Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Portal (with host Eric Weinstein), Ep. #027 – On Avoiding Apocalypses

64:58
is this you know kind of funny idea of a
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paperclip Maximizer paperclip is
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representative of any widget so make an
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AI that basically can do two things it
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can optimize the production of something
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here a paperclip and so it can use its
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intelligence to do that so it can make
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more efficient supply chains and
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whatever and it can use its intelligence
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to increase its own intelligence so
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you’ll get a exponential curve on
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intelligence which also then means an
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exponential curve on its capacity to
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optimize whatever narrow metric its
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optimizing and so of course after it
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just makes increases in efficiency which
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are awesome then it starts making so
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many paper clips that it needs new
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substrate to make paperclips out of and
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it eventually turns the whole world into
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paperclips because it can it can grow
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its intelligence to out-compete
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whoever’s competing for those paperclips
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faster than they can that’s a very short
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version of it you’re going to say
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something well just
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I guess what I find very bizarre about
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all of this is that I live in multiple
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social worlds and intellectual worlds
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and in some of my worlds this stuff
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strikes people as loopy oh here comes
66:06
the stuff about the AGI that the robots
66:08
are gonna kill us all and in some other
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portion of my world it’s like well
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clearly we’re on the verge of AGI and
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that’s going to be the existential risk
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and this is in part to go back to your
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original point and something that you
66:24
and I share a failure a catastrophic
66:27
failure of communal sense making right
66:30
so what I’ve claimed is is that the
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revolution that we’re in is is based
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around the idea that we don’t have what
66:39
I’ve called semi reliable communal sense
66:41
making we can’t all agree now even if
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it’s slightly wrong or maybe even deeply
66:47
wrong as to what it is that we’re seeing
66:49
where we are in human history what our
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issues are and so the first part of this
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decision tree that goes really wrong is
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that a lot of people think that we’re in
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great shape okay so this is I I’m
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actually gonna come back to the
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paperclip Maximizer because it explains
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why we don’t have communal sense making
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if instead of thinking about an
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artificial intelligence they can
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increase its capacity while optimizing
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something we think of a collective
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intelligence that can some way that
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humans are processing information
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together in a group a market is a kind
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of collective intelligence right the
67:26
whole idea of what the invisible hand of
67:27
the market that the market will figure
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out what stuff people really want it’s
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expressed as demand and then which
67:34
version of the various supplies is best
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that I would say it’s an intelligence
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it’s not a central intelligence but the
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idea is that there is kind of an
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emergent intelligent is an emergent
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property of this thing and you know it
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computes things like prices and
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allocations and if that’s what you mean
67:55
by intelligence that I oh yeah so it’s
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it is a bottom-up coordination system
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that does end up having new information
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emerges
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the result of the bottom-up coordination
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okay and I can take a market as a as
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kind of at the sender I can take
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capitalism at the center of the more
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general class of what I would call rival
68:19
risk dynamics as a whole as a kind of
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collective intelligence because the
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thing that wins at the game of rivalry
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gets selected for and so there is this
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kind of learning of how to get better at
68:29
rival risk games learning across the
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system as a whole which which things win
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in or which things keep more people
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believing the thing which keep people
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from at ridding out of the thing like
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that that makes sense yes and so I would
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say that we have if we just take the
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capitalism part capitalism is a paper
68:56
clip Maximizer that is converting the
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natural world and human resources into
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capital while getting better at doing so
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so it goes from barter to currency to
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fiat currency to fractional reserve
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process to complex financial instruments
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to high-speed trading on those those are
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like the increase in its capacity to do
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that but specifically now it is a
69:18
incentive for all the humans to do
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certain things
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so if leaving the whale alive in the
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ocean confers no economic advantage on
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me but killing it and selling it as meat
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is a million dollars of economic
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advantage and if I don’t kill it the a
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whale still won’t be alive because
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somebody else is gonna kill it anyways
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and then that they might actually even
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use that economic power against me now
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I’ve got I have an incentive system that
69:41
is encouraging all the humans to behave
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in certain kinds of ways and now not
69:45
only do we need to kill the whales we
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need to race at getting better to do it
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and making better militaries and
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extracting all the resources and so I
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see this as a kind of so if I’m
69:56
understanding where you’re headed what
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you’re saying is is that the market is
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kind of a precursor to an AGI it is a
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collective intelligence that is
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eventually self terminating in the same
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way that a cancer is right the cancer
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cells are self-replicating and they’re
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growing
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to the normal cells but they end up
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killing the host which kills themselves
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and so the the reason I’m bringing this
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up in terms of collective sense making
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is those who do the will of capitalism
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like those who do the will of the
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paperclip Maximizer Moloch’s or on
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whatever kind of analogy we want to use
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here those who do well at the game of
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power get more power and then they use
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that legislative power media power
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capital power to make systems that to
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modify the systems in ways that help
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them more right those who oppose the
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system of power also oppose those who
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are doing well at it so even though the
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system is inanimate the people who are
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doing well at it or animate so then they
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take those people out which is we see
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how Martin Luther King and Gandhi and
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Jesus and etc died people who actually
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opposed the system of power right and so
71:13
you end up having a system that is
71:15
selecting for or is conferring more
71:19
power to those who are good at getting
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more power which ends up meaning who are
71:24
selecting for conferring power to
71:27
sociopathy yeah I I don’t find this part
71:33
of the argument well maybe I’m just
71:36
stuck somewhere doing okay let me be I
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mean I think I’m on your side so I want
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to help make a different part of this
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case I think a lot of this comes down to
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magical thinking because of the non use
71:49
of nuclear weapons against humans since
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1945 I think that one thing if 9/11 had
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been a nuclear attack rather than a
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weird conventional attack we would know
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where we were in human history and by
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virtue of our luck and our luck alone we
72:11
are completely confused as to how
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perilous the present moment is because
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our luck has been amazing and if you
72:18
believe surprising yeah if you believe
72:22
that somehow it can’t be luck because
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it’s this good then you believe that
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there’s some unknown principle keeping
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us safe and that you don’t know what the
72:32
name of that principle
72:33
maybe it’s human engine in ingenuity
72:36
maybe it’s some sort of secret
72:38
collective that keeps the world sensible
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maybe it’s that markets have tied us all
72:44
together I don’t know what your story is
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yeah but whatever your story is it’s
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wrong and it’s it’s obviously wrong
72:51
right the the idea that we didn’t have
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anything like 9/11 and then we had a
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sudden 9/11 kind of attack is itself
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paradigm attic that these things with
73:05
which you have no data familiarity I
73:08
mean look there was no suicide bombing
73:12
in the modern world before the 1980s and
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I think this is the point is that it’s
73:20
generally more advantageous within a
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market to believe that markets are good
73:24
in the world as healthy and things are
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awesome
73:26
I’ll usually do better in academia if I
73:29
say academia is good right which is a
73:31
point that you make if I really
73:32
criticize it heavily I’m gonna get less
73:34
tense this is Peter’s point more than my
73:35
point okay yeah I will usually do better
73:39
in markets if I say they’re awesome and
73:41
do better in a corporation if I say it’s
73:42
awesome and so there is kind of an
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incentive for optimism about the
73:48
dominant system if I want to do well in
73:50
the dominant system and if I have
73:51
critiques of the dominant system I’m
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usually going to do less well in it
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which means less power will get
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conferred to those ideas and so there’s
73:58
kind of a mimetic selection right like
74:00
the memes that that do well end up being
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the memes that propagate but do well
74:06
with an ax current system well look this
74:07
is why I’ve called for a return to
74:11
above-ground nuclear testing because my
74:13
belief is is that we you laugh but I’m
74:16
not kidding yeah I mean if we don’t get
74:18
our amygdalas really engaged with where
74:21
we are this magical thinking which by
74:24
the way I suffer from this magical thing
74:26
I’m not it’s not something I’m claiming
74:27
everyone else has I have the idea that
74:29
nothing too bad can can come that you
74:33
know I always asked this weird question
74:34
which is how many foreign nuclear
74:36
devices are currently on US soil people
74:39
always think about the nukes will have
74:40
to come through an ICBM I’m not at all
74:42
convinced that that would have to be
74:43
true people just don’t think about these
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things because
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we’ve been in such a rare period of time
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that these things haven’t like everybody
74:53
who’s talked in these terms
74:55
sort of to me like there’s a part of me
74:58
that sounds like okay well that’s the
74:59
kind of a conversation you have on on a
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dorm floor during a bull session like
75:06
grown-ups realize that something is
75:08
keeping the world together which is
75:11
funny right because it’s basically
75:12
saying grown-ups have bought into
75:15
magical thinking exactly yeah and so by
75:20
the way a lot of the people that I think
75:22
of as being the smartest most
75:24
interesting people have not bought into
75:26
this magical thinking what has happened
75:29
is is that those people have been pushed
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out of the institutions that form this
75:35
sort of weird conversation that I refer
75:37
to as the gated institutional narrative
75:38
and the depopulation of dissenters like
75:42
really serious dissenters from inside
75:45
the institutional complex is one of the
75:50
defining features of our age to me but
75:52
something that you can’t get any
75:53
commentary on because the commentary
75:56
you’re really looking for is is that
75:59
conversation so what I just try to do is
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to show people that no matter what you
76:04
do the gated institutional narrative
76:06
cannot look at certain very basic facts
76:09
right so you get a very dangerous kind
76:12
of groupthink there and even if someone
76:15
disagrees with it they have a lot more
76:17
incentive to not publicly disagree with
76:19
it within that group think only of those
76:22
people I mean this is why we’re doing
76:24
the portal podcast which is let’s be
76:27
honest this is pirate radio yeah and I
76:30
don’t know why it hasn’t been shut down
76:32
at the moment the best thing that the
76:36
gated institutional conversation has
76:38
going for it is that all of these
76:41
interesting people are simply humans and
76:45
you can destroy any human reputationally
76:48
and so the cheapest thing to do is not
76:50
to kill anybody right but just as
76:51
somebody starts to accumulate mindshare
76:54
the gated institutional narrative goes
76:56
into into hyperdrive and it just starts
76:59
pumping out
77:01
fear uncertainty in doubt which is the
77:03
you know Fudd is the major tool for
77:06
destroying an individual’s ability to
77:08
communicate reality yeah
77:11
something I think about is the people
77:16
who went through what happened in Syria
77:19
recently or say collapse in Libya or
77:23
wherever where you had an actual pretty
77:25
developed nation that didn’t also expect
77:29
that it was going to go through war and
77:30
collapse and then it did I bet that if
77:33
we talk to those people they would have
77:35
a very different intuition for the state
77:37
of the fragility here because they
77:39
actually have first-person experience
77:41
it’s something that seemed really stable
77:43
and like it wasn’t going to collapse
77:44
actually did and most of us haven’t
77:47
actually been through anything like a
77:49
collapse in our life and we don’t have a
77:51
good intuition for things that are only
77:53
in history books and so this is a place
77:57
where our intuition by itself like our
78:00
intuition is informed by our experience
78:02
but our experience is very short right
78:04
and if we study past civilizations one
78:07
of the things we know and you know we
78:08
can read Tainter in the collapse of
78:10
complex societies or you know other kind
78:14
of good insights on how civilizational
78:16
collapse works but none of the previous
78:18
civilizations are still here like that’s
78:21
that’s one of the important things to
78:23
get is that they go through a life cycle
78:24
and that they mostly collapse for
78:26
self-induced reasons and that even if
78:29
someone else overtook them oftentimes
78:31
the group that overtook them was smaller
78:33
than rivals that they had fended off
78:35
previously because they had already
78:37
started going through institutional
78:39
collapse or civilizational collapse and
78:41
if we look across all of them there are
78:43
some things we can generalize about what
78:45
leads to civilizational collapse but I
78:47
think the difference now versus any of
78:49
those other times is that due to
78:50
globalization yeah in some ways the US
78:53
and China are different civilizations
78:54
but both of them would fail without each
78:56
other currently and like we don’t make
79:00
our own computational substrate we don’t
79:01
make our own lots of things right like
79:03
they don’t do their own fundamental well
79:05
but the size of the hope of the but the
79:07
architects of many of these systems
79:11
believed that a kind of eakin
79:14
Sonic mutually assured destruction yeah
79:17
it was the best way of producing hang
79:21
that’s been true you well so I was gonna
79:24
bring up the case of Europe so one of
79:26
the arguments for the European
79:27
experiment is that you Europe is
79:31
actually arguably the world’s most
79:33
dangerous region people are very
79:36
competent and their long-standing
79:38
rivalries and hatreds and you had some
79:45
desire to create something that seems
79:47
impossible which is a United States of
79:50
Europe and nobody was gonna sign up for
79:53
that so how do you do that while you
79:54
back you back them into a financial
79:58
union without political Union you give
80:00
them their ability the ability to issue
80:02
their own debt but not an ability to
80:04
print it their currencies and then you
80:08
wait for the collapse to come and then
80:13
your hope in this storyline anyway you
80:15
create a Federation which becomes a
80:19
political Federation the United States
80:21
of Europe is created because of a
80:24
sovereign debt crisis and we sort of
80:26
went through that which I believe was it
80:29
was was sort of a sought after outcome
80:31
which is maybe hopefully people will
80:34
print their own their own debt and
80:37
they’ll issue debt and they won’t be
80:39
able to print their own currencies in
80:41
order to inflate their way out of it
80:43
ergo something positive will have to
80:46
happen that seems to me to be also a
80:51
recipe for disaster and that the
80:53
architects of these plans seemingly died
80:57
and everybody’s on autopilot not
80:59
understanding you know I’ve seen this in
81:01
the in terms of certain US policies
81:03
where people create a policy for reasons
81:06
that nobody’s really understanding and a
81:09
short time later nobody even knows why
81:10
the policy was created the real reason
81:13
and to begin with do you see that this
81:15
kind of a world I think that’s actually
81:17
one of the meaningful dynamics in
81:20
institutional decay and in
81:21
civilizational decay is that a new
81:24
civilization is formed coming out
81:26
coming out of a war or after a migration
81:28
or through a famine or after like some
81:30
really developing yeah and to really be
81:36
able to build something new took real
81:38
capacities what you would call the
81:40
contact with the unforgiving right like
81:42
real empirical capacities and just
81:45
loaded my lingo sir a bit yeah and I
81:48
think that’s really good
81:50
lingo because like the I can’t I can’t
81:54
lie to physics and have it reward me for
81:56
it right like either I can grow corn or
81:59
I can’t grow corn either I can win it a
82:01
war or I can’t but there’s a real
82:03
situation and so oftentimes when we go
82:05
from non more time where the generals
82:08
are politicians to war time where the
82:11
politician generals who maybe suck at
82:13
war start losing battles and we cycle
82:15
through looking for ones who are good at
82:16
it then we get some who are actually
82:17
good at war those difficult situations
82:20
select for real empirical capacity but
82:24
when you don’t have those difficult
82:25
situations then you’re actually
82:27
selecting for who can do politics best
82:28
which means convince everyone of
82:30
something whether it’s true or not well
82:31
this is what I call sharp Minds versus
82:33
sharp elbows yeah and so you have the
82:37
people who are at the beginning of
82:38
figuring out how to do some new
82:41
civilization and those people had some
82:44
capacity to be in direct contact with
82:46
reality and figure stuff out and then
