Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus

Homo Deus

A Brief History of Tomorrow

by Yuval Noah Harari, 455 pages

Finished on 26th of May
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In what feels like a follow-up to his breakout success, Sapiens, Harari now discusses humankind’s current focus and possible trajectory towards becoming a data-reliant species, merged with technology and maybe losing our humanism along the way.

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Humankind has over the millennia made leaps in fighting famine, extending lifespans, and decreasing war and we can expect that our modern belief based on individualism and autonomy will make life better and easier in those regards in the future.
  2. Religion and collectivism don’t have anything to offer anymore to the modern human being and will fade out, being increasingly replaced by our belief in science, which currently states there is nothing else in our brains apart from a neurological algorithm fueled by chemicals – no soul, nothing God-like or ungraspable.
  3. We have focused on the creation, storing, and processing of vast amounts of data in recent decades, giving birth to what Harari calls “Dataism”, and which will overtake our lives in increasing ways by making decisions for us and devaluing the human experience.

🎨 Impressions

This is one of those books you can’t go wrong reading. Before Homo Deus, which was first published in 2015, he made his breakthrough with Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind in 2011. I’ve read that one, too (here are my thoughts), and loved it. Still, Homo Deus spent a while on my list before I was nudged to pick it up by friends who read my plans for 2024 blog post and told me that I would probably enjoy this book because my ideas align with it. Intriguing!

I wasn’t disappointed. Harari’s style of writing hasn’t changed much and is still full with great ideas, realizations, and reframings that make you think about the state of humankind. The occasional dry humor is much appreciated, but he’s using it more sparsely in this book. During the first few chapters he draws a clear outline of what he wants this book to be about, but I feel that he’s losing track of it over the middle half and falls back into going over our history in nearly the same way as he did in Sapiens. My guess is that this is done deliberately to remind us of the trajectory we’ve been following and will likely continue on, so he can make his point in a more convincing way, but it feels duplicate. It’s a bit like reading Sapiens again. So, where are the new hypotheses?

There are three low-hanging fruits he picks.

  1. He has seen that humankind has been on its way to try to prolong life and eradicate disease, so getting rid of death at some point seems to be one end goal.
  2. In the past, there’s also been so much more violence and wars that it’s been part of every person’s everyday life. This has changed, and here the end goal seems to be to get rid of both completely.
  3. The third big one we are on our way to eliminate is famine. Yes, hundreds of millions of people still go hungry every day, but the number shrinks significantly and the cause isn’t lack of food but lack of political will.

I can see that. That’s certainly an utopia we can all get behind. And when you take a look at the trends, it’s very tough to disprove Harari here. But is this a groundbreaking realization?

Still, it’s fun and challenging to read. The sentences are dense and often full of information. For me, it requires focus and staying alert in order to take in what he’s saying. Coming from reading the very easy to digest Harry Potter books for the first time lately, it took me a while to get into it.

Starting somewhere in the middle of the book, there are more deep explanations of current systems in place all over the world, like for example liberalism in the original sense of the word. Harari is big on getting us to realize that religion doesn’t play a role anymore and due to globalization, is on its slow way out, even in the traditionally more religious places. He has this brilliant quote, where he starts with Nietzsche’s “God is dead.” but extends it to “God is dead, it just takes a while to get rid of His body.”

Liberalism, as in the pronounced value of individual freedom and autonomy, has clearly killed strict religious practices in most Western and also many Eastern countries. This is closely connected to humanism, which Harari states is shaping societies just as much. The desires of the individuals trump those of the collective, every human life is sacred, there are free markets and equality, everyone’s choices are just as valuable as the others’. What feels good, is considered good. Communism and collectivism such as radical Islam have nothing more to give to their people, and they are realizing this over time, so the numbers are falling. These ways to organize society are on their way out.

This all seems to be correct and according to what can be witnessed when following the world develop oneself. But now, the captivating part of the book begins.

First, free will. It doesn’t exist. Our brains make our choices before we can even though we then think we chose when in fact the chemical processes and neurons did so milliseconds before. We can measure this. The human brain is a machine, an algorithm, according to modern science. There’s no hidden element in it. No soul, if you will. This has been proven using fMRI visualizations and lots of experiments, e.g. with split-brain patients. I enjoyed the easy experiment you can do yourself right now: If you think you can choose your desires and direct your thoughts, then why not just stop and try to think about nothing at all for the next 60 seconds?

