Sapiens are the only homo species on earth. Why is this, even though we only began to spread some 70.000 years ago?
According to Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens, it is due to the cognitive revolution.
The cognitive revolution is a thing, that made humans kind of overpowered, compared to other animals. Now humans could group over 100 people into one group, which made them effective in combat and gathering resources. Further humans could now imagine things like a social order, which is biological not existent.
This imagined order evolved over thousands of years into Gods, Kingdoms and the latest invention is the nation state.
Some 10.000 years ago the agricultural revolution took place. This time we shifted from the hunter-gatherer style to farmers. With farmers the food production increased, which meant more people could live, which meant more food is consumed, which meant more food must be produced. This cycle could not be stopped, once started.
The latest revolution was some 500 years ago, when the scientific revolution started. This revolution is still kicking in today and leads to ‘’progress’’ in technology and economics. In fact to understand the last 500 years we have to understand progress, which was triggered by the discovery of America.
After the discovery of America people tried to gain a profit from the new found ‘’trade-route’’, but they soon discovered that they found some new land, which they could claim.
So the Kingdomes sent some fleets and settlers to the new lands, which brought home money. People slowly began to see this ‘’progress’’ as something good, so they invested more and more money into science (at first for discovery), which lead to increasing profits.
This is essentially how western Europe took the leadership over the world, because the rest of the world didn’t adopt this style of reinvesting.
In the last chapters Harari writes about coming challenges for humanity, in particular the possibility of the extinction of our species, through self inflicted ‘’progress’’.
He further writes specifically about the options of genetic engineering, making humans to cyborgs and developing a sapient AI.
At the end he asks two essential questions:
I truly think, these two questions are essential for humanity, so better think about them…
The book has some writing style, which is not really common in science books. It is really provocative and sometimes it feels like he is directly talking to the reader.
This combination leads someone to think about the book and it’s contents, which returns some great insights…
I would definitelly recommend this book!
9/10 points… because 10 is impossible