Monday, April 13, 2015


Yuval Harari's book Sapiens is just an excellent read. It's about three important periods of human history: the cognitive revolution (where our ancestors became able to use their minds to a level unseen in other species), the agricultural revolution (where our lifestyle changed dramatically) and the scientific revolution (where our standards of living as well as our potential to destroy rose tremendously).

But the book is about far more than the facts and events surrounding these periods of which many people are already aware. It really makes you think about the how's and why's, and some of its theories and conclusions about both our past and our future are downright counter-intuitive and yet rather profound.

For example, the agricultural revolution is looked upon as a positive step for the humans of the day, but that is likely wrong. Whereas each human was making incremental improvements that would improve his situation (e.g. figuring out how to water seeds, how to plant them more effectively etc), on the whole the human race's condition was not improving. This is because the growth in food was matched by the growth in offspring, and the competition between humans (and the increasing chance of disease) made life as difficult as ever. This is a model I recognized as being analogous to companies in commodity industries that improve their processes, only to find that the competition has done the same, so they are no better off.

I came away from Sapiens with some new perspectives on both our past and our future. I highly recommend the book if the topic interests you.

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