitter @50_books

homo Deus, chapter number four.

Let's go.

Hello, and welcome to 50 books each year, the podcast show where we read 50 books each year, so you don't have to. This is your host Mijndert Burger. Yes, and it's already chapter number four. I'm Burger and this week I'll be reviewing homo Deus by Javan Maha Harare, and I hope I pronounced your name right, Homer.

Deus is

a bestseller and the subtitle is a brief history of tomorrow. Now for those of you who don't know what holiday is, means it's kind of like a super human, a human gods. homo Deus literally means something like that. Homer Deus is not a book by itself. It has a predecessor and that is Sapiens a brief history of humankind. So you've all know her her daddy has now been sitting still because his third book has also been published already and it is 21 lessons from the 21st century.


let's start with homo Deus homo Deus, is published in 2015, in Hebrew in 2016, in the UK in 2017. In the USA, it is 409 pages without the acknowledgement and I read it in seven days. Now, a disclaimer upfront. I have read this book in my own language. I've read it in Dutch and this was a mistake. I've ordered it it was mistakes ordered it in Dutch I didn't know I just ordered it because I wanted to read the book I didn't pay attention to the languages was written in. So I won't be quoting from the book today because I don't want to misquote or translate the book. I will be quoting from some articles that you've all know Harare has published, but from the book by itself. will not do it because my translation will probably be a little bit off. So that being said, holiday is a brief history of tomorrow is going to talk about the future. It started with a little bit of history, but that's mostly covered in Sapiens. But homo Deus is talking about the future. What has happened with humankind in the last centuries and where we'll go from now. Now, Harare, and I'm going to refer hopefully to him by now with Harare, because the full name is you've all it's so difficult for me. But Harare is born in 1976. The reason why I have trouble with his last name, or what his full name is, because he's Israeli and those sounds I cannot produce somehow. He's a Israeli public intellectual. He is an historian and he's also a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Now Harare is a well known speaker now as well. He has been to several well known speaking events, like the one in Switzerland or in tetes. But Harare is also known for his article. He's publishing his articles are many different websites. He has his own website, he has his own foundation. But Harare is not sitting still with his philosophy. And if you go to his websites,

that is

why en harare.com you can already tell what kind of person he is. Because despite effects of course that he has published three books. He is referring everything in these three books to six different topics that we as humans should care about. And the first topic is power and imagination. Now if you go to his website you can read a couple of quotes from his three books that have to do with power and imagination. The second one is science and religion.

He has ecology.

The next one is money in politics, then we have future and we have happiness. He is relating everything that he is writing about to these six subjects. So, what Harare is attempting with this, I believe, is to make us think in a broader perspective. Everything that I'm going to cover today from the book is not to be taken as a single fact or a single idea or a single event. Harare wants us to think in the bigger picture. Where do we come from? Where are we now? Where are we going to and what can we do in the meantime to stare how we are doing this now The first explanation for this or the first example, I should say, is a article that Harari did some time ago last year. But it's a great article. And I really want to refer to it. It's from the guardian. And that's from the website also as well, the guardian.com. And it is a article about LGBT rights, the past and where we're going with it. And let's just start I'm going to do three quotes, I guess. And let's just start with the first one from this article. In 2016, to Chinese firm called Luna bought Grindr. And for those of you who know Grindr is a gay dating app. But in March 2019, the US government committee of foreign investments in the United States informed Cumberland that its ownership of Grindr constitutes a national security risk. Kowloon is now forced to so granted by 2020 there was no explanation given for white Chinese ownership of a gay dating site. constitute a national security risks.

But I trust and that is Harare,

that you can answer the question yourself

and have the quote.

Now to go further into this is that and to continue with quoting from the Guardian, the next one, if a future homophobic regime wants to round up all gay men in a country, it might start with trying to hack the database of gay dating websites such as Grindr. The Egyptian police, for example, have already used Grindr data to track and arrest gay men by posing as users of the site. Grindr warns users that people might be posting on its site to obtain their information. Another option is to use an algorithm to go through someone's entire online history. YouTube clips you watch the headlines you clicked on and the photos you uploaded on

uploaded on Facebook. And quote,

wow, if you're reading this, that a dating app was controlled by the Chinese, and that the United States of America is talking to the Chinese and making them a security risk and even forcing them.

