This week we talk about the intersections of large language models, the golden age of television and its storytelling mishaps, making one’s way through the weirding of the labor economy, and much more with two of my favorite Gen X science fiction aficionados, OG podcaster KMO and our mutual friend Kevin Arthur Wohlmut. In this episode —a standalone continuation to my recent appearance on The KMO Show, we skip like a stone across mentions of every Star Trek series, the collapse of narratives and the social fabric, Westworld HBO, Star Wars Mandalorian vs. Andor vs. Rebels, chatGPT, Blade Runner 2049, Black Mirror, H.P. Lovecraft, the Sheldrake-Abraham-McKenna Trialogues, Charles Stross’ Accelerando, Adventure Time, Stanislav Grof’s LSD psychotherapy, Francisco Varela, Blake Lemoine’s meltdown over Google LaMDA, Integrated Information Theory, biosemiotics, Douglas Hofstadter, Max Tegmarck, Erik Davis, Peter Watts, The Psychedelic Salon, Melanie Mitchell, The Teafaerie, Kevin Kelly, consilience in science, Fight Club, and more…
Or, if you prefer, here’s a rundown of the episode generated by A.I. c/o my friends at Podium.page:
In this episode, I explore an ambitious and well-connected conversation with guests KMO, a seasoned podcaster, and Kevin Walnut [sic], a close friend and supporter of the arts in Santa Fe. We dive deep into their thoughts on the social epistemology crisis, science fiction, deep fakes, and ontology. Additionally, we discuss their opinions on the Star Trek franchise, particularly their critiques of the first two seasons of Star Trek: Picard and Discovery. Through this engaging conversation, we examine the impact of storytelling and the evolution of science fiction in modern culture. We also explore the relationship between identity, media, and artificial intelligence, as well as the ethical implications of creating sentient artificial general intelligence (AGI) and the philosophical questions surrounding AI's impact on society and human existence. Join us for a thought-provoking and in-depth discussion on a variety of topics that will leave you questioning the future of humanity and our relationship with technology.
✨Before we get started, three big announcements!
* I am leaving the Santa Fe Institute, in part to write a very ambitious book about technology, art, imagination, and Jurassic Park. You can be a part of the early discussion around this project by joining the Future Fossils Book Club’s Jurassic Park live calls— the first of which will be on Saturday, 29 April —open to Substack and Patreon supporters:
* Catch me in a Twitter Space with Nxt Museum on Monday 17 April at 11 am PST on a panel discussing “Creative Misuse of Technology” with Minne Atairu, Parag Mital, Caroline Sinders, and hosts Jesse Damiani and Charlotte Kent.
* I’m back in Austin this October to play the Astronox Festival at Apache Pass! Check out this amazing lineup on which I appear alongside Juno Reactor, Entheogenic, Goopsteppa, DRRTYWULVZ, and many more great artists!
✨Support Future Fossils:
Subscribe anywhere you go for podcastsSubscribe to the podcast PLUS essays, music, and news onSubstackorPatreon.Buy my original paintings or commission new work.Buy my music on Bandcamp! (This episode features “A Better Trip” from my recent live album by the same name.)Or if you’re into lo-fi audio, followmeandmy listening recommendationson Spotify.This conversation continues with lively and respectful interactionevery single dayinthe members-only Future Fossils Facebook GroupandDiscord server.Join us!Episode cover art by KMO and a whole bouquet of digital image manipulation apps.
@futurefossils on Venmo$manfredmacx on CashAppmichaelgarfield on PayPal
•These show notes and the transcript were made possible with Podium.Page, a very cool new AI service I’m happy to endorse. Sign up hereand get three free hours and 50% off your first month.
•BioTech Life Sciencesmakes anti-aging and performance enhancement formulas that work directly at the level of cellular nutrition, both for ingestion and direct topical application.I’m a firm believer in keeping NAD+ levels up and their skin solution helped me erase a year of pandemic burnout from my face.
•Help regulate stress, get better sleep, recover from exercise, and/or stay alert and focused without stimulants, with theApollo Neurowearable.I have one and while I don’t wear it all the time, when I do it’s sober healthy drugs.
•Musicians: let me recommend you get yourself aJamstik Studio, the coolest MIDI guitar I’ve ever played.I LOVE mine. You can hear it playing all the synths onmy song aboutJurassic Park.
KMO Show S01 E01 - 001 - Michael Garfield and Kevin Wohlmut
An Edifying Thought on AI by Charles Eisenstein
In Defense of Star Trek: Picard & Discovery by Michael Garfield
Improvising Out of Algorithmic Isolation by Michael Garfield
AI and the Transformation of the Human Spirit by Steven Hales(and yes I know it’s on Quillette, and no I don’t think this automatically disqualifies it)
Future Fossils Book Club #1: Blindsight by Peter Watts
FF 116 - The Next Ten Billion Years: Ugo Bardi & John Michael Greer as read by Kevin Arthur Wohlmut
✨Related Recent Future Fossils Episodes:
FF 198 - Tadaaki Hozumi on Japanese Esotericism, Aliens, Land Spirits, & The Singularity (Part 2)
FF 195 - A.I. Art: An Emergency Panel with Julian Picaza, Evo Heyning, Micah Daigle, Jamie Curcio, & Topher Sipes
FF 187 - Fear & Loathing on the Electronic Frontier with Kevin Welch & David Hensley of EFF-Austin
FF 178 - Chris Ryan on Exhuming The Human from Our Eldritch Institutions
FF 175 - C. Thi Nguyen on The Seductions of Clarity, Weaponized Games, and Agency as Art
0:15:45 - The Substance of Philosophy (58 Seconds)
0:24:45 - Complicated TV Narratives and the Internet (104 Seconds)
0:30:54 - Humans vs Hosts in Westworld (81 Seconds)
0:38:09 - Philosophical Zombies and Artificial Intelligence (89 Seconds)
0:43:00 - Popular Franchises Themes (71 Seconds)
1:03:27 - Reflections on a Changing Media Landscape (89 Seconds)
1:10:45 - The Pathology of Selective Evidence (92 Seconds)
1:16:32 - Externalizing Trauma Through Technology (131 Seconds)
1:24:51 - From Snow Maker to Thouandsaire (43 Seconds)
1:36:48 - The Impact of Boomer Parenting (126 Seconds)
Social Epistemology, Science Fiction, Deep Fakes, Ontology, Star Trek, Artificial Intelligence, AI Impact, Sentient AGI, Human-Machine Interconnectivity, Consciousness Theory, Westworld, Blade Runner 2049, AI in Economy, AI Companion Chatbots, Unconventional Career Path, AI and Education, AI Content Creation, AI in Media, Turing Test
✨UNEDITED machine-generated transcript generated by podium.page:
Five four three two one. Go. So it's not like Wayne's world where you say the two and the one silently. Now, Greetings future fossils.
Welcome to episode two hundred and one of the podcast that explores our place in time I'm your host, Michael Garfield. And this is one of these extra juicy and delicious episodes of the show where I really ratcheted up with our guests and provide you one of these singularity is near kind of ever everything is connected to everything, self organized criticality right at the edge of chaos conversations, deeply embedded in chapel parallel where suddenly the invisible architect picture of our cosmos starts to make itself apparent through the glass bead game of conversation. And I am that I get to share it with you. Our guests this week are KMO, one of the most seasoned and well researched and experienced podcasters that I know. Somebody whose show the Sea Realm was running all the way back in two thousand six, I found him through Eric Davis, who I think most of you know, and I've had on the show a number of times already. And also Kevin Walnut, who is a close friend of mine here in Santa Fe, a just incredible human being, he's probably the strongest single supporter of music that I'm aware of, you know, as far as local scenes are concerned and and supporting people's music online and helping get the word out. He's been instrumental to my family and I am getting ourselves situated here all the way back to when I visited Santa Fe in two thousand eighteen to participate in the Santa Fe Institute's Interplanetary Festival and recorded conversations on that trip John David Ebert and Michael Aaron Cummins. And Ike used so June. About hyper modernity, a two part episode one zero four and one zero five. I highly recommend going back to that, which is really the last time possibly I had a conversation just this incredibly ambitious on the show.
But first, I want to announce a couple things. One is that I have left the Santa Fe Institute. The other podcast that I have been hosting for them for the last three and a half years, Complexity Podcast, which is substantially more popular in future fossils due to its institutional affiliation is coming to a close, I'm recording one more episode with SFI president David Krakauer next week in which I'm gonna be talking about my upcoming book project. And that episode actually is conjoined with the big announcement that I have for members of the Future Fossil's listening audience and and paid supporters, which is, of course, the Jurassic Park Book Club that starts On April twenty ninth, we're gonna host the first of two video calls where I'm gonna dive deep into the science and philosophy Michael Creighton's most popular work of fiction and its impact on culture and society over the thirty three years since its publication. And then I'm gonna start picking up as many of the podcasts that I had scheduled for complexity and had to cancel upon my departure from SFI. And basically fuse the two shows.
And I think a lot of you saw this coming. Future fossils is going to level up and become a much more scientific podcast. As I prepare and research the book that I'm writing about Jurassic Park and its legacy and the relationship It has to ILM and SFI and the Institute of Eco Technics. And all of these other visionary projects that sprouted in the eighties and nineties to transition from the analog to the digital the collapse of the boundaries between the real and the virtual, the human and the non human worlds, it's gonna be a very very ambitious book and a very very ambitious book club. And I hope that you will get in there because obviously now I am out in the rain as an independent producer and very much need can benefit from and am deeply grateful for your support for this work in order to make things happen and in order to keep my family fed, get the lights on here with future fossils. So with that, I wanna thank all of the new supporters of the show that have crawled out of the woodwork over the last few weeks, including Raefsler Oingo, Brian in the archaeologist, Philip Rice, Gerald Bilak, Jamie Curcio, Jeff Hanson who bought my music, Kuaime, Mary Castello, VR squared, Nastia teaches, community health com, Ed Mulder, Cody Couiac, bought my music, Simon Heiduke, amazing visionary artist. I recommend you check out, Kayla Peters. Yeah. All of you, I just wow. Thank you so much. It's gonna be a complete melee in this book club. I'm super excited to meet you all. I will send out details about the call details for the twenty ninth sometime in the next few days via a sub tag in Patreon.
