Brief Answers to the Big Questions – Book Review

Stephen Hawking is a huge role model of mine. Brief Answers to the Big Questions is the last book he wrote before he died, and while it certainly isn’t for everyone, it highlighted his brilliance and got me excited and hopeful for the future.

Photo by me

Stephen Hawking was often quite frank about reality. In this book he discusses things as they are, not how he wanted them to be (unless he’s making fantastic jokes about human nature).

So when he discusses people and our natural tendency to do stupid things, it’s pretty wonderful. He discusses that with love and kindness toward humanity, but pokes a bit of fun at our inclination to do very silly things when there’s a logical alternative. Honestly, it’s not what I expected going into that book, but I fully appreciated it!

He answers questions like what our biggest challenges for the future will be and discusses our future as the human race. One big issue he raises is what AI will do once it becomes self aware. It’s something that we don’t really think about, but if we continue down this path of technological advancement, then it’s pretty inevitable. It’s not really a question of if, but when, and the potential outcomes can be kind of terrifying.

As you’d expect, he does get into some black hole physics and discusses mathematical functions, but he does it to back up his opinion on something that seems unrelated (like if we’ll ever travel through time). I actually really loved the interconnectedness of his knowledge and how his very specific research can influence how he thinks about everything else he encounters in life. However, because he does get into some science and maths, it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. If you can handle a bit of technical talk, though, then I fully recommend this book. It’s fascinating, and I’ll definitely reread it.

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