Episodes

  • Jim talks with Stuart Kauffman about the ideas in the recent paper he co-authored with Andrea Roli, "Is the Emergence of Life an Expected Phase Transition in the Evolving Universe?" They discuss the fragmentation of the origins of life field, Pasteur's test of spontaneous generation, primitive soup, Watson & Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA, mutually catalyzing molecules, molecules as combinatorial objects, random catalysis, collectively autocatalytic sets, the origin of metabolism, composability elements, the earliest form of life, Darwin's warm little pond hypothesis, the theory of the adjacent possible, the TAP equation, why small molecule reproduction will be abundant in the universe, the Drake equation, Kantian wholes, the function of a part, autocatalytic closure, constraint closure, cycles of work, downward causation, information conservation vs the error catastrophe, exaptation, the new adjacent possible, why evolution is unendingly creative & mathematically unpredictable, what this implies about economics, Arrow-Debreu competitive general equilibrium, the impossibility of well-founded expectations, why we can't have dominion over the ongoing biosphere, an open-ended experiment to mix fungi with bacteria on sterilized sand, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    JRS EP18 - Stuart Kauffman on Complexity, Biology & T.A.P.
    "Is the Emergence of Life an Expected Phase Transition in the Evolving Universe?", by Stuart Kauffman & Andrew Roli
    "Chemical Evolution: Life is a logical consequence of known chemical principles operating on the atomic composition of the universe," by Melvin Calvin
    "Autocatalytic chemical networks at the origin of metabolism," by Joana Xavier, Stuart Kauffman, et. al.
    JRS EP 167 - Bruce Damer on the Origins of Life
    JRS EP 171 - Bruce Damer Part 2: The Origins of Life - Implications
    JRS EP 138 - Brian Arthur on the Nature of Technology
    JRS EP 157 - Terrence Deacon on Mind's Emergence from Matter
    "A third transition in science?", by Stuart Kauffman & Andrea Roli


    Stuart Alan Kauffman is an American theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher who studies the origin of life on Earth. Kauffman graduated from Dartmouth in 1960, was awarded the BA (Hons) by Oxford University (where he was a Marshall Scholar) in 1963, and completed a medical degree (MD) at the University of California, San Francisco in 1968. After completing his residency in Emergency Medicine, he moved into developmental genetics of the fruit fly, holding appointments first at the University of Chicago, then at the University of Pennsylvania, where he rose to Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Kauffman held a MacArthur Fellowship from 1987–1992.

  • Jim talks with Hannah Rosenberg about the ideas in her essay "An Answer to Red Pilldom." They discuss the meaning & origins of red pilldom, how Hannah encountered red pilldom in close friendships, the idea that women are submissive, differences between men & women, pair-bonding instincts, balancing mixed instincts, the idea of hypergamy, adulting, how dating apps may skew human interactions, nostalgia for the 1950s trad wife, the actual lives of 1950s housewives, the idea that motherhood is the highest fulfillment for a woman, the idea of a war on masculinity, outlets for aggression, the idea of a "wall" where male attention ends, humanity as a mesh network not a hierarchy, dominance & submission as signals, the idea that men are leaders, women in the Marine Corps, MAGA and wokery as mirror images, why communities of red pilldom exist, not getting caught in history's pendulum swings, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    "An Answer to Red Pilldom," by Hannah Rosenberg

    Hannah Rosenberg, a tech entrepreneur and educator, holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her journey in the tech industry began as a web developer, leading to the establishment of her own development business in 2014. In 2017, she expanded her career by embracing the role of an educator, imparting her technical expertise to various organizations, including non-profits and her alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to her professional achievements, Hannah's life experiences also play a crucial role. With 40 years of rich personal experience, she is a dedicated mother and has been in a committed marriage for 14 years. Her diverse perspective is further enhanced by extensive travel and having lived in three distinct regions of our beautiful world.

