EP 182 Brad DeLong on An Economic History of the 20th Century

Jim talks with Brad DeLong about his book Slouching Toward Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century. They discuss how everything changed around 1870, the idea of a polycrisis, Friedrich von Hayek’s affirmation of the market system, the calculation problem, Karl Polanyi’s response, a quantitative index of technological knowledge, the pace of growth, the necessity of a grand narrative, Malthusianism, the lead-up to the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the industrial research lab, the Edison-Tesla fight, science as an institution, the transition away from force & fraud dominance, theories about the rise of global empires, communities of engineering practice, causes of World War I, Max Weber’s German chauvinism, 30 glorious years of social democracy, the Macintosh launch commercial & the neoliberal turn, the evaporation of cultural conservatism, the liminal age, and much more.
Brad DeLong is a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley. He was a deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton Administration. He is a New York Times instant bestselling author, for Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century, which was called: “magisterial” by Paul Krugman, “required reading” by Larry Summers, “immense scope and depth” by Diane Coyle, and “impressive… written with wit and style and a formidable command of detail” by Ryan Avent. He has been too online since 1995, now in the form of a SubStack, formerly at TypePad.

Currents 087: Shivanshu Purohit on Open-Source Generative AI

Jim talks with Shivanshu Purohit about the world of open-source AI models and a significant open-source LLM coming soon from Stability AI and EleutherAI. They discuss the reasons for creating open-source models, the release of Facebook’s LLaMA model, the black box nature of current models, the scientific mystery of how they really work, an opportunity for liberal arts majors, OpenAI’s new plugin architecture, the analogy of the PC business around 1981, creating GPT-Neo & GPT-NeoX, the balance between data & architecture, the number of parameters in GPT-4, order of training’s non-effect on memorization, phase changes due to scaling, Stability AI and EleutherAI’s new collaboration & its specs, tradeoffs in price & size, the question of guardrails, reinforcement learning from human feedback, the missing economic model of generative AI, necessary hardware for the new suite, OpenAI’s decreasing openness, Jim’s commitment to help fund an open-source reinforcement learning dataset, the status of GPT-5 & other coming developments, and much more.

Shivanshu Purohit is head of engineering at Eleuther AI and a research engineer at Stability AI, the creators of Stable Diffusion.

EP 181 Forrest Landry Part 1: AI Risk

Forrest Landry
Jim talks with recurring guest Forrest Landry about his arguments that continued AI development poses certain catastrophic risk to humanity. They discuss AI versus advanced planning systems (APS), the release of GPT-4, emergent intelligence from modest components, whether deep learning alone will produce AGI, Rice’s theorem & the impossibility of predicting alignment, the likelihood that humans try to generalize AI, why the upside of AGI is an illusion, agency vs intelligence, instrumental convergence, implicit agency, deterministic chaos, theories of physics as theories of measurement, the relationship between human desire and AI tools, an analogy with human-animal relations, recognizing & avoiding multipolar traps, an environment increasingly hostile to humans, technology & toxicity, short-term vs long-term risks, why there’s so much disagreement about AI risk, the substrate needs hypothesis, an inexorable long-term convergence process, why the only solution is avoiding the cycle, a boiling frog scenario, the displacement of humans, the necessity of understanding evolution, economic decoupling, non-transactional choices, the Forward Great Filter answer to the Fermi paradox, and much more.

Forrest Landry is a philosopher, writer, researcher, scientist, engineer, craftsman, and teacher focused on metaphysics, the manner in which software applications, tools, and techniques influence the design and management of very large scale complex systems, and the thriving of all forms of life on this planet. Forrest is also the founder and CEO of Magic Flight, a third-generation master woodworker who found that he had a unique set of skills in large-scale software systems design. Which led him to work in the production of several federal classified and unclassified systems, including various FBI investigative projects, TSC, IDW, DARPA, the Library of Congress Congressional Records System, and many others.

Currents 086: Monica Anderson on Bubble City

Jim talks with Monica Anderson about her paper “Bubble City Design Proposal: A Twitter Alternative Which Is Not a Social Medium.” They discuss the origins of the Bubble City idea, its architecture, quenching the flood of social media information, only seeing the messages you want, research bots, the difference between a bubble and a Slack channel, fine-tuning bubbles, law enforcement, filtering, the place of curators, federating feeds into the system, how the system supports itself financially, how identity is handled, viscosity, the Pacer speed control, the clickbait problem, trusted streams, Google Wave, how LLMs are changing programming, version changes to Bubble City, Understanding Machine One, a call for fundraising, and much more.

