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One Historian’s ‘Brief History Of Tomorrow’47:18

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With guest host Ray Suarez.

If man and machine really do become one, will data destroy democracy, humanism, and our souls? One historian’s view of the future.

A portion of the cover of Yuval Noah Harari's new book, "Homo Deus." (Courtesy Harper)
A portion of the cover of Yuval Noah Harari's new book, "Homo Deus." (Courtesy Harper)

To be human once meant a good chance of suffering brought on by the very experience of being human. But looking back at our history and ahead to rapid change, author Yuval Noah Harari sees a future of widespread, dramatic technological change, rapidly growing life expectancy — a world where a lot of our biggest challenges are licked. Being human is really going to change. This hour On Point, "Homo Deus," setting up a new age for humankind.

Guest

Yuval Noah Harari, historian and lecturer at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Author of the new book, "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow." Also author of "Sapiens."

From The Reading List

NPR News: Are Cyborgs In Our Future? 'Homo Deus' Author Thinks So — "If you find ways to repair the memory damaged by Alzheimer's disease or dementia and so forth, it is very likely that the same methods could be used to upgrade the memory of completely healthy people. And if you find ways to connect brains and computers, you can rely on memory's immense databases outside your own brain. We are starting to do it, in a way, with our smart phones and computers, but what we may see in coming decades is humans actually merging completely with their smart phones and computers."

TIME: How Humankind Could Become Totally Useless -- "In every generation, humans have
 lived under one cloud or the other. One cloud goes away, and another takes
its place. Yes, artificial intelligence is definitely going to change society in a fundamental way, and there are possible dangers. But this is not a prophecy. If I thought that there is nothing we can do, why just make people upset?"

WIRED: Sorry, Y’All—Humanity’s Nearing an Upgrade to Irrelevance — "Humanity has had  astonishing success alleviating famine, disease, and war. (It might not always seem that way, but it’s true.) Now, Homo sapiens is on the brink of an upgrade—sort of. As we become increasingly skilled at deploying artificial intelligence, big data, and algorithms to do everything from easing traffic to diagnosing cancer, we’ll transform into a new breed of superhuman."

Read An Excerpt Of "Homo Deus" By Yuval Noah Harari

This program aired on February 23, 2017.

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