8 books that made Elon Musk

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8 books that made Elon Musk

Potential saviour of mankind and eco-warrior Elon Musk has become one of the world’s richest men through his genius and hard work. So, what made the founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX who he is today? Here are eight books he has read that helped shape his outlook:

Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by JE Gordon

Musk read a lot of astrophysics and engineering textbooks as he developed his career. Though some such books may be beyond even the best-read people, he suggested this book as a good place to start. Speaking to KCRW, he said, “It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design’.

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

One of Musk’s heroes, Benjamin Franklin was an author, inventor, diplomat and scientist. Musk says that he was an entrepreneur who started from nothing. Not unlike Musk, who also started out with almost nothing in South Africa.

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Musk spent time at the University of Pennsylvania studying physics and economics. It is unsurprising therefore that the future space entrepreneur idolised Einstein for his wisdom and particular views on the world. Much of Einstein’s thinking contributes to the way that Tesla and SpaceX are run today.

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

This book studies the ethics of Artificial Intelligence and what should happen should AI surpass that of humanity. Musk has been both an investor in AI and yet outspoken as to the risks involved in it becoming uncontrolled. This book directly influenced his thinking on the prizes and pitfalls from developing AI.

Merchants of Doubt by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes

Confused about climate change and even the risks around smoking? This is because scientists paid by corporations have been muddying the debate with counter-arguments from vested interests. This book showed how medical science has been challenged by corrupt scientists.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This classic book about a group of boys trapped on a desert island after a plane crash tells of survival, competition and greed.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Based on the lecture notes taught by Peter Thiel at Stanford University, this book focuses on the unique thinking required by entrepreneurs who wish to launch their businesses on the world. This is most appropriate for a serial entrepreneur such as Musk.

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

The best science fiction writers forecast developments in science and humanity. Asimov was one of the best at this. One of his most far-fetched series of books could yet come to reality with Musk seeing the human race living on other planets in order to survive.


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