Homo Deus by Yuval Harari

Harari is strongest when he analyzes the long sweep of human history as he did in Sapiens. His analysis of how Humanism evolved during the Enlightenment as a quasi-religion is insightful and serves as a useful framework for thinking about the role of religion in modern society.

As he speculates on the future of mankind, he offers some thought-provoking ideas. His scenarios of increasing inequality as the rich take advantage of biotech advances are probable, but he ends off veering into improbable Kurzweil-like scenarios of humans being supplanted by big data and AI. Uneven, but still recommended.


Plan Your Travel

Start planning your next trip. The antidote to lockdown cabin fever is to imagine a trip somewhere. You’ll be able to travel again this year, even if you probably won’t have the whole world available. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you spend time planning your trip.

Choose a destination and start researching. Since we’re only imagining at this time, you are fortunately free to skip the frustrating part where you search for cheap airline tickets. But find a hotel or Airbnb for your imaginary trip, and find out what you want to see and do.

Imagining a better future where you can travel again will lift your spirit. And once you’ve made the plans, your trip is more likely to actually happen.

Looking into the Future

After 9/11, the US vowed never to be caught by surprise again. They created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate the intelligence gathering of a quarter of a million employees. On January 5th, the DHS intelligence summary said “Nothing significant to report.” On January 6th, a mob overwhelmed unprepared police at the Capitol and went rampaging through the building.

Companies are also regularly blindsided by events that in hindsight were obvious. You are gathering a lot of information, but it can be very hard to sift out actionable knowledge. Throwing a huge pile of data to a team of data scientists asking them to find the hidden patterns have rarely been successful.

For you as CIO to be able to peer into the future, you need to disengage from the daily running of the organization. It takes several days away from screens, news, email, and social media before the intuition you have can manifest itself, and generate new insights. Can you step away from your organization for several days? If not, your organization and procedures need some work.