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  • Jim talks with Bruce Damer about the new Center for MINDS and the ideas in his essay "Downloads from the Modern Dawn of Psychedelics." They discuss alternate ways psychedelics could have been introduced, Aldous Huxley & Humphry Osmond's speculative Outsight project, convergent vs divergent thinking, Bruce's mushroom trip with Terrence McKenna, concrescence into novelty, the stoned ape theory, the unreported influence of psychedelics on breakthroughs, Bruce's coming-out as a psychedelics user, psychedelic-assisted innovation, Bruce's naturally trippy brain, endogenous tripping, the Eleusinian Mysteries, the late Bronze Age collapse, the possibility that hallucinogens powered civilization, alcohol & the poison path, the decline in breakthrough research, the disincentivization of grand thinking, how the Center for Minds is beginning research via surveys, Jim's use of occasional heavy doses of THC, Bruce's set, setting & setup approach, finding the others, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, the state of ketamine research, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    "Downloads from the Modern Dawn of Psychedelics," by Bruce Damer
    Center for MINDS
    Center for MINDS Survey
    Currents 091: Bruce Damer on Psychedelics as Tools for Discovery
    The Immortality Key: Uncovering the Secret History of the Religion With No Name, by Brian Muraresku

    Dr. Bruce Damer is Canadian-American multidisciplinary scientist, designer, and author. In his role as a world-renowned Astrobiologist at the UC Santa Cruz Department of Biomolecular Engineering, Dr. Damer collaborates with colleagues developing and testing a new scenario for the origin of life on Earth and where it might arise in the universe. As a designer he has provided innovative spacecraft architectures to NASA and others which could provide a viable path for the expansion of life and human civilization beyond the Earth.

  • Jim talks with Samo Burja about the ideas in his recent article "Geothermal Energy Turns Planets Into Power Sources." They discuss the heat beneath the earth's surface, contributors to the heat, technological dependency between fracking & geothermal, the math of electricity, earthquake risk, the limits of current geology, the value of better drilling tech, new approaches to drilling, gyrotrons, plasma torches, whether our civilization actually needs more energy, the local optimum of fossil fuels, bureaucratic incentives in energy, investment of social surplus, scientific welfare, metascience, giving academic tenure to brilliant 25-year-olds, a defense-favoring military epoch, the math of geothermal vs other combinations of energy sources, visions of a clean-energy future, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    "Geothermal Energy Turns Planets Into Power Sources," by Samo Burja
    JRS EP117 - Samo Burja on Societal Decline
    JRS EP125 - Samo Burja on Socetial Decline: Part 2
    JRS EP222 - Trent McConaghy on AI & Brain-Computer Interface Accelerationism (bci/acc)


    Samo Burja is the founder and President of Bismarck Analysis, a consulting firm that specializes in institutional analysis for clients in North America and Europe. Bismarck uses the foundational sociological research that Samo and his team have conducted over the past decade to deliver unique insights to clients about institutional design and strategy. Samo’s studies focus on the social and material technologies that provide the foundation for healthy human societies, with an eye to engineering and restoring the structures that produce functional institutions. He has authored articles and papers on his findings. His manuscript, Great Founder Theory, is available online. He is also a Research Fellow at the Long Now Foundation and Senior Research Fellow in Political Science at the Foresight Institute. Samo has spoken about his findings at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Y Combinator’s YC 120 conference, the Reboot American Innovation conference in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. He spends most of his time in California and his native Slovenia.

  • Jim talks with Jordan Hall about the ideas in his essay "From City to Civium" and about his recent conversion to Christianity. They discuss scaling laws, superlinear scaling in cities & Metcalf's law, technologies of density, virtualization of space, ephemeralizing of communication, a tipping point in the virtualization of relationality, cities as killers, reaching the limits of the institutional forms that got us out of the 20th century, decoupling of body & mind, returning to the mesoscale, tech hygiene, reciprocal opening, what makes GameB hard, Jordan's experience with civiums, hierarchies of values & their inevitability, regaining functional cultural toolkits, pouring water on plants vs creating from scratch, how civium led to Christianity, distinguishing good & bad in religion, Jordan's lifelong agnosticism, the virtual, becoming an integrated self, ensoulment, egregores, whether egregores have agency, the origin of liturgy & liturgical practices, the challenge of bringing already-embedded individuals into embodied community, visiting & moving to Black Mountain, North Carolina, the ease of meaningfulness in the right context, being invited to church, Jordan's transition to believing in a personal God, a crisis of conscience, the Orthodox sensibility of "beauty-first," a relationship with goodness, understanding the Trinity, relationality as the essence of the triune God, a dimensional opening, faith as a faculty, the idea of being created by God in His image, adopting traditional gender values, the idea of abortion as murder, the hermeneutics of presence, Biblical inerrancy, why the kingdom of God is not theocracy, soul sovereignty, orienting toward a universal Good vs coherent pluralism, post-tragedy, growing community organically, the question of vocation, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    "From City to Civium," by Jordan Hall
    JRS EP 170 - John Vervaeke and Jordan Hall on The Religion That Is Not a Religion
    JRS Currents 032: Tyson Yunkaporta on Spirits, GameB & Protopias
    "A Journey to GameB," by Jim Rutt
    JRS Currents 090: BJ Campbell and Patrick Ryan on Egregores