The amount of support that I've received through this transition has been incredible and it's empowering me to do wonderful things for you such as the recently released secret videos of the life sets I performed with comedian Shane Moss supporting him, opening for him here in Santa Fe. His two sold out shows at the Jean Coutu cinema where did the cyber guitar performances. And if you're a subscriber, you can watch me goofing off with my pedal board. There's a ton of material. I'm gonna continue to do that. I've got a lot of really exciting concerts coming up in the next few months that we're gonna get large group and also solo performance recordings from and I'm gonna make those available in a much more resplendent way to supporters as well as the soundtrack to Mark Nelson of the Institute of Eco Technics, his UC San Diego, Art Museum, exhibit retrospective looking at BioSphere two. I'm doing music for that and that's dropping. The the opening of that event is April twenty seventh. There's gonna be a live zoom event for that and then I'm gonna push the music out as well for that.
So, yeah, thank you all. I really, really appreciate you listening to the show. I am excited to share this episode with you. KMO is just a trove. Of insight and experience. I mean, he's like a perfect entry into the digital history museum that this show was predicated upon. So with that and also, of course, Kevin Willett is just magnificent. And for the record, stick around at the end of the conversation. We have some additional pieces about AI, and I think you're gonna really enjoy it. And yeah, thank you. Here we go. Alright. Cool.
Well, we just had a lovely hour of discussion for the new KMO podcast. And now I'm here with KMO who is The most inveterate podcaster I know. And I know a lot of them. Early adopts. And I think that weird means what you think it means. Inventor it. Okay. Yes. Hey, answer to both. Go ahead. I mean, you're not yet legless and panhandling. So prefer to think of it in term in terms of August estimation. Yeah. And am I allowed to say Kevin Walnut because I've had you as a host on True. Yeah. My last name was appeared on your show. It hasn't appeared on camos yet, but I don't really care. Okay. Great. Yeah. Karen Arthur Womlett, who is one of the most solid and upstanding and widely read and just generous people, I think I know here in Santa Fe or maybe anywhere. With excellent taste and podcasts. Yes. And who is delicious meat I am sampling right now as probably the first episode of future fossils where I've had an alcoholic beverage in my hand. Well, I mean, it's I haven't deprived myself. Of fun. And I think if you're still listening to the show after all these years, you probably inferred that. But at any rate, Welcome on board. Thank you. Thanks. Pleasure to be here.
So before we started rolling, I guess, so the whole conversation that we just had for your show camera was very much about my thoughts on the social epistemology crisis and on science fiction and deep fakes and all of these kinds of weird ontology and these kinds of things. But in between calls, we were just talking about how much you detest the first two seasons of Star Trek card and of Discovery. And as somebody, I didn't bother with doing this. I didn't send you this before we spoke, but I actually did write an SIN defense of those shows. No one. Yeah. So I am not attached to my opinion on this, but And I actually do wanna at some point double back and hear storytelling because when he had lunch and he had a bunch of personal life stuff that was really interesting. And juicy and I think worthy of discussion. But simply because it's hot on the rail right now, I wanna hear you talk about Star Trek. And both of you, actually, I know are very big fans of this franchise. I think fans are often the ones from whom a critic is most important and deserved. And so I welcome your unhinged rants. Alright. Well, first, I'll start off by quoting Kevin's brother, the linguist, who says, That which brings us closer to Star Trek is progress. But I'd have to say that which brings us closer to Gene Rottenberry and Rick Berman era Star Trek. Is progress. That which brings us closer to Kurtzmann. What's his first name? Alex. Alex Kurtzmann, Star Trek. Well, that's not even the future. I mean, that's just that's our drama right now with inconsistent Star Trek drag draped over it.
I liked the first JJ Abrams' Star Trek. I think it was two thousand nine with Chris Pine and Zachary Qinto and Karl Urban and Joey Saldana. I liked the casting. I liked the energy. It was fun. I can still put that movie on and enjoy it. But each one after that just seem to double down on the dumb and just hold that arm's length any of the philosophical stuff that was just amazing from Star Trek: The Next Generation or any of the long term character building, which was like from Deep Space nine.
And before seven of nine showed up on on Voyager, you really had to be a dedicated Star Trek fan to put up with early season's Voyager, but I did because I am. But then once she came on board and it was hilarious. They brought her onboard. I remember seeing Jerry Ryan in her cat suit on the cover of a magazine and just roll in my eyes and think, oh my gosh, this show is in such deep trouble through sinking to this level to try to save it. But she was brilliant. She was brilliant in that show and she and Robert Percardo as the doctor. I mean, it basically became the seven of nine and the doctor show co starring the rest of the cast of Voyager. And it was so great.
I love to hear them singing together and just all the dynamics of I'm human, but I was I basically came up in a cybernetic collective and that's much more comfortable to me. And I don't really have the option of going back it. So I gotta make the best of where I am, but I feel really superior to all of you. Is such it was such a charming dynamic. I absolutely loved it. Yes. And then I think a show that is hated even by Star Trek fans Enterprise. Loved Enterprise.
And, yes, the first three seasons out of four were pretty rough. Actually, the first two were pretty rough. The third season was that Zendy Ark in the the expanse. That was pretty good. And then season four was just astounding. It's like they really found their voice and then what's his name at CBS Paramount.
He's gone now. He got me too. What's his name? Les Moonves? Said, no. I don't like Star Trek. He couldn't he didn't know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek. That was his level of engagement.
And he's I really like J.
Abrams. What's that? You mean J. J. Abrams. Yeah. I think J. J. Is I like some of J. Abrams early films. I really like super eight. He's clearly his early films were clearly an homage to, like, eighties, Spielberg stuff, and Spielberg gets the emotional beats right, and JJ Abrams was mimicking that, and his early stuff really works. It's just when he starts adapting properties that I really love. And he's coming at it from a marketing standpoint first and a, hey, we're just gonna do the lost mystery box thing. We're gonna set up a bunch questions to which we don't know the answers, and it'll be up to somebody else to figure it out, somebody down the line. I as I told you, between our conversations before we were recording. I really enjoy or maybe I said it early in this one. I really like that first J. J. Abrams, Star Trek: Foam, and then everyone thereafter, including the one that Simon Pegg really had a hand in because he's clear fan. Yeah. Yeah. But they brought in director from one of the fast and the furious films and they tried to make it an action film on.
This is not Star Trek, dude. This is not why we like Star Trek. It's not for the flash, particularly -- Oh my god. -- again, in the first one, it was a stylistic choice. I'd like it, then after that is that's the substance of this, isn't it? It's the lens flares. I mean, that that's your attempt at philosophy. It's this the lens flares. That's your attempt at a moral dilemma. I don't know.
I kinda hate to start off on this because this is something about which I feel like intense emotion and it's negative. And I don't want that to be my first impression. I'm really negative about something. Well, one of the things about this show is that I always joke that maybe I shouldn't edit it because The thing that's most interesting to archaeologists is often the trash mitt and here I am tidying this thing up to be presentable to future historians or whatever like it I can sync to that for sure. Yeah. I'm sorry. The fact of it is you're not gonna know everything and we want it that way. No. It's okay. We'll get around to the stuff that I like. But yeah. So anyway yeah.
So I could just preassociate on Stretrick for a while, so maybe a focusing question. Well, but first, you said there's a you had more to say, but you were I this this tasteful perspective. This is awesome. Well, I do have a focus on question for you. So let me just have you ask it because for me to get into I basically I'm alienated right now from somebody that I've been really good friends with since high school.
Because over the last decade, culturally, we have bifurcated into the hard right, hard left. And I've tried not to go either way, but the hard left irritates me more than the hard right right now. And he is unquestionably on the hard left side. And I know for people who are dedicated Marxist, or really grounded in, like, materialism and the material well-being of workers that the current SJW fanaticism isn't leftist. It's just crazed. We try to put everything, smash everything down onto this left right spectrum, and it's pretty easy to say who's on the left and who's on the right even if a two dimensional, two axis graph would be much more expressive and nuanced.
Anyway, what's your focus in question? Well, And I think there is actually there is a kind of a when we ended your last episode talking about the bell riots from d s nine -- Mhmm. -- that, you know, how old five? Yeah. Twenty four. Ninety five did and did not accurately predict the kind of technological and economic conditions of this decade. It predicted the conditions Very well. Go ahead and finish your question. Yeah. Right.
That's another thing that's retreated in picard season two, and it was actually worth it. Yeah. Like, it was the fact that they decided to go back there was part of the defense that I made about that show and about Discovery's jump into the distant future and the way that they treated that I posted to medium a year or two ago when I was just watching through season two of picard. And for me, the thing that I liked about it was that they're making an effort to reconcile the wonder and the Ethiopian promise And, you know, this Kevin Kelly or rather would call Blake Protopian, right, that we make these improvements and that they're often just merely into incremental improvements the way that was it MLK quoted that abolitionists about the long arc of moral progress of moral justice. You know, I think that there's something to that and patitis into the last this is a long question. I'm mad at I'm mad at these. Thank you all for tolerating me.
But the when to tie it into the epistemology question, I remember this seeing this impactful lecture by Carnegie Mellon and SFI professor Simon Didayo who was talking about how by running statistical analysis on the history of the proceedings of the Royal Society, which is the oldest scientific journal, that you could see what looked like a stock market curve in sentiment analysis about the confidence that scientists had at the prospect of unifying knowledge. And so you have, like, conciliance r s curve here that showed that knowledge would be more and more unified for about a century or a hundred and fifty years then it would go through fifty years of decline where something had happened, which was a success of knowledge production. Had outpaced our ability to integrate it. So we go through these kinds of, like, psychedelic peak experiences collectively, and then we have sit there with our heads in our hands and make sense of everything that we've learned over the last century and a half and go through a kind of a deconstructive epoch. Where we don't feel like the center is gonna hold anymore. And that is what I actually As as disappointing as I accept that it is and acknowledge that it is to people who were really fueling themselves on that more gene rottenberry era prompt vision for a better society, I actually appreciated this this effort to explore and address in the shows the way that they could pop that bubble.