Monica Anderson is an independent AI researcher and ex-Googler operating from Silicon Valley. Her company Syntience, Inc. has researched computer-based Natural Language Understanding since Jan 1, 2001.

Currents 085: Jonny Miller on Self-Unfoldment

Jim has a wide-ranging conversation with Jonny Miller about self-development and emotional resilience. They discuss being a natural human, self-help as deconditioning, self-unfoldment, ecologies of practices, giving power back to the individual, Jamie Wheal’s hedonic engineering, pushing outside the window of tolerance, emotional anti-fragility, facilitated breath repatterning, affirming anger, principles of decision-making, decision paralysis, self-destructive patterns in relationships, common barriers to communication, surrendering to grief, conditions of play, preserving unscheduled time, critiquing “mental health,” the importance & decline of friendship, sparring in schools, the resistance to unproductive activity, video games & disembodiment, the Nervous System Mastery course, and much more.

Jonny Miller is a Nervous System Specialist and host of the Curious Humans podcast. He’s spent cumulatively thousands of hours researching, training & mentoring high-performers and professionals — from the CEO of a rocket ship company to startup founders recovering from burnout as well as busy parents, early-stage solopreneurs & school-teachers.

Currents 084: Mirta Galesic on Global Collective Behavior

Jim talks with Mirta Galesic about the ideas in her co-authored paper “Stewardship of Global Collective Behavior.” They discuss the meaning of collective behavior, a crisis in network structures, the analogy of the printing press, consequences of person-to-person communication, the capacity for collective forgetting, unpredictable developments in chatbots, bottom-up vs top-down influence, advertising-driven information ecosystems, emergent knobs in social media design, ChatGPT’s political bias, the widespread trust in algorithms, suggestions for reforming Twitter, information decay, viscosity, opportunities & dangers of mass surveillance data, the Twitter Files, free speech & cultural evolution, and much more.

Mirta Galesic is a Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and External Faculty at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, Austria, as well as the Vermont Complex Systems Center, UVM. She is also an Associate Researcher at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy and a non-resident system thinking expert at the United States Institute of Peace. She studies how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with social and physical environments to produce seemingly complex social phenomena. Her projects focus on developing empirically grounded computational models of social judgments, social learning, collective problem solving, and opinion dynamics. She is also interested in how people understand and cope with the uncertainty and complexity inherent in many everyday decisions.

EP 180 Lynne Kiesling on the Electrical Grid

Jim talks with Lynne Kiesling about the electrical grid and what could and should change in its architecture in the years to come. They discuss electricity as a product, the move away from centralized control rooms, energy storage as the holy grail, base load vs peak load, distributed & intermittent energy resources, moving power to & from the grid, temporal patterns of supply & usage, varying demand to meet supply, programming thermostats, digitization of the electric grid, how rooftop solar systems coordinate with the grid, distributed energy resource management systems, advancements in storage, cyberattacks & solar flares, the Transactive Energy Service System (TESS), machine learning in energy bidding, the challenge of testing complex systems, the Olympic Peninsula Testbed Project, responding to events like the Great Texas Freeze of 2021, institutional design in a new technological landscape, wholesale power generation, power law distributions, and much more.

Lynne Kiesling is an economist focusing on regulation, market design, and the economics of digitization and smart grid technologies in the electricity industry. She is a Research Professor in the School of Engineering, Design and Computing at the University of Colorado-Denver, and Co-Director of the Institute for Regulatory Law & Economics. Lynne also provides advisory and analytical services as the President of Knowledge Problem LLC, and is an Adjunct Professor in the Masters of Science in Energy and Sustainability program at Northwestern University. In addition to her academic research, she is currently a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee, has served as a member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Smart Grid Advisory Committee, and is an emerita member of the GridWise Architecture Council. Her academic background includes a B.S. in Economics from Miami University (Ohio) and a Ph.D. in Economics from Northwestern University.