The point is, we can’t direct our thoughts, our brain-machines do it for us and lead the way. Countless people have tried to find ways to disprove this, but so far it couldn’t be done. We’re apparently “just” highly complex machines and there’s nothing unexplainable or God-like within us. For many people, this is hard to grasp and conflicts with their worldviews. You can argue that it’s just another way to view the world, another perspective.

It’s a good thought experiment for anyone, though. Don’t block it, let it sink in and make up some thoughts about this your own. What consequences would this have for you if true? For me, the consequence is to take everything a bit less seriously and reducing anxiety. We’re even smaller and even less significant in the grand scheme of the universe as we previously realized. I find this comforting. We’re probably not on a grand mission that must not go wrong. We just are.

Harari then goes over a few of the jobs many people currently do to make a living but which will cease to exist in the near future due to technological advances, creating huge numbers of unemployable humans. This is because human brains are basically machines and human-built machines are getting more and more like human brains. This has been talked over countless times in the recent past, and especially since the beginning of the success of generative AI, like ChatGPT in 2023, talks have increased. I see it this way, too, but I’m wondering why it takes so long. Homo Deus is already nine years old, and as far as I can see, not many jobs have been replaced, at least not in alarming numbers. Still, I’m sure it will happen. I have loved CGP Grey’s video about this topic called “Humans Need Not Apply”, which coincidentally is also nine years old now.

Of course, the big question is, how will humans solve this coming crisis? When there’s just nothing to do for us because machines and algorithms do everything? We will invent new jobs as we have done in the past, but will there be a point when that no longer works? It seems inevitable that some sort of UBI, a universal basic income, will have to follow, if we will choose to keep everyone alive, which I suspect us to. At least up until we get rid of our strong embrace of liberalism and humanism.

It’s a stimulating topic to talk about and I would have loved some more ideas on it from Harari, but it was besides his point. He writes the book in a way that says: “Here are the trends I see and what might happen in the future, but what do you, dear reader, think should we do about it?” – and that’s a good way to do it.

Now it’s time for the big finale. Harari introduces the concept of what he calls Dataism. It’s the new religion we have adapted, he says. These days we value data above all. In fact, we value only things which can be recorded, uploaded, and shared to the giant hive mind we have created. This data will over time provide the basis to allow for us to make decisions it suggests better than we could ourselves. And since humans are algorithms at the most basic level, it might even replace us or absorb us in some way. This could take centuries but we’re on the way there.

Harari paints that in a neutral way but lets it shimmer through that he thinks it’s a dystopia, and many would surely agree. I’m not so sure I would, though. I think there are certainly ways in which we can unite humanism with dataism. Consciousness on a chip, like I stated in my blog post of earlier this year, is a possibility that doesn’t have to go as horrifyingly wrong as most science-fiction I am aware of pictures it.

Between the lines, the book ends with the question: Do we want this to happen? I think that’s great. But I feel like he used 450 pages to get us here when the basic idea could have been put down a lot earlier. Was he really working towards that idea or was he just trying to share his many thoughts in related areas? I would have preferred to get introduced to Dataism earlier on and see him discussing it more. In this book, it just occupies the last thirty pages or so. I know he has published two more books after this one, so maybe they will contain what I’m looking for.

It’s definitely a five out of five stars book and I am happily surprised that I came to a similar conclusion to him in my bespoke 2024 blog post – I was just nine years late. I wonder if the idea was groundbreaking back in 2015, because today it just seems like a low-hanging fruit to me.

Harari remains one of the greatest popular thinkers of our time and I’m grateful for his work.

🍀 How the Book Changed Me

  • The way Harari phrases it when he talks about us humans basically being algorithms according to our current understanding of the brain feels comforting to me and helps me loosen up about the importance of my own existence, which I think we all feel. Contemplating the vastness of the universe or the relative emptiness when going down to the atomic scale also has that effect on me.
  • Although I see his point about us humans becoming increasingly reliant on technology and valuing the creation of data above everything else, much like a religion, I haven’t changed my positive point of view of that trend. I think there are ways in which we can even enhance the human experience by making use of more data, and I don’t think we should be as scared as many people are currently of it all but look at it in a more constructive way. Seems to me our emotions are getting in the way here.

📔 Highlights

There are no longer natural famines in the world; there are only political famines. If people in Syria, Sudan or Somalia starve to death, it is because some politician wants them to.

