Homo Deus

A Brief History of Tomorrow
Yuval Noah Harari, Harvill Secker, 2016, Vintage 2017
The History of Tomorrow, in Hebrew, Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, 2015

1. The New Human Agenda

Invisible Armadas

p. 15
In 2015 doctors announced the discovery of a completely new type of antibiotics — teixobactin — to which bacteria have no resistance as yet.
[...] some research labs are already home to nano-robots, that may one day navigate through our bloodstream, identify illness and kill pathogens and cancerous cells.

Breaking the Law of the Jungle

p. 17
In 2012, about 56 million people died through the world; 620,000 of them died due to human violence (war killed 120,000 people, and crime killed another 500,000). In contrast 800,000 committed suicide, and 1.5 million died of diabetes.
p. 23
When the moment comes to choose between economical growth and ecological stability, politicians, CEOs and voters almost always prefer growth. In the twenty-first century, we shall have to do better if we are to avoid catastrophe.

The Last Days of Death

pp. 24-25
Throughout history, religions and ideologies did not sanctify life itself. They always sanctified something above our beyond earthly existence, and were consequently quite tolerant to death.

The Right to Happiness

The Gods of Planet Earth

p. 53
In modern theatre productions, Oedipus, Hamlet and Othello may wear jeans and T-shirts and have Facebook accounts, but their emotional conflicts are the same as in the original play.

[...] there are no good answers to the question: ‘What would beings with a different kind of mind do with biotechnology?’

Can Someone Please Hit the Brakes?

The Paradox of Knowledge

p. 64
Those living in palaces have always had different agendas to those living in shacks, and that is unlikely to change in the twenty-first century.
p. 65
What's the point of making predictions if they cannot change anything?
p. 66
When the CIA analysed the situation in Vietnam or Chile in the 1960s it divided society into classes.

A Brief History of Lawns

A Gun in Act I

Part I. Homo Sapiens Conquers the World

2. The Anthropocene

p. 84
Scientists divide the history of our planet into epochs such as the Pleistocene, the Pliocene and the Miocene. Officially, we live in the Holocene epoch. Yet, it may be better to call the last 70,000 years the Anthropocene epoch: the epoch of humanity.

The Serpent's Children

Ancestral Needs

Organisms are Algorithms

The Agricultural Deal

Five Hundred Years of Solitude

3. The Human Spark

Who's Afraid of Charles Darwin?

Why the Stock Exchange Has No Consciousness

The Equation of Life

p. 136
[...] consciousness may be a kind of mental pollution produced by the firing of complex neural networks. It doesn't do anything. It is just there. If this is true, it implies that all the pain and pleasure experienced by billions of creatures for millions of years is just mental pollution. This is certainly a thought worth thinking, even if it isn't true. But it is quite amazing to realise that in 2016, it is the best theory of consciousness that contemporary science has to offer us.

The Depressing Lives of Laboratory Rats

The Self-Conscious Chimpanzee

The Clever Horse

Long Live the Revolution!

Beyond Sex and Violence

The Web of Meaning


p. 175
[...] to the best of our knowledge, cats are able to imagine only things that actually exist in the world, like mice. They cannot imagine things they have never seen or smelled or tasted — such as the US dollar, Google corporation our the European Union. Only Sapiens can imagine such chimeras.

Part II. How Sapiens Gives Meaning to the World

4. The Storytellers

Living on Paper

Holy Scriptures

But it Works!

p. 207
In the twenty-first century we will create more powerful fictions and more totalitarian religions than in any previous era. With the help of biotechnology and computer algorithms these religions will not only control our minute-by-minute existence, but will be able to shape our bodies, brains and minds, and to create entire virtual world complete with hells and heavens. Being able to distinguish fiction from reality and religion from science will therefore become more difficult but more vital than ever before.

5. The Odd Couple

Germs and Demons

p. 211
We only believe in ‘the truth’; only other people believe in superstitions.

If You Meet the Buddah

Counterfeiting God

Holy Dogma

The Witch Hunt

6. The Modern Covenant

p. 233
The entire contract can be summarized in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.

Why Bankers Are Different from Vampires

The Ark Syndrome

p. 253
Even if bad comes to worse and science cannot hold off the deluge, engineers could still build a high-tech Noah's Ark for the upper caste, while leaving billions of others to drown.

The Rat Race

7. The Humanist Revolution

Look Inside

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

The Truth About War

The Humanist Schism

p. 292
[...] if I believe that they don't understand my feelings and don't care for my vital interests, then even if I am outvoted by a hundred to one I have absolutely no reason to accept the verdict.

Is Beethoven Better than Chuck Berry?

The humanist Wars of Religion

p. 306
Liberalism thereby perpetuates inequality, condemning the masses to poverty and the elite to alienation.

Electricity, Genetics and Radical Islam

p. 322
[...] what the scientists are discovering and what the engineers are developing may unwittingly expose both the inherent flaws in the liberal world and the blindness of customers and voters.
p. 323
If the whole universe is pegged to the human experience, what will happen once the human experience becomes just another designate product, no different in essence from any other item in a supermarket?

Part III, Homo Sapiens Loses Control

8. The Time Bomb in the Laboratory

p. 333
Animal-welfare activists have voiced concern about the suffering such experiments inflict on rats. [...] the rats ‘work for pleasure’ and when the electrodes stimulate the reward centres in their brains, ‘the rat feels Nirvana’.

Who Are I?

The Meaning of Life

9. The Great Decoupling

The Useless Class

p. 371
The idea that humans will always have a unique ability beyond the reach of non-conscious algorithms is just wistful thinking.
pp. 375-376
In May 2014 Deep Knowledge Ventures — a Hong-Kong venture-capital firm specialising in regenerative medicine — broke new ground by appointing an algorithm named VITAL to its board.

[...] it seems that it has already picked at least one managerial vice: nepotism. It has recommended investing in companies that grant algorithms more authority.

p. 380
There are of course some safe jobs. The likelihood that computer algorithms will displace archeologists by 2033 is only 0.7 per cent, because their job requires highly sophisticated types of pattern recognition, and doesn't produce huge profits.

A Probability of 87 Per Cent

p. 394
Liberal habits such as democratic elections will become obsolete, because Google will be able to represent even my own political opinions better than I can.

From Oracle to Sovereign

Upgrading Inequality

p. 403
[...] most humans will not be upgraded, and will consequently become an inferior caste dominated by both computer algorithms and the new superhumans.
pp. 404-405
As of early 2016, [...] sixty-two billionaires hold as much wealth as the entire bottom half of humanity.
[January 2019: 26 — MSN]
p. 406
[...] the state and the elite may lose interest in providing the poor with healthcare.

10. The Ocean of Consciousness

Gap the Mind

I Smell Fear

p. 423
For millions of years, we were enhanced chimpanzees. In the future we may become oversized ants.

The Nail on Which the Universe Hangs

11, The Data Religion

p. 429
According to Dataism, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, a stock-exchange bubble and the flu virus are just three patterns of dataflow that can be analysed using the same basic concepts and tools.

Where Has All the Power Gone?

History in a Nutshell

Information Wants to Be Free

Record, Upload, Share!

Know Thyself

A Ripple in the Dataflow

p. 458
Under Dataist influence both the life sciences and the social sciences have become obsessed with decision-making processes, as if that's all there is to life.
p. 462
  1. Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing?
  2. What is more valuable—intelligence or consciousness?
  3. What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?

Errata, The Singularity is Near, Les belles images,
Marc Girod