Currents 083: Joscha Bach on Synthetic Intelligence

Jim talks with Joscha Bach about current and future developments in the generative AI space. They discuss the skepticism of the press, small productive applications, questions about intellectual property rights, confabulation in human thinking, nanny rails, 3 approaches to AI alignment, Aquinas’s 7 virtues, issues of consciousness-like agency, love as an answer to the alignment problem, the difficulty with fairness, serving shared sacredness, dealing with entropy, integrated information theory & its incompatibility with the Church-Turing thesis, neural Darwinism, a point where extrapolation & interpolation become the same, building an AI artist, free will, the capacity of human memory, consciousness as a conductor, the scaling hypothesis in AGI, making the system learn from its own thoughts, computation as a rewrite system, neurons as animals, and much more.

Joscha Bach is a cognitive scientist working for MIT Media Lab and the Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. He earned his Ph.D. in cognitive science from the University of Osnabrück, Germany, and has built computational models of motivated decision making, perception, categorization, and concept-formation. He is especially interested in the philosophy of AI and in the augmentation of the human mind.

EP 179 Gregg Henriques Part 3: Addressing the Enlightenment Gap

Gregg Henriques

Jim talks with Gregg Henriques in the third and final part of a series on his book A New Synthesis for Solving the Problem of Psychology: Addressing the Enlightenment Gap. They discuss the concept of justification, replacing “justice” with “justification,” behavioral investment theory, John Vervaeke’s recursive relevance realization, 6 principles of animal mindedness, making a living, animals as functional behavioral investors, evolution of mental behavior in 4 stages, the P − M => E learning control theory, emotion vs valence, framing an architecture of human mind, layers of working memory, 3 types of mind, what it is like to be, the 2-step model of consciousness, the Aristotelian soul, integrated information theory, global worskpace theory, the unknown mechanisms of neurocognitive causation, Unified Theory of Knowledge, the influence matrix, Vervaeke’s 4P/3R meta-theory, integrating independent meta-theories, Timothy Leary’s interpersonal circumplex, the origin of gender roles, the 5-part map of mind, what a person is, JII (justification, influence, influence) dynamics & the unconscious, 4 functional contexts of justification, bullshit as a problem of social epistemology, evolution of the culture-person plane, whether post-modernism is really an epoch, the entire structure in recap, and much more.

Listeners may be interested to know that Gregg is organizing a conference. Consistent with his book, it is called Consilience: Unifying Knowledge and Orienting Toward a Wisdom Commons. It will be held online March 17 and 18th. It is a Zoom event, and free to the public. Jim will be talking about Game B, and will be joined by Jordan Hall. John Vervaeke will give the keynote. And there will be over 40 presentations by many folks who have been featured on the Jim Rutt Show. Links below:

Dr. Gregg Henriques is Professor of Graduate Psychology at James Madison University in the Combined Doctoral Program in Clinical and School Psychology. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Vermont and did his post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a theoretical psychologist and has developed the “Unified Theory of Knowledge,” which is a consilient scientific humanistic worldview to unify psychology. He is the author of A New Unified Theory of Psychology (Springer, 2011), and A New Synthesis for Solving the Problem of Psychology: Addressing the Enlightenment Gap (Palgrave McMillian, November 2022). His scholarly work has been published in the field’s best journals, and he has developed a popular blog on Psychology Today, Theory of Knowledge, which has received over eight million views. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the 2022 President of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration, and founded the Theory of Knowledge academic society.

Currents 082: Dan Shipper on Practical Applications of GPT-3

Jim talks with Dan Shipper about practical uses of GPT-3 and ChatGPT at the personal scale. They discuss how Dan started playing with these tools, the feeling of new generative AIs, GPT-3 vs ChatGPT, writing a screenplay using ChatGPT, using GPT-3 to analyze journal entries, circumventing the context window limitation, GPT-3 as a journaling tool, how ChatGPT does embedding, the coming market for chatbot personas, the value of guardrails, the monetary cost of using GPT-3, solving the organizational problems of note-taking, Stephen Reid’s knowledge-graph of this podcast, the invention of the graphic web browser & the frozen accidents of HTTP & HTML, meta-prompts & data pipelines, how Yohei Nakajima eliminates repetitive tasks using LLMs, and much more.

Dan Shipper is the CEO and co-founder of Every, a daily newsletter on business, AI, and personal development read by almost 75,000 founders, operators, and investors. Previously he was the CEO and co-founder of Firefly, an enterprise software company that he sold to Pegasystems. He writes a weekly at column at Every called Chain of Thought where he covers AI, tools for thought, and the psychology of work.