    Jordan Hall is the Co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Neurohacker Collective. He is now in his 17th year of building disruptive technology companies. Jordan’s interests in comics, science fiction, computers, and way too much TV led to a deep dive into contemporary philosophy (particularly the works of Gilles Deleuze and Manuel DeLanda), artificial intelligence and complex systems science, and then, as the Internet was exploding into the world, a few years at Harvard Law School where he spent time with Larry Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain and Cornel West examining the coevolution of human civilization and technology.

  • Jim talks with Trent McConaghy about the ideas in his recent essay "bci/acc: A Pragmatic Path to Compete with Artificial Superintelligence." They discuss the meaning of BCI (brain-computer interfaces) and acc (accelerationism), categories of AI, how much room there is for above-human intelligence, whether AI is achieving parallelism, the risks of artificial superintelligence (ASI), problems with deceleration, AI intelligences balancing each other, decentralized approaches to AI, problems with the "pull the plug" idea, humans as the weak security link, the silicon Midas touch, competing with AI using BCIs, the need for super-high bandwidth, the noninvasive road to BCIs, realistic killer apps, eye tracking, pragmatic telepathy, subvocalization, reaching adoption-level quality, the arc between noninvasive and full silicon, near-infrared sensors, issues around mass adoption of implants, maintaining cognitive liberty, the risk of giving malevolent ASIs the keys to the kingdom, whether humans plus ASIs might compete with ASIs, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    JRS EP13 - Blockchain, AI, and DAOs
    "bci/acc: A Pragmatic Path to Compete with Artificial Superintelligence," by Trent McConaghy
    Ocean Protocol
    "Nature 2.0: The Cradle of Civilization Gets an Upgrade," by Trent McConaghy
    Trent McConaghy on Twitter

    Trent McConaghy is founder of Ocean Protocol. He has 25 years of deep tech experience with a focus on AI and blockchain. He co-founded Analog Design automation Inc. in 1999, which built AI-powered tools for creative circuit design. It was acquired by Synopsys in 2004. He co-founded Solido Design Automation in 2004, using AI to mitigate process variation and help drive Moore's Law. Solido was later acquired by Siemens. He then went on to launch ascribe in 2013 for NFTs on Bitcoin, then Ocean Protocol in 2017 for decentralized data markets for AI. He currently focuses on Ocean Predictoor for crowd-sourced AI prediction feeds.

  • Jim talks with George Hotz about running Comma, an open-source driving assistance company. They discuss breaking the carrier lock on the iPhone at seventeen, Google's Project Zero, zero days, Mobileye & proprietary perception algorithms, cameras vs lidar, 6 levels of self-driving automation, the reliability of human driving, self-driving cars as "demo complete," why corner cases aren't the issue, integrated world models, the challenge of defining lane lines, recognizing the right part of the road, behavioral cloning, the hugging test, Comma's data set, the small offset simulator, how to install Comma in a car, what it does, why high-precision maps aren't useful, problems with Waymo's approach, "trackless monorails," why current systems still use remote-control driving, hyper-fragile centralized systems, Tesla's approach, against magical inflection points, self-driving as a stepping stone to artificial life, why Comma doesn't do marketing, the regulatory environment, eyes off vs hands off, why self-driving cars are easier than general robotics, liability, functional safety, the Tinygrad machine learning framework, who's using it, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    Comma
    Tinygrad

    George Hotz is the founder of comma.ai and the tiny corp. He is working on self driving, robotics, and ML infrastructure with the goal of creating an operating system for silicon-stack life.