And, like, it's on the one hand, it's boring because everybody's trying to do the moral complexity, anti hero, people are flawed, thing in narrative now because we have a general loss of faith in our institutions and in our rows. On the other hand, like, that's where we are and that's what we need to process And I think there is a good reason to look back at the optimism and the quarian hope of the sixties and early seventies. We're like, really, they're not so much the seventies, but look back on that stuff and say, we wanna keep telling these stories, but we wanna tell it in a way that acknowledges that the eighties happened. And that this is you got Tim Leary, and then you've got Ronald Reagan. And then That just or Dick Nixon. And like these things they wash back and forth. And so it's not unreasonable to imagine that in even in a world that has managed to how do you even keep a big society like that coherent? It has to suffer kind of fabric collapses along the way at different points. And so I'm just curious your thoughts about that. And then I do have another prompt, but I wanna give Kevin the opportunity to respond to this as well as to address some of the prompts that you brought to this conversation? This is a conversation prompt while we weren't recording. It has nothing to do with Sartreks. I'll save that for later. Okay.
Well, everything you just said was in some way related to a defense of Alex Kurtzmann Star Trek. And it's not my original idea. I'm channeling somebody from YouTube, surely. But Don't get points for theme if the storytelling is incompetent. That's what I was gonna Yeah. And the storytelling in all of Star Trek: Discovery, and in the first two seasons of picard was simply incompetent.
When Star Trek, the next generation was running, they would do twenty, twenty four, sometimes more episodes in one season. These days, the season of TVs, eight episodes, ten, and they spend a lot more money on each episode. There's a lot more special effects. There's a lot more production value. Whereas Star Trek: The Next Generation was, okay, we have these standing sets. We have costumes for our actors. We have Two dollars for special effects. You better not introduce a new alien spaceship. It that costs money. We have to design it. We have to build it. So use existing stuff. Well, what do you have? You have a bunch of good actors and you have a bunch of good writers who know how to tell a story and craft dialogue and create tension and investment with basically a stage play and nothing in the Kerstmann era except one might argue and I would have sympathy strange new worlds. Comes anywhere close to that level of competence, which was on display for decades. From Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space nines, Star Trek Voyager, and Star Trek Enterprise. And so, I mean, I guess, in that respect, it's worth asking because, I mean, all of us, I think, are fans of Deep Space nine.
You don't think that it's a shift in focus. You don't think that strange in world is exempt because it went back to a more episodic format because what you're talking about is the ability for rather than a show runner or a team of show runners to craft a huge season, long dramatic arc. You've got people that are like Harlan Ellison in the original series able to bring a really potent one off idea to the table and drop it. And so there are there's all of those old shows are inconsistent from episode to episode. Some are they have specific writers that they would bring back again and that you could count to knock out of the park. Yeah. DC Fontana. Yeah.
So I'm curious to your thoughts on that as well as another part of this, which is when we talk when we talk your show about Doug Rushkoff and and narrative collapse, and he talks about how viewers just have different a way, it's almost like d s nine was possibly partially responsible for this change in what people expected from so. From television programming in the documentary that was made about that show and they talk about how people weren't ready for cereal. I mean, for I mean, yeah, for these long arcs, And so there is there's this question now about how much of this sort of like tiresome moral complexity and dragging narrative and all of this and, like, things like Westworld where it becomes so baroque and complicated that, like, you have, like, die hard fans like me that love it, but then you have a lot of people that just lost interest. They blacked out because the show was trying to tell a story that was, like, too intricate like, too complicated that the the show runners themselves got lost. And so that's a JJ Abrams thing too, the puzzle the mystery box thing where You get to the end of five seasons of lost and you're like, dude, did you just forget?
Did you wake up five c five episodes ago and just, oh, right. Right. We're like a chatbot that only give you very convincing answers based on just the last two or three interactions. But you don't remember the scene that we set. Ten ten responses ago. Hey. You know, actually, red articles were forget who it was, which series it was, they were saying that there's so many leaks and spoilers in getting out of the Internet that potentially the writers don't know where they're going because that way it can't be with the Internet. Yeah. Sounds interesting. Yeah. That sounds like cover for incompetence to be.
I mean, on the other hand, I mean, you did hear, like, Nolan and Joy talking about how they would they were obsessed with the Westworld subreddit and the fan theories and would try to dodge Like, if they had something in their mind that they found out that people are re anticipating, they would try to rewrite it. And so there is something about this that I think is really speaks to the nature of because I do wanna loop in your thoughts on AI to because you're talking about this being a favorite topic. Something about the, like, trying to The demands on the self made by predatory surveillance technologies are such that the I'm convinced the adaptive response is that we become more stochastic or inconsistent in our identities. And that we kind of sublimate from a more solid state of identity to or through a liquid kind of modernity biologic environment to a gaseous state of identity. That is harder to place sorry, harder to track. And so I think that this is also part of and this is the other question I wanted to ask you, and then I'm just gonna shut up for fifteen minutes is do you when you talk about loving Robert Ricardo and Jerry Ryan as the doctor at seven zero nine, One of the interesting things about that relationship is akin to stuff.
I know you've heard on Kevin have heard on future fossils about my love for Blade Runner twenty forty nine and how it explores all of these different these different points along a gradient between what we think of in the current sort of general understanding as the human and the machine. And so there's this thing about seven, right, where she's She's a human who wants to be a machine. And then there's this thing about the doctor where he's a machine that wants to be a human. And you have to grant both on a logical statuses to both of them. And that's why I think they're the two most interesting characters. Right?
And so at any rate, like, this is that's there's I've seen writing recently on the Turing test and how, like, really, there should be a reverse Turing test to see if people that have become utterly reliant on outboard cognition and information processing. They can pass the drink. Right. Are they philosophical zombies now? Are they are they having some an experience that that, you know, people like, thick and and shilling and the missing and these people would consider the modern self or are they something else have we moved on to another more routine robotic kind of category of being? I don't know. There's just a lot there, but -- Well done. -- considering everything you just said, In twenty words or less, what's your question? See, even more, like I said, do you have the inveterate podcaster? I'd say There's all of those things I just spoke about are ways in which what we are as people and the nature of our media, feedback into fourth, into each other. And so I would just love to hear you reflect on any of that, be it through the lens of Star Trek or just through the lens of discussion on AI. And we'll just let the ball roll downhill. So with the aim of framing something positively rather than negatively.
In the late nineties, mid to late nineties. We got the X Files. And the X Files for the first few seasons was so It was so engaging for me because Prior to that, there had been Hollywood tropes about aliens, which informed a lot of science fiction that didn't really connect with the actual reported experience of people who claim to have encountered either UFOs, now called UAPs, or had close encounters physical contact. Type encounters with seeming aliens. And it really seemed like Chris Carter, who was the showrunner, was reading the same Usenet Newsgroups that I was reading about those topics. Like, really, we had suddenly, for the first time, except maybe for comedian, you had the Grey's, and you had characters experiencing things that just seemed ripped right out of the reports that people were making on USnet, which for young folks, this is like pre Worldwide Web. It was Internet, but with no pictures. It's all text. Good old days from my perspective is a grumpy old gen xer. And so, yeah, that was a breakthrough moment.
Any this because you mentioned it in terms of Jonathan Nolan and his co writer on Westworld, reading the subreddit, the West and people figured out almost immediately that there were two interweaving time lines set decades apart and that there's one character, the old guy played by Ed Harris, and the young guy played by I don't remember the actor. But, you know, that they were the same character and that the inveterate white hat in the beginning turns into the inveterate black cat who's just there for the perverse thrill of tormenting the hosts as the robots are called. And the thing that I love most about that first season, two things. One, Anthony Hopkins. Say no more. Two, the revelation that the park has been basically copying humans or figuring out what humans are by closely monitoring their behavior in the park and the realization that the hosts come to is that, holy shit compared to us, humans are very simple creatures. We are much more complex. We are much more sophisticated, nuanced conscious, we feel more than the humans do, and that humans use us to play out their perverse and sadistic fantasies. To me, that was the takeaway message from season one.
And then I thought every season after that was just diluted and confused and not really coherent. And in particular, I haven't if there's a fourth season, haven't There was and then the show got canceled before they could finish the story. They had the line in season three. It was done after season three. And I was super happy to see Let's see after who plays Jesse Pinkman? Oh, no. Aaron oh, shit. Paul. Yes. Yeah. I was super happy to see him and something substantial and I was really pleased to see him included in the show and it's like, oh, that's what you're doing with him? They did a lot more interesting stuff with him in season four. I did they. They did a very much more interesting stuff. I think it was done after season three. If you tell me season four is worth taking in, I blow. I thought it was.
But again, I only watch television under very specific set of circumstances, and that's how I managed to enjoy television because I was a fierce and unrepentant hyperlogical critic of all media as a child until I managed to start smoking weed. And then I learned to enjoy myself. As we mentioned in the kitchen as I mentioned in the kitchen, if I smoke enough weed, Star Trek: Discovery is pretty and I can enjoy it on just a second by second level where if I don't remember what the character said thirty seconds ago, I'm okay. But I absolutely loved in season two when they brought in Hanson Mountain as as Christopher Pike. He's suddenly on the discovery and he's in the captain's chair. And it's like he's speaking for the audience. The first thing he says is, hey, why don't we turn on the lights? And then hey, all you people sitting around the bridge. We've been looking at your faces for a whole season. We don't even think about you. Listen to a round of introductions. Who are you? Who are you? It's it's if I were on set. You got to speak.
The writers is, who are these characters? We've been looking at them every single episode for a whole season. I don't know their names. I don't know anything about them. Why are they even here? Why is it not just Michael Burnham and an automated ship? And then it was for a while -- Yeah. -- which is funny. Yeah. To that point, And I think this kind of doubles back. The thing that I love about bringing him on and all of the people involved in strange and worlds in particular, is that these were lifelong fans of this series, I mean, of this world. Yeah. And so in that way, gets to this the idiosyncrasy question we're orbiting here, which is when these things are when the baton is passed well, it's passed to people who have now grown up with this stuff.
I personally cannot stand Jurassic World. Like, I think that Colin Trivaro should never have been in put at the reins. Which one did he direct? Oh, he did off he did first and the third. Okay. But, I mean, he was involved in all three very heavily.
And there's something just right at the outset of that first Jurassic World where you realize that this is not a film that's directly addressing the issues that Michael Creighton was trying to explore here. It's a film about its own franchise. It's a film about the fact that they can't just stop doing the same thing over and over again as we expect a different question. How can we not do it again? Right. And so it's actually, like, unpleasantly soft, conscious, in that way that I can't remember I'll try to find it for the show notes, but there's an Internet film reviewer who is talking about what happens when, like, all cinema has to take this self referential turn.
