Why Harari’s Homo Deus’ story of our technological future is wrong

Sarah Spiekermann

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Transhumanistic story-telling as presented in Harari’s book Homo Deus overestimates technology and underestimates wo/men. It lays out a dark science fiction path for the future of humanity and nature, one whose main benefit is to the coffers of the IT industry.

In recent years it has seemed as though the future path of humanity was paved with transhumanist ideology, with Yuval Harari being, perhaps unknowingly, its most powerful spokesperson. In his book Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari writes: “As long as all Sapiens … believe in the same stories, they all follow the same rules, …”  He explains why we would be well advised to believe in the “4th Industrial Revolution,” also promoted by the World Economic Forum: Having overcome war, hunger and disease thanks to technology, we could soon, so he claims, be “superhumans.” With neutral detachment, Harari portrays in Homo Deus what is really only a one-sided transhumanist perspective of our many potential futures with technology; the one story, though, that would in fact secure a tremendous amount of cash for––and long-term dependency on––the IT industry.

In this talk I first present the technological path that is laid out for our future by Harari and other transhumanists, and challenge it from a technological and economic perspective. I will elucidate how a degrading idea of wo/men (negatives Menschenbild) as well as “dataism” (also called “computer anthropology”) fosters the perceived need for ever more human technological enhancement. I will challenge this pernicious perspective on humankind from a philosophical as well as a cognitive science perspective. Finally, I will present data from a representative German/Austrian sample polled in 2022, which shows that in truth, the belief in a transhumanistic future is shared only by a negligible portion of the population. I will end my talk with an alternative story of where technology could go.