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The Street
The Street
Colette Bennett

Elon Musk Has an Idea for Your Free Time

Love him or hate him, one thing you can say about Tesla (TSLA) boss Elon Musk is that he's never boring.

After his months-long campaign (with much of it conducted in public tweets) to buy Twitter (TWTR) for $44 billion followed by a withdrawal of the bid (which Twitter sued him for), some on social media have questioned his choices.

While Musk is considered a genius by some and a loose cannon by others, one thing for sure is that people are typically interested in what he has to say, whether its about the future of travel with Tesla's ultra-modern Cybertruck or his Boring Company hyperloop rail system project.

As Tesla continues to flourish, beating out well-established carmakers such as General Motors (GM) and Ford (F), folks are also interested in the way Musk thinks about business, hoping they might be able to glean something from him that might help their own businesses prosper.

Musk's reading list has also been a popular topic in the past, with recommendations such as "Einstein: His Life and Universe" by Walter Issacson, "Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down" by J.E. Gordon, and "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies" by Nick Bostrom.

Now Musk has tweeted about a new favorite, and if you're interested in what he reads, you may want to hear more about it.

What's Elon Musk's New Favorite Book?

Musk tweeted about the book "What We Owe The Future" by William MacAskill on August 2, calling it "a close match" for his own philosophy.

As the author describes it, the book makes the case for longtermism, which is "the view that positively affecting the long-run future is a key moral priority of our time."

While longtermism is not a new concept, it is considered by some to be a dangerous one. In an essay called "Against Longtermism", Aeon author and PhD candidate Phil Torres expounds on the reasons why.

"The point is that longtermism might be one of the most influential ideologies that few people outside of elite universities and Silicon Valley have ever heard about," Torres writes. "I believe this needs to change because, as a former longtermist who published an entire book four years ago in defence of the general idea, I have come to see this worldview as quite possibly the most dangerous secular belief system in the world today."

Torres going on to explain what he believes the problem with longtermism is.

"The initial thing to notice is that longtermism, as proposed by Bostrom and Beckstead, is not equivalent to ‘caring about the long term’ or ‘valuing the wellbeing of future generations’. It goes way beyond this," he says. "At its core is a simple – albeit flawed, in my opinion – analogy between individual persons and humanity as a whole."

Musk's interest in the longtermism concept is not new. In the past he's donated $1.5 million to the Future of Life, an organization founded by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, who is also a big believer in longtermism (and you may recognize Bostrom's name from Musk's favorite books list as well). 

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