Elon Musk is one of the greatest minds of our time. He is the Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturing company, which claims that it can drastically cut spaceflight costs “by a factor of 100” and is currently being tested. The goal of SpaceX is to create the technology to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonisation of Mars. In fact, SpaceX might beat ISRO by developing cheaper technology and we all know that he is the genius mind behind Tesla as well.
In addition to being a brilliant businessman, Elon is also an avid reader. In fact, when he was once asked how he learned how to build rockets, he replied that he reads books. So for all entrepreneurs who want to follow in his footsteps, here’s a list of his favourite books that might inspire you.
Elon has admitted that he faced a tremendous existential crisis between the ages of 12 and 15. During this time, he resorted mostly to science fiction and fantasy novels. He said that the heroes of these stories helped him shape his vision to save the world. As Galadriel would put it, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
Benjamin Franklin was one of the founding fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath with skills in writing, printing, statesmanship and diplomacy, he was also well known for his inventions of the lightning rod, bifocals and the Franklin stove. Although he was born in South Africa, Elon moved to the Unites States, where he completed his education, founded his businesses and gained citizenship. Writing on Elon’s reading list on Inc., Contributing Editor Geoffrey James says, “Musk probably sees Franklin as the type of American he himself would like to be and become: a combination of statesman, inventor and businessman.”
Being a keen student of science, Elon looks up to Einstein as a source of inspiration, and this book offers an insight into Einstein’s life as well as science, in general. One of the most famous quotes from the book goes as follows:
"An appreciation for the methods of science is a useful asset for a responsible citizenry. What science teaches us, very significantly, is the correlation between factual evidence and general theories, something well illustrated in Einstein's life. In addition, an appreciation for the glories of science is a joyful trait for a good society. It helps us remain in touch with that childlike capacity for wonder, about such ordinary things as falling apples and elevators that characterises Einstein."
Elon has called artificial intelligence “our biggest existential threat”. In this book, Nick Bostrom explains his view on what would happen if computational intelligence surpassed human intelligence. It’s no wonder that Elon, who has always advised exercising caution while using artificial intelligence, is interested in this book. In fact, a lot of his thinking appears to be based on the themes addressed in this book.
In an interview with The Guardian, Elon said that this book taught him an important lesson: “The lessons of history would suggest that civilisations move in cycles. You can track that back quite far – the Babylonians, the Sumerians, followed by the Egyptians, the Romans, China. We’re obviously in a very upward cycle right now, and hopefully that remains the case. But it may not. There could be some series of events that cause that technology level to decline. Given that this is the first time in 4.5 billion years where it’s been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth, it seems like we’d be wise to act while the window was open and not count on the fact it will be open a long time.”
Feeling inspired yet?