100 episodi

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

Science Salon Michael Shermer

    • Scienze naturali

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

    122. Walter Scheidel — Escape from Rome: The Failure of the Empire and the Road to Prosperity

    122. Walter Scheidel — Escape from Rome: The Failure of the Empire and the Road to Prosperity

    What has the Roman Empire ever done for us? Fall and go away. That is the striking conclusion of historian Walter Scheidel as he recounts the gripping story of how the end of the Roman Empire was the beginning of the modern world. The fall of the Roman Empire has long been considered one of the greatest disasters in history but Scheidel argues that Rome’s dramatic collapse was actually the best thing that ever happened, clearing the path for Europe’s economic rise and the creation of the modern age. Shermer and Scheidel range across the entire premodern world and up to the present, discussing:
    Why did the Roman Empire appear? Why did nothing like it ever return to Europe? Why did Europeans come to dominate the world? the rich diversity of Europe that encouraged political, economic, scientific, and technological breakthroughs why other parts of the world lagged behind how empires are built and why they fail America as an empire. income inequality and the only forces that change it significantly the future of human civilization. Dr. Walter Scheidel is an Austrian historian who teaches ancient history at Stanford University. His main research interests are ancient social and economic history, pre-modern historical demography, and comparative and transdisciplinary approaches to world history. He is the author of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, On Human Bondage: After Slavery and Social Death, The Science of Roman History: Biology, Climate and the Future of the Past, The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy, The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies, and Rome, China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires, and more.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1h 13 min
    121. Maria Konnikova — The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

    121. Maria Konnikova — The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

    It’s true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn’t even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him to be her mentor. But she knew her man: a famously thoughtful and broad-minded player, he was intrigued by her pitch that she wasn’t interested in making money so much as learning about life. She had faced a stretch of personal bad luck, and her reflections on the role of chance had led her to a giant of game theory, who pointed her to poker as the ultimate master class in learning to distinguish between what can be controlled and what can’t. And she certainly brought something to the table, including a PhD in psychology and an acclaimed and growing body of work on human behavior and how to hack it. So Seidel was in, and soon she was down the rabbit hole with him, into the wild, fiercely competitive, overwhelmingly masculine world of high-stakes Texas Hold’em, their initial end point the following year’s World Series of Poker.
    But then something extraordinary happened. Under Seidel’s guidance, Konnikova did have many epiphanies about life that derived from her new pursuit, including how to better read, not just her opponents but far more importantly herself; how to identify what tilted her into an emotional state that got in the way of good decisions; and how to get to a place where she could accept luck for what it was, and what it wasn’t. But she also began to win. And win. In a little over a year, she began making earnest money from tournaments, ultimately totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. She won a major title, got a sponsor, and got used to being on television, and to headlines like “How one writer’s book deal turned her into a professional poker player.” In this wide-ranging conversation Konnikova and Shermer discuss:
    the balance of luck, skill, intelligence and emotions in how lives turn out the real meaning of the marshmallow test time discounting and how to improve yours rapid cognition and intuition how to improve your use of emotions in gambling and in life what it was like being a woman in an almost exclusively male game, and the nature of human nature in the context of the BLM movement and protests. Maria Konnikova is the author of Mastermind and The Confidence Game. She is a regular contributing writer for The New Yorker, and has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, The New Republic, The Paris Review, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, The Boston Globe, Scientific American, Wired, and Smithsonian, among many other publications. Her writing has won numerous awards, including the 2019 Excellence in Science Journalism Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. While researching The Biggest Bluff, Maria became an international poker champion and the winner of over $300,000 in tournament earnings. Maria also hosts the podcast The Grift from Panoply Media and is currently a visiting fellow at NYU’s School of Journalism. Her podcasting work earned her a National Magazine Award nomination in 2019. Maria graduated from Harvard University and received her PhD in Psychology from Columbia University.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1h 19 min
    120. Andrew Rader — Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars

