21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY By Yuval Noah Harari

“I am aware that many people might be upset by my equating religion with fake news, but that’s exactly the point. When a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s a religion…” (p. 239) Yuval Noah Narari peeks into the Future and reports his findings in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I was most interested in Harari’s speculations about Artificial Intelligence and robots completely changing the workplace. And I concur with Harari’s assertion that Education in the Future would consist of “the 4 C’s”: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity (p. 266).

I used to teach a class in Advertising at my College. Imagine my reaction to reading this: “What will happen once we can say to GOOGLE, ‘Hi, GOOGLE. Based on everything you know about cars, and based on everything you know about me (including my needs, my habits, my views on global warming, and even my opinion about Middle Eastern politics), what is the best car for me?’ If GOOGLE can give us a good answer to that, and if we learn by experience to trust GOOGLE’s wisdom instead of our own easily manipulated feelings, what could possibly be the use of car advertisements?” Exactly! This scenario is the death of Advertising as we know it.

There’s plenty to think about in 21 Lessons For the 21st Century. You’ll be pondering the implications for months! GRADE: A

Part I: The Technological Challenge
1. DISILLUSIONMENT The end of history has been postponed 3
2. WORK When you grow up, you might not have a job 19
3. LIBERTY Big Data is watching you 44
4. EQUALITY Those who own the data own the future 73

Part II: The Political Challenge
5. COMMUNITY Humans have bodies 85
6. CIVILISATION There is just one civilisation in the world 93
7. NATIONALISM Global problems need global answers 110
8. RELIGION God now serves the nation 127
9. IMMIGRATION Some cultures might be better than others 140

Part III: Despair and Hope
10. TERRORISM Don’t panic 161
11. WAR Never underestimate human stupidity 173
12. HUMILITY You are not the centre of the world 184
13. GOD Don’t take the name of God in vain 200
14. SECULARISM Acknowledge your shadow 207

Part IV: Truth
15. IGNORANCE You know less than you think 221
16. JUSTICE Our sense of justice might be out of date 228
17. POST-TRUTH Some fake news lasts for ever 236
18. SCIENCE FICTION The future is not what you see in the movies 250

Part V: Resilience
19. EDUCATION Change is the only constant 263
20. MEANING Life is not a story 273
21. MEDITATION Just observe 314
Acknowledgments 325
Notes 329
Index 357

14 thoughts on “21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY By Yuval Noah Harari

  1. wolf

    I’ll have to read this!
    His earlier books also made waves.
    Here’s a review in the NYT by Bill Gates – yes, him! He calls it one of the most important books …

    I’m wondering whether we or rather the “Social Media” will manage some day to reduce the number of fake news stories – it’s horrible how many people believe that cr*p, makes me angry sometimes …

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, the Trump White House is calling the sexual harassment charges against their nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, “fake news.” But I don’t think that’s going to work this time.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    That does sound interesting, as well as provocative. There is no doubt that people believing in religion in general is way down, and considering the way some of our religious “leaders” (sic) behave, is that any wonder? Trump is the embodiment of fake news, of “what are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” You have to wonder what will happen with the lemmings following his every pronouncement once he deserts them to go over the cliff (so to speak).

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the whole fiasco of the Kavanaugh nomination is exposing the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress with their “alternative facts” and “fake news” tactics.

  3. patti Abbott

    I think people can tolerate not having a job. But does that mean they will not have an income? Sounds interesting if scary. But perhaps not scarier than what is going on every day in front of us.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, Artificial Intelligence and robots are the hot topics in Business. A lot of jobs are going to disappear over the next few years because of automation.

  4. Lauren W.

    As you already know, Dr. Kelley, I was impressed by Yuval Noah Harari’s two previous books, and so I was already planning on buying 21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. I feel even more confident, however, that I will enjoy this book since it has received your recommendation 🙂 Did you get a chance to check out SAPIENS and HOMO DEUS?

    1. george Post author

      Lauren, you’ll find that 21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY includes much of Yuval Noah Harari’s thoughts from SAPIENS and HOMO DEUS. It’s sort of a mashup of those two books. How are you and Patrick doing? What do you think of the Kavanaugh situation?

      1. Lauren W.

        Patrick and I are doing okay. How are you and your family? Are you enjoying retirement? I think that it is absolutely ridiculous that Kavanaugh was approved to be a Supreme Court justice without a reasonable FBI investigation. Unfortunately, though, it’s not surprising.

      2. george Post author

        Lauren, glad you and Patrick are doing well. I’m enjoying Retirement. My wife and I will be flying to Boston in a couple weeks to visit our daughter Katie and her new condo. A couple weeks after that, we’re head to New Orleans to visit with friends and our niece who is a CSI investigator. We may be visiting our son, Patrick, in San Jose in 2019. Patrick works for GOOGLE.

      3. Lauren W.

        I’m happy to hear that you have such fun and exciting plans coming up and that you and your family are doing well! 🙂

      4. george Post author

        Lauren, most of the fun and exciting plans are due to my wife and Patrick and Katie. I’m basically a home-body. Give me a Good Book and a comfortable chair and I’m happy!

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