I read “Homo Deus”

After having read Sapiens I immediately started on the next in the series, Homo Deus. Having learned about the past of the human species I was ready to learn about its future. I expected the book to talk about the challenges we, as a species, would face. I was hoping it would get real dystopian with it. Unfortunately it didn’t go as far as I had anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, it still covers some bleak topics like the end of democracy, and the rise of the irrelevant class. But it teases so much more than that.

What will happen to the job market once artificial intelligence outperforms humans in most cognitive tasks? What will be the political impact of a massive new class of economically useless people? What will happen to relationships, families and pension funds when nanotechnology and regenerative medicine turn eighty into the new fifty? What will happen to human society when biotechnology enables us to have designer babies, and to open unprecedented gaps between rich and poor?

While I was initially annoyed by the fact that a substantial part of the book was devoted to humanity’s history, even though I had just read a whole book about it, I appreciated the fact that it touched on the same subjects in different ages. The book covers some of life’s and society’s big questions, like happiness, purpose, and death. Is there a difference between feeling euphoric because it’s your wedding day, or a pill that pushes the right buttons in the brain? Is there something about humans that makes us special? If there is not, and we’re just biochemical algorithms, can computers simulate conciseness? If they can not, does that matter if they can still be smarter than us?

The thing that stuck with me most, was the projected decline of liberalism. Even though the events in the book won’t happen overnight, maybe not even in the next 100 years, this is the event that I am living through. Technology has always automated away jobs and, at least previously, provided new ones. The industrial revolution moved people from blue to white collar jobs. Now the ongoing AI revolution will move people out of the office, but where do they go? We can’t all go into culture jobs, and even those aren’t safe from AI. How will governments deal with a class of people that are economically worthless? I don’t have the answer, and I’m happy I’m not responsible for it.

While initially the book didn’t live up to my expectations it got more and more enjoyable as I read on. I found the last part of the book the most interesting. I’ve noticed that when I read books like this I’ve forgotten most of what I read. For the next books I’m going to make a short summary for every chapter. Hopefully this will help me with remembering more of the book.