Here are some books I’ve enjoyed more than others in the last 14 months or so. I’ve included some notable quotes but not all are equally representative of the book contents.
Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
“What is progress? You might think that the question is so subjective and culturally relative as to be forever unanswerable. In fact, it’s one of the easier questions to answer. Most people agree that life is better than death. Health is better than sickness. Sustenance is better than hunger. Abundance is better than poverty. Peace is better than war. Safety is better than danger. Freedom is better than tyranny. Equal rights are better than bigotry and discrimination. Literacy is better than illiteracy. Knowledge is better than ignorance. Intelligence is better than dull-wittedness. Happiness is better than misery. Opportunities to enjoy family, friends, culture, and nature are better than drudgery and monotony. All these things can be measured. If they have increased over time, that is progress.”
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Harari
“Homo sapiens is just not built for satisfaction. Human happiness depends less on objective condition and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to conditions, including to the condition of other people. When things improve, expectations balloon, and consequently even dramatic improvement in conditions might leave us as dissatisfied as before.”
Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
“Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they’ll find a way to screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a good team, and they’ll find a way to make it better. The goal needs to be to get the team right, get them moving in the right direction, and get them to see where they are making mistakes and where they are succeeding.”
Just finished reading “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Philip Tetlock. The book is similar to Nate Silver’s “The Signal and The Noise” in many ways.
I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re interested in the application of the scientific mindset to forecasting of future events.
Here is a quote to give you sense of what to expect:
“Suppose someone says, “Unfortunately, the popularity of soccer, the world’s favorite pastime, is starting to decline.” You suspect he is wrong. How do you question the claim?
Don’t even think of taking a personal shot like “You’re silly.” That only adds heat, not light. “I don’t think so” only expresses disagreement without delving into why you disagree. “What do you mean?” lowers the emotional temperature with a question but it’s much too vague. Zero in. You might say, “What do you mean by ‘pastime’?” or “What evidence is there that soccer’s popularity is declining? Over what time frame?” The answers to these precise questions won’t settle the matter, but they will reveal the thinking behind the conclusion so it can be probed and tested. Since Socrates, good teachers have practiced precision questioning, but still it’s often not used when it’s needed most.”
“Kurzweil then takes things a huge leap further. He believes that artificial materials will be integrated into the body more and more as time goes on. First, organs could be replaced by super-advanced machine versions that would run forever and never fail. Then he believes we could begin to redesign the body—things like replacing red blood cells with perfected red blood cell nanobots who could power their own movement, eliminating the need for a heart at all. He even gets to the brain and believes we’ll enhance our brain activities to the point where humans will be able to think billions of times faster than they do now and access outside information because the artificial additions to the brain will be able to communicate with all the info in the cloud.”
23andme can decode your DNA using a sample of your saliva and offer you quite a few insights into your nature. 23andme is the biotechnology company that was founded in 2008 by Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki (who also happens to be Sergey Brin’s wife).
I personally tried it couple of months ago and received my results around a couple of weeks ago and decided to write a brief review. So, what exactly can 23andme offer?
Recently I finished reading What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis. Judging by title I didn’t really expect lots of insights from the book but it appeared to be truly visionary and smart. It even made me kind of regret choosing Economics&Business major over Computer Science 7 years ago…
WWGD appeared not to be about Google itself but about the way business, economics, relationships, and the world as a whole change as the result of technologies widespread and simplification. So, in fact, the book covers quite a wide range of topics. From Google’s PageRank, to Facebook, new media, customized solutions, customer relations, blogging, Twitter, context advertising, search engine optimization, online community management, government policies, and many others.
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”
Why even think of educational online courses?
In my opinion, full freedom implies self-improvement and the ability to learn new things every day. And you know what? I don’t really think that joining the university is absolutely the best way to do it.
I guess I’m not the only one here who has a feeling that education in the traditional meaning of this word is dying in the 21st Century. Sounds like a bold statement, but it’s true. Even now, in 2010 amount of the information available for free is unbelievable. And it’s increasing exponentially. If you still have doubts I recommend you to watch this truly amazing video:
I’m not sure about you, but it definitely made me think a lot. Old traditional universities with big names won’t disappear overnight, of course not. Degree is still the best available indicator of credibility, top universities still have an opportunity to provide their students with the wide range of various subjects and classes. The point is if you worry about practical knowledge more than about degree and credits there are some alternatives available for you. Probably, you just don’t have that much time to spend on educating yourself in a traditional way or probably you don’t want to settle down in one place for a few years?