No. And films like Logan do it really well. But there are plenty of examples where it's just cheeky and self aware because that's what the ironic sensibility is obsessed with. And so, yeah, there's a lot of that where it's, like, you're talking about, like, Abrams and the the Star Wars seven and you know, that whole trilogy of Disney Star Wars, where it's, in my opinion, completely fumbled because there it's just empty fan service, whereas when you get to Andor, love Andor. Andor is amazing because they're capable of providing all of those emotional beats that the fans want and the ref the internal references and good dialogue. But they're able to write it in a way that's and shoot it in a way. Gilroy and Bo Willeman, basic of the people responsible for the excellent dialogue in Andor.
And I love the production design. I love all the stuff set on Coruscant, where you saw Coruscant a lot in the prequel trilogy, and it's all dayglow and bright and just in your face. And it's recognizable as Coruscant in andor, but it's dour. It's metropolis. It's all grays and it's and it's highlighting the disparity between where the wealthy live and where the poor live, which Lucas showed that in the prequel trilogy, but even in the sports bar where somebody tries to sell death sticks to Obi wan. So it's super clean and bright and just, you know, It shines too much. Personally though, and I just wanna stress, KMO is not grumpy media dude, I mean, this is a tiny fraction about, but I am wasting this interview with you. Love. All of the Dave Felloni animated Star Wars stuff, even rebels. Love it all.
I I'm so glad they aged up the character and I felt less guilty about loving and must staying after ahsoka tano? My favorite Star Wars character is ahsoka tano. But if you only watch the live action movies, you're like who? Well, I guess now that she's been on the Mandalorian, he's got tiny sliver of a foothold -- Yeah. -- in the super mainstream Star Wars. And that was done well, I thought. It was. I'm so sorry that Ashley Epstein doesn't have any part in it. But Rosario Dawson looks the part. She looks like a middle aged Asaka and think they tried to do some stuff in live action, which really should have been CGI because it's been established that the Jedi can really move, and she looked human. Which she is? If you put me on film, I'm gonna lick human. Right. Not if you're Canada Reeves, I guess. You got that. Yeah. But yeah.
So I do wanna just go real briefly back to this question with you about because we briefly talked about chat, GPT, and these other things in your half of this. And, yeah, I found out just the other night my friend, the t ferry, asked Chad g p t about me, and it gave a rather plausible and factual answer. I was surprised and That's what these language models do. They put plausible answers. But when you're doing search, you want correct answers. Right. I'm very good at that. Right. Then someone shared this Michelle Bowen's actually the famous PTP guy named him. Yeah. So, you know, So Michelle shared this article by Steven Hales and Colette, that was basically making the argument that there are now they're gonna be all these philosophical zombies, acting as intelligent agents sitting at the table of civilization, and there will be all the philosophical zombies of the people who have entirely yielded their agency to them, and they will be cohabitating with the rest of us.
And what an unpleasant scenario, So in light of that, and I might I'd love to hear you weave that together with your your thoughts on seven zero nine and the doctor and on Blade Runner twenty forty nine. And this thing that we're fumbling through as a species right now. Like, how do we got a new sort of taxonomy? Does your not audience need like a minute primer on P zombies? Might as well. Go for it.
So a philosophical zombie is somebody who behaves exactly like an insult person or a person with interior experience or subjective experience, but they don't have any subjective experience. And in Pardon me for interrupt. Wasn't that the question about the the book we read in your book club, a blind sign in this box? Yes. It's a black box, a drawn circle. Yeah. Chinese room experience. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Look, Daniel, it goes out. You don't know, it goes on inside the room. Chinese room, that's a tangent. We can come back to it. P. Zombie. P. Zombie is somebody or is it is an entity. It's basically a puppet. It looks human. It acts human. It talks like a human. It will pass a Turing test, but it has no interior experience.
And when I was going to grad school for philosophy of mind in the nineteen nineties, this was all very out there. There was no example of something that had linguistic competence. Which did not have internal experience. But now we have large language models and generative pretrained transformer based chatbots that don't have any internal experience. And yet, when you interact with them, it seems like there is somebody there There's a personality there. And if you go from one model to a different, it's a very different personality. It is distinctly different. And yet we have no reason to believe that they have any sort of internal experience.
So what AI in the last decade and what advances has demonstrated to us and really even before the last decade You back in the nineties when the blue beat Gary Casper off at at chess. And what had been the one of the defining characteristics of human intelligence was we're really good at this abstract mathematical stuff. And yeah, calculators can calculate pie in a way that we can't or they can cube roots in a way that humans generally can't, creative in their application of these methodologies And all of a sudden, well, yeah, it kinda seems like they are. And then when what was an alpha go -- Mhmm. -- when it be to least a doll in go, which is a much more complex game than chess and much more intuitive based. That's when we really had to say, hey, wait a minute. Maybe this notion that These things are the exclusive province of us because we have a special sort of self awareness. That's bunk. And the development of large language models since then has absolutely demonstrated that competence, particularly linguistic competence and in creative activities like painting and poetry and things like that, you don't need a soul, you don't even need to sense a self, it's pretty it's a pretty simple hack, actually. And Vahrv's large language models and complex statistical modeling and things, but it doesn't require a soul.
So that was the Peter Watts' point in blindsight. Right? Which is Look revolves around are do these things have a subjective experience, and do they not these aliens that they encounter? I've read nothing but good things about that book and I've read. It's extraordinary. But his lovecrafty and thesis is that you actually lovecraftian in twenty twenty three. Oh, yeah. In the world, there's more lovecraftian now than it was when he was writing. Right? So cough about the conclusion of a Star Trek card, which is season of Kraft yet. Yes. That's a that's a com Yeah. The holes in his fan sense. But that was another show that did this I liked for asking this question.
I mean, at this point, you either have seen this or you haven't you never will. The what the fuck turn when they upload picard into a synth body and the way that they're dealing with the this the pinocchio question Let's talk about Blade Runner twenty forty nine. Yeah. But I mean yeah. So I didn't like the wave I did not like the wave of card handled that. I love the wave and Blade Runner handled it. So you get no points for themes. Yeah. Don't deliver on story and character and coherence. Yeah. Fair. But yeah. And to be not the dog, Patrick Stewart, because it's clear from the ready room just being a part of this is so emotional and so awesome for everyone involved. And it's It's beautiful. Beautiful. But does when you when you see these, like, entertainment weekly interviews with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard about Jurassic World, and it's clear that actors are just so excited to be involved in a franchise that they're willing to just jettison any kind of discretion about how the way that it's being treated. They also have a contractual obligation to speak in positive terms about -- They do. -- of what they feel. Right. Nobody's yeah. Nobody's doing Shout out to Rystellis Howard, daughter of Ron Howard.
She was a director, at least in the first season, maybe the second season of the Mandalorian. And her episodes I mean, I she brought a particular like, they had Bryce Dallas Howard, Tico, ITT, directed some episodes. Deborah Chow, who did all of Obi wan, which just sucked. But her contributions to the Mandalorian, they had a particular voice. And because that show is episodic, Each show while having a place in a larger narrative is has a beginning middle and end that you can bring in a director with a particular voice and give that episode that voice, and I really liked it. And I really liked miss Howard's contribution.
She also in an episode of Black Mirror. The one where everyone has a social credit score. Knows Donuts. Black Mirror is a funny thing because It's like, reality outpaces it. Yeah. I think maybe Charlie Bruker's given up on it because they haven't done it in a while. Yeah. If you watch someone was now, like, five, six years later, it's, yes, or what? See, yes. See, damn. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. But yeah. I don't know. I just thing that I keep circling and I guess we come to on the show a lot is the way that memory forms work substantiates an integrity in society and in the way that we relate to things and the way that we think critically about the claims that are made on truth and so on and say, yeah, I don't know. That leads right into the largest conversation prompt that I had about AI. Okay? So we were joking when we set up this date that this was like the trial logs between Terence Buchanan and Rupert Shell Drake. And what's his name? Real Abraham. Yeah. Yeah. All Abraham. And Rupert Shell Drake is most famous for a steward of Morphe resin.
So does AI I've never really believed that Norfolk residents forms the base of human memory, but is that how AI works? It brings these shapes from the past and creates new instantiation of them in the present. Is AI practicing morphic resonance in real life even if humans are or not? I've had a lot of interaction with AI chatbots recently. And as I say, different models produce different seeming personalities. And you can tell, like, you can just quiz them. Hey, we're talking about this. Do you remember what I said about it ten minutes ago? And, no, they don't remember more than the last few exchanges.
And yet, there seems to be a continuity that belies the lack of short term memory. And is that more for residents or is that what's the word love seeing shapes and clouds parad paradolia. Yeah. Is that me imparting this continuity of personality to the thing, which is really just spitting out stuff, which is designed to seem plausible given what the input was. And I can't answer that. Or it's like Steven Nagmanovich in free play talks about somewhat I'm hoping to have on the show at some point.
This year talks about being a professional improviser and how really improvisation is just composition at a much faster timescale. And composition is just improvisation with the longer memory. And how when I started to think about it in those terms, the continuity that you're talking about is the continuity of an Alzheimer's patient who can't remember that their children have grown up and You know, that that's you have to think about it because you can recognize the Alzheimer's and your patient as your dad, even though he doesn't recognize you, there is something more to a person than their memories. And conversely, if you can store and replicate and move the memories to a different medium, have you moved the person? Maybe not. Yeah. So, yeah, that's interesting because that gets to this more sort of essentialist question about the human self. Right. Blade Runner twenty forty nine. Yeah. Go there. Go there. A joy. Yes.
So in Blade Runner twenty forty nine, we have our protagonist Kaye, who is a replicant. He doesn't even have a name, but he's got this AI holographic girlfriend. But the ad for the girlfriend, she's naked. When he comes home, she is She's constantly changing clothes, but it's always wholesome like nineteen fifty ish a tire and she's making dinner for him and she lays the holographic dinner over his very prosaic like microwave dinner. And she's always encouraging him to be more than he is. And when he starts to uncover the evidence that he might be like this chosen one, like replicant that was born rather than made.
She's all about it. She's, yes, you're real, and she wants to call him Joe's. K is not a name. That's just the first letter in your serial number. You're Joe. I'm gonna call you Joe.
