AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee

Kai-Fu Lee draws from a wealth of experience from the worlds of business and technology. Lee worked for some of the top tech companies in the United States and a successful venture capital firm in China. He is uniquely positioned to offer powerful insights on how Artificial Intelligence is changing the world. Perhaps he is somewhat biased in favor of China, but still we should not disregard the claims he is making.

AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee

AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee

1) Data is fueling the progress in AI

“The invention of deep learning means that we are moving from the age of expertise to the age of data. Training successful deep-learning algorithms requires computing power, technical talent, and lots of data. But of those three, it is the volume of data that will be the most important going forward. That’s because once technical talent reaches a certain threshold, it begins to show diminishing returns. Beyond that point, data makes all the difference. Algorithms tuned by an average engineer can outperform those built by the world’s leading experts if the average engineer has access to far more data.”

Data is crucial when it comes to successfully training algorithms. China is uniquely positioned in this regard. Its huge population and lack of privacy laws help it collect massive amounts of data.

2) Chinese companies are more market-driven than mission-driven

“Instead of being mission-driven, Chinese companies are first and foremost market-driven. Their ultimate goal is to make money, and they’re willing to create any product, adopt any model, or go into any business that will accomplish that objective”

Unlike many Silicon Valley tech companies, Chinese businesses tend to focus more on the market than a mission. They don’t get as distracted by lofty ideals or philosophical debates. Their main focus is simply to make more money.

3) The Chinese government is more proactive at investing in technology

“…while America’s combative political system aggressively punishes missteps or waste in funding technological upgrades, China’s techno-utilitarian approach rewards proactive investment and adoption.”

Democracies can often be incredibly inefficient. Open debate and quick election cycles lead to short-term thinking and a conservative approach to innovation. Perhaps this is the price of having more freedom.

4) We should invest in service-oriented jobs to offset rising unemployment

“ …care, service, and education—would encompass a wide range of activities, with different levels of compensation for full- and part-time participation. Care work could include parenting of young children, attending to an aging parent, assisting a friend or family member dealing with illness, or helping someone with mental or physical disabilities live life to the fullest. This category would create a veritable army of people—loved ones, friends, or even strangers—who could assist those in need...”

Artificial Intelligence could start replacing jobs at an alarming rate. Instead of panicking, we should invest more in service work and caregiver roles. Let’s help people help each other, by funding initiatives to spread compassion.

5) Love is what separates humans from technology

“For all of AI’s astounding capabilities, the one thing that only humans can provide turns out to also be exactly what is most needed in our lives: love. It’s that moment when we see our newborn babies, the feeling of love at first sight, the warm feeling from friends who listen to us empathetically, or the feeling of self-actualization when we help someone in need. We are far from understanding the human heart, let alone replicating it. But we do know that humans are uniquely able to love and be loved, that humans want to love and be loved, and that loving and being loved are what makes our lives worthwhile.”

Although AI will have a major impact on our world, we can’t neglect the power of love and human connection. Empathy and relationships will help us navigate a complex and uncertain future.

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charity in the world. Melinda met Bill through work during the early days of Microsoft. Rather than hoarding their fortune, the Gates family has generously committed to donating billions of dollars. Melinda has traveled around the world and met with many women in developing countries. She shares several personal anecdotes in her book to help illustrate the importance of empowering women everywhere.

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

1) Empowering women helps society as a whole

“As women gain rights, families flourish, and so do societies. That connection is built on a simple truth: Whenever you include a group that's been excluded, you benefit everyone. And when you're working globally to include women and girls, who are half of every population, you're working to benefit all members of every community. Gender equity lifts everyone.”

Giving women opportunities to thrive will benefit everybody. We need to shift cultural, political, and societal norms across the world in order to pursue this vision.

2) Access to contraceptives is essential

“…contraceptives are the greatest life-saving, poverty-ending, women-empowering innovation ever created.”

Women need safe and affordable access to contraceptives. Without it, they lack the freedom to start a family when the time is right for them. When women have this freedom, then they will have more opportunities to pursue education and career paths.