82:48
oftentimes what they pass on is the
82:51
stuff they figured out but not the
82:53
psychology in them and the capacities to
82:55
figure stuff out so the generator
82:57
function of the civilizational models
82:59
lost and so now we start getting copying
83:01
errors and people are hopefully trying
83:04
to at least copy it earnestly so now
83:07
we’ve got a constitution or a set of law
83:09
or a set of market practices or whatever
83:11
it is but we don’t really understand how
83:13
we generated that effective thing and so
83:16
that also means that as the environment
83:18
changes we won’t be able to adapt it
83:20
adequately and that also means that
83:23
we’re not going to know how to deal with
83:24
failures of it so then some people
83:26
recognizing that start realizing that
83:29
they can do better by defecting on the
83:32
system and kind of preying on it then by
83:35
participating with the system and so and
83:38
this is what we
83:40
think of as corruption right where they
83:41
can start maximizing their own bonus
83:45
structure or do it back in the or
83:47
whatever and so long as it’s adequately
83:48
hidden they can get away with it and now
83:50
that collapses the civilization even
83:52
further so it goes from loss of
83:54
generator function to copying errors to
83:56
incentive for internal defection and
83:59
disinformation and you know like I think
84:03
that every civilization has faced this a
84:05
loss of intergenerational knowledge
84:07
transfer because it’s not just the
84:08
knowledge it’s the generative function
84:10
of how Lahti good it’s also the case
84:11
that real knowledge I think has become
84:15
too dangerous to transmit and the real
84:21
knowledge doesn’t know what the social
84:27
norms are and you know certainly the
84:32
biological world is so disturbing I mean
84:35
there’s no corner of the biological
84:37
world since you can look at where and
84:39
not come away thinking wow that’s
84:41
incredibly destroyed and what we’re
84:45
seeing right now a situation in which we
84:46
can’t cope with any discussion of
84:48
biology every single attempt to have a
84:51
real biological discussion given all of
84:54
the social issues that it would bring up
84:56
immediately ends in madness
84:59
I’ve just seen no ability to talk real
85:01
biology in public and so this is the
85:04
earliest place where I can see here’s a
85:06
subject of science that actually can’t
85:09
be discussed I don’t have anything in
85:11
particular in mind
85:12
there’s just you know like you know Bob
85:15
Trevor’s work on parent-child conflict
85:17
if we have a beautiful story about how
85:19
mothers would do anything for their
85:21
children and somebody comes along and
85:22
says no it’s actually a struggle where
85:24
mothers want to hold on to their
85:26
resources because they’re gonna have
85:27
many children and the child attempts to
85:31
gain as much resource as possible
85:32
without regard for the mother
85:34
that’s so against the Hallmark card
85:36
version of motherhood for Mother’s Day
85:38
that we can’t have a discussion about
85:40
parent-child conflict in biology it’s
85:42
not that that one isn’t about gender
85:44
it’s not about race it’s not about you
85:46
know power dynamics it’s about it just
85:49
immediately runs into one of our
85:51
cherished nonsensical points of
85:54
or is it the market is self-correcting
85:56
the market is always self-correcting and
85:58
knows best that the leading thinkers are
86:01
all sitting in institutional chairs that
86:05
every previous civilization was the
86:08
Hobbesian bias brutish nasty short
86:10
dreadful lives and that everything is
86:12
awesome just in the last little bit
86:13
because of this system so don’t
86:15
criticize the system eventually so this
86:16
is the the weird thing that I’m I’m
86:18
finding is that you can’t start
86:21
interesting conversations not only about
86:24
the pessimism of the impending collapse
86:27
if we keep this up but about the
86:29
optimism about well what might we do
86:31
differently like we can’t get energized
86:33
to actually use this period of time to
86:37
do something novel in an interesting and
86:40
hopefully a so think about this the you
86:43
know the definition of infidel for kind
86:45
of a jihadist ideology is anybody that’s
86:47
not supporting the jihadist ideology the
86:50
definition of which to the Crusaders was
86:53
kind of a similar thing right the I have
86:56
a friend who went looked at a bunch of
86:59
the intelligence agency documents in
87:01
Yugoslavia and some of the Baltic
87:03
nations that had been Declassified after
87:05
the USSR collapse specifically regarding
87:06
how the intelligence agencies influenced
87:10
the definition of psychiatry and their
87:12
equivalent of the DSM and so there was
87:14
something like their definition of
87:16
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for
87:17
psychology which tells you when somebody
87:19
is mentally has a personality disorder
87:22
neuroses you remember the previous
87:24
definition of female mania during the
87:26
Victorian period right which basically
87:28
translated to she had a sex drive and so
87:30
that was like a mental illness and but
87:34
so they their definition of something
87:37
that translated to schizophrenia the
87:39
first symptom was had negative feelings
87:41
about the state and the second symptoms
87:44
might take a while to show up and so
87:46
what I think happens is that the
87:47
dominant system ends up eating
87:49
psychology and saying that the
87:51
psychology that supports the dominant
87:53
system is healthy psychology and
87:55
anything that is dissenting – it’s not
87:56
healthy it ends up beating spirituality
87:59
and virtue and ethics and academia and
88:02
whatever to basically say the the
88:05
behaviors that support the system
88:06
are good so the thinking that supports
88:08
those behaviors is good and anything
88:10
that’s dissenting is bad and like it’s
88:13
so easy to see it in the Crusades or in
88:16
jihadism or even in Victorian time
88:18
period it’s just very hard for us to see
88:19
it about ourselves now but I think
88:23
that’s actually like one of these
88:24
fundamental things in terms of you’re
88:26
saying like why don’t we have group
88:28
sense-making is because you have us you
88:30
have a self-perpetuating system that
88:33
includes the self perpetuation of the
88:36
memes that support the system I
88:39
understand well look I also have I ask
88:43
it not because I have no ideas why we
88:45
don’t have communal sense making what
88:48
I’m confused by is why we are not more
88:52
successful people in our group and I
88:56
mean this in a relatively large and
88:58
inclusive sense because you and I come
89:00
from different corners of this large
89:02
collection of people I think people are
89:04
relatively well-spoken some of them have
89:08
fancy degrees some of them have made
89:09
money some of them have become
89:12
relatively well known for their their
89:14
thinking and yet that institutional
89:18
conversation I mean I always liken it a
89:20
bit to the difference between wrestling
89:23
and professional wrestling where in the
89:27
institutional conversation you need to
89:29
know what’s going to happen ahead of
89:30
schedule so the you can know whether
89:33
you’re going to have that part of the
89:35
conversation or not or whether it’s
89:36
going to be that the private
89:38
conversation that we can’t talk about
89:39
versus the public in a conversation in
89:42
this concept I’ve called split level
89:45
argument other people have called
89:46
motte-and-bailey style tactics where you
89:49
have some version of the argument that
89:51
you can make in public and then you have
89:54
some other argument that you really have
89:57
to is governing why you’re saying and
89:59
doing what you’re doing all of these
90:01
things lead to this very unhealthy
90:03
situation whereby there is no communal
90:08
sense making there is a gated
90:10
institutional narrative it seems to be
90:12
decaying progressively year by year
90:15
nobody’s suddenly coming up to me and
90:17
saying wow I think CNN and Fox are doing
90:20
a great job this
90:22
where’s the hope where does this get fun
90:25
and when did we get a chance to to find
90:29
a portal to a better world as you see
90:32
most likely yeah well oh I want to start
90:36
by saying I think this is important and
90:39
I think that you doing this as a portal
90:42
to a better world where you are
90:44
supporting earnest thinking that is
90:48
outside of institutional context and
90:51
maybe heterodox but at least earnest and
90:53
seeking to be well grounded and the fact
90:56
that people are interested in it I think
90:58
is really important when we come back to
91:00
the difference between personal
91:01
incentive and collective incentive right
91:03
you say why aren’t we more successful
91:05
obviously it’s like okay so what is the
91:07
incentive for someone to agree with us
91:10
that for the most part expressing these
91:13
things would make them do less well at
91:16
politics and their job and maybe even
91:18
their social club and maybe even be part
91:21
of the in-group that they’re part of
91:23
whether it’s the left or the right or
91:24
the whatever it is because then they
91:26
would be saying things that there’s
91:27
almost no in-group that they would be
91:29
aligned with or very very small and so
91:32
you still end up having that there’s
91:36
more selective pressure for the
91:38
individuals to continue to be part of
91:40
institutions even an institutional
91:42
thoughts also doesn’t make sense here’s
91:44
the part that doesn’t make sense
91:45
and very kind of you to say what you
91:47
just said let’s imagine that you have
91:51
perfect SAT scores you kept your nose
91:55
clean your whole life you’ve gone to
91:58
Harvard and Yale you’ve got a position
92:02
where you’re commenting as a professor
92:04
with a column in a major publication if
92:10
that person for example calls me all
92:14
right you know or I don’t know I mean
92:21
like I have a Jewish last name I voted
92:23
for Bernie there’s some point where that
92:27
person’s self-esteem I would imagine
92:29
they would be so embarrassed to put
92:32
their life’s
92:33
compliments at risk by just being
92:36
obviously stupidly wrong like that they
92:40
just there’s there seems to be no bottom
92:43
at the moment okay so this is this is
92:45
important about obviously stupidly wrong
92:48
I understand obviously stupidly wrong
92:52
when your ability to demonstrate your
92:55
power is to go out in the public square
92:58
and say the dumbest most ridiculous most
93:01
obviously incorrect thing you can think
93:03
of and nobody says a word yeah well one
93:07
of the things I find interesting is you
93:10
know if we ask a question like even
93:13
what’s actually causing coral die-off
93:15
how much of it is temperature versus pH
93:19
versus nitrogen messing up the
93:21
phosphorous cycle versus trophic
93:23
cascades right how long do we have
93:25
before the coral die-off what are the
93:27
consequences of that you know like
93:30
really important questions right or what
93:32
are the actual what really happened in
93:34
North Korea like why there was such a
93:36
change just recently and what are the
93:38
actual tactical nuclear capabilities
93:40
that they have or or how much leakage
93:43
actually occurred at Fukushima or like
93:45
any of these things nobody fucking knows
93:46
and you’ll hear different narratives and
93:49
you’ll hear kind of equally compelling
93:52
disagreeable narratives on those yeah
93:54
and almost no one has the time or the
93:57
will or the epistemic capacity to really
94:00
figure that out so one point is the
94:02
sense making is actually hard you have a
94:04
situation in which a lot of these things
94:06
are complex enough and there’s so much
94:11
disinformation that when people try to
94:14
actually figure it out they just get a
94:16
they get a information overwhelm and
94:19
then it’s very hard for them to continue
94:22
so when you’re saying like obviously
94:24
stupid well there aren’t there’s a lot
94:25
of places where people can hold a train
94:28
of thought that seems cogent enough even
94:31
if it’s in direct opposition with
94:33
another cogent train of thought and like
94:35
just the plausible deniability that it
94:38
might be one of the true ones since
94:39
nobody can really sense make seems to be
94:41
enough and so this is one of the really
94:44
tricky things is in a world where
94:47
if I have the incentive to dis inform ya
94:50
at various different levels right and
94:52
then I have exponential information tech
94:55
so I can do exponential disinformation
94:57
now this is when I say that the system
94:58
is inanimate I any give this example
95:00
everybody who’s seen Tristan Harris’s
95:03
stuff will know this but if we think
95:05
about disinformation via the nature son
95:07
Harris is mutual colleague he heads a
95:11
movement called time well-spent and he’s
95:13
trying to show you that your attention
95:17
has been effectively weaponized against
95:20
you where the big tech platforms are
95:22
figuring out how to keep your eyeballs
95:23
on their system to your detriment right
95:26
Center for humane technology you can see
95:28
his stuff but like I think I think a lot
95:31
of people know that news stations as
95:36
for-profit companies have to make money
95:38
right and they make money by monetizing
95:41
attention and basically they they sell
95:44
advertising and the advertisers pay more
95:47
the more people who are watching for
95:49
more total minutes so the incentive of
95:52
the news station is to make stuff that
95:54
is both inflaming and scary and
95:57
entertaining and whatever it will engage
95:59
people to spend a lot of time watching
96:00
in and to not say things it would not be
96:04
to the advantage of the advertisers that
96:06
can afford to pay for them right so they
96:07
have like they have an incentive to not
96:10
share really complex nuanced things that
96:13
will have most people click off but to
96:14
share things if I see I don’t I really
96:17
don’t let me give you an argument one of
96:20
the things that I say that I think
96:21
people find interesting is is that I
96:23
believe the National Academy of Sciences
96:25
in the National Science Foundation
96:27
effectively conspired against American
96:30
scientists and engineers on behalf of
96:32
scientific and engineering employers
96:34
that’s a fascinating story I shout it in
96:39
the public square now you know I’ve been
96:42
asked four times to the National Academy
96:44
of Sciences to discuss this so they are
96:46
certainly taking this quite seriously
96:48
I’ve talked to the actual people who are
96:50
involved with this it is amazingly
96:54
interesting you could sell clicks you
96:57
think you could just get advertisers to
97:00
buy for the clicks
97:01
the story nobody’s gonna run the story
97:04
nobody has run the story in I don’t know
97:07
more than 20 years it’s sitting there on
97:09
servers I don’t believe that this is all
97:12
being driven by profit I believe that
97:14
there is some force that we don’t
97:16
understand that keeps the gated
97:19
institutional narrative gated yes I
97:21
think profit is one part of it that’s
97:24
why I say we have to think of profit as
97:25
one aspect of kind of power or rival
97:29
risk dynamic more largely because it’s I
97:32
think government or academia or
97:37
religious or cultural groups or profit
97:39
can all influence the nature of
97:41
narrative and information I think
97:44
there’s an economy of shame and terror
97:47
say more about that I believe that the
97:51
real reason that this works the way it
97:53
does is we have not even gotten to a
97:55
very basic point where it is considered
97:59
acceptable to say I want immigration
98:04
restricted now I point this out because
98:08
I think is very funny most people who
98:10
want immigration restricted enjoy food
98:15
from other cultures they they have
98:17
friends who come from other places they
98:20
enjoy travel there’s nothing xenophobic
98:22
about them in general there is zina
98:24
philic yeah and the idea that you can be
98:27
both as inna philic fascinated and
98:29
interested in the world’s cultures and
98:31
want immigration to your country
98:33
restricted and that this is the generic
98:36
position that the average person holds
98:38
this position is a story that appears
98:42
nowhere so nobody has an idea that zina
98:46
philic restriction lists might be a
98:49
plurality or a majority in the country
98:52
because there is a rule that says anyone
98:55
who calls for a restriction of
98:56
immigration must be tarred as a
98:58
xenophobe right and I think it’s time to
99:02
double dog dare the people who are
99:06
keeping this level of discipline they
99:08
say why can’t why is it it impossible to
99:11
be a zina philic restriction Asst
99:13
what I think is is that the economy of
99:16
shame is such that whoever acts first to
99:21
make this point is in such danger for
99:24
their livelihood their reputation that
99:27
they are going to be tarred and
99:28
feathered and why not one of the things
99:31
that I’m trying to show people is is
99:33
that you can you can make these points
99:35
now I can’t do this on CNN but I can do
99:39
this on pirate radio this is basically
99:41
audio samizdat it to take the Russian
99:44
underground mimeograph movement as as a
99:50
template we can say things here but
99:53
there’s only a matter of time before the
99:57
starts to become problematic to the
99:59
institutional structure and it responds
100:02
by debiting my account
100:05
oh well that that’s that all right guy
100:08
you know he seems disgruntled or you
100:11
know he seems a gloomy and out of touch
100:13
and then the fear uncertainty and doubt
100:15
campaign starts and that’s what is
100:17
actually keeping everybody in line it’s
100:19
not that there isn’t money to be made
100:22
there’s tons of money to be made
100:24
what what’s happened is is that it’s
100:26
been too easy to pick off the initial
100:30
adopters I agree and I’m curious what
100:35
your explanation of how that phenomena
100:38
emerged oh that’s a really so let’s
100:44
really get into it we did have a
100:48
dissension suppression unit inside of
100:52
the FBI which was called COINTELPRO and
100:58
it tried to induce Martin Luther King
101:01
jr. to suicide through a letter from
101:04
Sullivan who was I think number one or
101:06
number two maybe under Hoover this thing
101:09
lived inside of the FBI it probably
101:13
tried to tell John Lennon that he was
101:16
traitorous it tried to humiliate Jean
101:20
Seberg who is a Black Panther supporter
101:22
by planting false information inside of
101:26
mainstream media
101:27
Newsweek in the Los Angeles Times it
101:29
tried to get la cosa nostra to kill Dick
101:33
Gregory the famous comedian and black
101:36
civil rights leader so we did have a
101:39
dirty tricks unit inside of the United
101:41
States that needs to be known broadly
101:45
which was pretty thoroughly investigated
101:48
in the mid-1970s and once we saw that we
101:51
were engaged in his dirty tricks against
101:54
our own people we were kind of shocked
101:57
and flipped out and the economy wasn’t
101:59
in great shape and then Ronald Reagan
102:01
came riding in and I think he pardoned
102:04
mark felt who had been the head of
102:07
COINTELPRO after Hoover but he was also
102:10
deep throat and so you had this very
102:12
strange situation that we got this
102:14
reboot during the Reagan years where we
102:17
went back to some sort of more
102:19
traditional more patriotic imagined
102:22
version of our country and my belief is
102:26
that in part when Bill Clinton decided
102:30
that he couldn’t take yet another loss
102:33
to the Republican Party and was gonna
102:35
start experimenting with republicanism
102:37
inside of the Democratic Party by that
102:40
point we had two parties that more or
102:42
less were two flavors of the same thing
102:45
I refer to that collective as the
102:47
looting party in the looting party the
102:50
neoliberal is the neoconservatives
102:52
sort of intergenerational warfare within
102:58
the country in the US and my take on it
103:01
is that the common ideology is that
103:06
profit had to be found abroad and so you
103:08
had to loosen the bonds to your fellow
103:10
citizens and that’s where all of this
103:14
kind of the market always knows best
103:17
we need to offshore and downsize and
103:20
securitize and what I’ve called the new
103:22
gimmick economy so that right now we’re
103:25
waking up from the new gimmick economy
103:28
and having never lived in anything
103:32
really authentic unless we’re quite old
103:34
so my belief is is that during that
103:37
period of time there was very Swift
103:42
retribution for anyone who dissented
103:44
famously a prominent trade theorist who
103:48
was talking about the benefits of
103:51
restriction of trade restrictions for
103:54
infant industries let’s say apparently
103:57
got a call from one of the people high
103:59
up in the field say oh you seem to be a
104:01
very bright young man it would be a
104:02
shame if anything happened to your
104:04
career and so this kind of idea
104:09
suppression is the the hallmark well it
104:16
is what I think these two generations
104:19
the baby boomers and the Silent
104:21
Generation may become best known for in
104:25
the future that this was a period in
104:28
which new corrective ideas had to be
104:32
suppressed because of the fragility of
104:34
the system we saw the fragility breakout
104:36
in 2008 we saw have vulnerable we were
104:39
in 2001 and we see that the the whole
104:44
sense making apparatus is breaking down
104:48
from the Trump election so these have
104:50
been the three moments when the gated
104:52
institutional narrative has broken
104:54
because it just got overwhelmed by
104:55
events but other than that the key was
104:58
making sure that people like you or like
105:01
me or like Peter are not mainstream the
105:06
cost of listening to us has to be driven
105:08
to astronomical levels so we have to we
105:12
have to look wild-eyed we have to you
105:16
know they can’t call me uneducated if I
105:17
have a Harvard ph.d which is one of the
105:19
funny parts of the system but the idea
105:23
is that you have to say well you know
105:24
maybe he used to be smart but he’s gone
105:27
fringe so the the social cost and
105:30
similar
105:31
it’s amazing how effective such small
105:33
amounts of that can be well it’s also
105:36
just funny I mean it just there’s so
105:39
many hours of audio of us and I was just
105:44
astounded for example with a number of
105:46
people who would try to portray let’s
105:49
say my brother as right-wing I mean from
105:53
my perspective
105:54
can you imagine making that decision
105:57
that you can’t if a guy as far left as
105:59
Brett and you’re gonna spend your
106:02
credibility pretending that he’s like
106:05
allied with the Nazis
106:07
I just died it doesn’t even make sense
106:08
to me because it’s it’s simply to me a
106:12
way to incinerate your credibility and
106:13
yet the way the system works is you
106:18
incinerate people’s viability its
106:22
economic warfare that if your reputation
106:25
is damaged you can’t be trusted
106:27
you know you and and that’s how that’s
106:29
how this this enforcement is work so you
106:31
ask me the question how does it work to
106:33
keep this in line it’s to trivially easy
106:36
to destroy individuals and my question
106:39
has always been is there a program which
106:43
I have tentatively called
106:44
no living heroes and if you’ve heard
106:48
this riff before Charles Lindbergh who
106:52
was not a great human being almost kept
106:56
the u.s. out of World War two he said
106:59
why is this why is this America’s
107:01
problem and if you think about it he had
107:05
self minted credibility in that he got
107:08
into a plane and he flew it over an
107:10
ocean solo and became a hero and that
107:12
level of visibility allowed him to
107:16
compete with the state okay I think that
107:21
there was a program after Lindbergh that
107:23
said individuals should not be able to
107:27
amass sufficient mindshare to affect the
107:32
course of government policy and that
107:35
this is a question in my mind is there a
107:37
program that got started that said we’re
107:40
gonna wait and see if anything starts to
107:42
bubble up that seems to have integrity
107:44
it seems that mindshare it seems to be
107:46
opposed to our policies and if and when
107:49
we find such a thing it has to be
107:51
redirected co-opted destroyed
107:55
reputationally or made ineffectual and
107:58
the the phrase that I really appreciated
108:00
that was used about Jean Seberg who was
108:04
you know one of Hollywood’s great
108:06
leading ladies at the time
108:07
was we have to cheapen her image yeah
108:10
this is the federal government talking
108:12
about cheapening the image of a
108:14
Hollywood star because she was
108:17
interested in in radical black politics
108:21
sorry Kendra but now China reminds me
108:23
when you were saying if when we look at
108:26
biology it’s disturbing when we look at
108:28
history too and we realized that those
108:30
people that did the Crusades were
108:32
genetically identical to us and we think
108:35
about the kind of civilized way that we
108:37
want to think of ourselves that we
108:39
wouldn’t do something like have a
108:40
government try and discredit someone but
108:42
then we look at just how we have behaved
108:44
as people throughout most of history and
108:48
it’s been like it’s been pretty
108:51
draconian through most of it and I think
108:56
we’re at a time where having it more
108:58
hidden has been useful but that doesn’t
109:01
mean that it hasn’t still been happening
109:03
well it’s very interesting to me is we
109:05
go from we have these two phases the
109:07
first phase is like you think people are
109:09
still doing that you have an overactive
109:11
imagination then when it’s discovered I
109:13
say what you think that governments
109:16
don’t do this they’ve always done this
109:17
and I’ve always watched as people get
109:22
their cognitive dissonance to zero using
109:25
two totally different mental strategies
109:29
do you find us of course yeah all right
109:32
Daniel assuming that we are in some
109:36
sense breaking out of this narrative
109:37
