Homo Deus: Are We God?

Good morning Nerdies, and welcome to Rubbish Talk.

Today I am going to breathlessly talk about Homo Deus, a wildly captivating and exceedingly speculative theory postulated by the atrociously intelligent Yuval Noah Harari

WOA!! WAY . TOO . MANY . adverbs-slash-jective !

I know!

I just wanted to show you how high I deemed this book.

Because, DAMN! What a mind-blowing book!  

Let’s get on with it!

What’s this fuzz I made about?

Harari was originally known for his another mind-blowing book that he egged in 2011 but first published in English in 2014, Sapiens. Rumor (Read: Wikipedia) has it, he was virtually nobody before Sapiens, and then BOOM, he became well-known worldwide after the book had been out.

Sapiens covers a comprehensive humankind evolution history. Or in plain English, it’s about our history since those days when we were apes until today when we are assholes.

Meanwhile, Homo Deus is a forecast of what would happen to our world or to us if this new digital era are to culminate without any major hindrance.

The book is a prophecy of humankind’s future, or as Harari puts it, A Brief History of Tomorrow.

So, if you’re wondering which one should you read first, entirely basing on the historical timeline I suggest that you read Sapiens first. I suppose reading Sapiens first will give you a better understanding of Harari’s perspective that he’s basing his prediction on.  

What does the future hold for us?

According to Harari’s conjecture, there’s a sensible probability that Homo Sapiens (Read: we) are going to extinct in the future.

Future here is not the future we used to know. Since circa the last century, technological advancement has been going on in such an unprecedented speed that now we basically live in dog years. Thereby, in this epoch, future means 30 years from now.  

This brand new digital age is so shiny and intoxicating that it’s blinding us. Twenty-first century quickly becomes a time when new is always best and old means backward.

Step by step, we trumped major threats to humankind’s survival; first wars, and then flu, and eventually we also put famine to end almost completely. We’ve changed the harsh world into our cozy home.

Now that we conveniently live in peace and have Mc. Donalds in immediate access nearly everywhere we live, we put our precious time to fix finer, more individual problems. Your heart vein is clogged up? Have a ring attached to it, and live longer. Don’t want the hassle asking people around for direction? Have a map app smarter than you that can track wherever you are, and never get lost again! Even cancer is no longer a huge scare like it used to be!

Apparently it’s in our DNA to never be complacent with ourselves. First we made our lives free from threats, then we produced as many of our kind as we could, and then, good became the new bad. So we started to upgrade our lives. This upgrading process has been getting more and more sophisticated, that now we are in the middle of doing or being something so progressive that no one knows what will be of us or of this earth in the future.

In Homo Deus, Harari dares us that if we keep going on this track, whatever species that will thrive through the twenty-first century might not be us. Looking at the way how things go, it could be some mishmash Homo Cyborg or just plain Cyborg.

It’s an argument. And therefore it’s in its nature to be challenged.

Today we are the latest God, we possess the power to do and take whatever we want to and from the earth and its other inhabitants. We decide which direction this world would go. Though also comes with the power we have such a superior ego that won’t let us believe that we, the designer, the administrator of this world, are going to extinct. So naturally, many people take Harari’s hypothesis as ludicrous. And these people are called optimists. They argue that on the contrary of what Harari surmises, we are about to face our best days.

If you’re interested in knowing the other side of this contention, Steven Pinker is the most eminent optimist on this subject (that I know), and his most profound work is Enlightenment Now.

As a matter of confession, I haven’t read that book. #LOL

Given time slots and reading pace that I had and was born with, I read a shorter piece of Pinker’s mind instead. I read a debate record titled Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead between the optimists which were represented by Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley, and the pessimists’ side delivered by Alain de Botton and Malcolm Gladwell.

I hate to say this but I suggest you not read that book. For two reasons. First one is thickness-wise the book looks more like a booklet than a real book. Which means the book(let) entails not enough analysis on such a complex dispute. And second reason, in my opinion, the debate is closer to a belligerent discussion than a substantial dialogue. I was expecting much more meat and less aggression in the talk to be honest.

Fortunately, beside Pinker’s real book, you can also listen to Pinker’s speech on Ted Talk.

What’s important though.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which side you stand on this topic, the subject is intriguing and compelling by itself, thereby it won’t hurt anybody really to get to taste a morsel of it. Even opposing my opinion by perusing that booklet will actually give you some idea on the matter. But better read the real book, Of Course!

Writing-wise

When it comes to writing skill, I think it is the one thing that matters the most in fiction. But in non-fictional literature, it is that one thing that gives the WOW effect when we realize that the author is just not impossibly knowledgeable but also has an insane writing skill.

And Harari is exactly THAT kind of author. If you think history is boring, maybe it’s not the history that’s boring, maybe the one who’s blabbering about it who’s boring. Because I found out through Harari’s books, that one can actually recount and explain history as if it’s a gossip! Yes, I swear his books are that juicy, provocative and engaging!

One thing that I thought was Harari’s best writing trait was his way to turn every complex matter into the easiest thing to understand. I was glad that one didn’t have to be smart to read his books, otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking about them!

Last thing, before I say goodbye.

This last piece is for you who are a true believer in the merit of sales number.

Based on Come and see Yuval Noah Harari at Brand Minds 2019 !, Harari’s books are sold 12 million copies worldwide and translated into 50 languages (by 2019). These are history books, and it’s freaking 12 million! I can write 10 pages long advertising these books, but a single me can lie. Unlike those 12 million people (discounting those who borrowing and not buying) who surely can’t!

