2017 has been an excellent year for me to get stuck into reading. I discovered Audible, which enabled me to listen to books on the way to work, while on the plane or just relaxing at home. I’ve always found it hard to read, so having someone read a book to you, especially the author is a somewhat satisfying experience. We’re all busy, and sometimes we just can’t find time out of our day to sit back and enjoy a good book. So in 2018, why not try set yourself a target of reading one book a quarter?
What books are your top three? Let me know.
Here are my top three books of 2017.
- Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era.
Artificial Intelligence helps choose what books you buy, what movies you see, and even who you date. It puts the “smart” in your smartphone and soon it will drive your car. It makes most of the trades on Wall Street, and controls vital energy, water, and transportation infrastructure. But Artificial Intelligence can also threaten our existence.
In as little as a decade, AI could match and then surpass human intelligence. Corporations and government agencies are pouring billions into achieving AI’s Holy Grail – human-level intelligence. Once AI has attained it, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own. We may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful, and more alien than we can imagine.
Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, Our Final Invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And will they allow us to?
2. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Tony Hsieh – the widely admired CEO of Zappos, the online shoe retailer – explains how he created a unique culture and commitment to service that aims to improve the lives of employees, customers, vendors, and backers. Using anecdotes and stories from his own life experiences, and from other companies, Hsieh provides concrete ways that companies can achieve unprecedented success. Even better, he shows how creating happiness and record results go hand-in-hand.
He starts with the “Why” in a section where he narrates his quest to understand the science of happiness. Then he runs through the ten Zappos “Core Values” – such as “Deliver WOW through Service”, “Create Fun and A Little Weirdness”, and “Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit” – and explains how you and your colleagues should come up with your own.
Hsieh then details many of the unique practices at Zappos that have made it the success it is today, such as their philosphy of allocating marketing money into the customer experience, thereby allowing repeat customers and word-of-mouth be their true form of marketing. He also explains why Zappos’s number-one priority is company culture and his belief that once you get the culture right, everything else – great customer service, long-term branding – will happen on its own.
Finally, Delivering Happiness explains how Zappos employees actually apply the Core Values to improving their lives outside of work – and to making a difference in their communities and the world.
3. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
From an animal behaviorist and dog enthusiast comes an adorable and informative guide to understanding how our canine friends see the world based on the number-one New York Times best-selling phenomenon, Inside of a Dog – now adapted for a younger audience!
Have you ever wondered what your dogs are thinking? What they’re feeling? Now you finally can! The answers will surprise and delight you as scientist and dog-owner Alexandra Horowitz explains how our four-legged friends perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human.