that’s been imposed institutionally and
109:39
you’re starting to be able to hear new
109:42
voices is there an opportunity in some
109:46
way to start hacking our way into a less
109:50
rival risk well let me try it again
109:56
sorry for getting a little bit of gas I
110:00
also had a little bit of guest
110:07
all right Danno so if we agree that
110:11
there is something a little bit bizarre
110:13
about the extent to which there’s been
110:15
discipline in this gated institutional
110:17
narrative and it’s been hard to get kind
110:20
of a different message out to people
110:23
that they need to start exploring new
110:26
systems of organization may be beyond
110:28
market democracy who knows what what are
110:31
the most hopeful systems that we
110:34
currently have to use they can be used
110:39
to build even better systems and how do
110:42
we get that message out where do you see
110:43
the hope in trying to confront the real
110:47
problems we face to find and exit into
110:51
our our next stage of human development
110:54
so we’ve been talking about where there
110:58
is incentive for disinformation or
111:01
information suppression or narrative
111:03
suppression the the last chunk of things
111:05
you were sharing regarding shames kind
111:08
of a narrative warfare tool so a way I
111:11
think of it and say there was a group
111:14
that seemed like it didn’t have power of
111:15
one kind then it tries to find power of
111:18
some other kind so reconfiguring in
111:21
groups competing with whatever tools
111:22
they can against out groups but imagine
111:29
if we could create a situation where
111:31
there was no incentive for
111:33
disinformation I’ll talk about in a
111:35
moment how I think we could do that and
111:36
not just no incentive for disinformation
111:38
but also no incentive for information
111:40
withholding and something pretty unique
111:44
about humans is how good we are being
111:47
able to add intention to signal lie but
111:52
all the subtle versions right which is
111:54
most of the signal that is coming to me
111:56
is just bouncing off of stuff and
111:58
reflecting and doesn’t have that much
111:59
disinformation in it and obviously
112:02
animals have kin of camouflage and
112:04
strategies like that but every time
112:06
we’re communicating we are usually
112:09
communicating towards some intention
112:12
that we have and so I want you to think
112:14
certain things were you thinking those
112:16
things I think will advantage me but
112:18
then to the extent that you take what
112:20
saying as adequately informing you like
112:23
accurately informing you about reality I
112:25
not be right like there’s a discrepancy
112:27
between why I’m communicating to you and
112:31
what would be maximum benefit to you so
112:35
and even if we’re not doing spin and
112:38
Russell conjugation disinformation even
112:40
if it’s just i pianned trade secrets and
112:42
information withholding this lowers our
112:44
coordination capacity to do interesting
112:47
things tremendously and then there’s so
112:49
much coordination cost that goes into
112:51
the competition so we say well let’s
112:53
imagine and we I think we can say up to
112:56
a tribal scale people did could do I’m
113:00
not saying they always did I don’t wanna
113:02
be romantic people could do a better job
113:04
of accurate information sharing because
113:07
there was less incentive to dis inform
113:09
each other inside of a tribe because it
113:10
would probably get powned out and we
113:12
actually depended on each other pretty
113:13
significantly but the Dunbar limit seems
113:17
to be a pretty hard limit on that kind
113:19
of information check do you mean this
113:21
supposed Dunbar number that is the limit
113:24
of our ancestral mind or group to track
113:30
the number of interactions we have so
113:32
maybe maybe I can keep track of 200 or
113:34
300 people yeah not much more yeah
113:37
whether whether it’s a hundred and fifty
113:39
or 50 or 200 or whatever it is and you
113:43
know I think we’ve attributed this to
113:44
different things why tribes never got
113:46
beyond a certain scale within a certain
113:48
kind of organization and if they would
113:50
start to they would cleave and then if
113:52
they were going to get larger they had
113:53
to have a different kind of organization
113:54
I think how one thing that we commonly
113:58
think about is that kind of a limit of
114:01
care and tracking right up to that
114:03
number up to 150 people or whatever I
114:06
can actually know everybody pretty well
114:08
they can all know me and if I were to
114:10
hurt anybody I’m hurting the people that
114:11
I’ve known for my whole life so
114:13
something like universal interest of
114:16
that group or almost like a communist
114:19
idea makes sense if there’s no anonymous
114:22
people and there’s no very far spaces
114:25
where I can externalize harm I basically
114:26
can’t externalize harm in the social
114:28
Commons when I know everybody
114:29
I also probably can’t lie and have that
114:31
be advantageous I think there’s another
114:34
thing which is there’s a communication
114:36
protocol that anyone who has information
114:38
about something within that setting can
114:41
inform a choice
114:42
where that information would be relevant
114:44
that the tribe would be making because
114:47
they can actually communicate with
114:48
everybody fairly easily and if there’s a
114:51
really big choice to make everybody can
114:53
sit around a tribal circle and actually
114:55
be able to say something about it and as
114:58
you get larger you just can’t do that
114:59
and I think there’s a strong cleaving
115:02
basis for not wanting to be part of a
115:07
group that would make decisions that
115:08
I’ll be subjected to that I don’t get
115:10
any saying unless it’s really important
115:13
to do that like we’re gonna have there’s
115:15
a situation where tribal warfare is
115:17
starting to occur more often and so
115:19
having a larger group is really
115:20
important or you know some something
115:22
like that in which case the bonding
115:23
energy exceeds the cleaving energy but
115:26
let’s say that we could actually have a
115:28
situation where we had incentive to
115:30
share
115:31
– not this inform and to share accurate
115:33
information with each other and it could
115:35
scale beyond a dunbar size I so now we
115:41
have something where we don’t have
115:43
fractal disinformation inside of a
115:46
company we don’t have people competing
115:48
for cancer cures that aren’t sharing
115:49
information with each other I think that
115:51
system would out-compete all the systems
115:55
that we’ve had in terms of innovation
115:56
and in terms of resource utilization
115:59
resource per capita utilization so much
116:02
that if we could do such a thing had
116:04
become the new attractive Basin to which
116:06
civilizations would want to flow and I
116:08
think the limit of Dunbar dynamics were
116:11
communication protocols and I think we
116:14
do have technological capacity and I’m
116:16
be I mean both social technologies and
116:19
physical technologies to develop systems
116:22
and and so like this is kind of at the
116:24
heart of it to develop systems where
116:28
there was more incentive to share honest
116:33
information and obviously this is a
116:34
example of anti rivalries where I had my
116:41
well being in your well-being and
116:43
wellbeing of the Commons more tightly
116:45
coupled to each other yeah that’s the
116:51
first part of it okay so try to figure
116:56
out how to get very large-scale human
117:01
collectives to behave like small scale
117:04
human collectives well it’s yeah if I
117:07
think about two groups of people that
117:09
sounds to me like TripAdvisor where I to
117:14
some country I’ve never been to and I’m
117:16
never going back again and there’s some
117:20
sort of reputational cost that a hotel
117:22
would have had if it had gamed their
117:25
guests so it becomes a bad idea to game
117:28
your guests because you have a
117:31
fractional relationship with the world
117:33
in some sense where somebody has left a
117:35
review it says but you know be careful
117:37
they try to upsell you on the Wi-Fi and
117:41
it’s a scam and here’s how to look out
117:43
for it and suddenly you have got a
117:45
problem if you’re a dishonest actor
117:47
because there is this sort of
117:49
reputational game that is
117:54
technologically enabled yeah so I think
117:57
this is why people like blockchain is
117:59
the idea of an uncorruptible ledger is
118:01
that this information and information
118:04
withholding or would be really benefit
118:06
beneficial to the public and any kind of
118:08
bad acting does less well with good
118:10
accounting systems I have to be able to
118:12
kind of corrupt the accounting in some
118:14
way to be able to have it be
118:15
advantageous and so can we make can we
118:20
make systems that make the accounting
118:21
much better as part of it but it’s not
118:23
the whole basis because then of course
118:26
you still have incentive to figure out
118:28
how to game the game whatever it is as
118:29
long as we still have separate interests
118:31
and the separate interest which is that
118:34
any in group can advantage itself at the
118:37
expense of an out group or any
118:38
individual canta JIT self at the expense
118:41
of other individuals which is grounded
118:42
all the way down to like a private
118:44
balance sheet I do think is an
118:46
inexorable basis of rivalry and I do
118:49
think that rivalry in a world of
118:52
exponential tech does self-terminate and
118:54
given that I don’t think we can stop
118:57
progress of tech I do think we have to
119:00
create fundamentally anti rivalry
119:02
systems and I don’t think you can do
119:03
that with capitalism or that or private
119:07
property ownership is the primary basis
119:09
to how we get access to things I don’t
119:11
think you can do it with communism or
119:12
socialism or any of the other systems
119:13
we’ve had but I don’t think that if we
119:16
look at how the coordination system of
119:17
cells or organs inside of a body works I
119:19
don’t think it’s capitalist or communist
119:22
I think there’s a much more complex way
119:24
of sharing information and provisioning
119:27
resources within the system you know
119:30
this is how the famous anarchist Peter
119:34
Prince Peter Kropotkin got in trouble I
119:36
think he was like kind of an amateur net
119:39
naturalist and he would observe things
119:42
like ant colonies say look look how well
119:45
the ants cooperate and of course he
119:47
didn’t know that it was a haploid
119:49
diploid system where sisters are more
119:52
closely related to each other than to
119:54
the offspring and you had a you know a
119:56
breeding queen and then effectively
120:00
mimicking some kind of body division
120:04
into soma and germ where your somatic
120:06
cells have no possibility of leaving a
120:11
permanent trace of themselves but for
120:13
their ability to aid your germline cells
120:16
that can become a fertilized you know
120:19
egg and embryo I don’t think there is an
120:23
adequate biomimicry example okay and I
120:26
think there’s an important reason why is
120:27
I think that technology creation is
120:30
something that we don’t see happen in
120:32
nature anywhere else and of course
120:34
animals will use a tool but they don’t
120:37
evolve better tools or to develop better
120:40
tools the way that we develop better
120:42
tools and the distinction of technology
120:46
creation or tool making as a process by
120:48
which new stuff comes to exist as
120:50
opposed to evolution as a process by
120:52
which new stuff comes to exist is at the
120:54
heart of a lot of the things that I
120:56
think about here because I think it
120:58
fundamentally changes our thinking on
121:02
like social Darwinism and why markets
121:04
are kind of a viable or an extra bolide
121:07
eeeh is if we think about evolution as a
121:10
process
121:10
by which new things come about defined
121:14
by mutation survival selection and then
121:17
mate selection within an environmental
121:20
nation and of course there’s recursion
121:22
on niche creation in in evolution we see
121:29
rivalry everywhere as you are mentioning
121:31
in like biology there’s a lot of really
121:34
painful things to look at and I think
121:37
we’ve especially since Darwin modeled
121:40
ourselves as apex predators for a long
121:43
time and but I think and I think that we
121:47
actually even reified the theory of
121:49
markets with evolutionary biology to say
121:51
that demand is like a niche and that the
121:54
various versions of a product or a
121:56
service are like mutations and the
121:59
company that survives because it’s able
122:01
to supply the demand well those ideas
122:04
and those technologies make it through
122:07
and then if there’s a couple that are
122:09
mutually good we’re merging would be
122:10
good so you get a merger and acquisition
122:12
that’s kind of like mate dynamics right
122:14
like recombinant work dynamics and this
122:18
is why competition is good and drives
122:20
innovation and same as happens in nature
122:23
I think that’s kind of the way that a
122:25
lot of people think about markets and
122:27
relationship to evolution and I think
122:29
the reason we can’t think about it that
122:30
way and also the reason why we don’t see
122:34
whether it’s ants or whether it’s cells
122:36
in the body or anything why we don’t see
122:39
examples of the kinds of coordination in
122:41
nature that will apply to humans is I
122:44
think that the development of technology
122:47
both language and social coordination
122:50
technologies and physical technologies
122:52
but our capacity for abstraction and
122:54
then things that increase our power via
122:57
abstraction as opposed to their power
122:59
increases via some instantiated thing
123:01
like a gene is a fundamentally different
123:05
process because in nature you will see
123:09
rivalry you’ll see obviously one if the
123:12
lion catches the gazelle the gazelle
123:14
dies if the gazelle gets away the lion
123:15
might die right and yet all lions and
123:18
all gazelles are symbiotic with each
123:20
other meaning if there were no lions the
123:21
gazelles might eat themselves to
123:22
extinction if there were no gazelles
123:24
lions mites
123:24
so there’s this process by which micro
123:27
rivalry leads to macro symbiosis and
123:30
both of them evolving supports each
123:33
other to evolve as the Lions get a
123:34
little bit faster they eat more of the
123:36
slower gazelles the faster ones genes
123:37
recombine and you get faster gazelles
123:39
yeah but I mean you know mathematically
123:42
I think the lotka-volterra equations is
123:46
this predator
123:47
so very simple predator prey dynamics
123:49
with like let’s say two species I
123:52
understand how that can be stable right
123:55
I don’t understand that in the presence
123:59
of exponential tech I mean they’re not
124:00
okay that’s so the first thing that I
124:02
got trying to be concrete here is that
124:06
maybe something like the technology of
124:09
reputation might allow us to leverage up
124:13
small group dynamics towards large group
124:16
dynamics the idea that I don’t have to
124:19
know you to know something about your
124:21
reputation I see some hope there but
124:26
then it’s open to reputational warfare I
124:29
think reputation systems will be gamed I
124:31
agree right with it look I’m very think
124:35
about game B yeah not because I don’t
124:39
understand our need for it is that I
124:42
can’t imagine the system that gets us
124:47
out of our nature and our nature you
124:52
know rivalry abounds within nature
124:56
cooperation it’s found everywhere I
125:00
don’t see a way of getting everything
125:04
towards universal disclosure and
125:07
cooperation but I’m I hear you are one
125:10
of the people who was the farthest along
125:12
thinking about how we might pull this
125:15
off yeah and I know I told you earlier I
125:19
have to apologize for a strange night
125:21
that had me not sleep so operating at
125:23
low capacity so I think I’m less clear
125:25
than ideal but no I want to say a little
125:30
bit more because just saying make large
125:32
groups work like small groups is like
125:33
that doesn’t help at all I want to
125:35
actually say a little bit more about
125:36
how we would do that sure it
125:38
specifically why the tool-making thing
125:40
is such a big deal and why the
125:42
biomimicry examples don’t work because
125:44
it specifically then plays into what
125:45
does have to work the mutation pressures
125:51
that are happening in nature are
125:53
relatively evenly distributed across the
125:55
system we think about mutation survival
125:58
selection and then breeding selection
126:00
and so you don’t get a situation where
126:04
one species gets a thousand x advantage
126:08
in a single quick jump independent of
126:11
all the other ones right the mutation is
126:12
only going to be so big and the mutation
126:16
forces that are happening on the lions
126:18
are also happening on the gazelles right
126:20
so they’re all experiencing gamma rays
126:22
or oxidative stress or copying errors or
126:24
whatever similarly so that’s one thing
126:26
and then the other thing is that there’s
126:28
co selective pressures as as the lion
126:31
gets a little bit faster then the
126:33
gazelles end up getting faster because
126:34
the slower ones get eaten and the faster
126:36
genes recombine and so because of the
126:39
pair because of the even distribution of
126:42
mutation and because of the co selective
126:45
pressures there’s a certain kind of
126:47
cemetry of power that happens right the
126:50
gazelles get away as often or more often
126:52
than the Lions get them and so you only
126:55
get the situation where micro rivalry
126:57
leads to macro symbiosis when you have
126:59
and also the situation of metastability
127:01
of an ecosystem when you have something
127:04
like a cemetry of power within the
127:06
system asymmetry of power yeah if the
127:10
Lions got a thousand times more
127:11
predatory in one generation they would
127:14
end up eating all the gazelles and then
127:16
going through their own collapse the
127:19
they get they get they increase their
127:23
per date as they increase their potato
127:24
capacity the environment increases its
127:28
capacity to respond to the per date of
127:30
capacity symmetrically similarly I mean
127:36
this works up to a point I mean part of
127:40
the problem is is that gazelles are not
127:42
the only thing that dying on Lions that
127:44
Lions dine on right well and furthermore
127:49
you know lions are not the only even
127:53
even if lions are atop some predator
127:55
hierarchy one lion in 20 hyenas is not a
128:00
reputation for it’s not a recipe for
128:03
lion happiness so you have you have very
128:07
complex dynamics with with many species
128:12
interacting and that’s what I mean you
128:14
have meta stability of the whole
128:16
ecosystem not stability because some
128:17
species will die off and other species
128:19
will emerge but you have okay an
128:21
increase in orderly complexity but there
128:23
is a parallelism between lion and lion
128:26
between lion and hyena between lion &
128:29
gazelle right and if there wasn’t you
128:32
would have you wouldn’t end up having
128:34
metastability you’d have something have
128:35
a runaway dynamic that was unchecked by
128:37
the dynamics of the environment so
128:40
basically the the forces of the
128:42
evolutionary forces that are happening
128:43
are happening across a whole solution
128:45
the whole system and Co affecting each
128:47
other but with tool making tool making
128:50
didn’t occur for us with a mutation tool
128:54
making was us consciously understanding
128:56
that this sharp rock that maybe a chimp
128:59
would experientially use a sharp rock
129:01
and then use another sharp Rock and
129:02
realized this rock was experience a
129:04
sharper but it wouldn’t understand the
129:06
abstract principle of sharpness to make
129:08
sharper Flint things our capacity for
129:11
abstraction leading to tool making like
129:13
that made us increase our predatory
129:16
capacity radically faster than the
129:18
environment could become resilient to
129:20
our increase per date of capacity and
129:21
that was the beginning of a curve that
129:25
has you know started to vertical eyes
129:26
exponentially recently but because of
129:29
that tool making we could put on clothes
129:32
and go to the Arctic and become the apex
129:35
predator there in a way that the lion or
129:36
the cheetah couldn’t leave its
129:37
environment we could we could go become
129:40
the apex predator in every environment
129:42
and over hunt the environments and then
129:44
when we would over hunt an environment
129:46
rather than have our population come to
129:47
steady-state we could go move to and
129:50
start over hunting in other environment
129:51
and then figure out a grow culture
129:53
that’s super different than every other
129:55
animal and so you don’t have a situation
129:58
anywhere in nature where like a single
130:01
lion could do that much damn
130:02
to its environment but you do have a
130:05
situation where a single person like a
130:06
Putin or a Trump or whatever could do
130:08
massive damage because of Technology 2
130:11
the total biosphere you don’t have a
130:13
situation where a single cancer cell can
130:16
propagate cancer genes instantly to the
130:18
whole system it’s gonna affect the cells
130:20
around it which have a chance to then
130:21
correct it there’s a lot of corrective
130:23
mechanism so the exponential tech
130:25
increases our leverage so much that if
130:29
we that individuals and small groups
130:34
have the capacity to influence the rest
130:36
of the human space but also the bio
130:37
space in a way that nothing else has so
130:39
there is no example anywhere in biology
130:42
of a system that can that has the kind
130:45
of asymmetry relative to its whole
130:47
environment that we have so yeah if I
130:52
understand correctly I mean the slight
130:56
adjustment I would I would give is that
130:58
orcas get you part of the way there
131:02
because they’re a broadly distributed
131:05
apex predator they occur in southern
131:08
northern seas they have all sorts of
131:09
different strategies the thing that that
131:14
you’re coupling it to which I think is
131:15
very interesting is that nobody has seen
131:18
a 10,000 fold increase in Orca
131:22
efficiency as a predator so it may be a
131:24
we couldn’t because as they start eating
131:27
too many of the fish then they can’t
131:29
keep breeding you know I understood that
131:30
point so my my point is that you said
131:34
you were trying to indicate that you
131:36
could just keep changing your
131:37
environment like your clothing becomes a
131:39
microclimate so that you’re able to
131:41
become the eight the the polar bear is
131:43
no longer the a prick apex predator of
131:45
the Arctic right and you could make the
131:47
argument that the Orca is not the apex
131:50
predator of the Seas because we’re in
131:52
the seas and I think the example there
131:54
is just to think of an ocean trawler
131:56
with a mile long drift net and the
131:58
number of fish it pulls up compared to
132:00
an orca and you realize that we can’t
132:02
model ourselves as apex predators that
132:04
are competing with others to see who’s
132:06
maximally dominant with that much power
132:07
without either story this is a very
132:09
interesting point and I think the idea
132:13
that we are without precedent
132:16
many of us accept we don’t know of any
132:20
other species that has language ability
132:22
to coordinate the way we do all those
132:24
certain social species from African dogs
132:27
to orcas to what have you you know are
132:29
pretty impressive and their ability to
132:30
coordinate in one form or another so
132:32
what I hear you is saying is the tool
132:35
use and the extended phenotype if you
132:38
will to use Richard Darwin’s concept
132:41
like for example these microphones are
132:43
part of our extended phenotype because
132:46
they are tools that allow us to do
132:48
something yeah okay that changes the
132:52
picture and it also ends up introducing
132:55
both a fundamental thing about the
132:57
problem and the solution I’d recommend
132:59
tell me about the solution okay and then
133:01
tell me about the problem I want to have
133:03
well which order would be better
133:05
logically I just I would love to get to
133:07
the positive uplifting yesterday so so
133:16
we can say that what’s particularly a
133:19
primary thing that’s particularly unique
133:21
adaptively about homo sapiens
133:23
yeah is our capacity for technique right
133:26
our capacity for tool and that social
133:28
tools like language and democracy and
133:30
but also physical tools and they are all
133:33
abstract pattern replicators rather than
133:36
instantiated pattern replicators right
133:38
so it memes rather than genes so you
133:41
could say that what humans selected for
133:44
our genetic selected for mimetics our
133:46
genetic selected for radical
133:48
neuroplasticity and the capacity to have
133:51
much more significant software upgrades
133:54
that could change our capacity without
133:56
needing hardware upgrades and so and I
134:01
would argue that this is partly why we
134:04
have such a long period of neoteny right
134:07
why we have such a long period of being
134:08
totally helpless on the outside is
134:10
because I’m gonna give up on trying to
134:14
get you to redefine the words that are
134:15
going to cause people to have to go to
134:17
their dictionaries I think one of the
134:19
one of the things that I’ve said about
134:21
this podcast is that we made me miss
134:25
speak we may use language improperly but
134:28
we should at least play with it and
134:30
people to look things up on their own
134:31
hey I only was doing that because I
134:34
listened to the half-hour thing that you
134:35
said did say you’re gonna let people go
134:37
look at their dictionary yep so I bring
134:39
this rule you’re playing me against me I
134:42
love it
134:43
all right so an extended period of
134:45
neoteny go on yeah so we’re embryonic on
134:48
the outside meaning we’re helpless for a
134:49
super long time compared to anything and
134:52
obviously there are some animals like
