Elon Musk, the billionaire and brilliant mind behind Tesla and SpaceX and other large scale game-changing companies, somehow also seems to find time to read a lot of books when he’s not working towards building aerospace. We may wonder if he only would be reading the books that relate to his business and can help him developing new technologies. But, you would be surprised to read here about what Elon Musk likes to read and he recommends them too.
So, here is this small list of books recommended by Elon Musk. You wouldn’t want to miss it, would you?
Book 1: The Lord Of The Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
Can you imagine that the electric car magnet Elon Musk would be reading ‘The Lord Of The Rings’? But it’s quite true and has been reported in The New Yorker in 2009 that “In his loneliness, he read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. “The heroes of the books I read, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the ‘Foundation’ series, always felt a duty to save the world,” he told.
The book has a hobbit Frodo Baggins who receives a magic Ring of Invisibility from his uncle Bilbo. Frodo, a Christlike figure, learns that the ring has the power to control the entire world and, he discovers, to corrupt its owner.
A fellowship of hobbits, elves, dwarfs, and men is formed to destroy the ring by casting it into the volcanic fires of the Crack of Doom, where it was forged. They are opposed on their harrowing mission by the evil Sauron and his Black Riders.
“Home is behind, the world ahead,
and there are many paths to tread
through shadows to the edge of night,
until the stars are all alight.”
Book 2: Einstein : His life and Universe – Walter Isaacson
Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, the book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk—a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate—became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom, and the universe.
How his questioning conventional wisdom led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.
“A society’s competitive advantage will come not from how well its schools teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity.”
Book 3: Superintelligence : Paths, Dangers, Strategies – Nick Bostrom
This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom’s work nothing less than a re-conceptualization of the essential task of our time.
This New York Times bestseller asks this very important question that every layman has in his mind today, “What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us?”
“Far from being the smartest possible biological species, we are probably better thought of as the stupidest possible biological species capable of starting a technological civilization—a niche we filled because we got there first, not because we are in any sense optimally adapted to it.”
Book 4: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
When in an interview Elon Musk was asked about what was it about the book that fired his imagination, he replied that to the degree that we can better understand the universe, then we can better know what questions to ask. Then whatever the question is that most approximates: what’s the meaning of life?
Douglas Adams’s mega-selling pop-culture classic sends logic into orbit, plays havoc with both time and physics, offers up pithy commentary on such things as ballpoint pens, potted plants, and digital watches and, most importantly, reveals the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything.
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
Book 5: Our Final Invention – Artificial Intelligence and the End of Human Era – James Barrat
We may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful and more alien than we can imagine. Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs and groundbreaking AI systems, Our Final Invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI.
Agreeing to the book’s central idea Elon Musk said, “AI doesn’t have to be evil to destroy humanity — if AI has a goal and humanity just happens in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it, no hard feelings,” he said in a documentary about artificial intelligence.
The book points towards the future risks of AI. Once AI has attained human-level intelligence, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own.
Best quote: “If we build a machine with the intellectual capability of one human, within five years, its successor will be more intelligent than all of humanity combined. After one generation or two generations, they’d just ignore us. Just the way you ignore the ants in your backyard.”
Musk is all about the future and origins of humanity and making life multi-planetary. From classic sci-fi works to complex studies on artificial intelligence, Musk credits books with helping him achieve his success. And if he thinks everyone should have read them all, we must not overlook these books, right?
So, tell me which one has grabbed your attention the most? Don’t forget to mention it in comments below.