Finally, you’re at the end of this endless post, and if you read every word I’d written, here’s 12 million thank yous for you!

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2018 Reads: Exceptional Books

Hi, Nerdies! And Happy New Year!

Before I say anything, there is one thing that you should know about me. It is that I am a complete control freak, thus I categorize, categorize and categorize. Categorizing is basically what I do for living. So beware of highly incessant categorizing ahead! #lol

I read 39 books last year, 12 of them were exceptional, 10 of them were less exceptional, and the rest of them (17, to be precise) were downright fun. And for obvious reasons, I wanted to blog about the 12 exceptional books first.

For the fun reads you can go here: (Still from) 2018 Reads: Fun Reads

And one more thing,  please pardon me for this interminable commentary.

I divided my recommendation into three sections: Must-read which is pretty much self-explanatory; Recommended books which are the books that I think will provide meaningful reads; and Personal Favorites which are my own favorites from 2018 reads.

I intentionally added Classics as the fourth category only because I had this one classic book that I think absolutely deserved a shout out to the world. Which one, you say? Keep on reading and you’ll find out. #winkwink

In lieu of me rambling on and on, let’s just jump right in!

Must Read

These are the books which either have changed the trajectory of my life completely, or the books that hold invaluable information – the kind of books that are so important they might as well be textbooks (in my opinion). 

I’m afraid I would be doing a disservice to these books if I were to disclose too much of my opinion regarding them, thus I only provided a glimpse of what the books are about. Therefore you can decide whether you want to read them or not based on the topic. But I say you should read them, because!, these are must read books after all!

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is about general history of Homo Sapiens, or if you prefer the generic word, Humankind. Looking back to history, human as a species should have been merely one of various animals existing on the earth. But rather, we currently hold overwhelming power on the earth and its inhabitants, the power that we should not have had let alone used. In short, Harari brilliantly summarizes how human race gets from the middle of the food chain to the very top of it.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

In her book, Duckworth asserts that Grit is the one thing that successful people have in common.  Ensuring the accountability of the conclusion, her argument is built on a basis of endless psychological researches.

A little tip: This is my life-changing book.  Now I know that Grit is not merely hard work. It is hard work and MUCH MORE. 

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This one is a memoir of a young man from Appalachian Mountain area. He is a part of so called hillbilly society. If you already decided that memoirs bore you, all I can say is if you give this one a chance, you’re not going to regret it. This book is such an exemplary memoir.   

And,

Muhammad: The Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong

I highly suggest everyone who loathe or outright hate Islam in any way to read this book. As we all know, all this hate-for-Islam runs from the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001 as the outset to the fact that now we all are jumbled in the danger of ISIS threats wherever we live. Armstrong however, never ceased to refute some of the most distorted opinion about Islam.

Even the term for a criminal suspect in a court is defendant. And it’s requisite that a defendant is accompanied by a defendant attorney during a litigation process. Because all people including the bad ones deserve to defend for themselves.

There is a little bit of truth in every lie, and there is a little bit of lie in every truth.

So I entreat you to hear out the side of Islam written by a person who genuinely intends to defend for Islam’s unfairly judged disposition. Cause you know, you can always go on and hold your opinion of hating it after reading the book. Eventually, it’s entirely your decision to hate or love anything in the world.

And for what it’s worth, Armstrong herself is not a Muslim.

Recommended Books

Three recommendations: two memoirs broaching the subject of inequity and one worthwhile self-help book.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.


said by every black person in USA

This very sentiment is affirmed that it is (still) real and deeply instilled in black society vulnerable daily lives through such a poetic memoir written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

In Order To Live by Yeon-Mi Park

A North Korean girl telling her story of how she managed to escape the renowned tyrannical North Korea passing its impervious borders and to elude extremely suffocating poverty In Order To Live.

Btw, the way the title perfectly sums up the gist of the book in one sentence is simply impressive.

Lastly,

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

I think all people might have read this book as of today because this one is such a popular book. But if you haven’t, better read it asap.

Favorites

This section will come across as highly biased because it’ll totally look like I dedicate this section to Michael Meyer.

Michael Meyer is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh who spent his young adulthood in China volunteering with the Peace Corps. He spent time teaching there, and he recorded some of what he perceived as China’s condition after Mao’s government in his books.

I am not gonna smooth-talk you into reading his books, because I admit that his books are a bit dragging reads if you’re not so into architectural stuff. In his books, Meyer pivots his narration on historical buildings, ruins and landmarks.

But I still love Meyer anyway, because he is such a funny  writer and his writing feels very personal. He is that kind of writer which makes you feel like you’ve known him personally for a long time.

Also: I even emailed him to ask a silly question. And yes, I like him that much. #lol

And these are two of his books that I read in 2018: In Manchuria and Last Days of Old Beijing.

Classics

I finished perusing three classics last year: Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I am particularly far from thrilled to discuss any classic, because I feel like I am only going to give a distorted opinion of them. The thing is, I always think that classic stories are old as in its complexity is obviously nothing compared to contemporaries’, and the English is very very old in some of them. And to be frank, I think you need to at least have interest in linguistic history in order to completely appreciate classic materials. And as for now, I am not that kind of person. Yet. (I hope)

But I still put this section out because one classic struck me as beyond an astounding piece, and even if you are not a huge fan of classics like me, I assure you that you still will absolutely love To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

If you want to know why I deem very high of To Kill A Mockingbird, see you in my next post! h

But I need to mention this.

To Harper Lee: Thank you for writing this masterpiece.  

And to you Nerdies, Thank You for reading.