134:53
birds that are more helpless than other
134:55
ones for longer periods but nothing like
134:57
us but we don’t if we came hardwired how
135:00
to be fit to our environment that would
135:03
make any sense because we change our
135:04
environment so fast most creatures
135:06
emerged evolved to fit an environmental
135:09
niche but as niche creators as
135:12
significant as we are both because we
135:13
moved places then you know like this is
135:16
not an evolved environment and it’s not
135:18
that adaptive for me to throw Spears but
135:19
I do need to be good at texting so we
135:22
had to come to be able to learn language
135:24
whether I’m learning English or Mandarin
135:26
whether I’m learning spear-throwing or
135:28
texting or whatever and so what I would
135:31
say is that essential to human nature is
135:34
the depth of nurture capacity relative
135:37
to other species and so when I look at
135:40
the thing we call human nature I look at
135:42
how much I think the social sciences
135:44
don’t factor that there is Oba quit is
135:46
conditioning that we’re doing the social
135:50
science within that is Rubik what is
135:52
conditioning and there are outliers that
135:54
are actually relevant that aren’t just
135:56
genetic all right so if I understand you
135:58
correctly and now we’re gonna just
135:59
totally geek out we are the most case
136:02
selective of species that is that we put
136:04
the largest investment into our young we
136:09
delay reproductive maturity for 12 times
136:13
around the Sun seems crazy and therefore
136:16
your point is we’ve got an unparalleled
136:20
opportunity for teaching for adaptation
136:23
because we unlike the wildebeest who has
136:25
to be more or less ready good to go
136:27
almost from the moment of birth minutes
136:29
Yeah right
136:30
the idea is that we are in the luxurious
136:32
position of having a long period of
136:37
development and knowledge transfer
136:39
because we are more about the extended
136:41
phenotype and we look at this anthill
136:44
it’s pretty amazing yeah so what that
136:46
tells me is I look at some outliers on
136:49
both sides of the bell curve of various
136:52
dimensions of the human condition and
136:54
let’s say we take Buddhism for instance
136:57
we have something like three millennia
137:00
of 10,000,000 fluxing give or take
137:03
people who mostly don’t hurt bugs across
137:08
different bioregions and across
137:10
different languages and that’s really
137:13
significant when we think about the
137:15
inexorability of violence in humans and
137:17
then we look at say the Janjaweed or
137:20
some group of child soldiers where by
137:22
the time someone’s a teenager they’ve
137:24
all hacked people apart with machetes I
137:25
think that the human condition can do
137:28
both of those human nature can be
137:30
conditioned to do both of those but then
137:33
I see that we have a system where in
137:35
general them as soon as a tribe figured
137:38
out as soon as a couple tribes were
137:42
competing for resources it was generally
137:44
easier to move than it was to war until
137:48
we had moved everywhere in which case it
137:50
was it started making sense to war and
137:53
then as soon as any tribe militarized as
137:55
every other tribe has to militarize or
137:57
they lose by default
137:58
and the game of power has begun in in
138:01
earnest in that way the human on human
138:03
game and I think we’ve seen that the
138:07
peaceful cultures largely got killed by
138:10
the warring cultures and the warring
138:12
cultures learn from each other how to be
138:14
more successful at it and so the thing
138:17
that we have now is something that has
138:21
emerged through iterations on power
138:24
dynamics and it’s conditioning everyone
138:26
within it and then we do all of our
138:28
social studies within that and say this
138:29
is human nature Wow
138:31
so this is a very weird place to get
138:34
brought back to because I’m I’m on the
138:37
escape branch of our decision tree and
138:39
what you’re talking about
138:41
is possible when you can do better by
138:47
investing in peaceful and kind
138:54
alternatives I don’t know what to call
138:57
exactly but nonviolent alternatives and
139:01
as soon as things become kind of steady
139:04
state zero-sum you start eyeing other
139:08
people those protein sources because
139:10
that’s the way to grow a slice and I
139:13
don’t know how you get out of this in a
139:16
finite world so maybe the idea is that
139:19
you’re you have a concept of escape
139:21
yeah that isn’t physical escape I think
139:24
Malthus was right at the time but wrong
139:29
fundamentally mmm-hmm where he said
139:32
resources are reproducing geometrically
139:34
or humans reproducing geometrically
139:36
resources arithmetic aliso there’s
139:38
either not enough or there’s not going
139:39
to be enough certain point well he
139:42
hadn’t got to the point that some
139:43
cultures went into negative population
139:46
amounts in lower birth rates without an
139:49
imposition it’s not just China’s you
139:51
know one child in position that did that
139:52
but we’ve seen birth rates low enough in
139:56
some of the Nordic countries and in
139:58
Japan and he hadn’t got to the point of
140:00
seeing the phenomena that bring that
140:01
about or the ability to recycle
140:04
effectively and which means not a linear
140:07
materials economy so I’m starting is I’m
140:09
starting to guess where you’re gonna go
140:11
so if I if I understand you correctly
140:13
the idea is that you’re going to look at
140:16
all of the places we’ve been a little
140:17
bit sloppy like recycling wasn’t a place
140:20
that we put too much attention and
140:24
increasingly as we understand that stuff
140:27
is limited we we have more of a reason
140:31
to be careful about our land use rare
140:34
rare resources I think I get that part
140:37
of it then you have another idea here
140:40
about development is kind of unused and
140:45
we could do something far greater and
140:48
then you just had another one as
140:50
slipping my brain population oh that we
140:54
would start to see fertility below
140:57
replacement rates so that you would
140:59
actually go into population decline as a
141:01
means of taking pressure off of the
141:03
system yeah so I see the possibility for
141:06
a steady-state population
141:09
that is within the carrying capacity of
141:11
a closed-loop materials economy but that
141:15
is fueled by renewable energy so you
141:17
basically have a finite amount of atoms
141:20
so you circle the atoms you don’t have a
141:22
finite amount of energy because you’re
141:23
getting more energy every day be of a
141:24
finite amount per day and so you have to
141:26
be able to cycle the atoms within the
141:28
energy bandwidths and you’re cycling it
141:30
from one bit pattern into another bit
141:32
pattern right like from one form into
141:35
another form and the forms are stored as
141:37
a bit so you have atoms energy and bits
141:39
and you don’t really have a limited
141:40
number of the bits that you can have and
141:42
so we can have a economy where it’s
141:46
getting continuously better but not by
141:48
getting bigger but by getting better we
141:51
continuously make more and more
141:52
interesting things with the same format
141:54
listen you’ve always had the possibility
141:55
of decoupling economic growth from let’s
142:02
say burning fossil fuels we just haven’t
142:06
gotten around to doing very well okay
142:09
what I’m starting to hear is that you
142:14
believe potentially that maybe we should
142:16
embrace declining populations as a means
142:20
of either and I don’t put words in your
142:24
mouth but I’m just trying to guess ahead
142:26
one possibility is is that we need to
142:30
amplify the people who can live
142:34
peaceably and that maybe the idea is
142:36
that people who can’t live peaceably
142:38
need to be incentivized to maybe have
142:43
fabulous somatic lives but without
142:45
reproducing I don’t know so that we can
142:47
drive certain traits towards zero maybe
142:51
the idea is we just need to take ambient
142:53
pressure off the system and so we need
142:55
to go into a world where eight-billion
142:57
becomes 6,000,000,000 becomes 1 billion
142:59
and we start dropping down again I think
143:04
we see that obviously birth rate is
143:08
higher where there’s poverty and we
143:09
might lose some kids right and so as we
143:13
just get out of abject poverty birth
143:14
rates go down and then as total economic
143:19
quality of life and the choice
143:23
abilities for women and education and
143:26
other things go up we start getting too
143:29
much lower birth rates and no I’m not
143:32
concerned that the birth rate will just
143:34
collapse forever we’ll come to some
143:36
steady-state birth rates but those are
143:41
happening as a function of increased
143:43
good things increased quality of life so
143:46
in other words if you make the
143:47
opportunity cost for childbearing
143:50
enormous by making sure that let’s say
143:53
females have outrageously great career
143:56
prospects and it starts to become much
144:01
more fulfilling did she doesn’t wanna
144:03
spend their whole life pregnant well
144:05
look I mean the there’s different issues
144:08
with women not realizing that most of
144:11
their children will survive which is
144:14
happening in the demographic transition
144:16
so people miscalculated for a period of
144:19
time leading to fears about runaway
144:21
population booms so that’s that’s one
144:24
effect and then there’s another one
144:26
about if you give people education if
144:29
you give if you educate women the
144:31
opportunity costs of staying home and
144:33
raising children starts to impress
144:36
itself and so people will have fewer
144:37
children yeah but I think where you’re
144:41
where you’re headed is super interesting
144:43
and part maybe it’s one of the reasons
144:45
that people might find it rather
144:46
disturbing making life awesome for
144:50
females might mean having far fewer
144:53
children yep all right so that’s a good
144:57
thing in ‘shmock did burgers well yeah
144:59
this is so both I mean the Malthusian
145:02
trap right the Malthusian situation is
145:05
both the geometric production
145:08
reproduction of humans and the
145:10
arithmetic reproduction of resources and
145:12
I think neither of those are true
145:14
inexorably true I think we can keep
145:17
cycling the resources and so basically
145:20
we can have a steady-state human
145:21
population within a renewable materials
145:25
economy carrying capacity but we’re
145:29
we’re keep but we keep innovating on
145:31
bits so we keep making more and more
145:33
positive and interesting things so we
145:35
keep getting an increase in quality of
145:37
but not by increasing the quality the
145:39
quantity of the pie and the quantity of
145:41
people consuming it but the quality of
145:43
it well the world of Adams I can’t have
145:44
Bill Gates home in Washington State but
145:47
in the world of bits maybe I can live
145:49
there in my virtual reality and even
145:54
have much more fantastic places and so I
145:57
agree that bits have some ability to
146:01
create wild abundance that goes
146:03
non-rival rest’s but i brought up a very
146:05
different concern which you may be
146:07
familiar with which is abundance can
146:09
kill you if you have if you look out
146:12
these windows and you see all of these
146:14
people engaged in activities without
146:16
being told to do so by a central
146:19
authority
146:19
what is it the ties that together for
146:23
the most parts markets with some amount
146:25
of state control of violence in the form
146:28
of policing okay so now you create
146:32
abundance an abundance has this weird
146:34
effect that it turns private goods and
146:36
services into public goods and services
146:38
where price and value are no longer
146:40
equal and suddenly you have people who
146:43
are producing things that are very
146:44
valuable and can’t get paid right and so
146:48
how do we handle the takeover in this
146:52
hypothetical world where we get to an
146:55
economy of abundance that doesn’t
146:57
actually cause a collapse of
147:00
civilization you can you can die from
147:01
abundance though a market can die from
147:05
abundance but I’m not proposing a market
147:07
society I okay so I like that so the
147:10
idea is that we welcome the destruction
147:13
of the markets to be replaced by and
147:17
it’s important to say obviously if I
147:20
have a situation where valuation is at
147:25
least largely proportional to scarcity
147:27
then I have a basis to continue to
147:29
manufacture artificial scarcity and if
147:31
something becomes abundant enough it
147:33
loses value then of course abundance and
147:36
markets don’t go together I’m very
147:39
excited about any credible thing that is
147:43
better than markets because markets well
147:46
laden with problems
147:49
have been pretty amazing and what they
147:50
produced yeah I’m not gonna criticize
147:52
the illusionary path here to say we can
147:56
argue straightforwardly why this path
147:58
can’t continue why the nature of it self
148:01
trap I agree but the big problem here
148:03
has always been that we have so little
148:04
experience with self terminating our
148:09
rival risk desires well so this is why I
148:12
bring the Buddhists up all right and I
148:14
think the Buddhists got past one part of
148:16
the Dunbar number if we think about it
148:20
we think of a couple of Buddhist
148:21
countries for our listeners at home that
148:24
they can keep in mind while you’re
148:26
talking about but this mostly they don’t
148:30
have countries anymore there are
148:31
Buddhists in a lot of Southeast Asian
148:34
countries so there are Buddhists in
148:37
India there are Buddhists there’s a lot
148:39
of Buddhists in Nepal
148:41
obviously Tibet was Buddhist before
148:43
Tibetan stopped existing in that form
148:47
but and you know I could bring up Jane’s
148:49
or others but they’re so few of them
148:51
that it’s a little bit easier to throw
148:53
it out as an outlier but basically
148:55
cultures that were widely peaceful but
148:59
it is important to say the widely
149:00
peaceful ones did largely get either
149:03
killed by warring cultures or somehow
149:07
taken over by them or they became
149:09
warring at a certain point and this is
149:10
why your escape hypothesis which your
149:13
escape hypothesis only works if we can
149:16
make a much better civilization but it
149:17
needs to not have proximity to the thing
149:20
to external sources of rivalry so that
149:22
it can develop I want to say you know
149:25
that one of the reasons I keep pushing
149:26
you on these things is not because I’m
149:29
trying to do a gotcha style interview
149:31
the concern let me just be open about it
149:33
is that there are so few people who are
149:38
thinking who are tempting to think
149:39
rigorously about what we actually are
149:42
and what we must become if we are to
149:46
have a long term future that I’m not I
149:51
believe that you or somebody was trying
149:53
not to flinch when it comes to a
149:56
description of how we got to this place
149:58
from the arms race that is read of tooth
150:00
and claw we’ve called called nature
150:02
and yet your point is maybe we can hack
150:05
ourselves into a situation with the
150:08
future where with exponential tech as
150:10
you call it we don’t have a future and
150:12
here is the basis for rigorous idealism
150:16
and hope and so that’s what I’m trying
150:18
to tease out no great yeah I don’t think
150:22
that we are inexorably rival hrus can we
150:28
take this weirdly into the the realm in
150:31
which it is hardest to imagine that we
150:34
are not rival risks we sense sex as the
150:37
precursor to reproduction the floor is
150:41
yours sir okay
150:43
this is going to make the conversation
150:44
weird no no I’m look I think that where
150:49
you’re heading let me rephrase this
150:56
every branch of the decision tree has
150:58
gotten hyper weird and anybody who’s not
151:01
looking at the fact that there is no non
151:03
weird branch of the decision tree is
151:06
missing the story of who we are and what
151:08
time it is in human history so I think
151:11
to not explore the weird to not dream
151:15
about what might be is the least
151:17
responsible least adult thing we can do
151:22
if we don’t dream and we don’t explore
151:24
the weird we’re doomed
151:25
yeah all right with that the floor is
151:28
yours okay
151:34
I wanted to go somewhere with Buddhism
151:36
and why not an extra blue rival race and
151:38
that then if they were to actually get
151:40
the other side of the dunmer number
151:42
which is not just getting care beyond
151:44
the Dunbar number which they could do
151:45
through abstract empathy but also the
151:48
ability to calculate and coordinate
151:50
which they couldn’t because they didn’t
151:51
have the tech to do it and I’m basically
151:54
gonna say we can get something like abs
151:58
oh well okay I’ll do this X thing into
152:01
Buddhism thing together cuz actually go
152:02
together I think we get something like a
152:06
certain level of empathy up to the
152:08
Dunbar number just through mere neuron
152:11
type effects through the fact that I
152:13
know these people they know me we’ve
152:14
lived together if they’re hurting I am
152:16
gonna see it because they aren’t
152:17
somewhere far away okay and similarly
152:21
I’m less likely to pollute in an area
152:23
I’m in then through an industrial supply
152:25
chain that pollutes somewhere that I’m
152:26
not so just a proximity where the cause
152:29
and effect has a feedback loop as we
152:31
start to get to much larger scales where
152:33
I haven’t a cause and there’s an effect
152:35
but I don’t get a feedback loop on it
152:36
the broken open feedback loop is a
152:38
problem so I think the Buddhists were
152:42
able to Train abstract empathy not just
152:45
empathy for the people who I see hurting
152:47
but empathy for all sentient beings
152:49
throughout time and space right feeling
152:52
their connectedness with them that the
152:54
nature of the vows of the Bodhisattva
152:56
and they’re not the only one right this
152:58
is different religions have tried to do
153:02
this but it’s an example of a group
153:03
succeeding at it where they were able to
153:05
have a sense of positive coupling of my
153:09
well-being in the well-being of another
153:11
rather than inverse coupling they get
153:13
ahead and it’s decreasing my ability to
153:15
get ahead what they the other side of
153:18
the Dunbar number was not just who we
153:20
care about but also our ability to
153:22
coordinate and I don’t think they were
153:25
able to figure out coordination
153:26
mechanisms that are adequately effective
153:29
at scale okay I think if we do both of
153:31
those things we can make a fundamentally
153:34
different kind of civilization and
153:38
rivalry mostly comes down to today
153:42
private balance sheets which is I can
153:44
get ahead economically and that money
153:46
equals option
153:47
for most of the things that I want
153:49
alright and I can get ahead economically
153:51
independent of you getting ahead and
153:53
even at the expense of you getting ahead
153:55
or the expense of the Commons right and
153:57
so my near-term incentive can oftentimes
154:01
be a long-term disadvantage to others of
154:04
the whole so now this basis of where my
154:07
well-being and the well-being of others
154:08
were the Commons the Delta between those
154:11
is the basis for rivalry but then
154:14
dealing with that rivalry keeps
154:15
increasing coordination costs keeps you
154:18
know creating disinformation systems
154:20
where we can’t coordinate effectively so
154:24
how we deal with the balance sheet part
154:26
there’s a few things right now for me to
154:30
have access to stuff I have to mostly
154:34
with a few exceptions possess the stuff
154:36
right so possession and access are
154:38
coupled and if I possess something I
154:41
don’t have to be using it I’m just
154:43
reserving the optionality to use it the
154:45
drill that sits in my garage that I
154:47
might not have used in a couple years
154:48
but at least it’s convenient that when I
154:49
wanted it’s there right but me
154:53
possessing something means that I have
154:54
access to it and means you don’t have
154:56
access to it and so with a finite amount
154:59
of stuff the more stuff you possess the
155:01
less stuff I have access to rival risk
155:03
basis but we all know library type
155:07
examples or shopping carts where if I
155:09
have enough shopping carts of the
155:10
grocery store for peak demand time I
155:13
don’t have to bring my own shopping cart
155:14
which would be a pain in the ass and
155:15
would require 10,000 shopping carts per
155:17
grocery store rather than 300 everybody
155:20
bringing them so what matters is you
155:23
having access to the shopping cart
155:25
doesn’t decrease my access and we start
155:27
to see a potential for this if we think
155:30
about something like an uber and then we
155:33
think about self-driving eibar that then
155:35
has a blockchain that disintermediate
155:37
saat being a central company and being a
155:40
commonwealth resource where those were
155:42
you having access to it doesn’t decrease
155:44
my access so we’re not rival risks
155:46
anymore but then we take the next step
155:48
and say if you having access to
155:50
transportation then also allows you to
155:52
go to the maker studio that you have
155:53
access to to the science studio to the
155:57
educational places to the art studios
155:59
where you then have more
156:01
access to be creative but the things
156:03
that you create you aren’t creating for
156:04
you to get more money and get ahead
156:06
because you already have access to all
156:08
the things that you want and you don’t
156:09
differentiate yourself by getting stuff
156:11
you differentiate yourself by the things
156:13
that you offer because you already have
156:15
access to stuff so there’s a
156:17
fundamentally different motive structure
156:19
then you having access to more resources
156:22
creates a richer Commons that I have
156:25
access to so now we go from rival risk
156:29
not just to non rival risk which is
156:30
uncoupled but anti rival risk meaning
156:33
you getting ahead necessarily equals me
156:35
getting ahead and so on when we look at
156:39
getting out of the Malthusian type
156:41
dynamics part of it is that we can
156:43
actually get out of the population
156:45
dynamics part of it is that we can’t
156:47
actually get a closed-loop materials
156:48
economy with renewable energy that can
156:50
continue to upcycle and part of it is
156:53
that we can utilize our resources much
156:56
more effectively and much less rivalry
156:58
slee where we start decoupling access
157:01
from possession that’ll start easily in
157:03
some areas be harder in other areas but
157:05
we start with in the areas that it
157:06
happens and so we start getting more and
157:09
more of a situation where I want you to
157:11
have access to more things because as
157:13
you’re more creative than I get access
157:15
to more things that are the results of
157:16
your creativity so we’re so this is an
157:21
example of removing some of the basis of
157:24
rivalry associated with balance sheets
157:26
okay I can go to sex underneath that now
157:29
if you want me to usually go where is
157:32
most natural to take the conversation
157:34
okay I will just try to fall
157:46
and the problem is if you go to sex
157:49
directly from where you are you are
157:51
describing the value let’s say of
157:54
prostitution which is that people do not
157:58
have to make a commitment to a sexual
158:02
partner many people can have the same
158:07
sexual partner you start to get into all
158:11
of these very funny areas where status
158:15
for example is a very weird commodity do
158:22
I want you to have more status because
158:24
somehow that will give me more status do
158:26
I stop caring about status if there is
158:29
exactly one parcel of land which has a
158:32
unequivocally the best of you is that
158:36
something that I want you to have rather
158:39
than me having it yeah so let’s talk
158:47
about status for a moment if I’m
158:53
comparing you and me in terms of who has
158:55
more dollars or who’s taller or who can
158:59
run faster or some I can compare us on
159:02
the same metric right now and if status
159:06
is number of followers on Twitter then
159:09
whatever Kim Kardashian’s most
159:11
interesting human being that’s ever
159:12
lived and so I I think we know that
159:15
reductionist metrics on status are also
159:18
gamified and inappropriate but if we say
159:21
like MC escher or dolly like what was
159:27
more brilliant art I think it’s a
159:30
meaningless question because they both
159:33
offered something completely novel to
159:35
the world and something meaningful and
159:37
beautiful that neither of the other ones
159:39
offered or could offer and I can’t
159:41
compare them because I can’t Metra sized
159:43
them and the reduction of that that’s
159:47
the thing is I can’t reduce totally
159:49
unique things to a fungible metric so
159:51
one of the problems I think is actually
159:53
fungibility and metric reduction
159:58
and so if you have status associated
160:02
with unique things that you offer to the
160:03
world awesome I’m not competing with you
160:06
writ large for more status I’m going to
160:11
people are gonna have a relationship to
160:14
me for the things that I offer and those
160:16
are really the people that I want to
160:18
have a relationship with me and if
160:20
you’re offering things to the world that
160:22
people have a relationship to you for
160:23
and I see that the world is getting
160:26
better as a result of what you’re
160:27
offering and I have access to more a
160:29
better world as a result of it I’m
160:31
totally stoked on that this is where it
160:35
starts to feel not real to me and no
160:38
yeah okay but let’s but let’s go through
160:41
the show here’s why it sounds not real
160:43
alright I think so do we have a slowing
160:50
in technological progress yes and you
160:55
know less so in some areas than in other
160:58
areas but do we still have exponentially
161:03
growing technology in terms of both
161:05
cumulative amount associated with number
161:07
of people in globalization and in terms