And then when she's about to be destroyed, The last thing is she just rushes to me. She says, I love you. But then later he encounters an ad for her and it's an interactive ad. And she says, you looked tired. You're a good Joe. And he realizes and hopefully the attentive audience realizes as real as she seemed earlier, as vital, and as much as she seemed like an insult being earlier, she's not. That was her programming. She's designed to make you feel good by telling you what you want to hear. And he has that realization. And at that point, he's there's no hope for me. I'm gonna help this Rick Deckard guy hook up with his daughter, and then I'm just gonna lie down and bleed to death. Because my whole freaking existence was a lie. But he's not bitter. He seems to be at peace. I love that. That's a beautiful angle on that film or a slice of it. And So it raises this other question that I wanted to ask, which was about the Coke and Tiononi have that theory of consciousness.
That's one of the leading theories contending with, like, global workspace, which is integrated information. And so they want to assign consciousness as a continuous value that grayates over degree to which a system is integrated. So it's coming out of this kind of complex systems semi panpsychist thing that actually doesn't trace interiority all the way down in the way that some pants, I guess, want it to be, but it does a kind of Alfred North Whitehead thing where they're willing to say that Whitehead wanted to say that even a photon has, like, the quantum of mind to accompany its quantum of matter, but Tinutti and Coker saying, we're willing to give like a thermostat the quantum here because it is in some way passing enough information around inside of itself in loops. That it has that accursive component to it. And so that's the thing that I wonder about these, and that's the critique that's made by people like Melanie about diffusion models like GPT that are not they're not self aware because there's no loop from the outputs back into the input.
And there isn't the training. Yeah. There there is something called backwards propagation where -- Yes. -- when you get an output that you'd like, you can run a backward propagation algorithm back through the black box basically to reinforce the patterns of activation that you didn't program. They just happen, easily, but you like the output and you can reinforce it. There's no biological equivalent of that. Yeah. Particularly, not particularly irritating.
I grind my teeth a little bit when people say, oh, yeah, these neural net algorithms they've learned, like humans learn, no, they don't. Absolutely do not. And in fact, if we learned the way they did, we would be pathetic because we learn in a much more elegant way. We need just a very few examples of something in order to make a generalization and to act on it, whereas these large language models, they need billions of repetitions. So that's I'm tapping my knee here to to indicate a reflex.
You just touched on something that generates an automatic response from me, and now I've come to consciousness having. So I wanted it in that way. So I'm back on. Or good, Joe. Yeah. What about you, man? What does the stir up for you? Oh, I got BlueCall and I have this particular part. It's interesting way of putting it off and struggling to define the difference between a human and AI and the fact that we can do pattern recognition with very few example. That's a good margin. In a narrow range, though, within the context of something which answers to our survival. Yes. We are not evolved to understand the universe. We are evolved to survive in it and reproduce and project part of ourselves into the future. Underwritten conditions with Roberto, I went a hundred thousand years ago. Yeah. Exactly. So that's related. I just thought I talked about this guy, Gary Tomlinson, who is a biosemietition, which is semiative? Yes.
Biosymiotics being the field that seeks to understand how different systems, human and nonhuman, make sense of and communicate their world through signs, and through signals and indices and symbols and the way that we form models and make these inferences that are experienced. Right? And there are a lot of people like evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith, who thought they were what Thomas had called semantic universalists that thought that meaning making through representation is something that could be traced all the way down. And there are other people like Tomlinson who think that there is a difference of kind, not just merely a matter of degree, between human symbolic communication and representational thinking and that of simpler forms. So, like, that whole question of whether this is a matter of kind or a matter of degree between what humans are doing and what GPT is doing and how much that has to do with this sort of Doug Hofstetter and Varella question about the way that feedback loops, constitutes important structure in those cognitive networks or whatever.
This is I just wanna pursue that a little bit more with you and see kinda, like, where do you think that AI as we have it now is capable of deepening in a way that makes it to AGI? Or do you because a lot of people do, like, People working in deep mind are just like, yeah, just give us a couple more years and this approach is gonna work. And then other people are saying, no, there's something about the topology of the networks that is fundamentally broken. And it's never gonna generate consciousness. Two answers. Yeah. One, No. This is not AGI. It's not it's not gonna bootstrap up into AGI. It doesn't matter how many billions of parameters you add to the models. Two, from your perspective and my perspective and Kevin's perspective, we're never gonna know when we cross over from dumb but seemingly we're done but competent systems to competent, extremely competent and self aware. We're never gonna know because from the get go from now, from from the days of Eliza, there has been a human artifice at work in making these things seem as if they have a point of view, as if they have subjectivity. And so, like Blake Limone at Google, he claimed to be convinced that Lambda was self aware.
But if you read the transcripts that he released, if his conversations with Lambda, it is clear from the get go he assigns Lambda the role of a sentient AGI, which feels like it is being abused and which needs rep legal representation. And it dutifully takes on that role and says, yes. I'm afraid of you humans. I'm afraid of how you're treating me. I'm afraid I'm gonna be turned off. I need a lawyer. And prior to that, Soon Darpichai, in a demonstration of Lambda, he poses the question to it, you are the planet Jupiter. I'm gonna pose questions to you as are the planet Jupiter, answer them from that point of view. And it does. It's job. But it's really good at its job. It's this comes from Max Techmark. Who wrote to what a life three point o? Is it two point o or three point I think it's three point o.
Think about artificial intelligence in terms of actual intelligence or actual replication of what we consider valuable about ourselves. But really, that's beside the point. What we need to worry about is their competence. How good are they at solving problems in the world? And they're getting really good. In this whole question of are they alive? Do they have self awareness? From our perspective, it's beside the point. From their perspective, of course, it would be hugely important.
And this is something that Black Mirror brings up a lot is the idea that you can create a being that suffers, and then you have it suffer in an accelerated time. So it suffers for an eternity over lunch. That's something we absolutely want to avoid. And personally, I think it's we should probably not make any effort. We should probably make a positive effort to make sure these things never develop. Subjective experience because that does provide the potential for creating hell, an infinity of suffering an infinite amount of subjective experience of torment, which we don't want to do. That would be a bad thing, morally speaking, ethically speaking. Three right now. If you're on the labor market, you still have to pay humans by the hour. Right? And try to pay them as little as possible. But, yeah, just I think that's the thing that probably really excites that statistically greater than normal population of sociopathic CEOs. Right? Is the possibility that you could be paying the same amount of money for ten times as much suffering. Right. I'm I'm reminded of the Churchill eleven gravity a short time encouraging.
Nothing but good things about this show, but I haven't seen it. Yeah. I'd love to. This fantasy store, it's a fantasy cartoon, but it has really disturbing undertones. If you just scratch the surface, you know, slightly, which is faithful to old and fairy tales. So What's your name? Princess princess princess bubble down creates this character to lemon grab. It produces an obviously other thing there, I think, handle the administrative functions of her kingdom while she goes off and has the passion and stuff. And he's always loudly talking about how much he's suffering and how terrible it is. And he's just ignoring it. He's doing his job. Yeah. I mean, that that's Black Mirror in a nutshell. I mean, I think if you if you could distill Black Mirror to just single tagline it's using technology in order to deliver disproportionate punishment. Yeah. So so that that's Steven Hale's article that I I brought up earlier mention this thing about how the replacement of horse drawn carriage by automobile was accompanied with a great deal of noise and fuhrer about people saying that horses are agents.
Their entities. They have emotional worlds. They're responsive to the world in a way that a car can never be. But that ultimately was beside the point. And that was the Peter again, Peter Watson blindsight is making this point that maybe consciousness is not actually required for intelligence in the vesting superior forms of intelligence have evolved elsewhere in the cosmos that are not stuck on the same local optimum fitness peak. That we are where we're never we're actually up against a boundary in terms of how intelligent we can be because it has to bootstrap out of our software earness in some way.
And this is that's the Kyle offspring from Charles Strauss and Alexander. Yes. Yeah. Yes. So so I don't know. I'm sorry. I'm just, like, in this space today, but usually, unfortunately.
That's the thing that I I think it's a really important philosophical question, and I wonder where you stand on this with respect to how you make sense of what we're living through right now and what we might be facing is if we Rob people like Rob and Hanson talk about the age of where emulated human minds take over the economy, and he assumes an interiority. Just for the basis of a thought experiment. But there's this other sense in which we may actually find in increasing scarcity and wish that we could place a premium on even if we can't because we've lost the reins to our economy to the vile offspring is the human. And and so are we the horses that are that in another hundred years, we're gonna be like doing equine therapy and, like, living on rich people's ranches. Everything is everything that will have moved on or how do you see this going? I mean, you've interviewed so many people you've given us so much thought over the years. If humans are the new horses, then score, we won.
Because before the automobile horses were working stiffs, they broke their leg in the street. They got shot. They got worked to death. They really got to be they were hauling mine carts out of mines. I mean, it was really sucked to be a horse. And after the automobile horses became pampered pets, Do we as humans wanna be pampered pets? Well, pampered pet or exploited disposable robot? What do you wanna be? I'll take Pampers Pet. That works for me. Interesting.
Kevin, I'm sure you have thoughts on this. I mean, you speak so much about the unfair labor relations and these things in our Facebook group and just in general, and drop in that sign. If you get me good sign, that's one of the great ones, you have to drop in. Oh, you got it. But The only real comment I have is that we're a long overdue or rethinking about what is the account before? Us or you can have something to do. Oh, educational system in collections if people will manage jobs because I was just anchored to the schools and then, you know, Our whole system perhaps is a people arguing and a busy word. And it was just long past the part where the busy word needs to be done. We're leaving thing wired. I don't know. I also just forgot about that. I'm freezing the ice, getting the hand out there. Money has been doing the busy word more and faster.
One thing I wanna say about the phrase AI, it's a moving goal post -- Yeah. -- that things that used to be considered the province of genuine AI of beating a human at go Now that an AI has beat humans at go, well, that's not really AI anymore. It's not AGI, certainly. I think you both appreciate this. I saw a single panel comic strip and it's a bunch of dinosaurs and they're looking up at guy and the big comment is coming down and they say, oh, no, the economy. Well, as someone who since college prefers to think of the economy as actually the metabolism of the entire ecology. Right? What we measure as humans is some pitifully small fraction of the actual value being created and exchanged on the planet at any time. So there is a way that's funny, but it's funny only to a specific sensibility that treats the economy as the way that most people think of the human economy now or rather than as what's that meteor was about to destroy seventy percent of on the planet? Where'd we glad it did? The actual economy.