  • Jim talks with Lene Rachel Andersen about the ideas in her book Polymodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World. They discuss the meaning of polymodernism, working with four cultural codes, polymodernism vs metamodernism, the flaw in combining stage theories with cultural history, the problem with postmodernism's deconstruction of guidance & boundaries, 3 factors leading to modernity, the beginnings of alienation, postmodernism as a critique of modernism, the danger of reifying theories, why a post-modern society would fall apart, learning from indigenous prehistoric cultures, the influence of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Lene's relationship to Christianity and conversion to Judaism, being a practicing doubting Jew, long-term consequences of having good narratives that people believe in, Jewish law vs Hammurabi's Code, reading the Pentateuch, using post-modern tech to implement a pre-modern order, Emily Wilson's translation of The Iliad, mining the social learnings of the past with discernment, why religious people have often led the resistance to authoritarian regimes, true encouragement, the bildung rose, the problem with hypermodernism, the eternal misery of hypermodernist success, learning as one of the essences of being human, and much more.


    Episode Transcript
    Polymodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World, by Lene Rachel Andersen
    "Polymodern Economics," by Lene Rachel Andersen
    The Nordic Secret: A European Story of Beauty and Freedom, by Lene Rachel Andersen
    JRS EP165 - Lene Rachel Andersen Part 1: Libertism
    JRS EP89 - Lene Rachel Andersen on Metamodernity

    God: A Biography, by Jack Miles

    "In Search of the 5th Attractor," by Jim Rutt


    Lene Rachel Andersen is an economist, author, futurist, philosopher and Bildung activist. She heads the think tank Nordic Bildung in Copenhagen and is a member of the Club of Rome. After studying business economy for three years, she worked as a substitute teacher before studying theology. During her studies, she wrote entertainment for Danish television until she decided to quit theology, become a full-time writer, and focus on technological development, big history, and the future of humanity. Since 2005, she has written 20 books and received two Danish democracy awards: Ebbe Kløvedal-Reich Democracy Baton (2007) and Døssing Prisen, the Danish librarians’ democracy prize (2012). Among her books are The Nordic Secret (2017, new edition 2024), Bildung: Keep Growing (2020), What is Bildung? (2021), Libertism (2022), and Polymodernity (2023, previously Metamodernity (2019)).

  • Jim talks with Katherine Gehl about her and Michael Porter's book, The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy. They discuss Jim's past familiarity with Michael Porter's work, Porter's five forces, the "what the hell is water" phenomenon, the Schoolhouse Rock problem, political industry theory, political payback for unhelpful activities, why political competitors are doing better as "customers" become more dissatisfied, the current American party system as a protected duopoly, nonprofit investments in things that have no chance, non-constitutional problems, the reversible accident of plurality voting, whether more parties are essential, how Ross Perot's 1992 election pressured the two parties to balance the budget, reforming the primary system, final-five voting, Alaska's experiment in final-four voting, instant runoffs, freeing players to make good strategic choices, lowering the barrier to entry for new thinking, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, by Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter
    Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, by Michael Porter



    Katherine Gehl is the originator of Final Five Voting (FFV)—a new election system designed to positively transform the incentives driving our dysfunctional politics. In 2020, Gehl published The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy (with co-author Michael Porter of Harvard Business School). Her work applied a competition lens and classic tools of industry analysis to politics for the first time. Today, Gehl leads the national Campaign for Final Five Voting which she co-founded with leaders across the political spectrum.

  • Jim talks with Max Borders about the ideas in his two-part essay series responding to Christopher Rufo's recent manifesto "The New Right Activism." They discuss the commentary form of the essays, pillar saints vs boy Pharoahs, the Gray Tribe, Rufo as a rockstar gladiator, the white-paper industrial complex, the Gramscian model of capturing the institutions, the tit-for-tat approach to politics, recapturing the power of the state to indoctrinate the youth, the wartime point of view, the means & ends problem, subversive innovation, the University of Austin, public universities as indoctrination factories, a Handmaid's Tale vision of virtue, why Rufo is more Machiavellian than Aristotelian, the danger of rejecting an open society, changing the language & the case study of "equity," defending abstract principles in politics, how Rufos misses the point about real power, re-enlivening the U.S.'s founding principles, and much more.


