EP138 W. Brian Arthur on the Nature of Technology

Brian Arthur

W. Brian Arthur & Jim have a wide-ranging talk about his book, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves. They talk about the surprisingly little work on the nature of technology, invention vs innovation, understanding technology as harnessed phenomena, human purpose, the fluid relationship between economies & tech, technology as building on existing components, multi=level evolutionary dynamics in tech, theory of invention & problem solving, domains of technology, relationship between tech & science, tech density & modularity, geographic clusters of tech, knowledge vs deep craft, and more.

W. Brian Arthur is an economist and complexity thinker. He is best known for his work on network effects locking markets in to the domination of a single player. He is also one of the pioneers of the science of complexity—the science of how patterns and structures self-organize. He is a member of the Founders Society of the Santa Fe Institute and in 1988 ran its first research program. He has served on SFI’s Science Board for 18 years and its Board of Trustees for 10 years, and is currently External Professor at SFI. He held the Morrison Chair of Economics and Population Studies at Stanford from 1983 to 1996. He has degrees in operations research, economics, mathematics, and electrical engineering.

Currents 039: Alexander Beiner on Psychedelic Turf Wars

Alexander Beiner & Jim have a wide-ranging talk about Beiner’s recent essay “Who’s in Charge of Psilocybin?”. They discuss the state of play regarding psilocybin’s legality, its effectiveness in therapeutic contexts, therapeutic versus personal-growth uses, the value and limitations of clinical trials, metaphors for psychedelics risk, the differences between synthesized and natural-grown psilocybin, COMPASS Pathways’ big patent grab and its threat to psilocybin access, the battle for narrative control around psychedelics, money-on-money return as an engine of Game A, psychedelic sensemaking, psychedelics as a Game B psychotechnology, an LSD-fuelled skiing trip, an idea for a business, and much more.

Alexander Beiner is a writer, facilitator and cultural commentator. As a co-founder of Rebel Wisdom, he leads on Rebel Wisdom’s written content and live experiences, and is particularly focused in finding new ways of having in-person conversations around the most essential and challenging ideas. He is also one of the directors of Breaking Convention, Europe’s largest conference on psychedelic science and culture. His work on psychedelic culture has been published in the 2016 book Neurotransmissions, as well as The Guardian. He also writes fiction and plays traditional Irish music.

Currents 038: Connor Leahy on Artificial Intelligence

Connor Leahy continues his conversion with Jim in this wide-ranging chat about his new GPT-J model, the background & approach of Aleph Alpha, attention in AI, our food maximizer & AGI risk, narrow algorithm impacts, proto-AGI, risk thresholds & timelines, safeguard complexities, slow vs fast AI take-off, Connor’s brilliantly strange Counting Consciousness series, biological blockchain & the hard problem of trust, the AI consciousness diversity question, and more.

Connor Leahy is an AI Researcher at German startup Aleph Alpha and founding member of the loose AI research collective EleutherAI. Eleuther is best known for their ongoing efforts to produce a full open source GPT-3 sized language model. Connor currently researches large, general purpose language models and how to align them to human values.