One almost down; another on the horizon!

Mar 20, 2024 | 0 comments

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari

As I wrote the title of this blog, I wondered if readers would think I’m referring to books that I have in the works.  So, let me disabuse you of that idea right off the bat.  I’m talking about books I’m reading, not writing.  They are companion books by  Dr. Yuval Noah Harari who has a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and who now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History.  I’ve mentioned them here before but I don’t know that I have stressed  enough that they are a must read — especially for those of us of the Silent Generation (sometimes called the Traditionalist Generation.)

Since last summer, my children (who are Boomers) and I have been reading Harari’s first book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and discussing it during our weekly zoom meetings.  The book is dense with ideas and information and the three of us are all busy… so progress is slow.  But as we near the end of’ this one, we are all eager to get to the next one: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.  In it, Harari will be dealing with the future that most of us will probably just get a hint of in real time.

The books are long (the Sapiens paperback is 466 pages — 498 including Notes and Index.  It takes you from the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, thru the evolution of Humans 2.5 million years ago and a time when there were many others of the genus Homo — Homo  rudolfensis, Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis.  You will learn about “The Original Affluent Society” — the foragers. and on through “The Agricultural Revolution,” “The Unification of Humankind” and, then as we get closer to history as we know it, “The Scientific Revolution” (which begins with “The Discovery of Ignorance” — which occurred about the time of Columbus.)

As I approach the final chapters, I’ve come to a section called “Bionic Life.”  The first paragraph under that title presages why I think all of us old ducks should read this book (and, probably the next one,)  Here is what Harari says:  Here is another new technology which could change the laws of life: cyborg engineering.  Cyborgs are beings that combine organic and inorganic parts, such as a human with bionic hands.  In a sense nearly all of us are bionic these days, since our natural senses and functions are supplemented by devices such as eyeglasses, pacemakers, orthotics, and even computers and mobile phones (which relieve our brains of some  if their data storage and processing burdens).  We stand poised on the brink of becoming true cyborgs, of having inorganic features that are inseparable from our bodies, features that modify our abilities, desires, personalities and identities.

And I’m only on page 453 of the first book…

 

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