    Episode Transcript
    "Rufo the Reactionary, Part 1," by Max Borders (Substack)
    "The New Right Activism: A manifesto for the counter-revolution," by Christopher Rufo
    The Social Singularity, by Max Borders
    JRS EP76 - Max Borders on the Social Singularity

    Max Borders is the author of The Social Singularity (2018) and The Decentralist (2021). His latest book is called Underthrow (2023). Currently, he is working on two major projects: a cosmopolitan constitution designed to open the era of open-source law, and a global fraternal society dedicated to the mission, morality, and mutualism of the “Gray Tribe.”

  • Jim talks with Ben Goertzel about a paper he co-wrote, "OpenCog Hyperon: A Framework for AGI at the Human Level and Beyond." They discuss the way Ben defines AGI, problems with an economically oriented definition, the rate of advancement of a society, the history of OpenCog, mathematical models of intelligence, Jim's early use of OpenCog, a distributed Atomspace, Atomese vs MeTTa languages, knowledge metagraphs, why Ben didn't write a custom programming language for the original OpenCog, type theory, functional logic programming, moving from weirdly ugly to weirdly elegant, technical debt, grounding of Atoms, interfacing Hyperon with LLMs, nourishing a broader open-source community, hierarchical attention-based pattern recognition networks, heuristic induction, cognitive synergy, why scalability requires translating declarative representation into procedural form and vice versa, retrieval-augmented generation, predictive-coding-based learning as an alternative to back-propagation, the possibility of an InfoGAN-style transformer, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    "OpenCog Hyperon: A Framework for AGI at the Human Level and Beyond," by Ben Goertzel et al.

    Dr. Ben Goertzel is a cross-disciplinary scientist, entrepreneur and author.  Born in Brazil to American parents, in 2020 after a long stretch living in Hong Kong he relocated his primary base of operations to a rural island near Seattle. He leads the SingularityNET Foundation, the OpenCog Foundation, and the AGI Society which runs the annual Artificial General Intelligence conference. Dr. Goertzel’s research work encompasses multiple areas including artificial general intelligence, natural language processing, cognitive science, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, virtual worlds, gaming, parapsychology, theoretical physics and more. He also chairs the futurist nonprofit Humanity+,  serves as Chief Scientist of AI firms  Rejuve, Mindplex, Cogito and Jam Galaxy, all parts of the SingularityNET ecosystem, and serves as keyboardist and vocalist in the Jam Galaxy Band, the first-ever band led by a humanoid robot.

  • Jim talks with Kevin Dickinson about the ideas in his recent essay "A Short History of the F-Word." They discuss the mystery of the F-word's origins, a damn fucking abbot in the sixteenth century, the hierarchy of curse words, religious profanities, the poet William Dunbar's use of "fukkit," the case of Roger Fuckedbythenavele, folk etymologies, false acronyms, movies with the most fucks, fucks per minute vs absolute number of fucks, a high Ngram watermark in 2017, the Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial, senses of fuck, veiling words, John McWhorter's research, the history of fuck in the dictionary, language as fashion, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    Kevin Dickinson at Big Think
    The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature, by Steven Pinker

    Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter — Then, Now, and Forever, by John McWhorter

    Kevin Dickinson is a staff writer and columnist at Big Think. His writing focuses on the intersection between education, psychology, business, and science. He holds a master’s in English and writing, and his articles have appeared in Agenda, RealClearScience, and the Washington Post.

