Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s 2015 New Year’s resolution was to read an important book every two weeks and discuss it with the Facebook community.
It’s a sci-fi novel that’s part of Banks’ “Culture” series, which takes place in a futuristic utopian society where humans have used incredibly advanced artificial intelligence to progress far beyond the confines of Earth.
“The Player of Games” was first published in 1988 and is the second in the series. It explores the problems that could arise if hyper-advanced technology was created to serve human needs and placed more power in the hands of the people who controlled that technology.
The “Culture” series is a favourite in the sci-fi crowd, and its influence can be seen in mainstream culture, most notably the best-selling “Halo” video-game franchise.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a lifelong sci-fi junkie, has said he’s a big fan of Banks’ books. In January, he named two of SpaceX’s drone ships, “Just Read The Instructions” and “Of Course I Still Love You,” after two of the ships that appear in “The Player of Games.”
Zuckerberg explains his latest book-club pick on his personal Facebook page: “This is a change of pace from all the recent social science books. Instead, it’s a science fiction book about an advanced civilisation with AI and a vibrant culture.”
Many of his book selections have dealt with both the tremendous opportunities and the potential dangers that advanced technology can bring.
Zuckerberg also notes in his post that the stack of books he still wants to get through is starting to become overwhelming, but some quality time with a paperback is a good break from spending all of his working hours with technology.
A Year of Books so far:
- “The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be” by Moisés Naím
- “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker
- “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets” by Sudhir Venkatesh
- “On Immunity: An Inoculation” by Eula Biss
- “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
- “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas S. Kuhn
- “Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge” by Michael Chwe
- “Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower” by Henry M. Paulson
- “Orwell’s Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest” by Peter Huber
- “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander
- “The Muqaddimah” by Ibn Khaldun
- “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari
- “The Player of Games” by Iain M. Banks
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