A reading club with a view to the future

428 Yuval Noah Harari: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

 “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” explores the pressing issues and challenges of the present era, providing insights and guidance for navigating the complex world.



In "21 Lessons for the 21st Century," Yuval Noah Harari examines the critical issues and dilemmas that shape our world today. Harari delves into a wide range of topics, including technology, politics, religion, and climate change, offering thought-provoking insights and thoughtfully crafted lessons for individuals navigating the complexities of the present era. The book encourages readers to question prevailing narratives, critically analyze information, and cultivate skills necessary for adaptability and resilience in an ever-changing world. Through his signature blend of historical analysis, philosophical reflections, and future projections, Harari prompts readers to consider the significant challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and provides guidance on how to navigate them with clarity and wisdom.


  1. Title: "21 Lessons for the 21st Century"
  2. Author: Yuval Noah Harari
  3. Publishing year: 2018
  4. Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
  5. Length in hours: 11 hours and 50 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The need for cognitive flexibility: Harari emphasizes the importance of developing critical thinking skills, adaptability, and the ability to learn new things in order to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
  2. The impact of technological advancements: The book explores the profound impact of technologies such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology on society, raising questions about their ethical implications and potential consequences.
  3. The challenges of the information age: Harari examines the rise of misinformation, the erosion of trust in institutions, and the need for individuals to become discerning consumers of information.
  4. The role of religion and spirituality: The book delves into the evolving nature of religious beliefs and practices in the modern world and explores their significance in shaping individual and collective identities.
  5. Addressing global challenges: Harari discusses the urgent issues facing humanity, including climate change, political polarization, and inequality, and proposes collective action and global cooperation as potential solutions.

5 funny quotes

  1. "In the 21st century, being ignorant and clumsy is not a sin, it's a disability."
  2. "If you want to investigate the mysteries of the cosmos, you don't need a huge research grant. You need a library card."
  3. "The human brain is so complicated that even the most advanced neuroscientists will never fully understand it. But everyone can understand a traffic light."
  4. "The future belongs to those who embrace change, play with new technologies, and invent new jobs, hobbies, and ways of life."
  5. "In the 21st century, if you want a stable job, you should try your luck as a priest, a stripper, or a poet."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power."
  2. "The greatest scientific discovery was the discovery of ignorance."
  3. "To survive and flourish, humans must cultivate their unique abilities and make sure their unpredictable minds are educated and nurtured."
  4. "In the 21st century, education is no longer about teaching people something; it is about helping them learn how to learn."
  5. "If you want reliable information, pay good money for it. If you want free information, be ready to be the product."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing technological advancements with ethical considerations: How can society harness the benefits of emerging technologies while navigating the ethical dilemmas they pose?
  2. Individual privacy versus collective security: How do we strike a balance between protecting personal privacy and ensuring collective security in the age of surveillance and data collection?
  3. The impact of automation on employment: How can society adapt to the changing nature of work and address the potential social and economic implications of widespread automation?
  4. Navigating the challenges of misinformation and fake news: How can individuals develop critical thinking skills and discern reliable information in an era of information overload and rampant misinformation?
  5. Addressing global inequality: How can societies work towards reducing disparities in wealth, opportunity, and access to resources on a global scale?

5 examples

  1. Google: Harari discusses the power of technology companies like Google in collecting and controlling vast amounts of information, raising questions about privacy and data ownership.
  2. Apple: The book explores how companies like Apple have transformed consumer technology and their role in shaping societal trends and behaviors.
  3. United Nations: Harari reflects on the challenges of global governance and the role of international organizations like the United Nations in addressing pressing global issues.
  4. Elon Musk: Harari examines the influence and ambitions of figures like Elon Musk in the fields of space exploration and artificial intelligence, highlighting their potential impact on the future of humanity.
  5. Facebook: The book delves into the social implications of platforms like Facebook, discussing issues such as filter bubbles, social polarization, and the spread of misinformation.

Referenced books

  1. "The Better Angels of Our Nature" by Steven Pinker
  2. "The Social Contract" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  3. "The Gene: An Intimate History" by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  4. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  5. "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff

Share a quote

"The future belongs to those who embrace change, play with new technologies, and invent new jobs, hobbies, and ways of life."

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