Is Human Superiority Doomed? Exploring Our Rule Over Earth And What Threatens It
Humans have ruled the earth for millennia thanks to our inventive talent, consciousness and thought.
We have become so powerful that the development of computers and artificial intelligence seem unstoppable.
But could this reign come to an end?
In Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, readers can discover why humanity has come to dominate this planet.
They’ll learn how humans think they are special and what threatens our throne – making us wonder if our crown is as strong as we think it is.
Readers will gain insight into how scientists make decisions for rats and how US presidential elections illustrate human superiority.
They’ll understand why liberalism and nationalism are seen by some as religions.
However, above all else, readers will uncover why humans won’t rule forever – even with all our seemingly boundless potential!
As We Advance, Our Ambitions Change: From Overcoming Famine And Disease To Achieving Immortality
As technology rapidly advances, the ambitions and goals of humankind continue to evolve and change.
In the past, our goals had to be focused primarily on defeating famine, disease and war in order to prevent high death tolls.
However, as we have progressed further, our new aims revolve around things like increasing life expectancy and making humans even stronger.
We have made incredible strides: medical advances in the 20th Century alone nearly doubled our life expectancy.
And even though war is still a concern, deaths from it are much less common than those from other issues like diabetes or obesity.
We have also developed a way for paralyzed patients to use bionic limbs with only their thoughts, showing just how far we can go when aiming higher!
It’s true that as a species humanity is continually striving to do more by pursuing goals that can make us all better off – longer lives and stronger bodies, as well as greater happiness levels where people even use drugs such ecstasy because they feel like they can live happier lives.
What heights we scale!
Humanities ambitions change by the day
Humans Are World-Conquering Cooperators, But We Still Lack Answers About Our Uniqueness
Humans have claimed superiority over other animals since we stopped being hunter-gatherers and took up agriculture, around 12,000 years ago.
We started domesticating livestock and today more than 90 percent of large animals are domesticated.
Although this often leads to animal suffering, it meets our desire for cheap meat.
But what is it that sets us apart from animals? What makes humans so special that we feel we can abuse them like this? Are we necessarily different from them in some metaphysical way? Monotheists argue that humans possess a unique “soul”, but there’s no evidence of such a thing.
Scientists still don’t understand the nature of consciousness, so it’s unclear if human consciousness is any different from animal consciousness.
The answer may lie in our ability to cooperate flexibly on a large scale as demonstrated during election times when nearly 40 million people will turn up to vote on an agreed day with the same rules and agreeing to abide by the results – something no other species achieves on this level.
This cooperation amongst humans has undoubtedly enabled us to enjoy dominance over all other creatures in the world today.
We Still Need Religion: The Infallible Moral Code That Science Cannot Provide
In Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari emphasizes the significance of shared narratives in unifying people in cooperative behavior.
He breaks down the major religious narratives that bind us and posits that even modern moral frameworks still come from a religious source.
Religion has given us narratives and these encapsulate moral dilemmas.
Narratives are incredibly powerful in producing identities and sparking actions to achieve a collective goal.
A great example is the Third Crusade, when European leaders united to fight for Jerusalem.
The unity was largely due to the same Catholic narrative that promised eternal salvation for their efforts.
Today, our religious narratives look different – but this doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t have religion anymore.
Harari clarifies that religion isn’t superstition or belief in supernatural beings, but rather belief in codes of laws separate from human action – as if they were natural laws created independently.
People who are either liberals or nationalists can still be said to have religion; this is because they also believe in moral codes of conduct not born out of traditional beliefs but existing parallel with them nonetheless.
Harari argues that science cannot provide an answer to every ethical dilemma we face, such as whether a dam should be built if it would displace many families despite providing energy thousands – science can tell us how to build it efficiently, but won’t give us guidance on whether it should exist at all and what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ within this context.
To answer questions like these, we still need values embedded within rituals and stories – making up part of a broader moral code common to all which would be categorized under ‘religion’.
Have We Lost Meaning In The Quest For Power?
The modern era has ushered in an unprecedented ability to shape our lives, and unlock the mysteries of the world.
We now have access to technologies and knowledge that were only once attainable by divine beings.
Where previously we accepted that natural disasters were a consequence of God’s will, now we see them as a result of interconnected events and we can apply technological solutions to prevent them.
But with this new power and understanding has come an implicit expectation — that of continual growth — necessitated by our reliance on funded research and economic incentives.
We find ourselves subordinated to our own pursuit and control of technological advancement; technology is no longer something to stand in awe of, but something to be managed and collected.
This shift away from traditional spiritualism has had another consequence— it begs the question: What have we really gained? As humans now assume almost godlike abilities, have we lost meaningfulness along with our once-held beliefs about the workings of nature? Our modern world offers us tremendous power, but at what cost have these comforts been achieved?