  • Jim talks with Cody Moser about the ideas and findings in his and Paul Smaldino's paper "Innovation-Facilitating Networks Create Inequality." They discuss transient diversity, group performance vs the agent level, taking an agent-based modeling approach, Derex & Boyd's group potion-mixing experiment, no free lunch theorem, random network structures, an inverse correlation between network connectivity & performance, effects of sharing intermediate results, Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection, measuring inequality with the Gini coefficient, higher performance in less equal networks, connected caveman networks, ring networks, Ashby's good regulator theorem, exploration vs exploitation, randomly allocating lifetime endowed academic chairs to 25-year-olds, institutional design, generative entrenchment, implications for internet platform design, the parochial pyramid, tribalism at the Dunbar number, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    "Innovation-Facilitating Networks Create Inequality," by Cody Moser & Paul Smaldino
    Saving Twitter—A Roundtable (Jim Rutt, Bo Winegard, & Cody Moser)
    "Partial connectivity increases cultural accumulation within groups," by Maxime Derex & Robert Boyd
    The Open Society and Its Enemies, by Karl Popper

    Cody Moser is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences. His research examines the origins of individual and institutional behavior where he uses approaches from complex systems and evolutionary dynamics to study collective problem-solving, systems collapse, cultural evolution, and innovation. Before coming to UC Merced, he studied primatology where he worked with capuchin monkeys, dwarf and mouse lemurs, lorises, and aye-ayes. He obtained a B.S. in Anthropology with minors in statistics and biology from Florida State University, a Master’s in Anthropology from Texas A&M University, and worked for two years with The Music Lab in the Harvard Department of Psychology. He is interested in the history and philosophy of science and has written for a number of popular science venues on the applications of research from his field.

  • Jim talks with Douglas Rushkoff about the ideas in his podcast monologue/Substack post "Why I’m Finally Leaving X and Probably All Social Media." They discuss Douglas's history with social media, the early social internet, Facebook's parasitism of legacy news, the decontextualization of content, The WELL, owning your own words, leaving Facebook in 2013, Jim's social media sabbaticals, the opportunity to create an info agent, the number of daily interruptions, attention-deficit disorder as an adaptive strategy, books versus articles, effects of long-term social media use, the quest for nominal identity, how careful curation improves X, using social media as a professional writer, the organic in-between, strong vs weak social links, the ability of strong links to hold & metabolize, how the internet spawns billionaires, airline subsidies, Girardian mimesis, liberal universal humanism, rebuilding embodied life at the Dunbar number, John Vervaeke's "religion that is not a religion," starting where you are, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    "Why I’m Finally Leaving X and Probably All Social Media," by Douglas Rushkoff
    Team Human, by Douglas Rushkoff
    Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, by Douglas Rushkoff
    The WELL
    JRS EP30 - Nora Bateson on Complexity & the Transcontextual
    JRS EP 184 - Dave Snowden on Managing Complexity in Times of Crisis
    JRS EP 190 - Peter Turchin on Cliodynamics and End Times
    JRS EP 170 - John Vervaeke and Jordan Hall on The Religion That Is Not a Religion

    Named one of the “world’s ten most influential intellectuals” by MIT, Douglas Rushkoff is an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His twenty books include the just-published Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, as well as the recent Team Human, based on his podcast, and the bestsellers Present Shock, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus. He also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Generation Like, The Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His book Coercion won the Marshall McLuhan Award, and the Media Ecology Association honored him with the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.

    Rushkoff’s work explores how different technological environments change our relationship to narrative, money, power, and one another. He coined such concepts as “viral media,” “screenagers,” and “social currency,” and has been a leading voice for applying digital media toward social and economic justice. He is a research fellow of the Institute for the Future, and founder of the Laboratory for Digital Humanism at CUNY/Queens, where he is a Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics. He is a columnist for Medium, and his novels and comics, Ecstasy Club, A.D.D, and Aleister & Adolf, are all being developed for the screen.

  • Jim talks with Robin Hanson about the ideas in his recent Substack writings on human fertility rates. They discuss why the fertility rate is important, fertility decline as a harbinger of societal decline, how income impacts fertility rate, investing in status markers vs fertility, runaway selection effects, copying elites, absolute vs relative levels of wealth, South Korea's low fertility rate, implications of the decline, losing scale economies, pay-as-you-go retirement plans, innovation as linear to population, effects of declining innovation, likely dominant ethnicities of the future, insular high-fertility religious communities, what happens in a scenario of worldwide population decline, the main trends causing low fertility, high-effort parenting standards, legal protections for religious groups, capstone vs cornerstone marriages, learning from the winners, Robin's childhood cult experience, promoting less crazy insular subcultures, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    JRS EP2 Robin Hanson – Decision Making and “The Age of Em”
    Overcoming Bias (Robin's Substack)
    "16 Fertility Scenarios," by Robin Hanson
    JRS EP 170 - John Vervaeke and Jordan Hall on the Religion That Is Not a Religion

    Robin Hanson is an Associate Professor of Economics, and received his Ph.D in 1997 in social sciences from Caltech. He joined George Mason’s economics faculty in 1999 after completing a two-year post-doc at U.C Berkely. His major fields of interest include health policy, regulation, and formal political theory.

