getAbstract operates on the notion that knowledge is power and that avid reading stimulates the brain, and we’re heartened to know that two titans of the tech industry agree.
Tesla head Elon Musk recently served up a list of books that he says helped him succeed, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates writes a blog that keeps track of his reading list.
First, three recommendations from Musk:
Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom. This 2014 work looks at the rise of artificial intelligence. Oxford University futurist Bostrom doesn’t predict a Hollywood-style dystopia. In fact, he argues that wealth could explode as part of an AI revolution.But he also sees plenty of potential problems. “Before the prospect of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb,” Bostrom notes.
|Merchants of Doubt
How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. This 2010 book tells the story of a group of scientists who have worked aggressively to subvert scientific fact. Among the topics of their disinformation campaigns have been tobacco, acid rain, ozone depletion and global warming.By creating confusion and legitimizing bogus data, these politically conservative scientists managed to delay government action, the authors write.
|Zero to One
Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. Thiel has become a Silicon Valley legend. He was the founder and first CEO of PayPal and the first outside investors in Facebook.Ever a contrarian, Thiel offers four crucial post-2008 lessons: 1) Be daring; 2) Even a weak plan outperforms no plan at all; 3) The more competition in a field, the less profit; and 4) Product and sales are equally important.
And two suggestions from Gates:
|The Power to Compete
The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy by Hiroshi Mikitani and Ryoichi Mikitani. Gates calls it “a smart look at the future of a fascinating country.”The father and son analyze their country’s economic challenges and determine that Japan needs a dose of creative destruction, along with a heaping helping of deregulation.
A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The author teaches at Hebrew University, and he sprints through an engaging history of human civilization.Among other things, Harari argues that the Agricultural Revolution introduced the concept of income inequality to the human race. “Although I found things to disagree with – especially Harari’s claim that humans were better off before we started farming — I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species,” Gates writes.