161:09
of just technologies that are still
161:11
continue to grow yes of course we do so
161:13
is it 50 years or hundred years we don’t
161:15
know but I really like I have to think
161:19
of this in a kind of a mythopoetic frame
161:21
that’s how it occurs to me is it as we
161:24
as technology is empowering our choices
161:27
and we are getting something like the
161:29
power of gods you have to have something
161:31
like the love and the wisdom of gods to
161:34
wield that or you self-destruct and so
161:37
when I think about I think about the
161:40
rapture story or the Mayan calendar or
161:43
any of those stories in a metaphoric
161:45
sense as just like let’s say you and I
161:48
were in the Bronze Age and we had just
161:49
seen a larger war than had ever happened
161:51
because there were some new better
161:52
weapons Android shoot further distance
161:54
and there were deserts where there
161:56
didn’t used to be deserts because we had
161:58
got new better axes and saws and had
162:00
been able to cut down more trees and we
162:02
just thought about and we said we’re
162:04
still developing better weapons and were
162:05
developing better economic extraction
162:07
tools were using our power in ways that
162:10
are coming
162:11
destructive in a narrow sentence and
162:13
destructive in a larger sense but
162:15
everybody is doing that this doesn’t get
162:17
it happen forever so this phase defined
162:20
by increasing power on all sides used in
162:24
destructive ways constructive narrowly
162:26
but destructive broadly that phase comes
162:29
to an end and there’s something like a
162:31
hard fork where if we keep doing
162:32
anything similar to that it’ll come to
162:34
an end cumulatively whether existential
162:36
or catastrophic more likely catastrophic
162:38
right not full everything end but a lot
162:40
and to be able to have that much power
162:43
and not use it in ways that destroy the
162:47
system requires being actually good
162:50
stewards of power so then the whole
162:52
question for me becomes how do we make a
162:55
social system like what is the the
162:57
Bodhisattva engineering how do we make a
162:59
social system that is conditioning not
163:03
just individual humans but also
163:04
collectives to do good choice making
163:07
Omni positive kind of choice making well
163:10
I have to have a sense making system
163:12
that can factor things like
163:14
externalities ahead of time better and
163:16
that doesn’t have things like multipolar
163:18
traps where if anybody is doing the
163:20
fucked up thing that everybody has to do
163:22
it and so I can start to think about
163:25
what architectures such a system would
163:27
have to have to be able to do sentence
163:30
making as to what externalities would be
163:32
and be able to internalize them and
163:34
where then I can actually confer rights
163:38
oice making and that we’re developing
163:39
humans so again think about the the
163:43
education associated with some religions
163:45
bringing about less violence the
163:46
education associated with some cultures
163:48
bringing about higher average cognitive
163:51
capacity and being able to bring those
163:53
together as much as I know this sounds
163:56
like hippie and silly I don’t actually
163:59
see anything other than a radical
164:02
increase in our good stewardship of
164:07
power it makes it I love the idea that
164:11
you think that there might be something
164:13
here but let me come back it with my and
164:16
again I’m not trying to be negative I
164:18
had it experienced at some point your
164:20
answer requires a warp drive
164:23
so we we both recognize the end-user
164:27
ability of this thing and then are
164:28
saying okay so what is the fundamental
164:30
thing and something Lou I’m not making
164:33
fun of you because what you’re saying is
164:34
insane
164:35
what I’m saying is insane and the people
164:38
who are saying the most common
164:40
supposedly adult things are the craziest
164:43
of us all so I at least accept the idea
164:47
that we have to be here and I want you
164:49
on that branch and I want other people
164:52
on other branches because we need to fan
164:54
out and start exploring at least start
164:55
to care but I guess what I what what
165:00
this makes me think of it was a
165:01
particular moment in my life where one
165:06
of my closest friends brought his father
165:09
to dinner and his father was a guy who
165:12
was legendary in the film industry and
165:18
one of the things he taught his son was
165:21
never let the other guy get the first
165:23
punch in and I thought wow first strike
165:28
you teaching your child to strike first
165:34
nobody had ever suggested anything
165:36
remotely like that in all of my
165:38
upbringing I never heard anything like
165:40
this and I instantly recognized it for
165:43
what it was somebody was going to
165:45
parasitize whatever I had been taught
165:49
and say well great Eric’s been taught
165:52
self-restraint Eric’s been taught to
165:54
turn the other cheek
165:56
to make sure that you de-escalate a
165:58
conflict and goodie-goodie
166:01
more for me your multipolar trap right
166:04
okay there’s a way out of it tell me I’m
166:08
dying to hear it so do we retrofit the
166:14
system no impossible foundational axioms
166:16
are all the wrong axioms can we can we
166:22
make a situation in which we can raise
166:24
children quite differently yes go to see
166:27
kids who grew up in an Amazonian tribe
166:30
or you know some very different
166:31
conditioning environment you’ll see very
166:33
different types of human behavior
166:36
can we change already set adults much
166:39
harder not impossible but harder so can
166:45
we could we find adults that are that
166:49
would be the most likely to be fast
166:51
adopters of a new system like this and
166:53
capable so both kind of at the cutting
166:55
edge of their capacity to have abstract
167:00
wide empathy and bind that to their
167:03
action and you know deeply considerate
167:06
about actual cause-and-effect dynamics
167:08
factor complexity and work with other
167:10
people well can we find the ones that
167:12
are closest there and then train them up
167:15
additionally in some systems that are
167:17
developed for how to do a different
167:20
process of collaboration that doesn’t
167:22
lead to one way of talking about it is
167:24
that when we go to command and control
167:27
hierarchy systems to get beyond the
167:29
Dunbar number we get diminishing returns
167:31
on collective intelligence as a number
167:34
as a function of the number of people
167:35
which creates an incentive to defect
167:38
against that system even internal
167:39
defection and so then we get a problem
167:41
if we could get collective intelligence
167:43
scaling linearly we get something
167:45
radically different so we get just the
167:49
number of people that are needed to be
167:50
able to do something like that trained
167:54
to do that
167:54
and we build a civilization a full-stack
167:57
ground-up civilization because obviously
167:59
I’m talking about not private balance
168:01
sheets and private property is the
168:03
dominant system I’m also going to talk
168:05
about not democracy because the nature
168:07
of voting is inherently polarizing to
168:09
populations because we make propositions
168:11
we’re both voting for it and voting
168:14
against it suck for somebody for
168:15
something because they’re based on
168:16
theory of trade-offs where we didn’t
168:18
even tried to figure out what a good
168:19
proposition for everybody would be in
168:21
the first place so better systems of
168:24
sense-making in choice making which we
168:27
could get to and so let’s say you have a
168:30
full stack civilization of people who
168:32
are capable and oriented to implement it
168:35
and you have not only much higher
168:36
quality of life for the people who are
168:38
there but innovative capacity to solve
168:40
certain problems the world can’t
168:42
currently solve well because of no
168:44
disinformation in the system and better
168:46
coordination well then that system can
168:49
exce
168:50
port solutions that other places in the
168:54
world that would normally have an enmity
168:56
relationship with it actually need that
168:58
they can’t solve for themselves so it
169:01
can create a dependence relationship
169:02
rather than an enmity relationship and
169:04
then they’re like well why the fuck are
169:06
you figuring out these pieces of tech
169:08
and we aren’t we’re like well we figured
169:09
out a better social system and if you
169:11
want it you’re welcome to use it we were
169:12
open sourcing the technology here’s how
169:14
here’s how it works
169:15
but given that the technology as a
169:18
social technology is a social technology
169:21
of how people share information and
169:22
share resources and coordinate
169:24
differently it can’t be weaponized
169:26
because it is kind of the solvent of
169:29
weaponization itself and so any other
169:32
group using it is just now that kind of
169:35
social architecture starting to spore or
169:38
to scale and so yeah I think you get out
169:43
of the multipolar trap by you don’t have
169:46
to win at the game of power against some
169:49
external force to avoid losing at the
169:51
game of power so far if people didn’t
169:56
focus on militarizing they lost to
169:58
whoever militarized and if they didn’t
170:03
lose to whoever militarize is because
170:04
they militarized which means their
170:06
culture became a culture that supports
170:07
the ideas of militarization right but if
170:10
I focus on being able to have whoever
170:13
would militarize against me be able to
170:15
offer them things that are particularly
170:17
valuable that are novel to a collective
170:19
intelligence that can do better
170:20
innovation yeah you get out of a
170:23
multipolar trap that way I want to try
170:26
aggregating all the little bits that I’m
170:30
getting from you and seeing whether I’m
170:33
coming anywhere close okay all right so
170:36
the way I’m seeing it did is the father
170:38
first of all you’re gonna point out to
170:41
me that there are all sorts of
170:43
interesting things that have not been
170:44
really effectively scaled up so your
170:47
point about Buddhism and Jains and
170:49
what-have-you
170:51
it might be possible to use this
170:54
enormous and luxurious developmental
170:57
period for something radically different
171:01
and that something you haven’t said but
171:03
I’ll throw
171:04
to mix and see whether you rejected is
171:05
that man’s capacity for self that is
171:11
somatic eradication through fanaticism
171:15
tells you how powerful the software can
171:18
be that you can teach people to die for
171:21
a cause let’s say and which is obviously
171:25
against genetic comparatives no it’s
171:28
obviously against individual genetic
171:31
imperative but the genetics doesn’t work
171:35
at the level of the individual it’s
171:37
obviously against the somatic the
171:39
assumed somatic imperatives it could
171:43
actually benefit inclusive fitness I
171:45
think there’s a very good reason to
171:46
imagine that you actually benefit your
171:49
clan if your deed is known so I know I
171:53
don’t want to get into that but
171:54
fanaticism exists and maybe fungible I
171:57
think the Tamils for example probably
172:00
showed us that fanaticism can be used at
172:04
a political level as long as you get
172:06
access to children in Sri Lanka yeah
172:08
okay so our sister children was a key
172:12
thing I think so yeah right so the idea
172:15
is that you in effect and I don’t mean
172:18
to put words in your mouth one of the
172:21
lessons of human history is that the
172:23
developed developmental process if not
172:27
used for the traditional Darwinian
172:30
imperative is available for other uses
172:33
and it is of arbitrary power yeah now
172:39
I’m gonna get into the ethics of it but
172:41
first I just wanna get into feasibility
172:43
so first of all there’s an enormous I’m
172:46
gonna keep going back to square zero if
172:48
I don’t get this all right first thing
172:50
is you’re pointing it we’re not on the
172:51
efficient frontier we’re screwing up
172:53
everywhere we could be doing a lot
172:55
better appreciate that next point is
172:58
there are a ton of different things that
173:00
we haven’t really looked at pushing and
173:03
we could afford to push on all of these
173:04
things principle among those things is
173:07
we should be using development for
173:09
something radically different and
173:10
studying cultures which have an
173:13
intrinsically sort of non rival risk
173:16
ethos
173:17
to them to see what have we already been
173:20
able to do and then we can engineer on
173:21
top of that Adams is are different than
173:25
bits Adams have a some somewhat finite
173:28
feel to them bits feels effectively
173:31
infinite so to the extent that we can
173:33
move things from atoms to bits and not
173:35
be coupled to a market system where you
173:38
have this problem of the de bundles
173:39
creates public goods and services which
173:42
causes markets to fail but then
173:44
something else succeeds in instead that
173:47
we can start to have abundance
173:49
particularly where we decouple and we
173:51
learn more about recycling
173:53
so that finite resources are much better
173:56
appreciated for what they are that we
173:59
can get to a point where we can start to
174:01
take pleasure in each other’s pleasure
174:03
particularly if somebody’s producing
174:06
something that is extremely positive for
174:09
that society I want to see Jackie Chan
174:10
given more money to make Jackie Chan
174:12
films so I’m not angry about that so now
174:17
we’re scaling up all of these things the
174:20
things that haven’t been noticed hacks
174:22
this than the other thing I like it
174:26
maybe it’ll buy us some time here are
174:30
the things that really disturbed me
174:31
about it
174:32
one you’d have to grimace I mean I want
174:35
to have not grimacing and smiling okay
174:38
one is the the lot what is the minimal
174:43
level of violence and coercion needed to
174:46
bring about some of these changes so
174:48
this was something that I brought up in
174:49
my discussion with Peter Thiel and his
174:52
and my sort of somewhat mutual framework
174:55
really I learned something from him but
174:57
I tried to put my own thing back into it
174:59
is take take a beautiful dream ask what
175:04
the minimal level of violence and
175:05
coercion needed to accomplish it add
175:08
that in as part of the cost and ask
175:09
yourself is it still beautiful so that’s
175:11
one of the questions that I would ask
175:12
you and then I get to the issue of
175:19
certain things like lakefront property
175:23
in the atomic world anyway are valuable
175:29
and unique
175:30
and it becomes problematic to imagine a
175:34
world in which all of our previous
175:36
experience was about competing for these
175:39
things to imagine 100% adherence to this
175:47
new way of thinking well let’s go proto
175:51
pian not utopian let’s go that there are
175:54
some 0u by proto P moving in the right
175:56
direction
175:57
alright let’s say that there are some
176:00
things that are harder to make
176:03
adequately abundant than other things
176:05
but there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit
176:07
that we can start moving and as we do it
176:09
we will get there’s good reason to think
176:11
that there is a basis to do that in more
176:14
areas so in a system where when
176:18
something is more scarce it is worth
176:20
more then if I’m on the supply side of
176:23
that I have an incentive to manufacture
176:25
artificial scarcity and to definitely
176:28
prevent abundance that would debase the
176:30
value of the thing that I have in a
176:32
world where we remove the Association of
176:35
value and scarcity than where there are
176:37
actual scarcities the goal is to
176:40
engineer the scarcity out of the system
176:42
mm-hm and so if we’re talking about
176:44
limited amount of Oceanfront then this
176:46
is where we say well can we do
176:48
seasteading and create a lot of
176:49
Oceanfront that is really awesome where
176:51
there is actually more to they’re just
176:52
like more people are shopping at the
176:54
store then we need more shopping carts
176:55
and so part of the answer is how do we
176:58
actually increase the abundance but not
177:00
an exponential abundance because we’re
177:01
talking about also steady-state
177:02
population and using and a lot of shared
177:05
resources and it’s that coupled with
177:12
psychologically healthy or more mature
177:14
people that relate to these things
177:15
differently both of those are necessary
177:17
now there would be sufficient on their
177:18
own well I like that a lot
177:20
and I I do quite honestly take some hope
177:23
in that I’m finding that what people are
177:27
now rival RIS about has changed a lot I
177:30
think over the course of my life I think
177:33
Millennials are much more interested in
177:36
what what experiences have you had
177:38
recently rather than what have you
177:40
bought and purchased recently in part
177:44
because
177:44
economy kind of turned against them but
177:46
travel got cheap right and so that
177:49
that’s been interesting to see do you
177:52
believe that we have a huge nearly
177:56
universal level up in maturity and
178:00
wisdom available to us through
178:03
development hacking yeah and so it is
178:09
both how we develop that socially which
178:14
I don’t think will happen uniformly I
178:16
think will happen in pockets that become
178:18
strange attractors that other groups
178:21
want to then implement once seen because
178:24
they’re so clearly better at both
178:26
quality of life and innovation and how
178:31
long that takes to develop widely is a
178:33
while like this is a multi generation
178:35
thing okay I think that that would not
178:40
be sufficient on its own but it’s
178:42
necessary better sense making systems
178:46
where we can actually solve problems
178:48
without causing worse problems which
178:50
we’re not historically good at is also
178:52
necessary and this is both some
178:56
evolution in our epistemic sand our
178:58
actual processes of collective sense
179:00
making and collective coordination so
179:06
yes I see level ups in both of those
179:08
possible right now I’m gonna ask a very
179:10
difficult question but we have to get to
179:13
it yeah
179:15
in essence I’ve got a riff which I don’t
179:20
think I’ve said publicly which is that
179:21
the the biggest problem with discussing
179:25
sexuality is is that sexual sex is sexy
179:28
and if you have something that’s central
179:31
to the world that is almost impossible
179:33
to talk about yeah it’s a very strange
179:38
state of affairs assume that we solve
179:41
all of these problems that don’t have to
179:44
do with status sex and reproduction
179:47
according to your most optimistic
179:50
scenario but we have trouble over here
179:52
that there’s one last little pesky
179:54
problem yeah does this situation work
179:58
yes now I will speak to it because as
180:02
you said it is central and you’re wrong
180:04
because it is central of course okay but
180:08
my speaking to it is probably going to
180:10
change the comment section of this video
180:13
but so be it you know what if they don’t
180:16
want to come along for the ride they I I
180:19
think that the most important thing is
180:21
to just try to do this mean to say this
180:25
to be horrible but let’s try to take
180:27
some of the stupid fun out of discussing
180:29
sexuality by talking about it for what
180:33
it is and a central system that has to
180:38
be discussed because it is the engine of
180:40
human behavior so your brother and I had
180:45
this conversation when we met and
180:49
obviously with his background
180:50
evolutionary biology and Prime a mating
180:52
and whatever I was very interested in
180:56
his perspective and it took a little
180:58
while but for what it’s worth and let me
181:01
just jump in one second Brett were he
181:03
here yeah would break the theory of
181:06
selection into two pieces that would be
181:09
the stuff that follows natural selection
181:14
the way we expected from Darwin and then
181:16
you would break it into a second piece
181:18
which is the stuff that goes completely
181:20
counterintuitive due to sexual selection
181:25
right and that division is actually part
181:29
of the standard evolutionary teep
181:31
toolkit he does it a little bit better
181:33
and a little bit differently but that
181:35
division into natural and sexual
181:37
selection is part of the the territory
181:40
and it really matters for when we think
181:42
about resource scarcity because the
181:44
resources that people need to deal with
181:47
the first part the survival part are not
181:48
that much right actually but the
181:51
resources that people need to deal with
181:52
the mating part is more than the other
181:54
guy historically which is why the guy
181:57
with 150 foot yacht might feel bad when
181:59
the 200-foot yacht well this is up and
182:01
let’s say this is closed if you’re not
182:04
an evolutionary theorist I’m not but we
182:06
do our best there is a version of
182:10
evolutionary theory which states that
182:14
there needs to be crisis there needs to
182:20
be a function for showing that you are
182:22
better in order to keep individuals max
182:28
you know sort of on that razor’s edge of
182:31
performance and that mating
182:33
opportunities means that there’s always
182:35
a crisis there’s never enough abundance
182:38
because somebody with 13 homes is more
182:43
desirable than somebody with 9 homes if
182:45
you’re just trying to figure out if
182:46
there were a crisis I mean who would do
182:49
better right
182:50
so we have to overcome that because that
182:52
drives a Malthusian situation of no
182:55
amount of resource ever bring
182:56
sufficiency about right and drives a
182:59
fundamental rivalry which is why you
183:00
said we have to address it so what I’m
183:08
you my take on this as I explored it my
183:12
process with myself has been asking ok
183:15
as soon as I saw that the dynamics of
183:19
this world that seemed intuitive and
183:21
natural to most of us as we kind of grew
183:24
up in and were conditioned by it were
183:26
self terminating and I said any of the
183:28
things that we think of as normal I’m
183:31
willing to question deeply and so how do
183:34
I think could I imagine a high-tech
183:36
civilization that doesn’t implode could
183:39
I imagine a kind of enlightened planet
183:41
what would life be like there all the
183:44
different things conflict emotion
183:46
resources and sexualities obviously one
183:48
of the big questions and I think I think
183:53
the book sex it wrong sex at dawn
183:55
obviously gets plenty of things wrong
183:56
it’s trying to make a strong antithesis
183:58
to the standard evolutionary history of
184:01
Homo sapiens thesis but I think there
184:04
are some key parts to it when they look
184:05
at the moss wah people or the Canela
184:07
people or people that did not have that
184:10
had a stable society that was not
184:12
primarily pair-bonded but had multi-male
184:15
multi-female dynamics it’s not to say
184:18
that’s how humans mostly were that
184:19
doesn’t matter it’s to say that it’s a
184:21
possibility if it’s within the
184:23
possibility set same
184:24
Buddhism I’m not saying that’s how
184:25
people know it in sort of it doesn’t
184:29
have been just needs to establish proof
184:31
of concept and then we can try to scale
184:33
it up from yeah it’s a positive deviant
184:35
analysis for proof of concept to then
184:37
say can we make that actual is that a
184:39
viable model for a new center and is
184:42
that a possible thing to make and the
184:47
fact that it didn’t make it through
184:48
evolution so far like evolution has a
184:50
blind quality to it right where it’ll
184:52
make a a DAP tation that makes sense in
184:55
the moment DISA determined by something
184:59
like warfare that is actually not that
185:01
good long term receivin self terminating
185:03
long term so the argument if it would
185:06
have been a good system it would have
185:07
made it well the thing that has made it
185:10
is continuing to up ratchet rival risk
185:12
capacity oh and that itself is gonna
185:14
self-terminate metaclass hacking that
185:16
somehow we’ve hacked ourselves new
185:17
positions we can keep surviving yeah and
185:20
so one one version says that we can
185:22
never escape the evolutionary
185:23
imperatives the other says we will all
185:26
we have always escaped whatever our last
185:28
problem was and so we should be expected
185:30
that even if there’s only the sliver of
185:32
hope we should exploit it to the fullest
185:34
yeah and so generally this situation
185:36
happens that we have a near-term
185:39
incentive to pursue some advantage but
185:41
where the disadvantage of that thing
185:42
might happen over a much longer term and
185:44
that’s like one of the fundamental
185:46
problems right the externality might
185:48
show up over hundreds or thousands of
185:49
years but the benefit occurs over this
185:51
year so I have to do it so we have to
185:54
get over that actually if we’re
185:55
affecting the world in such fundamental
185:57
ways over the long term we have to
185:59
actually be factoring that into our
186:00
decision making now that’s one of the
186:02
minimum requirements of a game be if
186:05
it’s going to exist which also means of
186:07
a viable civilization at all so when it
186:13
comes to status because I think status
186:15
and sexuality go largely together it’s
186:17
not exactly one for one but there
186:19
there’s a strong correlation I was
186:24
listening to you on a few podcasts and
186:26
you were talking about B Prime and
186:29
talking about spinners and your kind of
186:31
geometric unity and I was just fuckin
186:34
loving it and I was loving even the
186:36
status of like you described
186:39
theoretical physics and mathematics well
186:42
which are topics that you know so much
186:43
better than I do but that I’m fascinated
186:45
by and educating the public about it and
186:48
there was no like status competition
186:50
impulse in me that was like oh boy wait
186:52
he is being seen as smart for these
186:55
things I was like wow this fucking
186:56
awesome I hope that he gets more status
186:58