I don't know how they did it,

but even forcing them to sell the app by 2020, because it's a security risk. And then you're reading that countries like Egypt, already have used the website to look for gay men and get their information. That is insane. And in the month of June, July, when in a lot of countries, it's pride season. This is horrific to know that they're still countries that do these kind of things. But if you think that it's only China or Egypt, then that is not the case because it's also in European countries, and I continue to quote from the Guardian calm. In both Poland and Hungary the government's routinely depicts gay people as foreign agents and as a threat to the survival not only to the nation, but a Western civilization itself. These regimes even managed to link LGBT people to immigration by arguing that the gay conspiracy hopes to decrease the native birth rates in order to open the door to a flood of immigrants and of the quote. So in other words, Poland and Hungary say that LGBT people are a threat for security in western civilization. Because with LGBT people, there is no native birth rate and therefore immigrants might come to the country. This is insane. How far can you go with your rhetoric to make decisions about immigrants, gay people is one subject or LGBT, I should say is one subject. And immigrants is a totally different, of course, there's intersections in between them, of course, but you cannot link them so directly. So it's not only in China and Egypt is also in the European countries.


with that being said he is optimistic about the future because he is telling in this article that nothing is being set in stone right now. Nothing has been determined we can still change the future and continue to quote, nothing has been determined yet and however gloom in the future may seem to some of us in 1969. The future looks even gloomier.

End of the quote.

For those of you know, don't know 1969 was the Stonewall riots. And he is talking Harare is talking about the facts. When people come together, they can stop governments from pursuing

some kind of topic. And in this case, the threat to LGBT people. Now,

when I'm recording this,

in the United States and in the rest of the world, there's a lot going on about human rights. And it's specifically black life matters.

So imagine

if a government can do this to LGBT people, you know, for sure they can do it to a certain race, they can do it to other groups in the world. And the only way to stop it is if we come together as a


Now that is the article of the Guardian, and to link it back to the website of Harare, he is focusing on the bigger picture. In all his books, the three books are linked to those six subjects of power and imagination. So So religion ecology, money, politics, future and happiness. Harare, and I applaud him for that. And that is already before I'm reviewing his book with you. Harare is trying to make us think about the bigger picture of human civilization. Now, of course, he is a public intellectual. He's a philosopher. This is his job. This is what he's good at storytelling and making you think. And what do you think right now after ever heard about this story about LGBT

subjects, but

if we want to have another current topic on the list, one of the other articles that Harare is in is an article about COVID-19. Now in 2020 COVID-19 is one of the big topics next to Black Lives Matter

and about

COVID-19 in the magazine news, And that is from the website new mac.com. And I quote, he says, this crisis has taken politicians completely by surprise, and they don't have a ready made blueprint for what to do. They are therefore singularly open to new ideas, even crazy ideas. But once the choices are made, a new order will solidify, and it will become increasingly difficult to try a different path. However, who the sorry, whoever comes to power in 2021 will be like somebody coming to the party after the party's already over. And the only thing left to do is wash the dishes.

While the party last we have to

have to be extremely focused and help governments adopt

the right policies

and have the quotes

now if we link these two articles together and the book and the website that Harare has for himself, you can see that he is inviting us all to take action.

And it doesn't have to be about

all the different types of subjects. It can be one subject if you have a subject that you care about. He is inviting you to take action. Think about the subject. Talk about it with your fellow peers, talk about it with your friends, talk about it with your colleagues, your family and try to come to a consensus what is good for human clients and humankind. We mean, everybody.

Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you Harare, to let us think about the bigger picture.


and before we go into the review of Amadeus by Harare, I have a request to make. We are a new podcast show and the algorithms of Apple Spotify and any of the other providers you might be listening to has not been set for this show. So, if you like this podcast if you like the subject of the podcast, please leave a review at your provider give us the stars that we deserve, so the visibility of the show can even become greater. Thank you for considering this and with that being set.

And now, back to the show.

Back to the show and back to homo Deus by Harare. If I don't know how Harare I should say for the full name. I'm getting better at it, I promise. So, Harare goes into the history of humankind as well. And of course you can read the book Sapiens for that if you want to go into detail but in holidays, he tips on this as well. And he's telling about the three distinct different phases of humankind, which are homing Erectus, almost Sapiens

and homo Deus,

no homo. Erectus is the first stage of mankind. It is the caveman it is dead person indeed it you know from the cartoons that has a knife made out of stones might be able to do a little bit of fire, lives in a cave,

stuff like that. Now,

Harare says that the leap from homing Erectus to homosapien was not that big. Only a few changes were made in and with mate. We mean of course, the natural progress of life. Only a few changes were needed in the DNA, the hormones and the neutrons to make the Homo erectus into a homosapien. Now, the Homo erectus was the caveman with stone knife, the homosapien the thing that you and I are made spaceship we made computers we made lamps we made podcasts equipment. And Harare is challenging us to think about the first subject. What will happen if we evolve to homo Deus? And there are different kinds to evolve, of course to homogeneous. And the first one that he talks about is a cyborg technique. What if we become partly machine? What if your eyes will become machines? What if we have nano robots in our blood that can use or diagnose us? Maybe we don't do Cyborg. Maybe we want to live longer. And I do think we're already there. We want to live longer, but how are we doing that? Do we take elixirs? Are we going bionic or are we already doing something like this in the medical field right now? Are we making people live longer?

