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Book review: Sapiens - A Brief History of Humanking, book by Yuval Noah Hariri

Book review written by: Moh Kimani

Moh Kimani personal blog:

I have read several books but not as much as I would have loved to read by now. I take great solace in reading books and sometimes you meet that one book thar gives you a pure mind f**k. I have no single way to describe the exhilarating feeling that is born out of the excitement and us bookworms call it a ‘book hangover’. An interesting book that one can simply not get over easily. One such book for me in 20202 is Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Hariri. The Late Bob Collymore the former great CEO of safaricom listed this as one of his top favorite books and I now know why.

This book gives an in-depth analysis of human evolution, and the historical revolution from the cognitive revolution, (70,000 years ago) the agricultural revolution, (11,000 years ago) the scientific revolution, (500 years ago) which triggers the industrial revolution, (250 years ago) then the information revolution, (50 years ago) and eventually the biotechnical revolution of which we live in. One of the conundrums I desperately wanted to be solved was how would the biotechnical revolution impact the planet. Would it be another history’s huge fraud like the agricultural revolution that ensured that us, the Homo sapiens expanded exponentially but made their lives increasingly difficult?

In retrospect, Harari deduces that as with some of the other revolutions, the biotechnical one may a massive leap into the next species on earth. We are so advanced that scientists are attempting to bring back the Neanderthal man back from extinction. This whilst also creating super-smart computers that may lead to the extinction of sapiens as we are after we create cyborgs capable of living forever. Augmented humans seem to be the future of the sapiens giving them the organic and technological capabilities that emerge everyday as part of their being. Would you put in a chip that does all basic things in life for you? If you do, then you are going to be among the few of the sapiens that are embracing physical and brain augmentation.

Harari is also hilarious and I could not help but chuckle loudly at some of his words. He says, “William Tell never tasted chocolate, and Buddha never spiced up his food with chili.” The eloquence and undeniable simple writing while explaining complex matters impressed me in this book. I also like that he explored matters of individual happiness and the culture of invention by the human mind that has remained pervasive over the centuries. He delves into the development of languages, the rising of religion, the invention of money as well as the empires.

However, I do have some questions which will only be resolved with more reading of the world’s history and religion. I also want to know why the sapiens have not evolved in so long and if the next phase of evolution is sapiens augmentation, how long will this take. In addition, if sapiens go extinct and the cyborg achieves amortality, how will they curb overpopulation?


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