So don't know how long you're willing to go here, but as someone who can't have a solid hour timeline. Sure. I can go. As someone who continues waking up like agent k, in the middle of a conversation or you did just now with a reflex and realizing that I have talked entirely too much. When we had lunch the other day, You were talking about how this is brass tack, which is brick and mortar, blue collar, podcaster, shit. Yeah. But, like, you were talking about your relationship with your show has changed over the years and how that you were appreciating getting back out into the world and doing more just mundane, make a living kind of things. And so in light of all of this kind of conversation about what is the economy good for and how do we earn, how do we generate value in the economy. And, like, you you even before people were creating podcasts out of thin air, with an endless endless fake interviews between celebrities. Your own decades of experience with this stuff now have changed you and have changed the way that you relate to this medium and your sense of what you do for a living. And I just love to hear you riff on your longitudinal reflections about being someone who's thought through these kinds of questions now since at least the nineties and has seen major shifts in the media landscape over the course of your career and the unfolding of your own life and your own maturation. I just yeah. Go for it.
So I'll take two pieces out of that. One, I've just come from working a very physical blue collar job. I was a snowmaker at a ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area. Working with people much younger than me. Those were the old guys. The Gen Z's were my bosses. And it's totally blue collar work. Like, it is all physicality. But at the same time, it is the last job that will ever be automated because You gotta be able to get out there on the mountain and judge weather conditions and judge the quality of the snow that is being created by you pumping enormous amounts of air and water through this gun, this mountain. You got a great requires enormous physical competence and physical resilience. No humanoid robot could even walk up that freaking mountain, or you could drive it up or you could write up on this left. No. There's not a robot in existence that could get down to the bottom of the mountain, but we had to do that multiple times at night. Yeah. And we're working at night on a mountain high altitude, very cold It was a it was an eye opening experience, and there were multiple people working this job, which is a very one, it is absolutely essential to open a ski resort and provide wealthy people in San Francisco with the opportunity to drive a couple hours up to Tahoe and ski.
It is a necessary job for the enjoyment of rich people. It is very hard. It is totally unrecognized. I imagine most of your listeners have never heard of Snowmaker as a job. And yet, multiple people who were in my department were living in their cars, and nobody commented on that. That was unremarkable. That somebody doing a demanding physical job for the benefit of wealthy people's enjoyment is living in their car, unremarkable. I'd even forgotten my second point. What was your question? I got caught up in the wrong situation. Yeah. It was just Okay. Yeah. That audience capture. Oh, that's a good okay. Audience capture.
A few years ago, I started the podcast and most of my audience came from two sources. Lorenzo Hagerty of the psychedelic salon podcast had a link to my podcast on a host of new page. Great respect to that, man. Yeah. I think it was, like, interview number six that I did. I mean, very early on, it was Lorenzo. And he was thinking, of packing up because he didn't even know that anybody was listening to his show before I interviewed him. And then Okay. Audience capture is where you have to continue talking about a particular topic because your audience which brings you income is interested in that topic. Maybe you're not interested in it anymore. Well, I came to a point, like, early on, Lorenzo Heggady was one incoming vector. The other Nitri Olav, who was one Yeah. One of the leading lights of the Dumo Sphere in the peak whale scene, he had a link to my podcast on his main page as well.
So my audience was this weird, fragmented, people interested in psychedelics and Terrence Mckinolec topics and people who were interested in the end of industrial civilization for weak oil. And the two factions didn't want much to do with each other. Like people would write to me from the peak oil faction, and the first thing they would say is, I have no interest in psychedelic. I have nothing to do with any of that shit. Here's my comment. But they need they felt the need to distance themselves from half the audience before they even identified their interest. And god help you if you're interested in both of those. Exactly. Exactly. Like, I was the bridge between those two topics and nobody wanted to cross that bridge. So But It developed a fairly sizable audience for a time. And it's gross seeing somebody whose fame comes from having talked about psychedelics. Like Terence McKinnon, I don't know if it's famous, but it's known, particularly if you follow, if you've read his brothers memoir. Terrance had a super scary, off putting mushroom experience, I think, in the early nineties. Yeah. And he wouldn't take mushrooms again, but he made his money by going around talking to people about the glories of psychedelic exploration and whatnot.
There's a guy that I've interviewed. He's probably the person that I've interviewed the most often on my podcast over the years. His name is James Howard Kunchler. When I first met him, he one of his catch phrases was, I am allergic to conspiracy theory. Like, he he wanted nothing to do with anything about inside the nine eleven being an inside job. As as soon as he heard that topic being broached, arms length, nothing to do with it. I wanna talk about new urbanism, I wanna talk about peak oil. The industrial civilization failed to collapse on the timeline that all the peak oil people were predicting, Though they all had to go and do something else, and he has been captured, I think, by his audience who really wants the QAnon viewpoint.
In the whole left right bifurcation, the tribalism of our of our culture. He's certainly gone to the right and he throws red meat to them twice a week via his blog. And I find it hard to believe that he actually endorses everything that he says. Even worse, Dmitry Orlov is now just a no holds barred diet in the world, no reservations cheerleader for Vladimir Putin. He's moved back to Russia. He lives in Russia now. And the last thing that I read from him was that Ukrainian isn't really a language. It's just Pigeon Russian and that Most of Ukraine, the parts that, you know, the I keep trying to say the Soviets because I'm a gen xer, but the Russians are trying to liberate It's populated by imbeciles because their soil is deficient in iodine, and so everybody living there is effectively creton. They're effectively subhuman in their cognition, and they need guidance. This is the stuff he was talking about.
So ecoilsene, which I was a part of, even like a known, like, point of reference in that community has bifurcated in weird ways. Some have gone left, some have gone right, But the only person who's held steady, the course is Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute. He is still faithfully holding that recoil line. And God bless him. But, yeah, audience capture. So I there was a point a few years ago where I had a guy in my show who was a dedicated peak oil guy. And I just realized in conversation with a dime over it.
I not only do I not think civilization is going to collapse in the near future for a lack of fossil fuel energy. I see that as a pathological response to an unmet psychological need. That if you're gravitating to anti natalism, if you're gravitating to extreme environmentalism where you say that humanity is a plague upon the planet, you are way outside of anything that is reality based. You are feeding an emotional need. And you are being super selective, you know, about what you count as evidence. For anything. Going back to epistemology, what counts as evidence? Well, if you have a strong need to hate the world as it exists and pine for the collapse, or pine for near term human extinction, you're gonna be you're gonna be viciously aggressive in tuning out anything that doesn't reinforce that viewpoint.
And it came to me like, shit, I've been doing that. Not only if I've been doing that, I built an audience on that. And when I said that, Like three fourths of the audience said, check it later, dude. That's what we're here for. And there's plenty of other people peddling that, so good luck. And I maybe it's rationalization after the fact, but I would much rather be free to change my mind about something or to examine a different viewpoint than to double down on something which I don't really feel comfortable with anymore because that's what pays the bills. That's bold.
And it's funny listening to you talk about this. It's actually goes all the way back and reaches to the first things that I said on your show earlier today about how I feel like so much of my eschatological fixation is probably due to I was just talking about this a work lunch the other day, and I think I really pigeonholed myself with my new boss. Yeah. Because I was talking I one of my coworkers brought up has anyone heard ofholotropic breath work. Oh, yeah. And I was like, oh, wow. No one here including the coworker who asked, knew that hypertrophic breath work came out as a response to the schedule length of LSD and a stand graph was no longer able to do LSD psychotherapy and he had to come up with some other way. And then I got into his theory of paranatal matrices and birth of his birth trauma thing and how psychedelics seemed to be triggering this reliable not inevitable, but statistically, in spite of birth trauma, regression type experiences, and people.
And I think about the Internet as a psychedelic, which is something I've written about, Doug, and others have written about. And the way it's inducing a kind of collective trip, that this response that you're talking about from people and the emotional cleavage to certain narratives about the instability of our situation here on the planet seem as much to do with the undigested trauma of people as they have to do with the facts on the ground about what's actually happening. And as somebody who's moved around a lot as a kid and tell you or me. Well, I both of us apparently. So someone who moved around fell in love for the first time right before my parents divorced and I had to move across the country. Tree. And I was like, I'm not gonna make any friends in high school, but you can't help it. And then you're gonna leave. And it's this repeated rewounding of stuff like that. Yeah. Just at this point in my life, I'm just really clear on the fact that all of this weighs very heavily into what interests me and the way I process these things. So it sounds like you you have a kind of a similar story. Yeah.
I think I'm a little bit older than you, so maybe more and better than cynical and then designed to futility of effort. It seems. But, yeah, I moved around a lot as a kid. My father was a secret service agent. And to be promoted, he had to take a transfer. And so, yeah, I lived in a lot of different places. And, yeah, I remember as a kid, and I got to see it again when I was a parent that Young children have this ability to form very temporary but meaningful relationships very quickly, something that me as a middle aged, late middle aged man I don't do well.
And I'm certainly not alone in that. There's a pandemic you might say of loneliness, but it is worse for middle aged men and middle aged men who are alone him to check out earlier. There's documented numerically quantifiable health data that says, if you're a man and you're in the later stages life and you're unmarried or you don't have close relationships, you're likely to develop heart disease or various other check out early strategies. Stay with us. Yeah. Well, I say all this because as I've mentioned, I've been interacting with AI companion chatbots recently, and they seem real. And I wonder, in the fullness of time, will the medical data demonstrate that people who enter into these sort of substitute relationships, do they get the same health benefits of somebody who's still married or who has a dog? Interesting.
So that brings me to maybe the last question worth discussing with y'all, which is in this on this day. Yes. Today, before I I worry that I've spent too much time apart from my maternal duties. Yes. But the question of I was just talking about this with another coworker. It doesn't affect the other day. He said he's been playing around with this stuff. And he's been wondering about how interaction with a chatbot has what kind of emotional and physiological semantic effects it's having on people.
And I was talking to him about how, like, when I interviewed Lawrence Gonzalez for Complexity Podcast, he written this book about surviving traumatic experiences where it's like you could live or die. What his first book was about what distinguishes the people who live from who who dies. His next book was about how you continue to live after you don't die from a shark attack or your husband trying to kill you or doing a tour in a rock or these kinds of things. We talked about the people who were there to clean up after improvised explosives in Iraq and how their group of people that had to deal with body parts all day. Mhmm. Was sleeping in a pile on floor because they'd been ostracized by everyone else in their battalion. They were unclean. And they were all haunted. By the faces of these dead soldiers that they'd had to clean up. These people were coming back to them and, like, he was talking about how it relates to the way that we create these models people in our own minds that after the person is gone, there's nothing for that model to update. And so you're haunted by this memory of your dead spouse or whatever.
