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21 Lessons for the 21st Century

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Book - 2018 | First edition
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How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children? As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Yuval Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive. How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis? Harari invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780525512172
Call Number: 909.82 H254t 2018
Characteristics: xix, 384 pages ; 25 cm


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Mar 21, 2021

Page 32

Loganlib_Brad Oct 14, 2020

Enjoyed this a lot more than i thought i would. I thought this would be more a loose collection of essays, but it sits together as a whole quite nicely. I particularly liked the section on the ethics of secularism. Also of interest was how Harari would use examples drawn from his home country of Israel to illustrate some of his points.

May 17, 2020

So many aspects of our lives are analyzed here that this book needs to be read more than ones in order to understand what really is happening to human race.
Don’t allow “technology to gain too much power over your life, you might become a hostage to its agenda.” “If the algorithms indeed understand what’s happening within you better than you understand it yourself, authority will shift to them.” Know thyself!

Mar 24, 2020

Harari says we live in a world construct created by religion, government and corporations and we do not know who we are. Unless we learn who we are soon, we are likely to lose the opportunity as technology, AI and mega data develop ever more sophisticated algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves, taking over our desire to even attempt to know our own minds. This is a totally absorbing book - I could not put it down. I plan to buy it so I can pick it up again and again.

Feb 17, 2020

Disturbing yet intelligent and illuminating. Very helpful to a human trying to sort out this world we live in. Be brave. Read this. Think. Learn.

Jan 22, 2020

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a book that makes you speechless.

A great eye-opener that virtually shakes the ground underneath your feet. As a reader, I was forced to re-examine the existing way of how I view technology, history, religion and culture. Even when one does not necessarily have to agree with every viewpoint in the book, it nevertheless would become a discourse for revisiting again and again, as it inspires humbleness for our future learning and introspection.

It's better to admit ignorance than to blindly defend something we don't understand. It's never too late to start waking up.

Thank you for this gem. I cannot wait to read his other two books in the series.

jr3083 Nov 08, 2019

I don't know that I'm particularly persuaded that a historian has any particular skill for prognostication, beyond an awareness of precedence and a span in their view. Hariri is an academic military historian - a historical genre that I am not fond of, but he wanders far from his origins here....
This book felt like a series of essays, a bit like a chocolate ripple cake concertinaed together with an introduction and bridging paragraph launching you off into the next essay. I thought that the first two parts of the book( on the merging of infotech and biotech and the effects of globalisation) were much stronger than the other sections. Even though I am open to deepening my spirituality, his promotion of meditation just felt 'off' in this book.

For my more detailed review, please visit

Sep 02, 2019

A good collection of essays in a style that is easy to read. A number of them are familiar since they have been published or discussed in the media, e.g., social networks. There is a lot of "food for thought", such as AI and ethics, intelligence and consciousness, globalization and equality; there are some dramatization (not all powerful will live longer or be smarter or healtier.) The chapters include good historical references/stories. The last four chapters were page fillers for me. All the same, read it, think about it, debate it, agree or disagree with what you have read. Good for schools and take home issues for parents.

Jun 25, 2019

This book provides a very deep insight into the pros and cons of our society in the 21st century. The author does a very good job of comparing each lesson and reality. One of them I was particularity interested in was that schools should teach more on how to think, not what to think. Personally, I agree with this stance as knowledge can easily be obtained, but thinking is a skill, which takes time and effort to master. Memorization of knowledge simply doesn’t fit our society, but we continue to do it. We spend years of our childhood cramming likely useless information into our brains without questioning if we will ever need it. Ever since the internet and computers were invented, knowledge carrying people and books were obsolete. Therefore, the current education model is incredibly outdated and needs revision. Another lesson I believe was important was that automation will inevitability replace human workers. An example the author provides is that impaired and overworked truck drivers account for a lot of traffic accident and if they were replaced with autonomous drivers then accident rates would decrease.

I think this book is a great read for young people looking for context in society. As a student, I have learned lots from this book. I rated this book a 10/10 because of how well it explains how to succeed in society.

Apr 28, 2019

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is truly a depressing, disturbing, frightening book. If Mr. Harari is right, the 21st century is not something I want to experience. As challenging as things are right now, he predicts they will get much worse in so many ways. If he is right, there is virtually nothing we can do about it. (I sincerely hope he is dead wrong.)

The first section of this book is called The Technological Challenge. It is horrific. I attended a conference in March at which a speaker on Artificial Intelligence predicted that large percentages of jobs that exist today would be gone in the next 7-15 years. Mr. Harari agrees, but says it will not stop there. He predicts constant and continuing disruption in the job market for the foreseeable future, such that most people will not have jobs at all (because many jobs will be replaced by machines, and the few jobs that exist will be too sophisticated for most people to do), and those that do have jobs will have to reinvent themselves every few years (which will screw up their mental health). Cheap unskilled labor will be worthless. How will people survive? He talks about universal basic income, but that is challenging to implement, especially where it may be most needed. After all, could people agree on what is basic? And what is universal?

What will give purpose to people’s lives? Why will people want to get up in the morning if there is no meaningful work (or even unmeaningful work)?

Bad as that is, it was not the worst thing he predicts. He thinks humans will give up any illusion of free will and personal decision-making (he argues that we do not really have free will anyway, that we are controlled by our biology), and all our decisions will be made for us by algorithms. We will all be required to wear biometric sensors that are monitored by tech companies, insurance companies, the government, etc. They will know everything we do, and everything we do can be manipulated. Humans will end up like domesticated farm animals. As overreaching as the tech companies are today, things will get worse (even worse than China and its existing social credit system, which is scary already).

There will be even worse economic inequality than today. And people will have no way to fight back, because they are essentially irrelevant. Machines and AI (and the rich people who own them) will control everything. The average person will have no power even over his or her own life.

The author also tears down anything we might believe in or anything that might give our lives meaning today, whether it be religion, education, knowledge, philosophy, one’s nation, creativity, art, music, etc.

His personal solution appears to be his two hours a day of meditation (which is his last chapter). Two hours a day!! That sounds unbearable to me!

Basically, he appears to predict that we will all end up a lot like the Borg on Star Trek: The Next Generation. We will be part of a collective, and “Resistance is futile.”

My response to this is:

1. I hope he is dead wrong about the future.

2. If he is right, I am glad I am as old as I am, so I will not have to live through all of this. It sounds miserable.

3. I am going to focus on enjoying every minute of my life right now, as “these are the good old days”. Whether or not he is right about the future, that is a good strategy! For now, we can still make our own choices about our own lives.

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