In the eighteenth century Marie Antoinette allegedly advised the starving masses that if they ran out of bread, they should just eat cake instead. Today, the poor are following this advice to the letter. Whereas the rich residents of Beverly Hills eat lettuce salad and steamed tofu with quinoa, in the slums and ghettos the poor gorge on Twinkie cakes, Cheetos, hamburgers and pizza.

People readily believed in angels and fairies, but they could not imagine that a tiny flea or a single drop of water might contain an entire armada of deadly predators.

In 2012 about 56 million people died throughout 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. Sugar is now more dangerous than gunpowder.

Over the last seventy years humankind has broken not only the Law of the Jungle, but also the Chekhov Law. Anton Chekhov famously said that a gun appearing in the first act of a play will inevitably be fired in the third.

Terrorists are like a fly that tries to destroy a china shop. The fly is so weak that it cannot budge even a single teacup. So it finds a bull, gets inside its ear and starts buzzing. The bull goes wild with fear and anger, and destroys the china shop.

Having secured unprecedented levels of prosperity, health and harmony, and given our past record and our current values, humanity’s next targets are likely to be immortality, happiness and divinity.

Even when people die in a hurricane, a car accident or a war, we tend to view it as a technical failure that could and should have been prevented.

When you take into account our belief in the sanctity of human life, add the dynamics of the scientific establishment, and top it all with the needs of the capitalist economy, a relentless war against death seems to be inevitable.

Epicurus explained that worshipping gods is a waste of time, that there is no existence after death, and that happiness is the sole purpose of life.

On the psychological level, happiness depends on expectations rather than objective conditions. We don’t become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon.

For countless generations our biochemical system adapted to increasing our chances of survival and reproduction, not our happiness.

Perhaps the key to happiness is neither the race nor the gold medal, but rather combining the right doses of excitement and tranquillity; but most of us tend to jump all the way from stress to boredom and back, remaining as discontented with one as with the other.

People have been quarrelling about education methods for thousands of years. Whether in ancient China or Victorian Britain, everybody had his or her pet method, and vehemently opposed all alternatives. Yet hitherto everybody still agreed on one thing: in order to improve education, we need to change the schools. Today, for the first time in history, at least some people think it would be more efficient to change the pupils’ biochemistry.

If I identify happiness with fleeting pleasant sensations, and crave to experience more and more of them, I have no choice but to pursue them constantly. When I finally get them, they quickly disappear, and because the mere memory of past pleasures will not satisfy me, I have to start all over again.

[..] for the capitalist juggernaut, happiness is pleasure. Period. With each passing year our tolerance for unpleasant sensations decreases, and our craving for pleasant sensations increases.

The upgrading of humans into gods may follow any of three paths: biological engineering, cyborg engineering and the engineering of non-organic beings.

A friend once told me that what she fears most about growing old is becoming irrelevant, turning into a nostalgic old woman who cannot understand the world around her, or contribute much to it. This is what we fear collectively, as a species, when we hear of superhumans.

This is the paradox of historical knowledge. Knowledge that does not change behaviour is useless. But knowledge that changes behaviour quickly loses its relevance. The more data we have and the better we understand history, the faster history alters its course, and the faster our knowledge becomes outdated.

Though historians occasionally try their hand at prophecy (without notable success), the study of history aims above all to make us aware of possibilities we don’t normally consider.

The neat turf at the entrance to chateaux was accordingly a status symbol nobody could fake. It boldly proclaimed to every passerby: ‘I am so rich and powerful, and I have so many acres and serfs, that I can afford this green extravaganza.’

This is the basic lesson of evolutionary psychology: a need shaped thousands of generations ago continues to be felt subjectively even if it is no longer necessary for survival and reproduction in the present.

Whereas theism justified traditional agriculture in the name of God, humanism has justified modern industrial farming in the name of Man. Industrial farming sanctifies human needs, whims and wishes, while disregarding everything else.

In recent years, as people began to rethink human–animal relations, such practices have come under increasing criticism. We are suddenly showing unprecedented interest in the fate of so-called lower life forms, perhaps because we are about to become one.

The belief that humans have eternal souls whereas animals are just evanescent bodies is a central pillar of our legal, political and economic system.

If any scientist wants to argue that subjective experiences are irrelevant, their challenge is to explain why torture or rape are wrong without reference to any subjective experience.

According to Turing, in the future computers would be just like gay men in the 1950s. It won’t matter whether computers will actually be conscious or not. It will matter only what people think about it.

