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5 books published in 2021 that MIT says you must read if you want to understand the world better

The list includes essays on investment, remote working, artificial intelligence, and vaccines.

Getty Images/Margarita Shchipkova

  • The books cover topics like investing, artificial intelligence, vaccines, and new ways of working.
  • They’ve been written by experts in their field, like economist Daron Acemoglu.
  • They provide an insight into what has changed in recent years and what the future may hold.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has compiled a small list of the top books published in 2021.

The institute recommends these books for anyone who wants a better understanding of how the world has changed in the last two years, and what the future may look like.

It includes essays on investment, remote working, artificial intelligence, and vaccines — the authors are mostly university professors, researchers, and economists.

These are the top five books published in 2021 that MIT recommends reading.

1. In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio

In this book, Andrew W. Lo and Stephen R. Foerster take a look at some of the greatest investors of all time, including names like Myron Scholes, Robert Merton, and Robert Shiller.

They seek advice on diversification, market timing, and whether it’s possible to achieve the right combination of risk and reward. The authors also describe seven principles for developing a ‘perfect portfolio’.

2. Remote Inc

The pandemic has seen remote working become the norm, and many people now expect to have it as an option, enjoying the improved quality of life that it offers. 

This book offers tools and strategies to help you be productive when working remotely. It gives tips for overcoming information overload, setting up meaningful video meetings, and bonding with people that are hundreds of miles away.

3. Redesigning AI

In this book, MIT professor Daron Acemoglu reflects on how the promise that artificial intelligence would boost productivity and improve our lives has fallen a bit short. 

According to the expert, our current trajectory automates work to an excessive degree while we refuse to invest in human productivity. At this rate, further advances will displace workers and hinder new opportunities. However, he believes that the future of AI is still open and can take us in many different directions. 

4. The New Breed

This book looks at what our history with animals may suggest about our future with robots. MIT Media Lab researcher and technology policy expert, Kate Darling, argues that if we treat robots with some humanity, more like how we treat animals these days, it will be better for us all.

From a social, legal, and ethical perspective, she shows that our current ways of thinking leave no room for robotic technology, which will soon become part of our daily routines, our jobs, transportation, military, and even our families. 

Robots are likely to complement, rather than replace, our own skills and relationships. And approaching them as we’ve approached our pets, according to Darling, may provide a good basis for dealing with these new companions in the future. 

5. A Shot in the Arm

This book compares the COVID vaccine development to the space race that put man on the moon. The author, Yossi Sheffi, thinks the latter was actually easier in certain ways.

A Shot in the Arm ends on an optimistic note regarding the legacy left by the vaccine, which could provide a template for fighting pandemics and improving immunology. 

The book argues that the vaccine effort provides vital lessons that could help humanity address other global challenges like poverty, food and water security, and climate change. It will be particularly useful for areas like R&D funding and innovation. 

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