Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 272
In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari uses history and technological development to show how humans became the most dominant and successful species on the planet. He traces the path of our rise and predicts the potential fall of our species.
Harari says that, once, humans were no different than any other type of animal. There was no specific impact that we made on the world beyond living in it. We had large brains, of course, but other animals also have large brains. But something changed for us when we developed language and were able to communicate about abstract ideas like religion—we formed larger societies and began to work together.
This allowed us to develop a series of technological revolutions that changed the course of human history. For example, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the modern exploration of genetic science and bioengineering each changed the human race in different ways. These changes made humans much different than other animal species, who never evolved past small-group dynamics. Because they didn't work together, they couldn't make the same kind of progress.
However, Harari seems to believe that eventually, this quick rate of change will end our species. Biotechnology and bioengineering, he says, can be used to create beings that live forever and overcome the problem of biological mortality. He thinks that the face of the human species will look completely different as bioengineered beings supplant us and humans find ways to be essentially immortal. We won't be immortal because of the possibility to die to mistakes, violence or accidents, but we will, essentially, be capable of living forever.
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