3) Women should be making the decisions that affect women

“It's the mark of a backward society - or a society moving backward - when decisions are made for women by men.”

For too long, men have dominated politics. We need more women in positions of power to make decisions on issues that impact women

4) Everyone wants to contribute

“We all want to have something to offer. This is how we belong. It’s how we feel included. So if we want to include everyone, then we have to help everyone develop their talents and use their gifts for the good of the community. That’s what inclusion means—everyone is a contributor. And if they need help to become a contributor, then we should help them, because they are full members in a community that supports everyone.”

We all want to contribute in some way. Contributing helps us feel like we are a part of something greater than ourselves. But many people need more support before they can start contributing

5) Empathy is the key to progress

“When people can’t agree, it’s often because there is no empathy, no sense of shared experience. If you feel what others feel, you’re more likely to see what they see. Then you can understand one another. Then you can move to the honest and respectful exchange of ideas that is the mark of a successful partnership. That’s the source of progress.”

Empathy helps us understand each other. Without empathy, we can’t see things from the perspectives of others. We must put ourselves in each other’s shoes and see where they are coming from.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

First published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People remains a classic. Dale Carnegie lays out the essential principles for interacting with others. Although much of his advice might be considered common sense, the lessons he teaches are powerful. The core message of this book is to treat people well, and understand that we are all sensitive creatures who simply long to be understood.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

1) People are often emotional and irrational

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” 

Although we’d like to believe ourselves to be rational, the truth is that many of our actions are not driven by logic. People are proud, sensitive, and protective of their egos.

2) Seek to understand rather than condemn

“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.”

Rather than tear people down, we should build them up. Our first impulse towards others is often to criticize or acknowledge faults. But no one likes to feel bad about themselves or their mistakes. Be supportive of those around you. Focus on the positive.

3) Become genuinely interested in others

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Most of us are so caught up in our own worlds that we rarely pause to focus on those around us. Turn your gaze outward. Ask people about their interests. Make them feel important. Listen intently and genuinely try seeing things from their perspective.

4) You can’t win an argument

If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent's good will.”

According to Dale Carnegie, you can never really win an argument— if you lose it then you lose, but if you win you still lose. The best way to handle arguments is to avoid them altogether.

5) Arouse an eager want

“Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.”

Don’t underestimate the ability to inspire. By appealing to a noble cause and challenging people to do better, we can motivate others to accomplish great things.


The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is one of the most influential entrepreneurs of our time. His first book, The 4-Hour Work Week, remains a best-seller year after year. In this book, Ferriss urges individuals to rethink our traditional assumptions around work. It is a must-read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship.

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

1) The timing is never right

“The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time…Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.”

If you have a dream in mind that you wish to achieve, then stop waiting and start acting. There will never be a perfect time to start. As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “the best time to start was 20 years ago, but the second best time is now”.

2) Run towards your fears

“Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty…What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”

We often suffer more in our minds than in reality. But our fears are by and large unfounded. Tim Ferriss recommends the regular practice of Fear Setting (rather than Goal Setting) to help you determine which things you should pursue. Once you write down your fears and the potential consequences if they come true, they suddenly have less power of you. You will realize that the worst-case scenarios are really not that bad.

3) Choose your friends carefully

“You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn't making you stronger, they're making you weaker.” 

Whoever we spend time with is influencing our behavior and ambitions, whether we are aware of it or not. So choose your friends wisely. Spend time around people who make you better.

4) Leverage your strengths

“It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre.”

It is an uphill battle to try and fix your weaknesses. We all have strengths in certain areas. The key is to know where your strengths are and how to further amplify your abilities in these areas.

5) Focus on being productive instead of busy

“Doing something unimportant well does not make it important. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.”

Many people criticize The 4-Hour Work Week because it sounds like the goal is laziness. But this a misconception. In his book, Tim Ferriss emphasizes the importance of making systems operate as efficiently as possible. This will free you up to invest your time in bigger and better things. We aren’t striving for laziness, but rather better time management. Consider which tasks that could be automated, outsourced, or removed. When starting an entrepreneurial venture, see yourself as a bottleneck to be removed by optimizing systems to function effectively without you.