Bachelor student, Sonja Wagenbichler, chose the book Homo Deus for her Pecha Kucha presentation in my course "Management in the Digital Economy". A very delightful visual book summary, while at the same time thoughtful.
In this presentation, you will learn how humans tried to be god in the past and how algorithms will destroy us
I read the book Homo Deus by Yuval Harari, that shows, how the tomorrow could look like.
So - Let’s see what our future could be.
A pecha kucha presentation by
University of St. Gallen
Yuval Harari ist the author oft the book, this presentation is about. Harari was born in Israel in 1976 and is
a historian and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
His writings are preoccupied with concepts of free will, consciousness and definitions of intelligence.
In his first book „Sapiens: A brief history of Humankind“ – Harari tells the entire length of human history,
from the Stone Age up to technological revolutions in 21. Century.
„Homo Deus, A brief history of tomorrow“ is the sequel to Sapiens and shows, how homo sapiens become
Today, we have the first time in human history that more people die because of adiposity, cancer or heart
disease, than because of hunger or war. Coca Cola and Mac Donalds are more dangerous for us than
That gives human beings the possibility to dream of very new goals to reach.
The first goal is Immortality. For a long time, death was the end of our existing. Everybody knew that.
But now, death seems to be a technological problem, that can be solved. Google for example owns a
company that tries to defeat death. The company is called Calico, if you want to google that.
The second goal is happiness. Today, people think that the government is responsible for their happiness.
Thats why we live in a welfare state.
But humans are programmed to not be satisfied for a long time. We want more. At a certain point, we
need to manipulate our biochemistry, to feel hapiness again.
The third goal is deity. The quest for happiness and immortality means in the end that humans have to
Scientist an bio-ingeniers can reach this goal if they try to change gene codes and manipulate the brain. That
means they do the next step in human evolution.
For a long time, human thougt between humans and animals exists a fundamental difference. The
existence of soul. Humans do have a soul, animals do not have a soul.
But: No one could ever prove, that souls exist. The USP of having a soul seems to be a legend.
So, why are humans the autocrats on this planet and not for example lions?
The answer is something, we should know as economists: Because humans have the unique ability to
organize themselves in a very flexible and very cooperative way.
Humans can think in a very abstract way. That make us belief in stories like religions, paper money, but also
nationalism, democracy or human rights.
For example the bible is just a story, but million people believe in it. Why? Because it is a base that helps
people to live together.
Humanism revolution replaced god by human. From that moment, everybody should decide by itself,
whats good, whats not.
As an instance people use free will and own feelings to make these kind of decisions. But of course, that’s
more complicated than the rules, people had before.
Humanism gave us the possibility to invent free market economy. It gave us a lot of power, but today, we
are in front of a big crisis.
The promise of consum, happiness and wealth needs every two year a new technological miralce. That won’t
A big part of humanism and liberalism is the idea of free will. But this is something scientist couldn’t find,
too. They just can see biological things and a lot of biochemical happening.
Complex feelings like anger can be simulated in the brain with a few electric impulses.
In the 20th century, the belief in individualism was very strong. It was the most important factor for economic
growth. Harari says, that in the future, this criteria won’t be important anymore. Decision-makers won’t
respect human rights or individual freedom.
Computers do not have any awareness. But they become more intelligent than humans. As better they get
as useless humans become.
It isn’t sure, that in future, old jobs will be replaced by new jobs, like it happend in the past. Because now,
humans can’t do anything better than computers.
Modern scientists think, that all the existing organisms are kind of biological algorithms. So computers
won’t need humans at a certain point.
The only thing that human could be better than computers is art. But also there it is not sure, if computers
could be better artists than human.
For me, as a professional musician, it was shocking to read, that computers can compose music like Johann
Sebastian Bach. During a concert, an orchestra played computers music and the audience didn’t realise that
it wasn’t Bachs music the orchestra played.
So – how can human exist, if computers do everything better than human beings?
There are two options:
First is called Techno-Humanism.
That means that the DNS needs to be changed again. By connecting the brain with a computer, humans can
optimize themselfes. With this new computer-DNS we could reach altered state of consciousness.
The other option is dataism.
That means, big data is more intelligent than human cleverness. Computers should decide for us, because
they can use more data than human brains.
In the end, we need a full internet of the things and all the problems are sold. Thats what dataists beliefe.
In the end, maybe the most important thing is, to ask ourselfes, if this is the kind of future we want to live in.
Or better: What kind of future do we want to live in?
Or: Where is the magic in our lives, if everything is made by algorithms?