My new year resolution is to…

…read 24 books this year.

I know. I can hear the groans. It’s a 2020 trend. I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Blah.

I was reminded of how much I love reading by Bill Gates. He loves reading. One of that Netflix documentary’s episodes is mostly about him reading.

Earlier this year I said during a Red Talk that music is the glue that holds me together. When I’m struggling to put one foot in front of the other on a bad day I put on my headphones and suddenly I’m back.

Reading is like that. Instead of settling my feet it settles my mind, an unruly bundle of mental energy at best.

Plus I’m curious and I like learning, I really like learning, about anything and everything. Reading a book or two on a subject makes me think, gives me the space to dream, takes me on an adventure.

On a lighter note. I’ve been spurred on by an EPIC charity shop haul. One weekend I picked up around 12 or more great books, some classic texts and some novelty fiction for a max of £2.50 each. I suggest you head to your nearest charity bookshop when you next can. 

I also really really like Goodreads, despite its flaws and slightly archaic nature. Alongside Discogs it’s one of my favourite places on the internet. A place to organise my books and challenges, log what I want to read and find new recommendations. 

I can’t slip the last two books I read into my 2020 tally, but hey I can mention them. The first was ‘Hot Zone’, one of my charity shop hauls. A chilling if somewhat over-fictionalised account of an ebola outbreak and the science behind that horrendous virus and its origins. 

Since finishing it I was glad to read in Amy Webb’s 2019 round-up that Ebola is as of this year no longer incurable thanks to treatments REGN-EB3 and mAb-114, which healed 90% of patients they were used on in the Congo. 

The other was Hard to Handle, Steve Gorman’s account of his time in the Black Crowes. All I can say is if you are a Black Crowes fan, like me, you must read it. 

Now I’m half way into The Ai Does Not Hate You, which I bought new from Waterstones. This one has turned out to be a journey into the philosophy of rational thought in the context of training an AI and setting out frameworks for it to think and learn. 

Unexpectedly it 1) reminds me fondly of my time studying philosophy but also how much I’ve forgotten; and 2) tells me that creating a generalised artificial intelligence, something which thinks and acts in what we would consider a rational and responsible way is… well, extremely complicated from an ethical and practical point of view and very, very daunting; if not littered with trap doors. 

Life 3.0 is next. Maybe with some Poirot sprinkled in between. Happy reading!

==

One half of the charity shop haul mixed with some other books in my work library.

The other half on a bookshelf at home. I also bought Life 3.0 new, but I like that this lot is mixed with a three-piece edition of War and Peace bought from a charity shop last year. I haven’t read it yet. It might take a while to get around to it…(!).

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