  • Jim talks with Joy Hirsch about the findings in her paper "Separable Processes for Live 'In-Person' and Live 'Zoom-like' Faces," which explores how humans respond at the neural level to Zoom calls versus in-person interactions. They discuss the advantages of near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) & how it works, the speed of imaging, brain imaging for social interactions, what fNIRS can do that fMRI can't, previous work on face processing, the design of the experiment, controlling for distance, angles, & presence, the data collection process, longer eye fixation in in-person interactions, increased pupil size compared with Zoom calls, differences in neural activity between groups, EEG findings, decreased neural synchrony in Zoom interactions, what the results might indicate, social media & strength of social links, how this research might be used to make video calls more brain-friendly, and much more. Episode Transcript "Separable Processes for Live 'In-Person' and Live 'Zoom-like' Faces," by Joy Hirsch et. al.Joy Hirsch is the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry, Comparative Medicine, and Neuroscience; and the Director of the Brain Function Laboratory at Yale School of Medicine. The overarching goal of her research is to understand the fundamental neural mechanisms that underlie live interactive social behaviors between individuals. Her laboratory has developed multi-modal two-person neuroimaging technology based on near infrared spectroscopy, fNIRS, configured for real-time live face-to-face and dialogue interactions between humans.

  • Jim talks with recurring guest Ben Goertzel about the ideas in his paper "Generative AI vs. AGI: The Cognitive Strengths and Weaknesses of Modern LLMs." They discuss the exponential acceleration of AI development, why LLMs by themselves won't lead to AGI, OpenAI's integrative system, skyhooking, why LLMs may be useful for achieving AGI, solving LLM hallucinations, why Google hasn't replicated GPT-4, LLM-tuning lore, what differentiates AGI from other forms of AI,  conceptualizing general intelligence, Weaver's theory of open-ended intelligence, multiple intelligence, the Turing test & the Minsky prize, what LLMs aren't good at, the danger of defining AGI as whatever LLMs can't do, the derivative & imitative character of LLMs, banality, doing advanced math with GPT-4, why the human brain doesn't form arbitrary abstractions, the duality of heuristics & abstractions, adding recurrence to transformers, OpenCog Hyperon, using a weighted labeled metagraph, orienting toward self-reflection & self-rewriting, the challenge of scalability of infrastructure, acceleration on non-LLM projects, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    JRS Currents 072: Ben Goertzel on Viable Paths to True AGI
    "Generative AI vs. AGI: The Cognitive Strengths and Weaknesses of Modern LLMs," by Ben Goertzel

    "OpenCog Hyperon: A Framework for AGI at the Human Level and Beyond," by Ben Goertzel et. al.

    Dr. Ben Goertzel is a cross-disciplinary scientist, entrepreneur and author.  Born in Brazil to American parents, in 2020 after a long stretch living in Hong Kong he relocated his primary base of operations to a rural island near Seattle. He leads the SingularityNET Foundation, the OpenCog Foundation, and the AGI Society which runs the annual Artificial General Intelligence conference. Dr. Goertzel’s research work encompasses multiple areas including artificial general intelligence, natural language processing, cognitive science, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, virtual worlds, gaming, parapsychology, theoretical physics and more. He also chairs the futurist nonprofit Humanity+,  serves as Chief Scientist of AI firms  Rejuve, Mindplex, Cogito and Jam Galaxy, all parts of the SingularityNET ecosystem, and serves as keyboardist and vocalist in the Jam Galaxy Band, the first-ever band led by a humanoid robot.