Humans nowadays completely dominate the planet not because the individual human is far smarter and more nimble-fingered than the individual chimp or wolf, but because Homo sapiens is the only species on earth capable of co-operating flexibly in large numbers.

Indeed, much of the elite’s efforts focused on ensuring that the 180 million people at the bottom would never learn to cooperate.

Sapiens don’t behave according to a cold mathematical logic, but rather according to a warm social logic. We are ruled by emotions.

We refuse unfair offers because people who meekly accepted unfair offers didn’t survive in the Stone Age.

As long as all Sapiens living in a particular locality believe in the same stories, they all follow the same rules, making it easy to predict the behaviour of strangers and to organise mass-cooperation networks.

People weave a web of meaning, believe in it with all their heart, but sooner or later the web unravels, and when we look back we cannot understand how anybody could have taken it seriously.

Hence if we want to understand our future, cracking genomes and crunching numbers is hardly enough. We must also decipher the fictions that give meaning to the world.

The truth is very different. Egyptians built Lake Fayum and the pyramids thanks not to extraterrestrial help, but to superb organisational skills. Relying on thousands of literate bureaucrats, pharaoh recruited tens of thousands of labourers and enough food to maintain them for years on end.

No matter how mistaken the biblical world view was, it provided a better basis for large-scale human cooperation.

Corporations, money and nations exist only in our imagination. We invented them to serve us; why do we find ourselves sacrificing our lives in their service?

It is often said that God helps those who help themselves. This is a roundabout way of saying that God doesn’t exist, but if our belief in Him inspires us to do something ourselves – it helps.

Religion is any all-encompassing story that confers superhuman legitimacy on human laws, norms and values. It legitimises human social structures by arguing that they reflect superhuman laws.

Dualism instructs people to break these material shackles and undertake a journey back to the spiritual world, which is totally unfamiliar to us, but is our true home. During this quest we must reject all material temptations and deals.

Such journeys are fundamentally different from religions, because religions seek to cement the worldly order whereas spirituality seeks to escape it.

Yet in fact modernity is a surprisingly simple deal. The entire contract can be summarised in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.

Modern culture rejects this belief in a great cosmic plan. We are not actors in any larger-than-life drama. Life has no script, no playwright, no director, no producer – and no meaning.

Whereas today everyone is obsessed with growth, in the premodern era people were oblivious to it.

This fundamental dogma can be summarised in one simple idea: ‘If you have a problem, you probably need more stuff, and in order to have more stuff, you must produce more of it.’

Modern politicians and economists insist that growth is vital for three principal reasons. Firstly, when we produce more, we can consume more, raise our standard of living and allegedly enjoy a happier life.

Nowadays it is generally accepted that some version of free-market capitalism is a much more efficient way of ensuring long-term growth, hence greedy tycoons, rich farmers and freedom of expression are protected, but ecological habitats, social structures and traditional values that stand in the way of free-market capitalism are dismantled and destroyed.

But in truth there are three kinds of resources: raw materials, energy and knowledge. Raw materials and energy are exhaustible – the more you use, the less you have. Knowledge, in contrast, is a growing resource – the more you use, the more you have.

The greatest scientific discovery was the discovery of ignorance. Once humans realised how little they knew about the world, they suddenly had a very good reason to seek new knowledge, which opened up the scientific road to progress.

If everything is for sale, including the courts and the police, trust evaporates, credit vanishes and business withers.

Yet today, those who pose the greatest threat to global law and order are precisely those people who continue to believe in God and His all-encompassing plans. God-fearing Syria is a far more violent place than the secular Netherlands.

Whereas medieval priests had a hotline to God and could distinguish for us between good and evil, modern therapists merely help us get in touch with our own inner feelings.

Heaven and hell too ceased to be real places somewhere above the clouds and below the volcanoes, and were instead interpreted as internal mental states. You experience hell every time you ignite the fires of anger and hatred within your heart; and you enjoy heavenly bliss every time you forgive your enemies, repent your own misdeeds and share your wealth with the poor. When Nietzsche declared that God is dead, this is what he meant.

Wilhelm von Humboldt – one of the chief architects of the modern education system – said that the aim of existence is ‘a distillation of the widest possible experience of life into wisdom’. He also wrote that ‘there is only one summit in life – to have taken the measure in feeling of everything human’.

All humanist sects believe that human experience is the supreme source of authority and meaning, yet they interpret human experience in different ways.

