Currents 090: BJ Campbell and Patrick Ryan on Egregores

Jim talks with BJ Campbell and Patrick Ryan about understanding the present moment through the concept of egregores. They discuss the meaning of the term, its roots in early occultism, social media as the fertile ground, an analogy with neural nets, measuring egregores with grammar velocity, LLMs as a Broca’s area for tech, how guns have won the culture war, translating word frequency distributions into psychological profiles, one grand egregore vs multiple competitive egregores, NPC speedrunning, experiments in influence automation, QAnon & piggybacking on reality, egregore update rates, Shiri’s scissor, LLMs as necromancy, multipolar traps, the impedance matching problem, an apex predator egregore, and much more.

BJ Campbell is a licensed professional civil engineer and practicing hydrologist who consults in the land development and environmental industries. In addition to his Substack Handwaving Freakoutery, he writes for Open Source Defense, Quillette, and Recoil Magazine.

Patrick Ryan is a seasoned programmer with over 20 years of experience in the full web stack development field, a career which concluded at Hulu. He is also an AI warfare specialist and provided valuable assistance to Zach Vorheis, a Google whistleblower, during the Department of Justice’s anti-trust case against Google. His knowledge and experience are sought after by diverse organizations, including defense, think tanks, and policy outfits. He has provided guidance on measuring existential risk where AI warfare and infrastructure weakness intersect, as well as for a White House Coronavirus Task force.