Lex Fridman in a suit in front a chalkboard.

Lex Fridman

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Updated Jan 03, 2023 at 01:15PM EST by Zach.

Added Jan 03, 2023 at 06:15AM EST by Aidan Walker.

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Lex Fridman is a Russian-American podcaster and artificial intelligence researcher notable for his interviews with prominent figures like Elon Musk, Kanye West, Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan. In his content on the Lex Fridman Podcast, Fridman often attempts to connect scientific debates to philosophical and ethical ones, typically giving a platform to powerful people in tech, though he also hosts a wide array of guests. Fridman has a noteworthy online presence around the web and is occasionally the subject of memes or viral discussions, particularly in the early 2020s. A reading list for 2023 published by Fridman on Twitter in late 2022 notably led to viral discussions and mocking on that platform and elsewhere shortly after.


Fridman was born in 1983 in the former Soviet Union and moved to the United States at the age of 11. He attended Drexel University, eventually earning his Ph.D. there in 2014. Following the completion of his Ph.D., Fridman then worked at Google, focusing on artificial intelligence and self-driving car technology.[1]

The Lex Fridman Podcast

Fridman started his podcast in 2018, though his YouTube[7] account where its primarily hosted was created on September 20th, 2006. The first episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast was uploaded on April 19th, 2018, under the title "Max Tegmark: Life 3.0." Since being posted, the video has received over 244,000 views in roughly four years (seen below).

Over the years, his podcast, which takes the form of long-form interviews often lasting several hours, attracted increasing attention online. He has notably interviewed high-profile individuals like Elon Musk several times (example shown below), which has led some to criticize him as a perceived "Musk fanboy." For example, on December 8th, 2022, Twitter[2] user rudeboy31079789 commented this sentiment under a reply Fridman made to Musk about adding transparency to the platform, saying "The most annoying fanboy account."

Many episodes of the Lex Fridman Podcast have garnered millions of views as its renown has grown online. The most viewed episode with over 8 million views in four months was uploaded on August 19th, 2022, which notably features Jordan Peterson (seen below, left). On July 4th, 2022, Joe Rogan's appearance on the show became the second-most viewed episode, receiving over 7.8 million views in five months (seen below, right).

Online Presence

Lex Fridman maintains his own website[1] and accounts on most major social media platforms. He has posted his podcast on his site and on YouTube[7] since 2018.

Outside of his own accounts, Fridman also has a dedicated subreddit (/r/lexfridman)[8] that was created on October 25th, 2019, now boasting nearly 25,000 members as of January 2023. The sub's description reads:

Discussion of science, technology, engineering, philosophy, history, politics, music, art, etc. Less focus on Lex and focus on ideas, whether related to Lex Fridman Podcast or not.

Fridman has also been the occasional subject of memes around the internet. For example, on July 13th, 2022, a now-deleted Redditor posted a starter pack meme to /r/starterpacks,[9] receiving 75 upvotes in roughly six months (shown below)

{this week} MONDAY TUESDAY SATURDAY 70 Lex Fridman starter pack WEDNESDAY THURSDAY 44444 4+1 One Doh SUNDAY PAT Massachusetts Institute of Technology Walking Pace FRIDAY Monotone sound a lone doh doh doh is a doh doh ⒸPhyl Lobl monotone doh doh doh

2023 Reading List

On December 31st, 2022, Lex Fridman tweeted about his reading list for 2023 (shown below).[3] The list included a "classic" book each week, which he said he planned to read and then discuss with fans and followers online. Almost immediately, the list came under fire from many Twitter users, with some accusing Fridman of being a "pseudo-intellectual." Some argued that his approach of "programmatically reading," calculating the hours it would take to read each book and reading long books by Dostoevsky in a single week, was unrealistic and defeated the purpose of reading.

-1-co(20) oppositetom? R Lex Fridman @lexfridman Dec 31, 2022 I'm reading a book a week in 2023. Classics, sci-fi, nonfiction, or anything people highly recommend. I'll keep adjusting the list. Start on Monday, done by Sunday. Might make lowkey videos of takeaways. If you want to read along, the current list is here: lexfridman.com/reading-list 3 ılı • Week of Jan 2- 1984 by George Orwell • Week of Jan 9 - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams • Week of Jan 16- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley • Week of Jan 23 - The Stranger by Camus • Week of Jan 30 - Meditations by Marcus Aurelius • Week of Feb 6 - On the Road by Jack Kerouac • Week of Feb 13 - Foundation by Isaac Asimov • Week of Feb 20 - The Art of War by Sun Tzu • Week of Feb 27 - Old Man and The Sea by Hemingway • Week of Mar 6-2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke • Week of Mar 13 - Animal Farm by George Orwell • Week of Mar 20 - Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel • Week of Mar 27 - Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari • Week of Apr 3- Metamorphosis, Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka • Week of Apr 10 - The Plague by Camus • Week of Apr 17 - Player of Games by lan Banks • Week of Apr 24 - Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk • Week of May 1 The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry • Week of May 8 - Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky • Week of May 15 - Siddhartha by Herman Hesse • Week of May 22 - Dune by Frank Herbert • Week of May 29 - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley O 13.5K 12.7K 99.2K 소

