Elon Reeve Musk is an entrepreneur and business magnate. He is the founder, CEO, and Chief Engineer at SpaceX; early stage investor, CEO, and Product Architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; and co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI. A centibillionaire, Musk is one of the richest people in the world.
📚Here are 9 nonfiction books he thinks everyone should read.
1. Steve Jobs – By Walter Issacson
Constructed on more than 40 interviews with Jobs led over two years – as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues – Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
2. Merchants of Doubt – By Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway
Most know that smoking is really bad for people. But a few generations before us, they didn’t have a clue. And here’s the kicker: the medical community did. In fact, they had research documenting smoking’s negative effects clear back in the ’50s. How did it take so long for the news to reach the consumer?
Tobacco companies spread doubt among consumers. And it worked. At least for a while.
When they got wind of the studies showing the harmful effects of smoking, the tobacco companies in the US came together and did the only thing they could: spread confusion. Challenging the scientific research that revealed smoking’s ill-effects, they paid for research to prove it wasn’t all that harmful.
3. Human Compatible – By Stuart Russell
In the popular imagination, superhuman artificial intelligence is an approaching tidal wave that threatens not just jobs and human relationships, but civilization itself. Conflict between humans and machines is seen as inevitable and its outcome all too predictable.
In this groundbreaking book, distinguished AI researcher Stuart Russell argues that this scenario can be avoided, but only if we rethink AI from the ground up. Russell begins by exploring the idea of intelligence in humans and in machines. He describes the near-term benefits we can expect, from intelligent personal assistants to vastly accelerated scientific research, and outlines the AI breakthroughs that still have to happen before we reach superhuman AI. He also spells out the ways humans are already finding to misuse AI, from lethal autonomous weapons to viral sabotage.
4. The Big Picture – By Sean Carroll
Already internationally acclaimed for his elegant, lucid writing on the most challenging notions in modern physics, Sean Carroll is emerging as one of the greatest humanist thinkers of his generation as he brings his extraordinary intellect to bear not only on Higgs bosons and extra dimensions but now also on our deepest personal questions. Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Does human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview?
In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level–and then how each connects to the other. Carroll’s presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.
5. Life 3.0 – By Max Tegmark
How will Artificial Intelligence affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and our very sense of being human? The rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology—and there’s nobody better qualified or situated to explore that future than Max Tegmark, an MIT professor who’s helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial.
How can we grow our prosperity through automation without leaving people lacking income or purpose? What career advice should we give today’s kids? How can we make future AI systems more robust, so that they do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked? Should we fear an arms race in lethal autonomous weapons? Will machines eventually outsmart us at all tasks, replacing humans on the job market and perhaps altogether? Will AI help life flourish like never before or give us more power than we can handle?
What sort of future do you want? This book empowers you to join what may be the most important conversation of our time. It doesn’t shy away from the full range of viewpoints or from the most controversial issues—from superintelligence to meaning, consciousness and the ultimate physical limits on life in the cosmos.
6. Superintelligence – By Nick Bostrom
It is unknown whether human-level artificial intelligence will arrive in a matter of years, later this century, or not until future centuries. Regardless of the initial timescale, once human-level machine intelligence is developed, a “superintelligent” system that “greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest” would, most likely, follow surprisingly quickly. Such a superintelligence would be very difficult to control or restrain.
While the ultimate goals of superintelligences can vary greatly, a functional superintelligence will spontaneously generate, as natural subgoals, “instrumental goals” such as self-preservation and goal-content integrity, cognitive enhancement, and resource acquisition. For example, an agent whose sole final goal is to solve the Riemann hypothesis (a famous unsolved, mathematical conjecture) could create and act upon a subgoal of transforming the entire Earth into some form of computronium (hypothetical material optimized for computation) to assist in the calculation. The superintelligence would proactively resist any outside attempts to turn the superintelligence off or otherwise prevent its subgoal completion. In order to prevent such an existential catastrophe, it is necessary to successfully solve the “AI control problem” for the first superintelligence. The solution might involve instilling the superintelligence with goals that are compatible with human survival and well-being. Solving the control problem is surprisingly difficult because most goals, when translated into machine-implementable code, lead to unforeseen and undesirable consequences.
7. Lying – By Sam Harris
As it was in Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, and Othello, so it is in life. Most forms of private vice and public evil are kindled and sustained by lies. Acts of adultery and other personal betrayals, financial fraud, government corruption – even murder and genocide – generally require an additional moral defect: a willingness to lie.
In Lying, bestselling author and neuroscientist Sam Harris argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie. He focuses on “white” lies – those lies we tell for the purpose of sparing people discomfort – for these are the lies that most often tempt us. And they tend to be the only lies that good people tell while imagining that they are being good in the process.
8. The Wealth Of Nations – Adam Smith
What was the most important document published in 1776? Most Americans would probably say The Declaration of Independence. But many would argue that Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” had a bigger and more global impact.
On March 9, 1776, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”—commonly referred to simply as “The Wealth of Nations”—was first published. Smith, a Scottish moral philosopher by trade, wrote the book to describe the industrialized capitalist system that was upending the mercantilist system. Mercantilism held that wealth was fixed and finite, and that the only way to prosper was to hoard gold and tariff products from abroad. According to this theory, nations should sell their goods to other countries while buying nothing in return. Predictably, countries fell into rounds of retaliatory tariffs that choked off international trade.
9. Zero To One – By Peter Thiel
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Article By James Brooks
James Brooks is a full time writer and avid reader. He enjoys nonfiction books and will read any on personal development. James resides in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife and dog.
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