I think the answer already is yes to that to that

question. Because Doctors try to keep us alive and our average age around the world is going up, up, up, up, up. So do we want to live longer? Yes. The question is, how long do we want to live? How long can we live? Of course, can we get to a moment in time that you and I will become 150 years old? Now I'm 38 so I don't think I will be able to, to accomplish 150 but maybe I can reach 120 I don't know. 100 is already being done. So let's set goals. Let's Let's become 120. Why don't we but Harare is talking about the changes that we are making, and that you have to think about the intention behind the things that you're doing. And he has an example for that. Because in the end of the 19th century, Japan, France and Germany try to make people live longer. And with live longer, I would say not die or live better because what they were doing is giving these people free healthcare. Now, for what reason did Japan France and Germany make this decision? They will say, of course to improve human to improve humankind and make you feel better. The real reason, however, was that they didn't have enough people to fight the wars they wanted to fight. Because a lot of people were dying or have diseases. They wanted a stronger nation. They wanted a stronger military, so they could fight the war. So they didn't get get to the resources that they thought they needed, or to expand their nation because they thought they had

a right to it. Now

if we think about the improvement in the medical field, The intention the ethical thing behind it is, of course, very important. And I am not saying that we shouldn't give free health care. No, no, no, no, no, I'm not saying that at all. But the intention that is behind a certain thing is so fair really important. Because there are many things that can happen of course, and it is a gliding scale or gliding


If you take a decision and then there will be a next decision and the next decision and before you know it. We are selecting babies for everyone. Now, before I go into the selecting babies, because I hope you I got your attention there. There's also other things of course, because let's go to


Viagra is a well known medicine right now for getting men You wrecked well They can't do it by themselves. Now this medicine is well known. It is not even talks about anymore. It is so normal that it is it has blended in into our lives. But it was not designed as for this purpose, it was not designed for this. It was designed for blood pressure. Same thing goes for plastic surgery. You think plastic surgery is

a very normal thing. wherever

you live. There's many different forms of plastic surgery, but it didn't start out as plastic surgery to become more beautiful with less wrinkles with higher cheekbones, no plastic surgery originates from the battlefield where military men back then had scars around their face and to keep them in the military or to keep people signing up for the military or not running away. They had field medical medics make. Yeah,


incisions and surgery to make their faces look good again.

So it didn't start out

as plastic surgery to make you look younger. No, it was a necessity for the government to make people stay in the military force.

Now I already teased

you about the medical journal modification.

Because if we put the example out there that if a rich rich rich person has a lot of money, and he buys four or five six embryos with perfect jeans, because it is possible people, you can already select embryos and you can select certain type of jeans. But if we have the example for rich person who is going to buy four or five For six embryos, we would all say this is wrong. And we don't want this as humankind. But if we look at it from a different perspective, if there's two people with child wish, and they both have severe family diseases that are carried down through the whole family line,

then we will change our opinion,

at least a little bit, because we can really imagine the position that those two are in and that if they have a child, the chances that the child has the same disease is very high. So why not give them the opportunity to have a healthy child,

but there you have it,

there is the scale or declining path down


a rich person selecting it all by himself. So the question is That's Aurora is asking us is what is the boundary between healing and upgrading? And of course, this is a sharp question, because he calls it upgrading for a very specific reason, because it makes you feel something it makes you think about sci fi upgrading, you see the cyborgs with metal things around their eyes and bionic arms and everything. But with the examples we've just been talking about, you can see that it starts on a very small scale. And with every decision that we are taking, whatever decision that the governments are taking, we should be involved and we should also be thinking about for what reasons are we doing this and where do we want to go with this. Now with all the decision being made, it is very important to do this with a certain ideology with a certain religion with a certain belief with a certain mindset, inspiration and intention. Now for the next thing. This is not my opinion don't come after me. But Harare goes into the fact that religion and in specific the believing God has been declining over the last years. Of course, this is statistically very true. You can look this up. But if you believe in God, this is your right, please do so. But we can see that human kind in the broader perspective is lessening into believing God. And we can see this with the rationality of our mindset, because years ago, and then we're talking hundreds of years ago, if there was a lightning strike, why is it that has this happened? We would say it was because of God. If there was an earthquake, why did it happen? Because of God's if something happened to your life, why did it happen? Because of God, it was God's wish. And then is a certain kind of belief about why things happen in your life and you put it into religion, you give it out of your hands, and you believe in God. And this is a perfect way I will say it again, this is a perfect way of living if you want to choose this belief system. But humankind as a whole went in a certain time to liberalism. Now, of course, we can all remember the fight between the west or the Cold War, I should say, between the West and communism, liberalism versus communism.

