When he’s not shooting rockets into space, Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and other game-changing tech businesses, finds time to read a lot of books. Musk credits his success to works ranging from classic science fiction to complex studies on artificial intelligence. In response to a question about how he learned to make rockets, he famously replied, “I studied books”.
1. Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom:
The 1st book chosen by Elon Musk contains: What happens when machines transcend humans in general intelligence? Will we be protected or destroyed by artificial intelligence? Nick Bostrom provides the groundwork for predicting humanity’s intelligent life’s destiny.
Humanity has faced many obstacles during the last 20 000 years, but it appears that the greatest challenge is yet to come. We face a challenging question: how will we ensure that our creation does not harm us, given that the creation of the first general intelligence is less than 80 years away (based on current progress and extrapolation into the future).
Bostrom speculates on how we can attain superintelligence, including duplicating human minds on more powerful hardware, turbocharging our biological brains, or starting from scratch. He also makes predictions about how superintelligence will act. According to Bostrom, superintelligence is a looming existential threat, a huge power that humans are poorly equipped to handle. Most of his work is devoted to figuring out how we’ll get through our eventual contact with it.
2. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith:
The 2nd book chosen by Elon Musk contains: Smith’s core premise in “The Wealth of Nations” is that our urge to satisfy self-interest leads to social gain, which he refers to as his “invisible hand.” When this is combined with an economy’s division of labor, a web of mutual interdependencies emerges, which fosters stability and prosperity through the market mechanism.
According to Smith, the government should limit its role to three things: protecting national borders, enforcing civil law, and undertaking public works projects (e.g. education). Smith’s central premise was that humans’ natural proclivity for self-interest (or, in today’s parlance, looking out for oneself) leads to wealth.
The Wealth of Nations examines the ‘division of labor as a key to economic prosperity, ensuring that individuals within society are interdependent. They also address the origins of money as well as the significance of wages, profit, rent, and stocks. Nevertheless, the true intricacy of his analysis comes from the fact that it combines ethics, philosophy, and history.
3. Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway:
The 3rd book chosen by Elon Musk contains: The subtitle says it all. “The secrets revealed by a few experts on topics ranging from global warming to cigarette smoke.” The authors conducted an extensive study to uncover how and why a small minority of scientists had such power and had such a detrimental impact on crucial issues. The topics included cigarette smoking’s dangers, strategic defense, acid rain, secondhand smoke, the ozone hole, global warming, and Rachel Carson’s recent vilification.
The authors give a well-thought-out and appealing argument. Several scientists who rose to prominence during the Cold War held firm beliefs in capitalism, the value of the free market, and the notion that all regulation is undesirable. As a result, they believe the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) should be abolished; they believe the EPA creates policies that push the country closer to socialism and one step closer to Communism.
People need to realize how the same deceitful tactics are used for each regulatory problem over and over again. People must understand that science can never provide complete proof of anything. Peer reviews and consensus among scientists are the foundations of science. The popular press is rarely subjected to objective scrutiny, and it frequently attempts to present “all sides” of a scientific problem. However, it is the case that science has only one side, and that the “other side” is merely political.
4. Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark:
The 4th book chosen by Elon Musk contains: It’s an amazing handbook in which he discusses the impact of AI in the present, future, and distant future. Most people form their opinions about the future based on what they see in Hollywood movies, and the plot is always the same: machines will take our jobs, cyborgs will hunt us down, and robots will destroy humanity.
Tegmark takes a significantly more complex and academically rigorous approach to this topic, attempting to address the key question: what happens when humans are no longer the world’s brightest species? What happens when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence by millions of times?
Tegmark then goes on to address the popular controversies, myths, and misconceptions surrounding AI before moving on to a discussion of what we mean by intelligence, memory, computation, and learning—in other words, he delves deep into what it means when matter becomes intelligent. Max Tegmark’s book is a wonderful place to start because it is a big and thrilling examination of the subject.
5. Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel:
The 5th book chosen by Elon Musk contains: You must trust in secrets if you want to construct a better future. The amazing mystery of our time is that there are still unknown territories to discover and fresh inventions to develop. In his book Zero to One, Peter Thiel, a great entrepreneur, and investor, shows us how to uncover distinct ways to create those new things.
Thiel starts with the counterintuitive notion that we are living in a period of technological stagnation, even though we are too preoccupied with our shiny mobile devices to notice. Although information technology has advanced rapidly, there is no reason to believe that advancement should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be made in any industry or field of business.
When you accomplish something new, on the other hand, you go from 0 to 1. It is unlikely that the next Bill Gates will create an operating system. A search engine will not be created by the next Larry Page or Sergey Brin. In today’s market, brutal competition will not win tomorrow’s champions. They will be immune to competition since their firms will be one-of-a-kind.
Zero to One is both a hopeful picture of America’s future advancement and a new way of thinking about innovation: it all begins with learning to ask the questions that lead to discovering the value in unexpected places.
6. The Big Picture by Sean M. Carroll:
The 6th book chosen by Elon Musk contains: He applies his amazing intelligence to a variety of topics, including Higgs bosons and other dimensions, as well as our most intimate concerns. What are our current locations? Who are we, exactly? Is it possible that our feelings, beliefs, hopes, and goals are ultimately meaningless in the void? Is there a place for human meaning and purpose in a scientific worldview?
In short, chapters filled with fascinating historical events, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum, cosmic, and human levels—and then how one ties to the other. Carroll’s explanation of the concepts that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the beginnings of life, the mind, and the universe is breathtaking.
While naturalism holds that only natural laws and causes (not supernatural or spiritual) govern the world, poetic naturalism contends that the way we discover meaning in life does not come organically from a strictly scientific perspective. Poetic naturalism invites people to talk about what’s right and wrong. It incorporates scientific reasoning processes into our quest for meaning and purpose.
Carroll summarises his arguments by stating that today’s majority of philosophers and scientists are naturalists. Religion and spirituality, on the other hand, are most prominent in the public realm.
7. Lying by Sam Harris:
The 7th book chosen by Elon Musk contains: Harris demonstrates how lies, especially those labeled “white,” cause more harm than good. He advises spending a life without telling a single falsehood, even if it means suffering greatly. Of course, lying is permissible in cases where speaking the truth would surely do harm (such as when a killer is seeking out a child hidden in your home), but he goes a step further, which I assume most people will disagree with.
Throughout the piece, Harris makes the case that there are considerable personal and societal benefits to rejecting lying in both major and minor forms. We can give people the gift of honesty. It’s also a source of strength and a simple-to-use engine.
According to Sam Harris, all types of lying, including white lies intended to save others’ feelings, are linked to lower-quality relationships. It’s nothing more than a denial of reality. Even on such a sensitive topic, lying appears to be a blatant failure of friendship. When a friend inquires about his appearance, reassuring him about his appearance does not assist him in doing what you believe he should do to achieve his goals in life.
We choose to become judges of how much others should understand about their own lives — about how they appear, their reputations, or their prospects in the world — by assuming that we should lie for the advantage of others. Opportunities for deeper love, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding are all destroyed by white lies. Telling the truth can expose areas where we’d like to improve but haven’t yet.No matter what, knowing that we will always try to tell the truth, no matter what leaves us with nothing to anticipate. We are free to be ourselves.
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