doing that because it’s obviously good
187:00
for the world jeez I have such different
187:03
intuitions about this I mean you know to
187:07
be blunt about it
187:09
I didn’t really talk about this stuff
187:12
for ages and there was a part of me that
187:16
cared about status but this was always a
187:20
part in fact I really to the extent that
187:25
I think that I have anything interesting
187:26
and new it is a very uncomfortable
187:30
feeling I mean I could show you all
187:32
sorts of cool things on you know if I
187:35
came up with a new lick on the guitar I
187:38
would enjoy showing it to you this is
187:42
something I feel very I have felt very
187:44
uncomfortable about and there are ways
187:46
in which well
187:53
it’s very apart for me from the status
187:56
game I’ve been fascinated looking at
187:58
some of the comments where people say
188:01
you know so-and-so is in it for the
188:02
grift and they just want money and this
188:05
is an ego trip and I have to say the
188:08
least fun part the reason I didn’t do a
188:10
podcast for a long time and the reason
188:12
that I I didn’t commercialize this and
188:16
I’ve left a lot of money on the table
188:18
and I’m intending to commercialize this
188:20
is that I was very uncomfortable with
188:23
all of these issues they didn’t like it
188:25
and I think people imagined that their
188:30
first few increments of status are fun
188:33
so that getting more and more status
188:35
must be awesome and I actually don’t
188:38
think that that’s true I think it’s a
188:39
little bit like wow my first my first
188:42
taste of heroin was pretty sweet I
188:44
should do this all the time it goes into
188:47
some completely different place yeah so
188:51
that is counter to the narrative that
188:54
we’re all seeking maximum status and in
188:56
competition with each other for status
188:58
well if you yeah I think that there is a
189:00
that is a low-resolution narrative right
189:03
I think that you know it’s like it’s
189:09
always make fun of the fact that
189:11
evolutionarily you’re crazy for sugar
189:15
and the fact that they give it away for
189:16
free at Starbucks you know there’s some
189:20
part of you that’s a three-year-old kid
189:23
just wants to use many packets of sugar
189:24
as you possibly can it’s not going to be
189:26
a good thing right yeah keep going I’m
189:28
sorry about that well so this is the
189:30
thing I think I think it’s actually true
189:33
that there’s a lot of status that is not
189:35
really that fun this is also my
189:37
experience but I think it’s also true
189:40
that we can feel good about rather than
189:42
bad about where someone else is doing
189:44
socially well well if we yeah I mean if
189:48
we if we have a kind of love and trust
189:50
and we have an idea like you know I’m
189:54
friends with Andrew Yang and I disagree
189:56
with a bunch of his policies but I have
189:59
a feeling that he is a guy who’s just
190:00
earnest you know I’m knowing knowing him
190:04
socially I have the sense that
190:06
it is not an ego trip for him to want to
190:10
steward the country it’s a-you know
190:11
you’re taking on a position that puts
190:14
you in a life-and-death situation with
190:15
the number of attempts on presidents
190:17
lives let’s say it’s a very solemn
190:20
responsibility and I think that in part
190:24
we want people who we feel are grounded
190:28
and I by the way I’m not always grounded
190:30
you know so I’ve drunk my own status you
190:36
know to excess at times but it’s a very
190:40
tricky thing who do I want to have
190:43
status who do I not want to ask that as
190:45
do I trust I have a friend who is the
190:48
nicest person in the world except when
190:49
he’s doing well and then he becomes very
190:51
difficult to deal with you know so
190:53
they’re like that there’s the person
190:56
who’s fine on one glass of alcohol and
190:59
you don’t want them to have three yeah
191:02
so I think status as a hyper normal
191:06
stimuli we’re in a evolutionary
191:09
environment we couldn’t necessarily have
191:11
more than 150 people pay attention to us
191:13
yeah and now we can have a huge number
191:15
of people pay attention to us and have
191:17
it metro sized with likes or whatever I
191:19
think it is like sugar a hyper normal
191:22
stimulus that is very hard for it not to
191:25
be bad for us and we actually have to
191:27
have a very mature relationship to it
191:28
and addiction of any kind any hyper
191:33
normal stimulus that decreases normal
191:35
stimulus is going to end up being net
191:37
bad for us I think one of the metrics
191:39
for how healthy a society is is inverse
191:41
relationship to addictive dynamics
191:43
that’s the healthy environment
191:46
conditions people that are not prone to
191:49
addiction which means have actual more
191:53
authenticity of choice because addiction
191:55
compulsion writ large is less
191:57
authenticity of choice and what’s
192:00
interesting is the hyper normal stimulus
192:03
what porn is to sex with sugar and salt
192:05
and fat concentrated in a Frappuccino or
192:08
McDonald’s is to food right devoid of
192:11
the actual nutrition or devoid of the
192:12
actual intimacy listen trading submits
192:14
that betray the Ultimates the the
192:17
originally the proximate stimulus
192:20
is tied to the ultimate and ice the the
192:22
brain keeps track of the proximate and
192:25
then you can disconnect some of these
192:26
like birth control disconnected
192:30
sexuality from procreation right and in
192:33
the same way if there was a healthy
192:35
status relationship of in a tribal
192:38
environment where I can’t really lie and
192:40
people really are watching me and know
192:41
me if I’m thought well of it’s because
192:43
I’m actually doing well by everybody and
192:44
I have authentic healthy relationships
192:46
as opposed to I can signal things that
192:49
aren’t true hmm and not and they and
192:54
even get more status through negative
192:58
signaling about other people and things
193:00
like that and get a lot of hits from it
193:03
it’s that is the same kind of thing as
193:05
the fast food or the corn is and so I
193:09
think we have a hypo normal environment
193:12
of the healthy stimulus that actually
193:17
creates a baseline well-being so most
193:22
people I find that when they go camping
193:25
with their friends and they’re in nature
193:27
and they’re actually in real authentic
193:28
human relationships they’re checking
193:30
their phone for dopamine hits from email
193:33
or Facebook less and they’re also
193:35
looking opening the fridge just blindly
193:38
looking less often because they’re
193:40
actually having an authentic meaningful
193:43
engaging interaction but in a world
193:46
where I have a lot of isolation nuclear
193:49
family home structures etc and not
193:53
connected to nature and not necessarily
193:54
connected to meaningfulness that much
193:57
that hypo normal environment creates
193:59
increased susceptibility to hyper normal
194:01
stimuli hyper normal stimuli happened to
194:04
be good for markets because on the
194:08
supply side if I want to maximize
194:10
lifetime value of a customer addiction
194:12
is good for lifetime value of a customer
194:15
but it is very bad for society as a
194:18
whole this I really like so if I
194:22
understand you correctly
194:28
people don’t I mean this actually starts
194:33
to solve a puzzle I think I heard that
194:37
somebody asked Matt Damon whether he
194:39
enjoyed being famous and he said it was
194:43
if I have the story right and maybe
194:45
somebody else I forgive me if I’m wrong
194:47
he said it wasn’t even fun for 15
194:51
minutes and this is the hardest thing to
194:55
convey is that if you’ve never had any
194:57
kind of status at all right that you
195:02
know I I think I said to Tim Ferriss
195:04
that you only wanted to be famous to
195:06
3,000 hand-chosen people want your calls
195:09
returned you know you you want to be
195:12
taken seriously when you have something
195:14
to say you do not want to be universally
195:19
known and that was the hardest decision
195:21
and starting this podcast was I didn’t
195:25
think I had another option I mean part
195:28
of the point of it is to get out ideas
195:30
that I worry are not institutional you
195:35
know there’s no institution that’s
195:36
embracing these ideas and I couldn’t
195:39
figure out met Redford for months is
195:43
there a way to do this without becoming
195:46
part of the story right and because I
195:49
think that privacy and an individual
195:51
life is so much more important and I
195:54
don’t believe that every time you bring
195:55
something up you know it means that you
195:58
should have your life ripped open and be
196:01
dissected and discuss it’s very
196:03
unnatural I think what you’re trying to
196:04
tell me is that people think that they
196:07
want to be fabulously rich they think
196:09
they want to be famous they think they
196:12
want unlimited sexual access and in fact
196:15
it is the first few tastes of these
196:18
things that convince them that there
196:20
must be no limit to how wonderful the
196:22
world can be if only that can be mine
196:24
and in fact there is something I mean
196:27
it’s sort of you know like rosebud at
196:29
the end of such a yeah those are much
196:32
more like addiction and fulfillment and
196:36
addiction
196:38
we’ll give me a spike and then a crash
196:40
and then because of the crash I’m more
196:42
craving something that will spike me
196:43
because I feel really shitty and but
196:45
then I get an erosion of baseline over
196:47
time from the effects of that and so of
196:50
course the chocolate cake is gonna make
196:52
me feel good in the moment but as I have
196:53
a mostly chocolate cake died at my life
196:55
feels shitty er as I average right as I
196:58
do the integral under the curve it gets
197:00
worse whereas the salad doesn’t really
197:02
give me that spike but as I get
197:03
healthier my baseline of pleasure
197:05
throughout not just when I’m eating but
197:07
all of the time goes up because I have
197:09
the capacity to engage in more
197:11
interesting meaningful things and my
197:13
body doesn’t hurt as much in whatever so
197:14
I think the interesting thing is that it
197:16
is actually just like a healthier
197:18
relationship to or a more effective
197:21
relationship to pleasure is anti
197:23
addictive but I think most of these
197:25
things that people think they want are
197:27
hyper normal stimuli that is the
197:29
dopaminergic part separated from the
197:31
substance I don’t know how much I
197:34
believe this but I like it a lot so if I
197:37
understand you correctly there is a
197:39
world of pleasure I don’t even want to
197:44
call it pleasure I don’t even know what
197:45
to call it maybe it’s much more on
197:46
fulfillment that we would give up that
197:50
no let me say it differently what you’re
197:52
really saying is we are blind to the
197:55
effect that somatic pleasure and Status
197:58
pleasure is crowding out fulfilment in
198:01
our lives and that were we to actually
198:04
understand the cost of pleasure of
198:07
rivalry that there is an individual
198:10
reason to abandon somatic pleasure as
198:15
the be-all and end-all how we how we
198:19
create a life I mean this is how many
198:23
how many awesome trips to Vegas did I
198:25
did I have is that the thing that’s
198:27
going to matter most to me on my
198:29
deathbed yeah I don’t think it ever has
198:32
and I don’t think it’s ever what people
198:38
would be most hopeful that there let’s
198:40
give it a name because I don’t think
198:42
I’ve ever been down this particular
198:44
route let’s call it deathbed mindset for
198:47
the moment just to play with it see if
198:48
it works and if it doesn’t work we’ll
198:50
trash it
198:51
so people on their deathbed become
198:53
focused on did I do enough for my
198:57
community do my children think well of
198:59
me I think what happens is people
199:01
realize that everything they got dies
199:04
with them like all in the end its
199:07
lineage only and the way I touch the
199:10
world continues and there’s not just my
199:12
biologic kids lid each of my thoughts
199:15
yeah like memes along with genes and so
199:19
I think when we really start to think
199:22
about this clearly we recognize that
199:27
this direction is self terminating the
199:30
need to get stuff from the world that
199:33
when I die it ends with me that there is
199:35
actually only a kind of self
199:37
transcendence and permanence in the way
199:38
that I touch the world which does ripple
199:40
ongoingly but there’s also this thing
199:43
where yeah again it I feel almost a
199:50
little bit shy talking about it even
199:53
even more than the sex topic in some
199:55
ways because I’m proposing that there is
200:00
something like spiritual growth I think
200:02
it’s actually necessary for civilization
200:04
to make it
200:05
and so people affirming that they are
200:12
these kind to themselves needy things
200:15
that need stuff from the world yeah that
200:17
need other people’s validation and
200:19
attention and etc and living life that
200:22
way were the more of it they get what
200:23
they’re still getting as a self the
200:25
affirmation of that sense of self as
200:27
opposed to coming from a place of
200:29
wholeness and the desire and actual love
200:35
for the beauty of life and the desire to
200:37
have their life be meaningful to life
200:39
that my life ends but life of the
200:42
capital L doesn’t end and that life
200:45
starts to be central to my awareness
200:47
more than my life is and my life becomes
200:49
meaningful and it’s coupling to life
200:51
this answers the sex question it also it
200:54
answers all the other questions but I
200:56
don’t think there is a there to break
200:58
through to yeah and the problem that
201:01
we’re having conceiving of it in your
201:02
money now again I don’t think this gets
201:04
that of all the issues that I’ve raised
201:06
but I think it’s the first point at
201:08
which I start to see there’s something
201:11
really different about your perspective
201:14
so just as a slow learner if we take the
201:18
kind of Gerardi an idea of all desire as
201:21
mimetic and I’m oversimplifying it but
201:23
just meaning I want what other people
201:25
have and then that inexorably causes
201:29
conflict and then the conflict will
201:31
inexorably cause violence I think there
201:35
is statistical truth to all three of
201:37
those steps but not inexorable truth to
201:39
any of them mmm I don’t only want things
201:43
that other people have I you know or
201:47
that I that I learned from other people
201:50
there’s there there are things that are
201:53
just intrinsically fascinating to me or
201:57
there are wanting for other people it is
202:00
not wanting for myself anything in
202:02
particular just actually caring about
202:03
wanting for other people there are
202:05
innate creative impulses where I don’t
202:07
actually need to see and eat like I have
202:09
a friend who is a savant pianist
202:11
brilliant pianist and he almost never
202:13
will play for anybody because his
202:15
experience of playing is so beautiful
202:17
that he doesn’t want to cheapen it by
202:19
having somebody else hear it and move
202:22
into a performative place and it just is
202:25
his own communion with music itself so I
202:29
think there is desire that emerges from
202:32
our connection to life not just the
202:34
social layer and then even if you’re
202:37
doing something that I’m inspired by and
202:38
I want to do something like that too
202:40
they don’t have to create conflict I can
202:42
be okay with you having something and
202:44
want to share it or share in that type
202:46
of phenomena yeah okay now I’m starting
202:50
to you know I have a friend for example
202:53
who’s a fantastic guitarist and I
202:57
noticed that when we play together he
203:00
doesn’t play at his peak ability because
203:05
he wants the pleasure of playing
203:09
together yeah to to be that the thing
203:14
that we share if I was a better
203:15
guitarist it would be more fun
203:17
to trade things back and forth but the
203:20
danger of going out of shared experience
203:23
is far greater and so you know I yeah I
203:28
I know the things that you are saying
203:30
are true and perhaps what I’ve been
203:33
saying back to you could be retranslated
203:34
as the transcendent beyond the proximate
203:39
somatic pleasures that we have is so
203:42
rarely experienced at scale it’s not
203:46
experienced at scale well a little bits
203:49
and religions in religion it happens I
203:52
think that in in families there are
203:54
things that people don’t want to share
203:56
outside of the family because they bond
203:58
the family yeah and but it’s just it’s
204:03
hard to imagine a world in which people
204:05
stop coveting their own name and lights
204:08
you know people being impressed by by
204:12
their car their yacht their house this
204:14
than the other and I think that what
204:16
you’re talking about
204:17
not hard for me to imagine well this is
204:19
the thing I mean the you know the odd
204:21
thing that I have in being the friend
204:25
and the employee of a billionaire is
204:27
that I sometimes get to borrow his life
204:29
yeah and you know he’s made his home
204:32
available to me in Hawaii for example
204:36
and it’s absolutely astounding to be in
204:39
control of an asset like that I have
204:42
another friend who lent me his Island
204:43
year after year but I also found that I
204:47
didn’t want or need that and that both
204:51
of these gentlemen that I’m referring to
204:53
were much more focused on ideas than
204:56
they were on Faberge eggs or displaying
204:59
a Picasso or anything like that because
205:01
ultimately they found they wanted to go
205:05
their association with me was let’s talk
205:08
about things that might move the needle
205:10
in human history rather than do you have
205:13
any idea how much this bottle of wine
205:15
cost and remember I was saying earlier
205:20
that I think dominant paradigms co-opted
205:22
psychology to define healthy psychology
205:25
as supportive of the paradigm so what
205:27
I’m about to say in terms of what I
205:29
think healthy psychology is is not the
205:30
current
205:31
definition of healthy psychology it is
205:33
one that would be fit to a to an actuary
205:36
viable civilization I think
205:38
psychologically healthy humans are
205:40
emotionally coupled to each other so 100
205:44
percent so when you’re happy I’m happy
205:46
I’m stoked for you if you’re hurting I
205:48
feel that I feel compassion and empathy
205:49
I think the worst psychology is the
205:54
inversion of sadism where I feel joy at
205:58
your pain rather than joy your joy and
206:00
we know your pain I think is a French
206:02
expression is not sufficient that one
206:05
succeed in life one’s friends must also
206:08
fail yeah so that is a perfect statement
206:12
of what is most wrong with the world
206:13
right that’s that that is the heart of
206:16
the worst part of game a but I think
206:19
jealousy is one step away from sadism
206:22
because if sadism is I feel joy at your
206:25
pain
206:25
jealousy is I feel pain at your joy or
206:28
your success or envy right and I don’t
206:31
think that is a psychologically healthy
206:33
place for people I think it is a largely
206:37
we condition this because we watch
206:39
movies where we celebrate when the bad
206:41
guy gets it right and we condition the
206:43
fuck out of we celebrate when the bad
206:44
guy gets and we celebrate when our team
206:46
wins and the other team loses so we can
206:48
collectively decoupler empathy from
206:50
other human beings arbitrarily so that
206:52
we can then feel good in a war
206:54
supporting you know when that type of
206:56
thing occurs and we get conditioned that
206:59
second place is the first loser and all
207:01
those types of things but this is
207:03
conditioning again and conditioning of a
207:05
highly neuro plastic species so I think
207:07
our intuitions are all bad if we haven’t
207:09
spent I’m really questioning these
207:11
things and then also looking at cultural
207:13
outliers because I don’t think any of
207:15
this is inexorable is it is it Oh bik WA
207:19
tiss yes is it an extra bone oh but I
207:21
think what is ubiquitous is
207:22
psychopathology
207:23
well Daniel I think what I’ve gotten
207:25
from our conversation is is that you’ve
207:28
got a lot of examples that are at the
207:31
proof-of-concept level of things that
207:33
are under exploited you’ve got an
207:35
observation that we’re far off the
207:37
efficient frontier that there’s one
207:40
giant overlooked opportunity which is
207:44
the
207:44
we are so radically k-selected that our
207:47
developmental period from age zero to
207:51
thirteen could be used for something
207:53
radically different which i think is the
207:55
the biggest hope in your whole complex
207:58
of ideas together with the idea that
208:01
there are realms beyond somatic pleasure
208:04
that most of us spend our entire lives
208:07
not knowing what it’s like to break
208:09
through the status and wealth and
208:13
security games and effectively we have
208:16
no idea at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy
208:18
when fully realized is and that it might
208:21
be possible to at least begin the game
208:24
to buy us some time to try to figure out
208:26
what we would do at scale now I still
208:29
don’t see any world in which we can
208:33
defeat all these multipolar traps but I
208:35
think what you’re really saying to me
208:37
again always correct me if I’m wrong is
208:39
that we could potentially change what
208:45
winning feels like and that when we do
208:48
that then this prisoner’s dilemma is
208:50
don’t look right any longer because I no
208:52
longer want to be the one who defected
208:56
while you cooperated so that I get off
208:58
scot-free and you wind up with a 20 year
209:01
jail term and we have to remove the
209:03
context of the prisoner’s dilemma as our
209:05
model for the world right like actually
209:07
change the nature of the context and
209:13
because that is a fundamentally
209:15
inexorably rival risk dynamic right I
209:18
just I don’t think you’re gonna get rid
209:20
of all rivalry I just I see
209:23
opportunities for decreasing it I see
209:25
opportunities for changing the culture
209:28
the the the weakest part of your
209:30
argument to me at this moment and again
209:32
I’m just learning about it is the need
209:35
for universality with respect to this
209:38
evolution and I think that’s the one
209:40
part of it that I find the hardest to
209:41
imagine we can actually get done so if I
209:45
have a system like a corporation where
209:47
my playing by the rules fully gets me
209:50
ahead less than me defecting on the
209:52
system internally and doing corporate
209:56
politics or a back-end deal or whatever
209:58
then I have the incentive to defect on
210:01
the system and it doesn’t have the
210:02
collective intelligence to notice it
210:04
right because there’s a diminishing
210:07
return on the collective intelligence of
210:09
the system as a function of more scale
210:11
if I could make a system and I I will
210:15
claim that we can and their
210:17
architectures that can achieve it we
210:19
could make a system where the collective
210:22
intelligence scaled with the number of
210:24
people then I would always have more
210:26
incentive to participate with it than to
210:28
defect and if I did defect because I had
210:30
a head injury the system would have the
210:32
intelligence to be able to notice that
210:34
and deal with it now this is the place
210:36
where I’m saying the Dunbar number was
210:39
both care and sense making it was a
210:44
limit on both you know our values
210:46
generation right and our sense making to
210:48
inform choice making so if we want
210:50
better systems of governance ie better
210:51
systems of choice making we need to get
210:53
both collective values generation and
210:55
collective sense making down the
210:57
conditioning gives us ways to start to
211:00
work with things like very different
211:03
value systems but I can’t have a very
211:06
different value system while still
211:08
incentivizing meaning a value equation
211:11
economically where the whale is worth a
211:13
lot dead and nothing alive right and I
211:16
and it doesn’t have adequate sense
211:19
making to even inform what good choice
211:21
making for everyone so we can
211:23
participate with the system is so
211:26
that’ll have to take more time well I
211:30
look forward to continuing our
211:32
discussions and I want to thank you very
211:35
much for coming and sharing your ideas
211:37
with us here on the portal and just
211:39
briefly I want to say I think that I
211:44
think that you’re doing this is awesome
211:47
I you know there there are people who
211:52
say we need divergent ideas and
211:55
heterodox ideas but that don’t have
211:57
grounded clear thinking and you know
212:00
critical thinking and I think for you to
212:02
bring heterodox thinkers and have but
212:06
not just agree with them but have real
212:08
dialectic conversation that is earnestly
212:10
seeking to bring about
212:11
better understanding is beautiful I was
212:14
really excited about that
212:15
I I wish that I could have communicated
212:20
clearer having had better sleep last
212:22
night but hopefully it wasn’t completely
212:23
unintelligible well I traveled from San
212:26
Francisco to do this and so I think I
212:28
was probably a little off my game at
212:30
particularly at the beginning but we can
212:32
do this again and I just want to say
212:34
those are incredibly generous and kind
212:37
words I’ll take them to heart I’m trying
212:39
to get courage myself to do a little bit
212:41
more in this space and so far I got to
212:44
tell you the audience for the show has
212:45
been second to none in terms of behaving
212:49
really admirably and positively on the
212:54
internet I can’t tell you how much great
212:56
feedback we’ve gotten super constructive
212:58
and I hope you think they will look
213:01
they’ll embrace what you said in the
213:03
same spirit so thanks Daniel thank you
213:07
you’ve been watching the or listening to
213:09
the portal with Daniel schmock dude
213:11
Berger and I’ve been your host Eric
213:14
Weinstein thanks for coming through and
213:16
we’ll see you next time
213:17
[Music]
213:31
you

