With the advent of social media and the internet the entire landscape of speech has changed. For as long as the concept of freedom of speech it has always been assumed that more speech was better, but what if we have finally reached the point where there can be too much speech, that in fact the quantity of speech is now such that it acts as a form of censorship?
I spend this episode commenting on Scott Alexander’s epic Meditations on Moloch post. In particular I look at the way his conception of Moloch interacts with religion and Fermi’s paradox.
My annual prediction episode, of course since I have a set of permanent predictions, mostly I'm looking at whether 2017 brought any of them any closer to completion. There was some progress with AI, and with nuclear war getting more likely, but nothing earth-shattering.
On top of the raw predictions I explain why the future is dominated by Black swans and being antifragile is the only way to deal with unexpected and impactful events because the future is not going to go the way we think it will.
I revisit Fermi's Paradox and my explanation for it, in light of the second edition of Stephen Webb's "If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens...Where Is Everybody? Seventy-Five Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life". I find several places, where in my opinion Webb shows a lack of imagination. Then as a Christmas gift to myself I explain how too great of a focus on social justice may be keeping us from getting off of our own planet.
In this episode I examine the current spike in allegations of sexual harassment, with the attendant consequences. And while totally agreeing that it's a big problem I worry that people might be getting swept into a mania, where innocent people might be suffering.
Of course this is not something unheard of. Back in 1841 Charles Mackay wrote a book about it, and from that day to this, even though the severity may have decreased we still suffer from the occasional witch hunt. Is the current spate of allegations in any danger of drifting into that territory?
Rationality: AI to Zombies is a book with an ideology, but how effective is it. While I don't especially agree that Bayesian Rationality is a better individual ideology than a religion like Christianity, even if it were, how applicable is it to the average individual, or even the below average individual. For an ideology to be successful, it can't just appeal to the elites. It has to be something that can be understood and applied at all levels. This episode dives into the way in which religion already fills that role.
I recently finished the book Rationality: AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky, and this episode is the first part of my review.
In this episode I spend most of the time comparing rationality, as championed by Yudkowsky with Antifragility as championed by Taleb. In particular I take issue with Yudkowsky's focus on "winning" and also the lake of any methodology for dealing with the difference between rare outcomes with large impacts and rare outcomes with minimal impact.
Technology solves a lot of our problems, this is something everyone knows. But it also creates a lot of problems, though generally those problems are more subtle and take longer to manifest, though in the end there is no law which says that the benefits provided technology have to outweigh the problems created by it.
In this episode I specifically look at the idea of accumulated negative mutations, and the promises and dangers of germline/genetic engineering.
In this episode I talk about a recent article I encountered which explored the orthodox-progressive divide in Mormonism. I talk about how, while excellent, the article may not have gone far enough. I provide some additional examples of things which really worry me, and then go on to discuss some of the issues with diversity in the wider world.
In chess notation a “?!” indicates a speculative attempt to complicate. A move that throws a wrench into things, and mostly comes up when someone is losing and they hope by creating some chaos they can turn things around. The same thing happens historically, desperate attempts to take a losing position, throw in some chaos and turn it into a winning position. In this episode we examine how this took place immediately preceding the French Revolution, and how it may be about to take place again in an eerily similar fashion.
There are lots of very smart people who tell us we don't have to worry about the national debt, despite the fact that it recently passed $20 trillion. Is this true, are we over-reacting? Or is this the classic case of deciding that because something is not a problem now that it will never be a problem? The US can borrow at historically low rates, there are countries worse than us, but what is the endgame? How long can we keep this up?
There are many trends which shape our world and the political landscape. These trends can either be getting better or getting worse (and often that depends on the person) or than can stay the same.
Sometimes this the metaphor of a pendulum is used. Things go one way, until they hit some kind of maximum and then they reverse direction. Is there any evidence current events are reaching some kind of maximum, or do we still have a long way to go.
There are only two paths to potential salvation: Religion and Science. Most people have placed their bets on science, but they may be overlooking some of the downsides attendant with relying on science, primarily the fact that science doesn't care about things like morality or kindness. And if you really have decided that we're going to be saved through science then you have to grapple with these downsides.
Featuring another appearance by Fermi's Paradox...
In this episode I tell the story of the Melanesian Cargo Cults, and I after relating some of the ways this story has been used as a cautionary tale by people in the past, I turn it on it's head and use it to illustrate how close members are to prophets and how close prophets are to God. Consider this my attempt at a General Conference episode.
In this episode I continue to examine the Moderate Manifesto, and how even the recommendations of moderation end up being pretty conservative. Specifically, this time around I look at the seven assumptions of centrism, and in most cases the left is far more guilty of extremism than the right.
In this episode I talk about DACA, how it may not be quite as hateful as people make it out to be, and how it is especially not kicking someone while they're down or dancing in the endzone as a continuation of the last episode. From there I discuss the Moderate Manifesto, and how all of the things the author advocates for as a moderate are actually fairly conservative these days. Finally another appeal to slow things down.
Is there a cold civil war taking place? If so which side is right? Or if they both have some truth and some good people how do we limit the damage from this war? How do we keep the cold civil war from turning into a hot civil war? These are the questions we grapple in this episode, using the recent events in Charlottesville as an example.
My aunt directed me to an article about an appalling video. It seems like more and more, what was unimaginable 20 years ago is now completely normal. The question is why? What is the underlying motivation behind the appalling video and things like it?
Rather than covering one subject exhaustively I decided to do a brief overview of several topics:
I have a tendency to cover a wide variety of topics, but what's the common theme. Here I revisit a subject I haven't touched on since the very first episode. What's the common theme for this podcast? How would you describe the podcast to someone who hasn't heard it. I know a lot of you out there are waiting on a pith description before you recommend it and this is your chance.
In the final episode of the Mormonism and AI series I finally really dive into the religious implications of considering life a test of morality in a way similar to what must be done with AIs. As part of that I consider longstanding objections to religion and Christianity in particular like the problems of evil, suffering and Hell. Concluding that if you're really testing for morality all of those have to exist.
Taking things up from where I left them at the end of the last episode I go into more detail about the various ways you might try to ensure that a conscious AI is moral, and examine the problems each of them might experience. In particular I examine how an AI might twist instructions in a way that is ultimately harmful.
I return to the subject of Mormonism and Artificial Intelligence, though this time in a more comprehensive fashion. This is the first part which covers the current state of AI, the challenges it already presents and how it relates to the future of AI. As it turns out AI is already doing things which cannot be explained and that's only going to get worse. In this episode I lay out why AI might be dangerous and in the next I'll talk about what to do about it, and how that relates to Mormonism.
Visions of the future end up in one of three categories. Either the future will be awesome, or it will basically be the same (TV, couches and central air will all still exist) or the world will end, and we’ll all be dead. What this episode points out is that far more likely than the world ending suddenly and irrevocably, is the world continuing, but going through some kind of crisis. Which means we're still alive but it's neither awesome, nor the same, and it is all the worse because we didn't prepare.
Social media is one of the biggest battlefields in the current divisive cultural war, but how much does social media itself contribute to the divisiveness? By creating an entirely new framework for interacting which allows people to find like minded individuals easier than ever before social media has created an environment more prone to anger and rage than any environment humanity has had to deal with before.