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5 reading recommendations from Elon Musk and Bill Gates

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.

Three reading recommendations from Musk:


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1. Superintelligence

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.

Are you interested in AI, robotics, neurology, science fiction or are you simply curious about how the future might look like? Then this book is a must-read.

Read it on getAbstract

2. Merchants of Doubt

“As recently as 2007, 40% of Americans believed that scientific experts were still arguing about the realities of global warming.” And, of course, they were not; global warming is a long-acknowledged, scientific fact.

Oreskes and Conway tell the story of a group of scientists who have worked aggressively to subvert this 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.

3. Zero to One

Thiel has become a Silicon Valley legend. He was the founder and first CEO of PayPal and the first outside investors in Facebook.

Thiel says that success comes from finding or inventing the road never taken and taking it. Yet, creating something new in established organizations is hard, and creating something new alone is even harder. To innovate, shun formulaic solutions.

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. Competing eats profits, so acquiring or merging with your rival beats fighting. The only measure of success is potential for future profits. Work or invest only in a business that will still be healthy in 10 years. Start small in a field you can monopolize.

And two suggestions from Gates:


Read it on getAbstract

4. The Power to Compete

Gates calls this book “a smart look at the future of a fascinating country.” With its technological inventions and its people’s legendary work ethic, Japan once seemed poised to dominate the global economy. But since the early 1990s, Japan has lagged while the United States, China and other nations have surged ahead.

The authors a father and son duo analyze their country’s economic challenges and determine that Japan needs a dose of creative destruction, along with a heaping helping of deregulation.

If you’re curious about this fascinating island country and where it’s going, this book is for you.

Read it on getAbstract

5. Sapiens

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.


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