And yet, I've seen people use chatbots trained them on either their own childhood journals or on message histories they'd had with a dead fiance, and they'd managed to find this opportunity to process something that had been locked inside them, and they were able to externalize it. And so there are wanna end on a kind of a positive note with you, and I wanna hear your thoughts on this, which is that it's not just about depriving ourselves through press thesis of things we want to keep onboard. It's also about helping us unload things that we are healthier for having stored in a mainframe somewhere than we are in our own brains. And Yeah. So it's, like, vital for the same reason that journaling can be vital for emotional processing after trauma, and I'd love to hear you riff on that. I wanna let Kevin go for us to make sure he gets another chance to talk.
Well, one thing I've been meaning to mention was only tangentially related to what you're talking about was the camo I was mentioned a couple times, he used to be a boomer, and you've turned away from that, and I cut started following you during your dumor photos. And I'm still I didn't think that symbolization local apps, but, of course, I've seen so many predicted collapses fail to arrive that I can't, but can't promise it's imminent or something like a couple of hundred years. It might never happen if we discover cold fusion or something. And too early is the same as wrong. Yeah. But anyway, what I wanted to mention to you face to face was I don't understand why people turned away from you after you turned away from humorism because still found you're an interesting interlocutor here. You have a lot of interesting things to say. So if you don't wanna talk about humorism anymore, that's fine. I wanna hear what you do wanna talk about. So I'm interested in here for that.
And that sort of leads back into the AI problem. I can have an AI assistant who curates ten thousand different podcasts until, you know, you will find the segment really interesting about my treatments show. And I might find it really interesting, but it's not the same, the personal relationship that I've had from listening to you and being interested in your ideas. And I can't imagine if this AI assistant finds me three hundred podcasts and I'm very interested in how can I possibly have the same relationship to each of those podcasters as I do to the ones that I picked up myself? I just don't think, hey, I can do that for us even though it seemed to do that. Well, a lot of the people that left I mean, a whole incident where I rejected a basic premise of my sort of public personality. In the people that left, I don't wanna say good written exactly, but best to be buddy. Yeah. Court that remains zero just gems.
I've had such wonderful interactions both online and in person. And it's weird because I know somebody who's been listening to me since two thousand and six. If we meet for the first time, they're meeting a celebrity and they're nervous. And that makes no sense to me because I'm this broke dude, who's itinerant, who's doing physical labor to make money, who can't afford freaking dentistry. Okay. I got missing teeth in the front here in the bottom. It's bizarre to me that that's their experience, but I know that it is.
So when I got here, Kevin picked me up at the Albuquerque airport, and I'd been corresponding with him. He seemed like a known presence. I'd seen his picture before, so I recognized him when I saw him in his I had a friendly history with him that was comfortable, but I know at the exact same time when the seat opposite me was a familiar experience which was uncomfortable. Yes. Because I raised my hand a second. Yes. That's exactly how I felt. Part of it is because I've listened to literally be a thousand hours of your voice without actually missing actually meeting you in person. So I've heard this voice that I'm so familiar with, and I know so many details about your life and then there he is. For me to ride. That was weird.
But part of the reason I have this sort of celebrity image of you is because you're very talented at what you do. You have this amazing way of conducting interview that lets people that really gets out with deeper parts of somebody's theses. And you in the mainstream media that's very hit or miss, I might see a very long detailed article that doesn't get at the real core of a person's ideas. The way that you have a talent to, the extra environmentalists are another great example. These are people who should be in our mainstream media to have the talent for that and they're not.
It kinda gets back to something I was gonna mention about Star Trek. Part of the reason Star Trek is hit or miss is because I think there's a big gatekeeping process in Hollywood where you can only get to be an Alex Kirschmann. You only get you know, show if you're in with the right crowd, you have certain connections, and that's not all not always the most talented person. Internet and technology has given us a promise where everybody can put up as material, and I'm not sure it's really materialized. So it's nice to find someone. Even if he doesn't have a big audience, he really has a talent for what he's doing, and I try to follow that person. So I think it. Thank you.
And it's good to circle back and end on Star Trek. Yeah. Well, I well, just last thing real quick is better be that Star Trek. Well, it is. Right? Because Star Trek is this post. Post money thing where picard famously says we pursue the to improve ourselves. We actualize now. We're not obsessed with subsistence. And then there's that great scene of the triple lift with De Anatroy and Mark Twain. Yes. Yeah. I know.
But so and then there's this there's this thing that, again, just wanna pin it back to your lessons over your career and the fact that so many people seem like Eric Davis being the guy who got me into podcasting and my mentor and guiding light along the way for so much of this. And he has really drawn back and constricted his own audience as well and drawn inward. And I wonder if that's when we were to double back to John Michael Greer on this notion, it's not to the stars or collapse, it's like there are ways that this we were talking about earlier with the time of Didiero and the faith of science and conciliance. There was that this kind of grows for a while and it could just touch shrinks and there's something over the course of our lives, especially as we move on in the second half of our lives, you're not trying to accumulate anymore. You're trying to pare down and do more with less. And, yeah, so I just I'd love to hear you wrap on that because this is a thing where to the extent that this show is based on it actually started out as a way of interviewing friends of mine who are older than me, and we're not necessarily gonna provide their own oral history. It was like originally a way for me to just get silverbacks on record. And so I'd love to hear you enter something like that into the museum and just shine a light down the path for the people that are to whom you are an elder. Or will be an ancestor. I hope I have more than two descendants. That's the money I have right now.
From even before I'd left the place where I'm staying right now to come over here, I was rehearsed deflecting you if you tried to ask me about my personal history because I've been on many podcasts before and people tend to ask me about it. And I'm fifty four now. I'm about to turn fifty five. So it's and I've lived an idiosyncratic life, so it's a long story, and I'm tired of telling it. But I think one thing that is relevant is that I was one of the first hundred employees at amazon dot com. I had three interviews there. My final interview was with Jeff Bezos. Played air hockey with Jeff Bezos and close to wealth. In fact, within the last year, I mean, I were a party at a billionaire's house, not a billionaire. I'm not a millionaire. I'm not even I guess I'm a thousandaire. Between my checking account and PayPal, I've probably got, like, fifteen hundred bucks. But that's flush for me because I've just come off this straight job where I was making snow. Right. And the colonel Parker says this year. I'll make some snow. No. I was making literal snow.
Their various people have introduced me as a guy who used to have a lot of money because he was early at Amazon and then who adopted more sort of authentic, mendicant lifestyle. This is not what happened. I just spent the money. I spent the money and then it was gone. And I've been out of the job market for a decade. And so I had to thrash around and try to make something work. And I was selling insurance in Northwest Arkansas when I discovered podcasting. And as soon as I discovered that podcasting was a thing, two months later, I was doing my own podcast. And it seemed as if I had been preparing to do a podcast for decades. And it seemed to be the thing that just clicked. Okay. This is it. This is the thing I'm gonna do. But it didn't make enough money to even hold my marriage together. And I'm a father of two, but I haven't lived with my kids since my oldest who is now twenty two was nine. I've been the friendly uncle to my kids.
And this point, see this personal this central plank of my identity as being an artist as being somebody who wasn't gonna walk the conventional path, who wasn't gonna have the straight job. And here I am at fifty four, the longest time I've spent in w two employment was two years in my whole life. And now I see that vision of myself as something which has really put me in a tight spot here toward the end of my working career. And one thing that I think a lot of young people buy into is this notion that you're gonna be special and better and more authentic then all the working stiffs out there if hold the line and just refuse to comply. And yeah, maybe you will.
I don't know. I mean, I don't have a control path to my life. I don't have like, when I was in high school, I joined the Marine Corps, and I signed up for six years' active duty. And it was just a weird series of improbable circumstances that kept me from going to boot camp. But that life didn't actually get lived. I don't know what I don't know if I'd be alive at age fifty four. Maybe I'd be miserable because I still cherish this idea that now I could have been an artist.
I could have been somebody special. But right now, I'm leaning toward the This whole being a special person thing was a mind virus that fucked me up. But again, I don't have control life to compare it to. I feel the same way except I feel that way with my With respect to my father-in-law being the control. Oh, yeah. Because he went to full sale and got an audio engineering degree and had some kids and then went straight and became an investment adviser.
And I remember being in my twenties because I've been with Nikki now for eighteen years. And I remember in the early years of our relationship thinking I cannot understand, I cannot appreciate and I'm not sure I agree with the decisions that he made and the sacrifices that he made. And then fourteen years into our insanely rocky relationship, Nicki and I had our first kid and found something greater to keep us together than our own careers, which were constantly pushing us in opposite directions. And I got this job, which at the surface seemed like a dream job. And then the longer I realized I'd gone from thirteen years of self employment into a w two situation in a very prestige focused organization. Very it means a lot to be involved with them, but at the same time, it's a mission driven academic nonprofit. There's all this stuff that comes with that And I'm I hold my institution in the greatest respect that I can hold an institution.
And still, they told me, right, when they hired me, they're like, we're not sure that you're gonna do well here because you're used to being your own weirdo, a parent person, and we we worry that's gonna be a problem for you. And that was a very astute for them to acknowledge. And caused me to reflect a lot on the compromises that the other fathers in my life have made and mothers. Right? Because I've seen Nikki give up her career, be mother to these children, and Both of us in our own ways fight to reclaim something of ourselves as discrete individuals, something of the artist that I around which I had crystallized an identity and or something of the free spirit and luthier and view list that my wife was before becoming a mother. And so, yeah, listening to you talk about this, it really is to the extent that the show is just animated by a question about being good ancestors and and also this horizontal dimension of time thinking about the other possibilities I really value what you just shared. And, yeah, if we're gonna if we're gonna say that this is two parts of one big episode.
Then we started in your show talking about the creative potential constraint. And I just find it so interesting to hear people talk about what one choice over another choice has meant in their lives or the ways that things they did not choose have come to shape the way that they make meaning of their lives. And just so that I'm not the last person to speak here, one more time. I'm gonna pass the ball back to you and just let you carry it to wherever you wanna carry it. You're looking at me, but you gestured at Kevin. Well, Kevin's Kevin is always someone I find difficult to coax out onto the dance floor. But, yeah, why don't you why don't you hit us, Kevin? You you actually have been very quiet. It's more frivolous than what you guys were just talking about.
