Joeri's Reviews > 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
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bookshelves: philosophy-in-prison

In his third book, Harari opens with the noble and commendable goal of wanting to inform his readers about the potential developments and additional challenges and problems that might occur in the 21st century, in order to enable them to join in on the discussion of the course of the potential developments.

Like the title suggets, Harari discusses 21 of these potential developments, which according to him will mainly be the result of the converging bio- and information technologies. They range from speculations about the development of technology, politics, our valuesystems and belief, to education and the meaning of life.

He poses important questions like what will happen to the masses when they are no longer needed for their labour and military force, how in the future we might be known and manipulated by algorithms (leaving aside the question what it is they exactly measure and what form of knowledge results from this) and what future developments might implicate for education. How, for instance, can education prepare us for a future where most jobs will be automated by AI and what skills do we need in the 21st century?

He also calls on us to be more modest about our religions and other beliefs and calls for more humility in that regard, later on in the book, and holds a plea for secularism. He ascribes many values to secularism of which I doubt they are necessarily implied by it. Another critique is that I believe this book to have been published too soon after his other two books, since the quality of his writing and arguments are a bit more shallow then I'm used to. It also contains a lot of redundancies on its own, but also complementary to his other books.

Nevertheless, Harari offers in my view realistic speculations about the future and througout the book you can distill the sympathetic gesture of of him wanting to do something about the suffering that is currently taking place in the world, with speculations on how we might deal with suffering in the future. Also, his critique on individualism, free will and our beliefssystems could help us attain the modesty and responsibility to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

This is the third book I have read and discussed with a group of prisoners.
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Reading Progress

August 20, 2018 – Shelved
August 20, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
April 24, 2019 – Started Reading
April 24, 2019 – Shelved as: philosophy-in-prison
April 24, 2019 –
page 19
5.11%
May 9, 2019 –
page 73
19.62%
June 6, 2019 –
page 139
37.37%
July 11, 2019 –
page 217
58.33%
August 2, 2019 –
page 258
69.35%
August 24, 2019 – Finished Reading

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