Now Indians,

liberalism one and we can go into depth about it, but liberalism, only one because they took on a doctrine of military doctrine which is abbreviation called Matt, and which stands for Mutual Assured Destruction. I'm so sorry. about this, and that is the nuclear weapon systems. That is the only reason because liberalism was about to die when America choose to attack Vietnam. And that went horribly wrong, of course. And to make it even worse, linking this to Black Lives Matter. They were receiving critiques that liberalism was purely older white men calling the shots. What do you think about that? I think there's something to say for it is now of course, in many countries, including my own. liberalism is still a very big political ideology. But you can mix it in certain ways that it becomes less of a strict ideology. Now, were believing in God was putting your faith into another entity, another religion. The belief in the ideology of liberalism is the belief that customer is king, the human being is king. And if the customer doesn't want it, then it's a bad decision. Now, and that doesn't have to mean that the professors or the sociologist or the designers, or the politicians, or whatever your specialty or field is that you are wrong when the customer doesn't want your product. No. But liberalism has this SS core belief that customer is king. There's an example in the book,

which is writing about the fact

that if Toyota would design a car, and they would invite all the smartest and brightest minds in In the world for this car, and we're talking about designers, craftsmen, even politicians or philosophers or psychologists or not you name it, whatever you can think about when you're designing a car, even if you go as far as a psychologist for designing a car, even if the brightest minds agree to one specific car, and the customer doesn't buy it, after they've produced already millions of it, then who is right, the Bright Minds or the customer. This is something that Harare is very critical of, and he takes this as one of the things why liberalism is now in his final stages of being. Now of course, just like religion and just like believing in God, it will not end if you are a political geologists and you are liberalism. Oh liberalist sorry, then of course you have all right to be. But he sees that the humankind is developing into a different direction. Now, where are we going? That is, of course a very good question because Harare is not sure the world is not sure, because there is no valid alternative right now. And of course, we have different kind of options and we're going into it. But for the whole system by itself how we govern the world. There is no viable option. Here are the examples. Let's go to one of the biggest countries one of the most talked about, yeah, country or belief system. It is China. If you think of China, and if you would ask him themselves, they would say communist. But Harare says communism in China is already a fading facade, because the front of China might be communism. But the backside of China is already changing. Because there's a vacuum of ideology. Chinese people already believe in technology, tiny Chinese people already believing making money. But due to the ideology vacuum, and due to the government clinging on to the power that they possess by a single party government system, it is not changing. But to call them communists is not accurate anymore. So where can we look then? Maybe we have to look to humankind themselves to the protests. You could say that the protests that are going On about the environmental issues, or the wolf street protests that day are changing the world and they might, they might steer us into a certain direction. But they very temporary. They are very small, and they only can make little adjustments. They are not a replacement of the whole system. They can make Wall Street or banks or environmental polluters change a little bit. But it is only a little bit it is only media involvement that makes it happen, that they are changing a little bit, but is not a substitution for the whole world government. Now,

to add on to this


maybe Very bad thinking or pessimistic thinking or realistic thinking however you want to call it to add on on it. There is a quote in the book or there's a section I won't quote from the book, like I said, but there's a section in the book that is talking about free will and free will does not exist. Harare says that free will does not exist. Think about that for a second because in the free world, America, Europe, Australia, but even in other countries, all the other people in the world everybody would ask would say I am doing this because I want to. But Harare says Free Will does not exist. He makes you think about freewill, what is your freewill? And he makes the comparison Free Will with the evolution theory. Because the evolution theory is based on the fact that we as humankind, or plants or animals are evolving in a certain way, and this is set into our genes and how to survive, because with Who are you mating, what you're eating, and where are we going as humankind. But with freewill, you can make certain decisions while still mating, while still changing the course of the future. But are we doing things with freewill? Because if you're doing things with freewill, you would be able to change the outcome of humankind. And he would pick an example, which is not about humankind, but it is about a parrot. Equals Laurie and Laurie wants a cracker. Everybody has known it. But why isn't the parrot going for a cucumber? Why is it cooking, the questions about freewill. Why are you doing certain things? Why are you listening to this podcast? Why are you doing your job? Why are you choosing to eat a banana instead of an apple? Is there free will? Or is there a biological algorithm that compels us to do something? And I paused there on purpose, because the field of biology is already changing its mindset. And it's seeing biology through different kind of eyes. And I would say more computer kind of eyes because if we talk about algorithms, of course, everybody would think about computers. But they're already talking about biological algorithms, with of course DNA hormones and everything that is involved. Everything of that is Part of the algorithm, but if we do have a biological algorithm, then the things that you and I decide for ourselves because we think we have freewill is not freewill at all. It is because some sub conscience part of us is deciding it for us without us even knowing it. Now, that is something to think about, is there Free Will or does it not exist. And to pile on this philosophy piece, this philosophy book, this book that I love, I read it in seven days. I was not so quick in it, but I loved his book every letter about in his book, I tore apart and every subject I stood still and thought about it, but Harare also makes us think about the future. Because if there's no free will, if liberalism is coming to its end, if God is a has been

