If you are feeling glum about the state of the world, then it is probably best to skip 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, the latest book from intellectual rock star Yuval Noah Harari. Here, the liberal story that has inspired and sustained the West for more than a century is pronounced dead, following the fascist and communist stories into the dustbin of history. Moreover, we face the possibility of three looming catastrophes: ecological destruction; technological disruption; and the biological divergence of our own species. If we can somehow prevent irreversible global warming, then the merger of infotech and biotech, as Harari puts it, may well render most of us economically irrelevant and politically powerless. It may even call into question whether we should continue talking about Homo sapiens as a single species, following a pretty successful 70,000-year run, described in his earlier book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Our rich technocracy may, one day, be able to indul...

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