Once again people believe that if you just give individuals more freedom, the world will enjoy peace and prosperity. The entire twentieth century looks like a big mistake.

In addition, liberalism itself smarted from the experience and is less conceited than it was a century ago. It has adopted various ideas and institutions from its socialist and fascist rivals, in particular a commitment to provide the general public with education, health and welfare services.

More than a century after Nietzsche pronounced Him dead, God seems to be making a comeback. But this is a mirage. God is dead – it’s just taking a while to get rid of the body.

True, hundreds of millions may nevertheless go on believing in Islam, Christianity or Hinduism. But numbers alone don’t count for much in history. History is often shaped by small groups of forward-looking innovators rather than by the backward-looking masses.

When genetic engineering and artificial intelligence reveal their full potential, liberalism, democracy and free markets might become as obsolete as flint knives, tape cassettes, Islam and communism.

However, like every other religion, liberalism too is based not only on abstract ethical judgments, but also on what it believes to be factual statements.

The contradiction between free will and contemporary science is the elephant in the laboratory, whom many prefer not to see as they peer into their microscopes and fMRI scanners.

The sacred word ‘freedom’ turns out to be, just like ‘soul’, a hollow term empty of any discernible meaning. Free will exists only in the imaginary stories we humans have invented.

But the million-dollar question is not whether parrots and humans can act upon their inner desires – the question is whether they can choose their desires in the first place.

Neural events in the brain indicating the person’s decision begin from a few hundred milliseconds to a few seconds before the person is aware of this choice.

Yet people erroneously jump to the conclusion that if I want to press it, I choose to want to. This is of course false. I don’t choose my desires. I only feel them, and act accordingly.

In another research project, 2,428 Swedish women were asked to recount their memories of labour two months after giving birth. Ninety per cent reported that the experience was either positive or very positive. They didn’t necessarily forget the pain – 28.5 per cent described it as the worst pain imaginable – yet it did not prevent them from evaluating the experience as positive. The narrating self goes over our experiences with a sharp pair of scissors and a thick black marker. It censors at least some moments of horror, and files in the archive a story with a happy ending.

Paradoxically, the more sacrifices we make for an imaginary story, the more tenaciously we hold on to it, because we desperately want to give meaning to these sacrifices and to the suffering we have caused.

For exactly the same reason, if I have sacrificed a child to the glory of the Italian nation or my legs to the communist revolution, that’s usually enough to turn me into a zealous Italian nationalist or an enthusiastic communist. For if Italian national myths or communist propaganda are a lie, then I will be forced to concede that my child’s death or my own paralysis have been completely pointless. Few people have the stomach to admit such a thing.

Medieval crusaders believed that God and heaven provided their lives with meaning; modern liberals believe that individual free choices provide life with meaning. They are all equally delusional.

In contrast, if and when you solve the technical problems hampering Watson, you will get not one, but an infinite number of doctors, available 24/7 in every corner of the world. So even if it costs $100 billion to make it work, in the long run it would be much cheaper than training human doctors.

The most important question in twenty-first-century economics may well be what to do with all the superfluous people.

Every animal – including Homo sapiens – is an assemblage of organic algorithms shaped by natural selection over millions of years of evolution.

Liberalism eventually defeated socialism only by adopting the best parts of the socialist programme. In the twenty-first century we might witness the creation of a massive new unworking class: people devoid of any economic, political or even artistic value, who contribute nothing to the prosperity, power and glory of society. This ‘useless class’ will not merely be unemployed – it will be unemployable.

Traditionally, life has been divided into two main parts: a period of learning followed by a period of working. Very soon this traditional model will become utterly obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives, and to reinvent themselves repeatedly.

The coming technological bonanza will probably make it feasible to feed and support these useless masses even without any effort from their side. But what will keep them occupied and content? People must do something, or they go crazy. What will they do all day? One answer might be drugs and computer games.

Liberalism will collapse on the day the system knows me better than I know myself. Which is less difficult than it may sound, given that most people don’t really know themselves well.

Eventually we may reach a point when it will be impossible to disconnect from this all-knowing network even for a moment. Disconnection will mean death.

Twentieth-century medicine aimed to heal the sick. Twenty-first-century medicine is increasingly aiming to upgrade the healthy.

Unlike in the twentieth century, when the elite had a stake in fixing the problems of the poor because they were militarily and economically vital, in the twenty-first century the most efficient (albeit ruthless) strategy might be to let go of the useless third-class carriages, and dash forward with the first class only.