  • Jim talks with Frank Lantz about the ideas in his new book, The Beauty of Games. They discuss Frank's analysis of Benjamin Soule's arcade game Serpentes, reflecting on the enjoyment of games, panicking & choking, levels of understanding, Jim and his wife's experience playing Othello, Hanabi, partnership games, games as an aesthetic form, art vs aesthetics, playing for its own sake, thinking & doing, fulfilling the desire to be a coherent agent in the world, the performance of desire, games as systems, heuristics, strategy in military games, a game as a series of interesting decisions, overindexing on the flow state, going up the ladder of heuristics, maximizing for rate of learning, systems literacy, games as an art form for nerds, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    The Beauty of Games, by Frank Lantz
    Currents 097: Frank Lantz on Network Wars and Games
    Donkeyspace (Frank's Substack)

    Frank Lantz is a game designer with a focus on exploring emerging technology to create new kinds of gameplay. He is the Founding Chair of the NYU Game Center, the co-founder of Area/Code Games (acquired by Zynga in 2011), the co-founder of Everybody House Games and the creator of the game Universal Paperclips. He has taught game design for over 20 years at New York University, Parsons School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts and has created numerous influential talks and writings on the subject of games.

  • Jim talks with C. Owen Paepke in part three of a mini-series on the No Labels potential third-party presidential campaign. They discuss Owen's early chemistry career, being without a political party, the situation of voting against instead of for candidates, the distribution of conservatism between parties over time, the Ross Perot 1992 campaign, the nomination of Antonin Scalia, primaries as the root of all partisan evil, the 2022 elections, the percentage of voters who want neither Biden nor Trump, the value of vetoing spending bills, solving the electrical storage problem, No Labels' commitment to pulling a spoiler candidate, what spoiling means, No Labels' visibility problem, possible candidates, the timing of the convention, the desire to avoid gamesmanship, recent Biden vs Trump polls, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    The Purple Presidency: How Voters Can Reclaim the White House for Bipartisan Governance, by Owen Paepke
    EP 204 Matt Bennett on the Case Against No Labels

    EP 206 Ryan Clancy on No Labels

    C. Owen Paepke is the author of The Evolution of Progress (named best nonfiction book of 1993 by NPR’s Talk of the Nation) and the three-volume series The Seinfeld Election, which was praised by reviewers as “a provocative investigation into the American political divide.” He has written and spoken widely on technology and science policy, including a keynote address on the future of science to the fiftieth-anniversary meeting of the Federation of American Scientists and a speech on the prospects for technological and economic progress at the Smithsonian Institution. He lives in Arizona, where he practiced for many years as an attorney specializing in antitrust and intellectual property, and is a graduate of Stanford and the University of Chicago.

  • Jim talks with Jack Visnjic, aka Lantern Jack, about Polybius's theory of anacyclosis and cyclical history. They discuss the origins of the name Lantern Jack, cyclical patterns in history, a one-minute history of the first millennium B.C., public gain vs private gain, Polybius's concept of anacyclosis, great man theory vs processes & institutions, examples of anacyclosis, whether Rome was ever a democracy, critiques of anacyclosis, corruption & collective reaction, imperialistic growth, the Glorious Revolution in 1688, why Spain & France didn't transition to aristocracy, anacyclosis in the modern world, Polybius's influence on the Founding Fathers of the U.S., the impressiveness of the Founding Fathers, mobocracy, fighting to the death over second- and third-order issues, the crisis epoch, factional division as a feature not a bug, and much more.

    Episode Transcript
    Ancient Greece Declassified (Podcast)
    Lantern Jack on YouTube
    The Invention of Duty: Stoicism as Deontology, by Jack Visnjic
    JRS EP 190 - Peter Turchin on Cliodynamics and End Times


    Jack Visnjic is a classicist and historian of philosophy interested in uncovering long-term patterns in history. He earned his PhD from Princeton University with a dissertation on the origins of the notion of moral duty. He later expanded that project into a book titled The Invention of Duty: Stoicism as Deontology. For several years he was director of research at the Anacyclosis Institute, a think tank which seeks to understand the trajectory of modern democracy by studying the long history of democracies. And his biggest passion is his podcast Ancient Greece Declassified, through which he strives to make the Classics accessible and relevant to a broad audience.