Others criticized his choice of books, arguing that he chose "basic" books that often appear on high school reading lists or selecting books that seem like "smart guy" books. Also noted by some on Twitter was the fact that in the list of books officially selected by Fridman, almost all of them were authored by white males (except for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and a few other books written by women that were in the list of books under consideration).[4] This notably led to a viral debate in the replies as users argued with one another, both supporting or criticizing the choices.[12]

Among his critics was author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who tweeted an image on January 1st, 2023, of the Fridman tweet, (giving it as justification for not going on his podcast) and earning over 14,000 likes in two days (seen below, left). Taleb then sparred with Jordan Peterson, who defended Fridman (seen below, right).[5] Taleb also accused Fridman of inflating his credentials and grifting.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb @nntaleb If you don't get why, between 2019 and 2022, I turned down exactly 10 requests to be on his podcast, this will provide a succinct explanation. twitter.com/lexfridman/sta... You're unable to view this Tweet because this account owner limits who can view their Tweets. Learn more Last edited 4:46 PM Jan 1, 2023 ... 10.1M Views 786 Retweets 608 Quote Tweets 14.1K Likes 0.** Dr Jordan B Peterson @jordanbpeterson · Jan 1 I have rarely read a response to a good- faith request this thoughtless. @lexfridman is an excellent and careful interviewer--and what exactly is it about his reading list thst earned your derision? Nassim Nicholas Taleb @nntaleb Jan 1. If you don't get why, between 2019 and 2022, I turned down exactly 10 requests to be on his podcast, this will provide a succinct explanation. twitter.com/lexfridman/sta... Show this thread ₁2.7M 473 t 350 t Nassim Nicholas Taleb Retweeted Nassim Nicholas Taleb @nntaleb Replying to @jordanbpeterson and @lexfridman Peterson, you idiot, stay out of this. 4:19 AM Jan 2, 2023 8,856 1.4M Views 1,264 Retweets 671 Quote Tweets 12.6K Likes ←] ... :

Some also defended Fridman, writing that those who criticized his reading list were "elitist." For example, on January 2nd, 2023, Twitter[6] user @MegaBasedChad attacked Fridman's critics in a meme, receiving over 1,100 likes in a day (shown below).

レードランナー L3 Tweet Engineer @MegaBasedChad - 16h "Lex Fridman's reading list is basic asf" 3 la NEST 27 t 62 CAP 5-35 07 1,136 ↑


As of January 2023, Lex Fridman's YouTube[7] channel has over 2.51 million subscribers and 338 million total views. On Twitter,[10] Fridman has more than 2.5 million followers since joining in December 2011, and on Instagram,[11] he has over 746,000 followers.

Search Interest

External References

[1] lexfridman.com – Lex Fridman Podcast

[2] Twitter – @elonmusk

[3] Twitter – @lexfridman

[4] Lex Fridman – Lex Fridman Reading List

[5] Twitter – @nntaleb

[6] Twitter – @MegaBasedChad

[7] YouTube – lexfridman

[8] Reddit – r/lexfridman

[9] Reddit – r/starterpacks

[10] Twitter – lexfridman

[11] Instagram – lexfridman

[12] Twitter – firevexx11

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Top Comments


Twitter's being overly contrarian because it wants to again, but their general criticism that the reading list is basic/not well thought out isn't exactly incorrect either.

None of the books are so long as to be impossible to read in a week, but several of them fall into the "well reputed" category without consideration for how textually dense and open to discussion they are. Fridman's goal to read all of these within a week rightfully raises some eyebrows, since many of them aren't exactly sprint-through novels. The Brothers Karamazov, Meditations, and Dune in particular are really bad choices for reading and comprehending in that span.

Can you read these books within a week? Absolutely. Can you fully appreciate and understand the messages the author is going for at that pace, while fitting in the rest of life, your job, etc? No, a lot of these books are terrible picks in that regard. It would be more feasible to have books like I, Robot for a weekly reading challenge. If your goal is exposure to diverse viewpoints from the literary greats, you cannot possibly hope to do this at such a quick rate. It'd be like claiming watching the news for 16 hours a day makes you a political scientist.


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