Once again I listened to Ryan Holiday's recommendation of his top book of the year, and I was not disappointed: Average is Over by Tyler Cowen was super interesting, especially to someone like me who has a passion for automation and smart machines. He liked the book so much he printed and framed one of the book's core ideas.
The book is a blend between career advice, macroeconomic forecasting, chess, science, and AI technology analysis, and lots of speculation around what the world could look like in the next 10 years. A lot of the ideas resonated with me, and I enjoyed learning a lot of details around chess-playing robots and how humans plus smart machines will represent the most effective teams in the future.
The scariest and saddest part of the book for me were the (good) arguments for how the world will likely become more "regularized and stupid" so that it's friendlier and easier to interact with for machines (think grocery self-checkout lines and highly systematized streets and procedures that can be navigated by machines/robots). There will definitely be a great deal of "charm" and human touch that will be lost in this transition, and I'm wondering if humans overall will be better off.
Overall, the book was very thought-provoking and made some good arguments and projections (of course, many of them are speculative, but even so, they were interesting to consider and weigh).
2013 was a very busy year. I read a lot of interesting books and had a lot of brand new experiences. I wanted to briefly capture the spirit of the year and mention some of my favorite memories.
1. Antifragile: Eye-opening combination of philosophy, classical wisdom, biology, finance, and entrepreneurship. It now colors how I look at everything.
2. Fooling Houdini: Really fun read for a magician and fan of psychology.
3. The Big Short: Interesting back stories and great inside peek at a lot of the mortgage meltdown craziness.
There is so much mystery and magic in the world around us. There is no need for something supernatural or out of this world to impress or inspire; just look around you at people and nature, and that will be the greatest source of awe. I love how magic can recreate this experience of awe and wonder in a controlled setting and reignite curiosity in others.
When I went dolphin watching in Moorea, I learned how fascinating these beautiful creatures are. My mind was blown when I learned that dolphins breathe totally consciously and need to sleep one hemisphere of their brain at a time as they continue to consciously swim and breathe with the other hemisphere. Now if that doesn't show you how freaking cool science, nature, and reality are, then I don't know what will.
I also learned how critical practice and diligent craftsmanship are to creating the results you want for yourself. I want to take pride in what I do and produce, and that comes with really hard work and lots of practice doing things that are not very glamorous.
Things that were good
I tried lots of new things and opened myself up to tons of new experiences. That was really fun for me. I also achieved a number of my goals, like successfully ramping up with Google and passing my Castle audition.
Things that were bad
I slacked off in some of my relationships and could've done better to keep in touch with close friends. I also overstretched myself and didn't go deep enough in the areas that showed promise. I also rushed myself too often and failed to stop and smell the flowers sufficiently. I also failed to push forward my exercise and physical training regimen as much as I would've liked.
Focus on a few critical areas. Time to go deep. Set some ambitious goals in a couple areas and work towards them. No excuses on health-related goals. Invest the time to build and strengthen some new friendships I've been starting to cultivate. Do a few things that will let me find myself and my next big projects in life.
Below are the 44 books I was able to complete in 2013 (life got pretty busy, and I didn't meet my goal of 56; some of these were pretty long too -- but no excuses!). It's again mostly non-fiction, philosophy, and entrepreneurship stuff, but there is a growing amount of books related to history, classics, and magic. Most of these books have separate blog posts written about them (you can also use the search at the top). This year I hope to get back to at least 50 books completed.
Happy New Year!