American Paganism

It’s not what the Religious Right thinks it is.

Claims of moral decline are a perennial feature of conservative rhetoric. But in recent years, pro-Trump Christians have emphasized a new reason to be afraid. The United States, they say, is devolving into such wanton “paganism” that the country may not survive. The true America awaits rescue by the Christian faithful, and in such an existential struggle, nearly any means are justified—even reelecting a morally abhorrent president.

Examples of this rhetoric are not in short supply, among pundits and even in more scholarly work. In an essay praising Donald Trump’s “animal instinct” for “order” and “social cohesion,” Sohrab Ahmari opposed an America of “traditional Christianity” to one of “libertine ways and paganized ideology.” These are our only choices, he insisted. Between such incompatible enemies, there can be only “war and enmity,” so true believers should be ready to sacrifice civility in the battles ahead to reconquer the public squareRod Dreher has speculated that Trump, while unpalatable, could be a divine emissary holding back the horrors of Christian persecution, like the biblical figure of He Who Delays the Antichrist, an implicit nod to old pagan enemies. “If Christians like me vote for Trump in 2020,” Dreher warns, “it is only because of his role as katechon in restraining what is far worse.” Though in a calmer tone, Ross Douthat entertained similar ideas in his column “The Return of Paganism,” wondering if the pantheist tendencies in American civil religion could morph into a neo-paganism hostile to Christian faith.

