21 Lessons for the 21st Century

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Book - 2018
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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.

Apr 05, 2019

*** I would love if the library would order an audio cd copy of the book! ***

Mar 23, 2019

more warnings than lessons

Jan 30, 2019

I agree with others that this book raises interesting questions and definitely gets you thinking. But he really scratches the surface on many of his ideas. It serves as a good conversation starter but you need to look elsewhere if you want to look in-depth into the ideas he raises.

I also don't like Harari's overly pessimistic view on things. Our society can go in so many directions. He talks as if homo sapiens time on earth is basically done within a century. He could be right but his theories aren't any more valid than others. He's written a pithy book that is getting attention but other views are out there.

Worth a read.

Jan 17, 2019

This book, and others by this author - Sapiens and Homo Deus - have got resounding reviews. I borrowed and ‘read’ Homo Deus and 21 Lessons. Found both to be very shallow collections of everyday issues. For 21 Lessons, all that an engaged reader has to do is read the chapter headings and subtitles - and would not need to read the book. Opinions are just that; an unbiased understanding of the issue is crucial starting point. Reading the author’s view did not provide me any additional perspective on the topics. The ink and paper would have been better used elsewhere. Save your time - skip it.

Jan 16, 2019

If lined up on that now-ubiquitous media bias chart, this book would be left-of-center. Written in 2018 (and read/reviewed in Jan 2019) it has all of the major players in our headlines, so is, obviously, timely and apropos. As an historian, the author does well with parlaying today's goings-on into a wider-timeline perspective. Mainly the book raises interesting points, interesting perspectives and interesting conjecture/guesses. A good read.

Dec 20, 2018

The book is generally quite engaging and does discuss many very important issues. I found the historical, social and geopolitical commentary to be quite illuminating, but when he occasionally wanders out of his lane into more technological or scientific aspects he is much less convincing. The book also does drag a bit in the last couple chapters.

Nov 28, 2018

Very entertaining. Read and think...it is not required that you agree.

Take what you read here with a grain of salt. Harari is a historian, not a scientist or engineer. When his writings touch these topics, which is most of the time, it is implausible speculation, based on sensationalist guesswork by popular science journalists. Go through the chapter on Work, for example, and count how many sentences start with "What if." First, does anyone who knows what they're talking about think these what-ifs might come to pass, and second, I'm looking to you, Harari, to tell me what's going to happen, not ask me!

Worth looking into, but not as good as the previous two books, which were works of history. One might suspect it was written to capitalize on their success. Comes across as a sophomore bull session, or what we used to call mental masturbation, meaning that it feels good to think about, but it just doesn't get the job done, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Nov 01, 2018

I was going to rate this book at 3 stars. However agonizing through the last two chapters which for me were just a numbing of a delusional mind, I downgraded it to 2 stars.

Oct 30, 2018

Twelve hours of my life well spent. There are enough concepts in this book to keep you pondering for the rest of your life. Best read with a very open mind.

Oct 07, 2018

I read the reviews of 21 lessons for 21 century, mixed. That readers-views demonstrate how complex is the issue(s). AI alone is said to solve problems is a myth; recent neuroscience studies shed light on the complexity of the neural works and the ever-changing matrix of that. To surrender to AI is give up our soul, the energy of the soul is so vastly superior that is immeasurable! Figuring out math solution faster than the fastest computer is one such, sterilization of solid gold ellipsoid within a human mouth is another science breaker. These and many others challenge AI on its face and will continue to demonstrate the ultimate power of the soul-energy. Any book is exciting to show modern thinking and commercial trends, cannot predict, pin-pointed.
thanks for reading

Oct 07, 2018

Excellent book. Read it. Lose your illusions. Well at least some of them.

Oct 04, 2018

I enjoyed the topics Harari brought up giving valuable perspectives for the readers to think things over critically. Some of the topics poses existential questions that humanity of all levels should pay attention to and act accordingly. It is not someone else's problem or future generations' problem. It is our problem, and it requires our action, especially responsible actions instead of kicking the proverbial can down the road.

Oct 01, 2018

I have just finished reading 21 Lessons for the 21st Century after enjoying Sapiens and Homo Deus. I found 21 to be interesting, stimulating and frightening.

While it was not specifically written as a quote, the last sentence of one of the paragraphs in the chapter “Ignorance” gave me pause. “If you cannot afford to waste time, you will never find the truth.” Think the 2026 Olympics Bid, Brexit, Global Warming, #metoo, Trump, Immigation, or my favourite, Artificial Intelligence – Friend or Foe.

Think about the rate of change we are experiencing. In the chapter “Education” Harari asks what should be on the public education agenda in 2018 and will that knowledge have much value in twenty years’ time? I would have no idea what 'knowledge path' a 12-year old should travel today.

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