• The future is a thorny issue
Yuval Noah Harari
During my first visit to Israel in the spring of 2015, I desperately wanted to meet with Prof. Harari after reading his Sapiens. From Animals into God: A Brief History of Humankind and falling in love with this powerful, evocative and to some extent surprising history book . By the way, who said that history books do not sell enough? Sapiens sold already over 1 million copies only in English. But four editors refused its publication at the start. Getting back to the point, I was in Jerusalem when, pushed by the flame of knowledge, when I called Harari’s secretary at his University. “Would Prof. Harari be available for a short talk?” “Sorry, Prof. Harari is out for a sabbatical period”. The historian doomed to become a celebrity was probably finishing to write his Homo Deus. I have just finished to read it and I am convinced that … the future is a thorny issue. Personally I am of the opinion that the future actually does not exist as a single outcome but only as one out of infinite possibilities of a future. Harari feels confident enough to see through it. But in my opinion he is more persuasive as an historian than as a futurologist. After trying to explain why Sapiens is on the way to become an immortal God (an appealing idea after all), Harari rises some disturbing questions: are we human beings a sum of genetic algorithms kept together by a narrating Self? Will dataism (the full digitalization of everything including the narrating Self) substitute the current wave of humanism, which took the place of religions? If the answer is twice “yes”, we might give up jobs (passing them to machines) but also the idea that each one of us can forge his own destiny. A full battery of superior algorithms will probably decide what is good for us. Gloomy, isn’t it?