Humanism: A Liberal Doctrine That Has Come To Dominate The World
With the advent of modernity, human experience is now the source from which societies derive meaning and significance – commonly known as humanism.
This means that individuals make decisions about what is right, who wins elections, and where to find beauty in the world; it all comes from within each person’s individual experience.
There are various types of humanism; no single approach can accommodate all our existential questions.
A nationalist might encourage fighting for one’s country, but a socialist would be keen on feeding the hungry by taking from the rich.
On the other hand, liberalism claims to value all human experiences equally.
Since the early 1970s, liberalism has been dominant in North-Western Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America – and with the collapse of Communism following the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991, it spread even further across Eastern Europe.
Nowadays no other ‘isms’ exist -all revolutionary movements still stem back to a form of liberalism.
Take Occupy Wall Street protesters: they wanted truly free markets as they felt big business had too much power over financial market regulations; this request itself was based upon a liberal take that others can share too!
When faced with ever more powerful technologies though, liberal societies will have to decide if their principles can stay intact – or will something else take precedence?
Modern Science Challenges Liberalism By Revealing Our Incomplete Understanding Of Free Will And The True Self
Modern science has revealed some important truths that directly challenge the values at the core of liberalism.
In particular, the idea of free will is a mere illusion.
Modern neuroscience suggests that our decisions are predetermined in our brains and not the product of any real free will.
This can be seen through experiments with “robo-rats” where scientists send signals to specific parts of a rat’s brain to make decisions for them.
In addition, it turns out there’s no such thing as a unified “one true self.” Our brains have two hemispheres with drastically different roles and when studied, it becomes clear that what we do isn’t always based on our own conscious choices.
All this adds up to present a serious threat to liberalism: how much does an individual really matter if all their decisions are predetermined and they don’t even know themselves?
At its heart, liberalism relies upon valuing human experience and individual freedom; however, modern science challenges these core principles by proving free will is an illusion and that people often lack conscious understanding of their own behavior.
The Rise Of Algorithmic Decision-Making: Are Humans Becoming Obsolete?
From financial trading to medical decisions, it’s becoming increasingly clear that algorithms and technologies will one day rule our lives.
We’re already seeing evidence of this in the way algorithms are taking over daily tasks with more speed, efficiency and reliability than humans can manage.
Famous musician David Cope even has a program called EMI, which is able to compose music so accurately that it’s indistinguishable from genuine Bach pieces.
Algorithms and technologies don’t stop at just allowing us to make quick decisions – they can also monitor our bodily data and make decisions for us, as was demonstrated in a Yale University experiment back in 2011.
Even if we don’t give them explicit instructions, algorithms and machines can understand our needs better than ever before, such as the findings of a 2015 study by Youyou, Kosinski and Stillwell which showed that a Facebook algorithm could predict people’s answers on personality questionnaires better than their spouse based on only 300 “likes”.
It’s becoming more and more difficult for us humans to ignore the fact that algorithms and technology are taking over many aspects of our lives – from financial trading to medical decisions!
It looks like these advancements might have the upper hand when it comes to ruling our lives.
We Are Facing A Future Where Algorithms Could Be More Powerful Than Humans
As algorithms become increasingly powerful, we face a crucial decision: do we fight back or let them take over? Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari is a book that makes us consider this question.
We could go down the path of techno-humanism and merge with technology in order to match the power of algorithms.
Already, the US Army is developing an attention helmet which sends electrical signals to soldiers’ brains to help them concentrate for extended periods.
This could make specialized soldiers more dependable than algorithms.
But if we only invest in technologies that are economically useful, this might lead us to become less empathetic people.
Alternatively, Dataism suggests that we should just step aside and let algorithms have their way.
Dataism believes that everything – including us humans – is simply data or a data-processing system or algorithm, and that it’s our duty as humans to create ever more efficient ways of processing data.
This begs the question: what happens when computers get better at building these algorithms than we are? Will this require us to give up our dominance?
No matter which path we choose, there’s no denying that our lives may turn out very differently depending on this choice.
The takeaway message from Homo Deux is clear:the power of algorithms threatens our status as the rulers of the planet – and only time will tell if we take up the challenge or not.
The final summary of the book Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari is that progress, change and understanding our history as a species are key components to determine where we will be in the future.
It encourages us to take action on determining our dependence on digital devices and to use this knowledge wisely.
We can do this by taking some time off from our mobile devices and observing if algorithms already have control over our free will.
Ultimately, Harari has provided an interesting thought-provoking account of how we got here and what challenges lay ahead of us as a species, allowing us to discover the important truths about ourselves that will shape the future.