Homo Deus: The Four Horsemen

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Homo Deus: The Four Horsemen

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aug 21, 2017, 9:00am

I've seen other discussions where readers have taken issue with Harari's assertion that humanity has conquered the other Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Pestilence (disease), Famine, and War—the Death is the last to go. What do you think of this position given that many people (even in first world countries) still struggle with food insecurity, if not outright hunger, on a daily basis?

Harari does contend with the idea that this is in large part because humanity as a group doesn't care enough to solve the problem of hunger for all its citizens. But, there is sufficient food in the world to support its population, so we have conquered famine. Do you agree?

aug 24, 2017, 12:17pm

My first instinct was to call BS on the four horseman theory. I mean look at CNN or NPR for more than five minutes. People are still dying of disease and hunger and war. But when I kept reading I thought he made his case very well. The fact is we DO have enough food to feed humanity. Many diseases CAN be avoided or treated. Many of the deaths that result from these issues are man made. People right here in the US don't flipping vaccinate their children. A recipe for disaster. But if we have a mutated outbreak of measles that kills thousands of children it won't be because we didn't have the tools to prevent it, it would be man's own folly. And the fact is that active war isn't as prolific as centuries before. Much of the world IS at a stale mate. Granted the use of nuclear warfare is scary. But compared to our ancestors I can see his point that war isn't as much a part of our lives as before (I mean global not just North America). Skirmishes and terrorists acts do happen. But I also whole heartedly agree with his opinion about our reactions to terrorist attacks.

aug 24, 2017, 1:02pm

But, there is sufficient food in the world to support its population, so we have conquered famine. Do you agree?

No. Wasted food in the refrigerator of a house in the US means less than nothing to a starving family in South Sudan. This might mean we have the *potential* to conquer famine, but we haven't done so yet.

(Haven't finished the book yet. Nothing I saw in the "first impressions" thread made me want to actually spend money to get the book and thus finish it.)

aug 24, 2017, 3:51pm

I understand your disagreement but isn't it premature to make a judgment on a piece of work you haven't gotten even a quarter through? And even if in the end you still disagree on this point is it not possible that the author may make other arguments you do agree with? It seems a shame not to delve a little deeper into such a compelling concept because one disagrees on the surface of an argument. At the very least, Harari offers plenty of historical insight as well as describing many high tech innovations that most people aren't aware are in development and sometimes in already in full use.

Redigeret: aug 24, 2017, 4:00pm

I have no obligation to read this book or any other. Nor am I making any judgment other than "I do not wish to finish this book at this time." I feel no need to read any particular take on a concept if I do not believe the author is competent to discuss it, which is the case in this situation -- not that he is or is not incompetent, but that the first chapters have not given me reason to believe he is competent.

aug 24, 2017, 4:03pm

Also food for though...no pun intended


According to this study, the world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion humans. As Harai stated it would seem the problem of famine currently is man made.

aug 24, 2017, 4:25pm

>6 KatHoagland:

According to this study, the world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion humans.

Nobody in this thread says anything else.

As Harai stated it would seem the problem of famine currently is man made.

Sure. That's not a particularly profound or novel observation; it does not, however, mean the problem is not real. War has always been a 'man-made' problem, but I doubt that even Harari would argue that as a result we have "conquered" war since its invention.

aug 27, 2017, 5:41pm

No, I think he focusses too much on what he calls WEIRD societies. I was glad that he brought up the issue of what will happen when most of us are not needed as servants, workers, and possibly, cannon fodder. Will the resources and products be shared among all of humanity, or will an elite perhaps cull out particularly attractive or intelligent people from the masses and arrange an early death for the rest? Or perhaps not even bother with culling.

aug 27, 2017, 5:41pm

Good point!

aug 28, 2017, 11:12am

>9 PuddinTame: Just a heads-up, since I'm not sure who you're replying to, here. You can link to the specific post you're replying to (like I did here), by typing the right arrow (>), followed immediately by the number of the post you're replying to, with no spaces between them.

aug 29, 2017, 6:34pm

>7 lorax: I think you're avoiding the thrust of his argument. He is clear that inequality is increasing rather than decreasing as owners become richer and labour becomes less necessary so the problem of producing enough is no longer critical. The point is, as I understand it, that the real issue for the future is how to sustain this level of production in the long term and how it should be distributed - especially given that power will rest more and more with artificial intelligence and who or whatever controls it.

aug 29, 2017, 9:59pm

>11 Philogos:

I'm not actually arguing with Harari here; I didn't read enough of the book to do so. I'm disagreeing with lorannen's statement in >1 lorannen:.