Microsoft founder, former CEO, Bill Gates is known to be an avid reader and whenever he wants to know something new, he simply picks up a book. “Reading is my favorite way to learn about a new subject—whether it’s global health, quantum computing, or world history,” said Gates in his article for the MIT Technology Review. According to reports, these are the 10 books that helped Gates to “inform his choices for 2019’s list of 10 breakthrough technologies” and ultimately set his ‘tech agenda’ for this year.
Life 3.0 – Max Tegmark
As per Gates, Life 3.0 is an ideal book for anyone who wants to discuss how artificial intelligence is shaping the world. Taking a scientific approach, Tegmark delivers a ‘terrific’ knowledge of the subject.
This book examines the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it may impact various parts of the human experience.
It focuses on how AI could potentially benefit humanity, and what steps may be necessary to form a brighter future thanks to the technology.
Should We Eat Meat? – Vaclav Smil
The discussion on whether eating meat is wise can be contentious. This book examines the issue from multiple angles, including the ethical, technical, political, environmental, and health-related.
Calling himself a huge fan of everything that Smil writes, Bill Gates reveals that even though he does not agree to Smil’s point that ‘meat and dairy alternatives will make a dent in global dietary habits,’ he thinks that Smil has smart things to say about how to feed the world without destroying the planet.
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life – Ed Yong
Yong’s account of how the bacteria in the digestive systems may be able to prevent malnutrition was of particular interest to Gates. He, being fascinated by microbes, said that ‘human gut might hold the key to fixing all sorts of medical issues.’
Every animal on the planet – including humans – serves as the home of millions of bacteria and various forms of microbes. This book examines how critical the microbiome is, casting light onto a subject that many misunderstand.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer – Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Pulitzer Prize-winning “biography” of cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee charts the progress made in fighting cancer in the last century.
A Pulitzer Prize winner, this book explores the history of cancer, from its initial documentation thousands of years ago to 20th-century efforts to control and cure it. It features the precision of a skilled scientist, the passion of a biography, and the perspective of an avid historian in its approach. The book works to demystify cancer, providing both hope and clarity.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
Calling it essential reading for anyone hoping to reinvent the toilet, Gates acknowledges that ‘it might seem like an odd choice’ to include a book about the life in a Mumbai slum for a list of books about technology, but as per him the author offers an insight into the clearest look he has seen at the world’s sanitation challenges.
A book that offers a glimpse into life in one of the more hidden worlds in the 21st-century, the book makes use of stories to discuss the impact of change and inequality. The author’s style is highly relatable and engaging, making it a joy to read while remaining informative.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow – Yuval Noah Harari
Gates claims that in this boo, Harari offers some great food for thought for anyone who is looking to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. Gates says that he is more optimistic than the author ‘about the chances of averting such a dystopia.’
In this book, the author focuses on humanity’s possible future, exploring what 21st-century life may look like as humankind continues its quest to increase our lifespans and otherwise evolve.
Enlightenment Now – Steven Pinker
Calling it his favorite book, Gates says that this ‘Enlightenment Now’ looks at 15 different measures of progress to explain how and why the world is getting better.
The author relies on data to show that the world isn’t as dark as it may seem. While headlines may often spell doom, the numbers show that health, prosperity, happiness, safety, and more are on the rise. The book aims to explain how science and humanism are responsible and, by embracing these forms of enlightenment, additional progress is possible.
Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air – David MacKay
Gates describes this book as one he ‘can’t recommend highly enough’ for anyone who is interested in learning where energy comes from, how it is used, and what challenges are involved in switching to new sources.
Sustainable energy has been a hot-button issue for some time. This book explores the data and aims to debunk myths about sustainable energy, all while explaining how advances could be made that would benefit the world at large.
Energy Myths and Realities – Vaclav Smil
Agreeing to the author’s belief that nuclear power, which can use existing infrastructure while also reducing carbon emissions, will be an important electricity source for decades, Gates says that in this book, Smil convincingly argues that our present-day energy infrastructure will persist.
The future of global energy is a hotly debated topic. This book looks to discuss the myths and realities, and how correcting falsehoods could lead to a better approach.
The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention – William Rosen
This book focuses on intellectual property; the idea that a person can take ownership of an idea. It explores the origins of the concept and how it affects how people work and live today, using an engaging and curious style to draw the reader in and keep them hooked.
According to Gates, Rosen’s comprehensive history of the steam engine is ‘as good a book as you will find’ for understanding how innovations change the world and evolve over time.