Modern humanity is sick with FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – and though we have more choice than ever before, we have lost the ability to really pay attention to whatever we choose.

Humanist psychologists have pointed out that people in distress often don’t want a quick fix – they want somebody to listen to them and sympathise with their fears and misgivings.

According to humanism, only human desires imbue the world with meaning. Yet if we could choose our desires, on what basis could we possibly make such choices?

Humans were supposed to distil data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom. However, Dataists believe that humans can no longer cope with the immense flows of data, hence they cannot distil data into information, let alone into knowledge or wisdom. The work of processing data should therefore be entrusted to electronic algorithms, whose capacity far exceeds that of the human brain.

Rather, capitalism won the Cold War because distributed data processing works better than centralised data processing, at least in periods of accelerating technological change.

As both the volume and speed of data increase, venerable institutions like elections, political parties and parliaments might become obsolete – not because they are unethical, but because they can’t process data efficiently enough.

The NSA may be spying on our every word, but to judge by the repeated failures of American foreign policy, nobody in Washington knows what to do with all the data. Never in history did a government know so much about what’s going on in the world – yet few empires have botched things up as clumsily as the contemporary United States. It’s like a poker player who knows what cards his opponents hold, yet somehow still manages to lose round after round.

Precisely because technology is now moving so fast, and parliaments and dictators alike are overwhelmed by data they cannot process quickly enough, present-day politicians are thinking on a far smaller scale than their predecessors a century ago. Consequently, in the early twenty-first century politics is bereft of grand visions. Government has become mere administration.

Many neo-liberal economists and political scientists argue that it is best to leave all the important decisions in the hands of the free market. They thereby give politicians the perfect excuse for inaction and ignorance, which are reinterpreted as profound wisdom.

It is dangerous to trust our future to market forces, because these forces do what’s good for the market rather than what’s good for humankind or for the world.

A conversation between a peasant, a priest and a physician may produce novel ideas that would never emerge from a conversation between three hunter-gatherers.

We often imagine that democracy and the free market won because they were ‘good’. In truth, they won because they improved the global data-processing system.

According to Dataism, human experiences are not sacred and Homo sapiens isn’t the apex of creation or a precursor of some future Homo deus. Humans are merely tools for creating the Internet-of-All-Things, which may eventually spread out from planet Earth to pervade the whole galaxy and even the whole universe. This cosmic data-processing system would be like God. It will be everywhere and will control everything, and humans are destined to merge into it.

Just as free-market capitalists believe in the invisible hand of the market, so Dataists believe in the invisible hand of the data flow.

Traditional religions assured you that your every word and action was part of some great cosmic plan, and that God watched you every minute and cared about all your thoughts and feelings. Data religion now says that your every word and action is part of the great data flow, that the algorithms are constantly watching you and that they care about everything you do and feel. Most people like this very much.

Why write anything if nobody else can read it? The new motto says: ‘If you experience something – record it. If you record something – upload it. If you upload something – share it.’

The Internet-of-All-Things may soon create such huge and rapid data flows that even upgraded human algorithms would not be able to handle them. When cars replaced horse-drawn carriages, we didn’t upgrade the horses – we retired them. Perhaps it is time to do the same with Homo sapiens.

When you read the Bible you are getting advice from a few priests and rabbis who lived in ancient Jerusalem. In contrast, when you listen to your feelings, you follow an algorithm that evolution has developed for millions of years, and that withstood the harshest quality-control tests of natural selection. Your feelings are the voice of millions of ancestors, each of whom managed to survive and reproduce in an unforgiving environment.

A critical examination of Dataist dogma is likely to be not only the greatest scientific challenge of the twenty-first century, but also the most urgent political and economic project.

However, it is not easy to think and behave in new ways, because our thoughts and actions are usually constrained by present-day ideologies and social systems. This book traces the origins of our present-day conditioning in order to loosen its grip and enable us to think in far more imaginative ways about our future.

Humans are relinquishing authority to the free market, to crowd wisdom and to external algorithms partly because we cannot deal with the deluge of data. In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information.

  1. Science is converging on an all-encompassing dogma, which says that organisms are algorithms and life is data processing.
  2. Intelligence is decoupling from consciousness.
  3. Non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms may soon know us better than we know ourselves.

How do you feel after reading this?

This helps me assess the quality of my writing and improve it.

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