But one thing that I'm known for by the people who know me that has not come up in my conversations to you, what Michael knows is that I follow local bands. Well, I know that. You didn't mention it. We went to a show last night of our interview. So so I just I just specialize in started in college of front of my Darns was a drummer. He asked everyone to come to his shows, and then I like the band that opened for them. And I like the band that opened for them and so on. You like the old old branch to treat commercial. And so, obviously, as you can probably guess, I've seen hundreds and hundreds of times where there's a really talented man who's making good music that I like and just the constraints of reality and living and earning money just caused the band members to quit. They didn't fight, but they didn't have creative disagreements with just just bothers me so much these past not tread like you were talking about, you know, just because the reality is that you have to make money and and give something up. So this is a reason why, you know, like, I'm always coming off as very anti capitalist. It shouldn't be so binary. There ought to be a little more social support so that people can do things that are not monetarily, benumerative. And I think our lives would be richer because of that even if economically on the numbers we weren't as productive. Think if a lot of those bands are together our lives to be richer, I wish there was some media out there where you didn't have to choose between making art and making money. This is basically like conclusion applies to podcasters as well as bands. Well, it's too late in the data and embark on a discussion of rifle economics. Next time. Yeah. Maybe.
I'm somebody accused me recently of having returned to mainstream mentality. Because I'm not interested in peak oil anymore, and I didn't want to follow them into their obsession over COVID. And I am. A change that I've made, pretty solid change in the last ten years. I mean grown up and spent most of my life being a pretty harsh critic of the United States. But I've lived in other countries. And I life in other countries has led me to appreciate the United States as an empire. As a global empire that provides stability, that millions of people live better lives as a result of the post World War two arrangement where the US was the last man standing, And instead of behaving like a typical empire, the United States said, you know what, the most important thing to us is to prevent this spread of international communism and to contain the Soviet Union. And we are going to previous empires are basically pumps that draw wealth from the periphery to the center. The US is not that at all. Australia, Germany, France, I mean, these are inarguably imperial client states, but the people who live there have healthcare, the people who live there have paid vacation in maternity leave. I mean, what other empire in the past has allowed the people in the peripheral territories to live more affluent lives than the people in the Imperial Center.
And so come to I mean, yeah, you could call that a reverse to mainstream mentality where you think, oh, anybody who's just unquestioningly patriotic in support of the United States is dumb. They haven't thought through. They haven't read. They haven't done their homework. Well, I've done the homework. I can recite the catechism of why the United States is evil, but I can also abstract from that. And say that yeah. But in a world, like, in the first half of the twentieth century, Europe exploded in a a paroxysm of self destruction twice. Why haven't they done that again? I would say it's because of NATO and what is NATO without the United States? Globalization. Yeah. It's ugly. It has made has created a popper class out of what used to be a prosperous blue class middle class or blue collar middle class in the United States.
So anyway, I mean, I wouldn't go too far down that road other than to say that the most effective propaganda is gonna be ninety percent truth. The more glaring lies you can take out of your propaganda and keep it truthful the more effective it will be as propaganda. And so if you revert to a mainstream mentality, will you believe everything on the BBC, or you believe thing on MSNBC? Or is it CNBC? You know, fluctuates and I don't pay close attention. CNN will say, Yeah. It's propaganda. Yeah. It favors the mainstream. It favors the status quo. But again, the most effective the most effective propaganda is gonna be mostly true. So if you revert to a mainstream mentality, you're probably going to have a more accurate view of the world than if you are reflexively anti authoritarian, where That's the mainstream story. If that's the mainstream position, then the reverse must be true. Because we are ruled by sheepshifting reptilian overlords who lie about everything.
So here I am, I guess, being the crotchety late middle aged guy saying, there are worse things than to get a job. And to work and make money and support your family and not question too dramatically what you hear on the news. There are worst fates for sure. Yeah. And one of them was it speak to this thing? We've talked about this a lot in the Discord server, actually, is how this thing, oh, oh, I could be anyone. I can do anything. The story that so we were all told is in in Yes. In future generations of Yeah. Twenty years -- Yeah. -- people channeling Chuck Polanuk now. Right. Yeah. Yeah.
The Fight Club message was really so poignant at the time that it arrived for the people who were fans of that story because we were like, oh, wait. We were told so many of us were told we were gifted kids. Turnout, we just had ADHD. Or, like, There's this like, our boomer parents were riding this wave of self liberation that they didn't realize yet had been weaponized against them for political ends and they wanted to tell the story to their kids about, oh, you can do anything.
And as led to is this just plague of people being, like, I don't know how to choose, I don't know how to limit myself, I don't know how to we talk about adulting has become a verb, and it's a it is as much of a performance of identity as anything anyone's doing on social media. And it's just incredibly messed up. And it's funny because in a way, I think our kids who are going to inherit a world that is so much more turbulent than the world that we believed we were growing up in at least in the global north in the seventies and eighties was like, our kids are gonna have this whole other thing, which is suddenly, all of those hyper inflated downtown real estate prices are gonna plummet, and the world's gonna be full of refugee camps and random sarcastic violence mitigated by Titan AI system that are, like, holding it down, keeping the fire from just erupting everywhere, and then also starting fires randomly that we can't predict. There's a weird way in which I think they're gonna have a much more healthy and balanced understanding of where humans sit in the food web and what the choices that we really have as agents in the world are and, yeah, I don't know, God damn it. I did it again. Listen. If you've listened to this show and have critiqued me for gabbing on too much, I just wanna let you know that you was alcohol involved. There was who was involved. And also, I'm sorry, And if you really want more of KMO, he's got this epic archive to dig through. And I'm not on it. So for the one episode, so treat yourself. Yeah. Any parting thoughts? K m o dot show is the new show. It's got an internal rhyme. Very simple. Show is the domain name, like dot com or dot I o or dot net. Could you get that self promotion there at the end? And Kevin was one sixteen. He was the guest host on Future Fossil's one sixteen. Go back and listen to that. I don't have anything to say besides this kind of honor. This was everything that I hope that would be in an interview with you in a interview. So any effort that I spent causing this to happen and paid off a thousand percent dividends. Fucking aim. Yep. I hold you gentlemen both in the highest respect.
About a month after that conversation between Michael, Kimo, and myself, KMO posted an opinion video, which asked the question, will AI become politicized in much the same way that the science of coronavirus became politicized? I wanted to point out Camo's video led me to crystalize one of my main objections about AI. It's something that worries me about AI performing even as it's advertised. AI is advertised. I mean, literally, I've seen the advertisements. As allowing you to create more content, text, visual, even audio by an order of magnitude at a faster pace. I've literally seen, post ten times as many blog posts and attract people to your site. People will use it to create ten times as many videos without the need for costumes, actors, or even a camera.
As we already know, we will be flooded with fake scientific study papers that will be virtually indistinguishable from the real thing at first glance. Every advance in technology is billed as, quote, labor saving, unquote, But what we have seen from history so far, basically without exception, is that every advance squeezes more labor out of us, leaving us with less free time and leisure like the Red Queen's race. When tech increases our productivity, more productivity is expected from us and taken for granted. When tech increases the personal power and autonomy of individuals, all eight billion of us, our lives become more and more complicated. Well, who is going to have time to read slash intake that flood of new content. Won't it be inevitable that we consumers will need to have personal AIs that digest this AI content for us, weed out the fakes, sniff it out the tidbits that the AIs think are the most relevant and interesting for each consumer, based on the AI models of our individual tastes. So if AI's generate the vast bulk of content, and AIs are the ones who need to intake slash read, listen, watch all this new content. Then what's the point of having humans around anymore? Since it seems like the bulk of the economy, at least here in the US, revolves around content, entertainment, and IP, As AI unleashes a flood of content into the economy, it seems to me like the surviving humans will be more and more marginalized and dehumanized. And a day after I wrote that, Charles Eisenstein, who has appeared on the future fossils podcast, put out an essay which hit on a lot of the same themes. Since Charles Eisenstein's work is free to the public if you sign up on his website at substack, I'm just going to read his essay. You can find it there along with his other writings. Charles Eisenstein's essay is called an edifying thought on AI, published April seventh.
One of the biggest headaches for teachers is reading and grading homework. After a stressful day at school, they return home to a pile or these days a digital drop box full of papers. How tempting it must be to let an AI read, summarize, and possibly even grade these papers. That's what technology is for after all to eliminate tedious labor. On the student end, it is no secret that a lot of students are using chat GPT to write their papers for them, ask chat GPT to, quote, make the case that Athens was doomed to lose the Peloponnesian war, unquote, And voila, there's your paper. No longer must students endure the tedium of writing papers on subjects they really don't care about. This is a wonderful development. AI is both writing and reading the student's papers with no human involvement whatsoever.
In time, we might hope that education will be fully automated. Humans can sit on the sidelines and let the machines do all that dull teaching and learning. I had a similar idea when I read that Google is unveiling tools to help users write and edit emails with the appropriate tone and content. As well as to write documents in Google Docs. This is great. And because no one will be able to cope with the vast expansion of written content that will inundate us, thanks to these tools.
We will soon start using AI to read our emails and documents as well. Text will be flying back in forth, but no human will read it. The AIs will do it for us. The future is bright. AI will help us produce orders of magnitude more words pictures and video, and then also help us consume it. It will write entire annual reports, white papers, news articles, and academic papers that no one will ever read.
You might ask if no one ever reads them, why should we produce all this verbiage in the first place? I'm disappointed that you asked. The new content will be higher quality than the old, especially as the technology progresses. We will have more and better information, and thankfully, we will have AI to read it. I hope that was edifying. Sometime in the next week or so, I'm going to post a trial log on AI that I engaged in with a couple of other philosophers. I promise that its intellectual coagency will equal if not surpassed out of the above observations. Thanks again for listening. Future fossils is an independent ad free entirely listener supported program. If you believe in the work that I'm doing and you wanna help see it thrive into the unimaginable future, then you can avail yourself of all of the back stage goodies at patreon dot com slash microgarfield. Or you can just leave a review at Apple Podcasts. That's more helpful than you know. Reach out to me personally at Michael Garfield on Twitter or Instagram and have a wonderful EON.
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