where are we going into the

future? Now, Harare is talking about Yeah, you can call it religions ideology we don't know yet. But we already see traces of these kind of these this way of thinking in human society. And the first one he's talking about is techno human ism. And techno humanism is based on the first part of this podcast. It is about making humans better with technology, and physically attached to them, of course, also outside of them, but for the most part inside of them. But what is the advantage of this, of course, we might be able to look better, because as human beings, we can only see a very small amount What is really there? There's animals that can see way more than we do. Maybe we should improve our ears. There are already mammals around the worlds that are swimming in the ocean that can hear a wider arranged and weakened as human beings. Maybe we should improve our legs or muscles or blood we can improve or think about improving everything. The question was with techno humanism is how will this change us as human beings? How will this change our experience of things? Now, in the book, Aurora is also talking about humanism. And humanism is based on the fact that you experience something and that you're open to new experiences and that gives you knowledge. But if we alter our eyes, if we alter our ears if we alter our mouth, do name it, we're going to alter it. How will this impact our experiences? Can we cope with this change? If I think about it? Yeah, I don't know. Because if you will improve my eyes if I would suddenly see two times more, and I don't mean two times further, we can talk about that. But also the light spectrum, if I'm able to see more light, more colours, if I'm suddenly able to see infrared or ultraviolet. Can my mind cope? We don't know. But also, if my mind can go, will I as mannered change? Will I be the same? And also, can we control the change? If we are doing so many years about the change from homi Erectus to homosapien, and with some kind of technology improvements? We are becoming homo Deus Can we cope with this change? Question mark. Now, the next Religion The next ideology that he's also talking about is data ism. Now data ism, you need to sit down for days you need to listen to this. You need to take time for this to understand because data ism is turning the world upside down basically. Because normally we would say that the human being is on top of the pyramid, and everything that's below him. We would call right now data and the human is taking it to him. The human is on top of the pyramids, and everything else is beneath him. With data ism, this is upside down with data isn't a human is on the knee at the bottom of the pyramid is upside down. So the human is still the point. But he the human is giving his or her information his or her

Her data experiences and things,

to the bigger algorithm to the data of the world.

Now, this is scary,

because this might make you feel like a centre, that suddenly you don't matter anymore. You are just a sensor in the whole scheme of things. And of course, you might also think that this is eternal life because suddenly your experiences and your things are going into the future are staying there forever. But it also makes you very, very singular that you don't matter anymore. Now, with that being set, how far are we already in data is and because Google and Facebook can already predict a perfect partner for you. Instagram, can already predict which kind have pictures you're going to like, your feed is already changing when you are double tapping pictures. How far are we with the data isn't already without us as a world without us as a human kind, even realising it. Now to come back on what I start with the podcast with with the LGBT problem and the dating app, Grindr, countries are already profiling human beings for what they are doing. And in this case, it's for gay people. But what if the next case will be Christians in a Muslim country or Muslims in a Christian country, people of colour in a predominantly white country, or Asians or Latinos, this is a big issue. With this comes privacy with discovered security.

We as humans thinking about this.

This is what Harare is pushing us to do. Harare is making us think about the future, where we come from where we are now and where we are going. And it's also putting a spotlight on the things are already happening without you and me realising this. Now, I've only touched on a couple of things from the book. This book is so good.

If you can,

please buy it because it will make you think about a lot of things and why are doing it. Now that is chapter number four homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harare. Thank you for listening. If you like the podcast, please subscribe, subscribe, leave a comment, give us the stars with what we deserve. And I will see you in the next story. subscribe to the podcast. 50 books each year, go to www dot 50 books each year.com for all of our social media channels and join the story

Transcribed by https://otter.ai