Douthat cites a recent book by law professor Steven D. Smith, Pagans & Christians in the City: Culture Wars from the Tiber to the Potomac. According to Smith, what we know as “secularismis actually ancient paganism in modern guise. Since paganism is inherently anti-Christian, this means Christians should oppose both secular politics and secular universities at any cost. They are not fighting against a neutral arbiter, but against the wiles of pagan Rome redivivus, a strain of this-worldly sexualized spirituality nearly eradicated by Christianity, but now mutated and all the more lethal.

Smith is only the most recent Christian author to invoke the specter of paganism. R. R. Reno, the editor of First Things, wrote Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society on the eve of the 2016 election, apparently anticipating a Clinton victory. The book’s title alludes to T. S. Eliot’s 1938 essay on “The Idea of a Christian Society,” in which Eliot condemns the rise of “modern paganism.” Reno told his readers to view 2016 in light of 1938. “Would the West seek a Christian future or a pagan one?” he asked. “We face a similar decision today. Will we seek to live in accord with the idea of a Christian society, or will we accept the tutelage of a pagan society?” Yuval Levin called Reno’s book a “call to arms against a postmodern paganism.”

This charge of looming paganism exerts a twofold political function. First, it

  1. rationalizes Trumpism, casting our situation as a state of emergency that threatens the survival of U.S. Christians.
  2. Second, the sacrilege of pagan religion prevents Trump’s supporters from indulging in political moderation by making that seem like a form of apostasy. It’s probably not a coincidence that “paganism” is on the rise just as Christian conservatives decide whether to support the current administration in an election year. It is challenging to explain how Trump’s policies are Christian. It is far easier to label his opponents as pagans, and thus align the president with Christianity by default. But there are fundamental problems with the conservative narrative of a resurgent paganism.

In the first place, the term “paganism” only works in this maneuver because it is vague and perspectival. It always has been, ever since Christians invented it. Ancient Christians stuck the name on those who continued the traditional rites of Greco-Roman religion rather than adopt the true faith. Indeed the largely urban Christians meant it as a mild pejorative for the rural country bumpkins, the pagani, who lived far from imperial centers and persisted in their benighted worship of the old gods. In our terms, the first “pagans” lived in flyover country and clung to their traditional religion. 

Since “pagan” has come to mean “un-Christian,” every invocation of “pagan” brings with it an implicit understanding of “Christian.” The meaning of the former is parasitic on the latter. Misunderstanding the essence of paganism, therefore, also means misunderstanding the demands of Christianity, and vice versa.

More left-leaning Christians might well agree with Smith and Reno in one sense: there is indeed an ascendant paganism afoot in our country today. It threatens the social and moral fabric of American public life and contends directly against the voice of Christian truth. One can brook no compromise in resisting it. The difference comes in how that paganism is defined. The debate is not whether paganism is real, but where it lives, how it appears, and what it does. If conservatives have mistaken its location, they might be training their weapons in the wrong direction.

Much hangs, then, on accurately discerning the meaning of “modern paganism.” Let us consider three proposals: Steven Smith’s recent version, T. S. Eliot’s original version, and another timely version from First Things.

Christians were the most conspicuous defenders of divine immanence in the ancient world. It was pagans who derided Christians for violating the self-evident truths of divine transcendence.

Steven Smith suggests that secularism is not a neutral space, but conceals its own religious identity, which is essentially pagan. It venerates the sacred within the natural world, knows only the cycle of birth and death, and thus celebrates a libertine sexuality. As opposed to Abrahamic religions that affirm the “transcendent sacred,” paganisms old and new prefer the “immanent sacred.” Smith delves into the emergence of Christians in the Roman Empire and vividly evokes the oddity of Christianity in the ancient world, heeding the scholarship of Peter Brown, Jan Assmann, and Kyle Harper (but Edward Gibbon most of all). Smith then applies his ancient model to American constitutional law and finds it confirms conservative positions on religious freedom, public symbols, and sexual norms.

But there are serious problems with Smith’s argument. Since the 1970s, scholars of religion have largely retired the vague categories formerly used to organize speculation about comparative religions—sacred and secular, immanent and transcendent, holy and profane, this-worldly and other-worldly. Major religious traditions are massive and multifarious in the ways they sustain rituals, ethics, and beliefs. Their communities cut across languages, continents, empires, and epochs, teeming with exceptions and discontinuities. The blunt tools applied by Smith are simply not up to the task of uncovering the essence of one religion, let alone two or three, and they are certainly not able to trace the notoriously complicated history of the “secular.”

For the sake of argument, though, let us grant Smith his chosen terms, and even focus on his central claim, that Christianity can lead the way in challenging modern secularity, since it insists on the “transcendent sacred” in a way that secular paganism does not. Smith’s proposal rests upon a fundamental analogy: paganism is to Christianity as immanence is to transcendence. Christians pray to the God beyond the world; pagans encounter divinity inside the weft of nature.

Even a cursory knowledge of Christianity is enough to refute this analogy. It is true that Judaism teaches the absolute transcendence of the one God, as do Islamic theologians today, and as did Neoplatonist pagan philosophers in antiquity who sought a divine One beyond every thought, word, and image. By contrast, orthodox Christians claim that God arrived and now eternally resides within the fabric of nature, as the Creator enters into creation in the body of Jesus Christ. To cite Smith’s definition of “paganism,” it is Christianity, in fact, that “refers to a religious orientation that locates the sacred within this world.” The Christian belief in the Incarnation is nothing if not a belief in the “immanent sacred.”

The new Christian movement distinguished itself from Greek philosophy, Roman cults, and Jewish faith alike by affirming an extensive and peculiar list of divine incursions into immanence: the Incarnation of God in the body of Jesus; Anne’s immaculate conception of Mary; Mary’s virginal conception and vaginal birth of the Son of God, making her Theotokos; the real flesh of Jesus suffering on the cross, against the Gnostics (Tertullian); the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic bread and wine, also against the Gnostics; the Resurrection of the body after death; the bodily assumption of Mary; the martyrdom of the body as bloody birth into heaven (Perpetua) or as the grinding of flesh into bread (Ignatius of Antioch); the church birthed through the bleeding side wound of a dying Jesus; the church as maternal breast suckling the Christian with milk; the union of Christ and Christians as the exemplar of which sexual union is the image (Ephesians 5, Origen of Alexandria). Above all, the scandalous immanence that might have sounded pagan to Jesus’s disciples: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (John 6). The enemy of these traditional Christian teachings is not sacred immanence, but rather a gnosticism that dematerializes and disembodies the real presence of God within creation.

The radically immanent sacred of Christians scandalized the Romans. As Ramsay MacMullen observes, Christians worshipping a new transcendent deity would have passed unremarked. But the Christian belief that Jesus was neither prophet nor sage but a fleshly God would have been mocked by pagan intellectuals as a risible error. The late New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado writes: “In the philosophical traditions, an ultimate and radically transcendent deity was often postulated, but you did not typically engage that transcendent deity directly.… But there was a still more unusual and, in the eyes of pagan sophisticates, outlandish Christian notion: the one, true, august God who transcended all things and had no need of anything, nevertheless, had deigned to create this world and, a still more remarkable notion, also now actively sought the redemption and reconciliation of individuals.” For pagan intellectuals, Hurtado concludes, “all this was, quite simply, preposterous.”

For instance, in his work On the True Doctrine (178 CE), the pagan philosopher Celsus is ready to accept that God exists, creates all things, and transcends nature. But in shades of Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins, Celsus laughs away the claim that God was incarnated in Jesus, or that the body could be resurrected. “I mean, what sort of body is it that could return to its original nature or become the same as it was before it rotted away?” he mocks. “And of course they have no reply for this one, and as in most cases where there is no reply they take cover by saying ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ A brilliant answer indeed! But the fact is, God cannot do what is contrary to nature.”

Christian philosophers saw the divide similarly. Tertullian admits that pagan philosophers might even discern that God exists by their own lights. But they always miss that God descended into a virgin and was made flesh in her womb. Augustine reports that he learned from the pagan philosopher Plotinus that the Logos was transcendent—but only Christians taught him how the Logos embraced the human body in all of its weakness and vulnerability, and its awful exposure to the whims of imperial violence.

To put it bluntly: paganism cannot simply mean divine immanence. On the contrary, Christians were the most conspicuous defenders of that principle in the ancient world. It was pagans who derided Christians for violating the self-evident truths of divine transcendence.

The resemblances between the modern paganism feared by T.S. Eliot in 1938 and conservative politics in 2020 are uncanny.

A better starting point for defining “paganism” is T. S. Eliot’s essay “The Idea of a Christian Society,” written in the dark days of 1938, where he proposes that the greatest enemy of modern Christianity is “modern paganism.” Reno and Smith alike summon Eliot as a sober authority in perilous times, but neither presents Eliot’s own account of the term in question. So how did Eliot define paganism? It’s important to stay as close as possible to his own words.

First, Eliot says paganism embraces an authoritarian politics that confuses religion and nationhood. The “distinguishing mark” of a Christian society, Eliot writes, is its productive “tension” between church and state, but pagan society seeks to “fuse” them. Pagan culture “de-Christianises” individuals gradually and unwittingly, as authoritarianism creeps in. Soon, he warns, one’s hymns are no longer to God alone, but also to the dear leader.

Second, Eliot says that modern paganism incites ecological destruction. The Christian lives in harmony with nature; the pagan destroys public resources for private profit. “Unregulated industrialism” and “the exhaustion of natural resources,” writes Eliot, lead to “the exploitation of the earth, on a vast scale.” In a formulation that strikingly anticipates Laudato si’, he puts it succinctly: “A wrong attitude towards nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude towards God.

Third, modern paganism imposes a puritanical public morality. It promotes, in Eliot’s words, “regimentation and conformity, without respect for the needs of the individual soul” and “the puritanism of a hygienic morality in the interest of efficiency.” According to Eliot, in fact, modern paganism will even attempt to elevate the status of Christian identity in society. But paganism embraces Christianity not because it’s true, but because it consolidates the nation and discourages dissent. He notes that authoritarians have always celebrated public morality. They want, in a way, more morality, even if their priorities are haphazardly formulated. Eliot warns that such a moralistic Christianity is not only a perversion of the faith: “It is not enthusiasm, but dogma, that differentiates a Christian from a pagan society.” Such versions of Christianity might even “engender nothing better than a disguised and peculiarly sanctimonious nationalism, accelerating our progress toward the paganism which we say we abhor.”

The resemblances between the modern paganism feared by Eliot in 1938 and conservative politics in 2020 are uncanny. The “paganism” that future Christians will need to identify and resist, he warned, will appear as

  • unrestrained capitalist greed; as
  • authoritarianism seeking to weaken democratic norms; as
  • callous environmental degradation; as a
  • superficial Christian moralism seeking to fuse church and state; and as a
  • petty “sanctimonious nationalism.” 

In the poignant final paragraph of his essay, Eliot confesses that the churning political surprises of the 1930s had left him shaken, not only because of the events themselves, but in the revelation of his own country’s moral poverty. In the face of Britain’s failure to mount an adequate response to modern pagan violence, Eliot felt a justified “humiliation” that demanded of him “personal contrition” along with “repentance, and amendment.” He felt “deeply implicated and responsible” and began to question his country’s frequent claims to moral authority. When Eliot enjoins his readers to fight against modern paganism, it is specifically because its brew of authoritarianism and capitalism were already beginning to charm Christian intellectuals who should know better. Eliot’s final sentences prick the conscience today:

We could not match conviction with conviction, we had no ideas with which we could either meet or oppose the ideas opposed to us. Was our society, which had always been so assured of its superiority and rectitude, so confident of its unexamined premises, assembled round anything more permanent than a congeries of banks, insurance companies and industries, and had it any beliefs more essential than a belief in compound interest and the maintenance of dividends? Such thoughts as these formed the starting point, and must remain the excuse, for saying what I have to say.

The paganism we should fear is not secularism, sacred immanence, or pantheist naturalism. It is power celebrating its violence, perceiving the world empty of everything save the contest of will.

But there was at least one other account of paganism in the pages of First Things as Trump campaigned for the presidency—this time from Matthew Schmitz, an editor at the magazine. Over the summer of 2016, Schmitz displayed an admirable prescience while Christian conservatives were still hesitating to endorse the eventual Republican nominee. The “faith taught by Christ,” he wrote, “is a religion of losers. To the weak and humble, it offers a stripped and humiliated Lord.… In Trump, it [Christian faith] has curdled into pagan disdain.”

Schmitz’s analyses from April and August of 2016 really must be considered at length, given where they were published. Take this representative passage:

At a campaign event in Iowa, Trump shocked the audience by saying that he had never asked God for forgiveness. All his other disturbing statements—his attacks on every vulnerable group—are made intelligible by this one…. Human frailty, dependency, and sinfulness cannot be acknowledged; they must be overcome. This opens up the possibility of great cruelty toward those who cannot wish themselves into being winners. A man who need not ask forgiveness need never forgive others. He does not realize his own weakness, and so he mocks and reviles every sign of weakness in his ­fellow men.

And here’s another:

In his contempt for losers, he [Trump] embodies one of the most unchristian ideals ever advanced in American politics. With a unique consistency and vehemence, he expresses his hatred of weakness. He ridicules the disabled, attacks women, and defends abortionists. This is the opposite of Christianity, which puts the weak first and exalts every loser…. Liberalism, much as I hate it, has preserved this Christian inheritance. The GOP before Trump, despite all its contempt for the 47 percent, was leavened by the influence of sincere Christians and so was never so sneering. Trump is an altogether more pagan figure.

By 2019, however, in the wake of the midterm battles over immigration and the mythic “caravan” of refugees at the southern border, Schmitz joined others to cheer on the “new nationalism” that Trump promoted at his rallies. Within a few months, Schmitz had decided that Christianity and liberalism could never be reconciled, since modern society—wait for it—had become paganized. “The Church,” he now saw, “is at odds with an increasingly pagan culture.”

If there was an ancient paganism of sacred immanence, it was soon outstripped by the more radical immanence of Christians in their claims of an Incarnation, a Resurrection, and above all the enduring food of the Eucharist. In every Mass the priest washes his hands in imitation of the pagan Pilate, but now as an act of humility and celebration. The  Catholic repeats as her own the words of the pagan centurion—Lord, I am not worthy—but now as an intimate prayer on the threshold of Communion. That version of paganism was overtaken and dissolved from within by the Christian sacralization of the body.

But there is another paganism that has survived into the present, and has emerged so vividly in contemporary politics that even First Things in 2016 could not miss it. This is not the paganism of immanence, but the paganism of cruelty and violence. It mocks the vulnerable, reviles the weak, and gains strength through hatred. We don’t have to look too far to discover the “postmodern paganism” threatening American Christianity today. 

Last summer the Trump administration argued in court that more than two thousand migrant and refugee children should be separated from their parents, concentrated in crude detention camps with minimal supervision, and locked in chilled rooms with the lights left on all night. The administration has yet to condemn the petty cruelty of some camp guards and instead has mused that such violence might be politically useful. Hundreds of children as young as two are deliberately denied diapers, soap, and toothbrushes for months at a time to punish their parents. Community donations of the same are turned away. Young women are denied tampons. Young children are denied inexpensive flu vaccines, and if they contract a terminal cancer, they are deported without medical care. Chickenpox and shingles are common. Federal contractors win upwards of $700 per day for each imprisoned child. Seven children have died in custody to date, and many more have been hospitalized. Doctors worry they cannot serve in the camps without violating the Hippocratic oath. The camps themselves were continued from the Obama administration, but the withdrawal of basic necessities is Trump’s innovation. What is this if not the very paganism conservatives decry?

This modern paganism ultimately means the nihilistic exercise of power for its own sake, especially power over weak and vulnerable bodies. In its purest form, it is expressed as conspicuous cruelty, both to render one’s power maximally visible and to increase that power by engendering fear. The cruelty is the point. This is the joyful paganism that Nietzsche sought to revive as the Wille zur Macht, retrieving from ancient Rome the glorious pleasure in cruelty that rewards the strong who exercise their strength. This is the reason Italian fascist Julius Evola hated Christianity for its compassion for the poor and weak.

We find this paganism exposed in the ancient world as well, in the Athenian mockery and massacre of the Melians in Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War, in Thrasymachus’s authoritarian attacks on Socrates in Plato’s Republic, or in Augustine’s shrewd deconstruction of imperial power in The City of God against the Pagans. John Milbank calls this Nietzschean worldview an ontology of eternal violence opposed to an Augustinian counter-ontology of eternal peace. As Schmitz himself suggests, the perfect example of pagan disdain for vulnerability and conspicuous cruelty is the Roman practice of public crucifixion. Pagan is to Christian not as immanent is to transcendent, but as Rome is to the Crucified—a cruel empire to its tortured victims.

But modern paganism can also assume subtler forms, whenever the common good is reduced to ruthless economic competition, confirming Eliot’s fears that we have no values more essential than our “belief in compound interest and the maintenance of dividends.” The paganism we should fear is not secularism, sacred immanence, or pantheist naturalism. It is power celebrating its violence, perceiving the world empty of everything save the contest of wills, a nihilism ruled by the libido dominandi.

This paganism views moral responsibility as a fool’s errand for the weak, since all that matters is to dominate or be dominated. It sacralizes the emperor as an agent of God, scorns truth, despises the weak, and tortures the vulnerable. And it cloaks its nihilism, to cite Eliot once again, in “a disguised and peculiarly sanctimonious nationalism, accelerating our progress toward the paganism which we say we abhor.”

David Harvey Talks about the Crimes of Capitalism

This interview originally aired on January 17, 2018. For the past year, we’ve all experienced an intense sort of political or news vertigo. It’s making us dumber by the day. Of course, part of this is due to the fact that Donald Trump is president and he constantly scoops the story of the latest outrage about himself by performing yet another outrage just as we start discussing the previous one. It’s exhausting and brain melting. But this is also because major media organizations have all chosen to constantly chase the rabbit. In a way, all of us in media are complicit. When we’re constantly on the run, it’s very difficult to take stock of where we are and where we’ve been. To take a good look at the big picture becomes a luxury that none of us seem able to afford. And this is going to have serious consequences. Our brains are actually being altered. The way we process news and information, our ideas about what constitutes resistance and what constitutes tyranny. In general, we live in a society that doesn’t study its own history — its unvarnished history. And often current events are analyzed in a vacuum that almost never includes the context or history necessary to understand what’s new, what’s old, and how we got to where we are. We’ve become detached from our own reality and our own work. David Harvey is one of the leading Marxist thinkers in the world and an authority on Marx’s “Das Kapital,” which turned 150 years old late last year. Harvey is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the City University of New York and he was one of the pioneers of the discipline of modern geography. David Harvey has a new book out. It’s called “Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic reason.”