    120. Andrew Rader — Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars

    For the first time in history, the human species has the technology to destroy itself. But having developed that power, humans are also able to leave Earth and voyage into the vastness of space. After millions of years of evolution, we’ve arrived at the point where we can settle other worlds and begin the process of becoming multi-planetary. How did we get here? What does the future hold for us? Divided into four accessible sections, Beyond the Known examines major periods of discovery and rediscovery, from Classical Times, when Phoenicians, Persians and Greeks ventured forth; to The Age of European Exploration, which saw colonies sprout on nearly continent; to The Era of Scientific Inquiry, when researchers developed brand new tools for mapping and traveling farther; to Our Spacefaring Future, which unveils plans currently underway for settling other planets and, eventually, traveling to the stars.
    A Mission Manager at SpaceX with a light, engaging voice, Andrew Rader is at the forefront of space exploration. As a gifted historian, Rader, who has won global acclaim for his stunning breadth of knowledge, is singularly positioned to reveal the story of human exploration that is also the story of scientific achievement. Told with an infectious zeal for traveling beyond the known, Beyond the Knownilluminates how very human it is to emerge from the cave and walk toward an infinitely expanding horizon. Rader and Shermer also discuss:
    the human nature to explore: adaptation or spandrel? what the Greeks and Romans knew about the world that was lost for centuries how dark were the Dark Ages for exploration? the economic and religious drivers of early exploration the political and practical drivers of 20th century exploration Mars direct or to the moon first? how to terraform Mars how to get people to the moons of the outer planets how to get people to the stars are we living in a simulation? should we be worried about A.I.? Andrew Rader is a Mission Manager at SpaceX. He holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from MIT specializing in long-duration spaceflight. In 2013, he won the Discovery Channel’s competitive television series Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All. He also co-hosts the weekly podcast Spellbound, which covers topics from science to economics to history and psychology. Beyond the Known is Rader’s first book for adults. You can find him at Andrew-Rader.com.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1h 41 min
    119. Howard Bloom — Einstein, Michael Jackson, and Me: A Search for the Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll

    119. Howard Bloom — Einstein, Michael Jackson, and Me: A Search for the Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll

    Howard Bloom — called “the greatest press agent that rock and roll has ever known” by Derek Sutton, the former manager of Styx, Ten Years After, and Jethro Tull — is a science nerd who knew nothing about popular music. But he founded the biggest PR firm in the music industry and helped build or sustain the careers of our biggest rock-and-roll legends, including Michael Jackson, Prince, Bob Marley, Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Queen, Kiss, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run DMC, ZZ Top, Joan Jett, Chaka Khan, and one hundred more. What was he after? He was on a hunt for the gods inside of you and me. Einstein, Michael Jackson & Me is Bloom’s story — the strange tale of a scientific expedition into the dark underbelly of science and fame where new myths and movements are made. Shermer and Bloom also discuss:
    What and where is God? the search for God inside us all how an atheist can search for the soul conducting science in everyday life music as an evolutionary adaptation or cheese cake spandrel What makes some musicians successful and others not (hint: it’s more than 10,000 hours of practice) what it was like woking with Prince, Billy Joel, Joan Jett, and others Do female rock stars have as much sex with strange men as male rock stars have sex with strange women? why Michael Jackson was a transcendent talent, the Mozart of our time. Based in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Howard Bloom has been called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein, [and] Freud” by Britain’s Channel 4 TV, and “the next Stephen Hawking” by Gear magazine. One of Bloom’s seven books, Global Brain, was the subject of an Office of the Secretary of Defense symposium with participants from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1h 57 min
    118. Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

    118. Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

    In the popular imagination, superhuman artificial intelligence is an approaching tidal wave that threatens not just jobs and human relationships, but civilization itself. Conflict between humans and machines is seen as inevitable and its outcome all too predictable. In this groundbreaking book, distinguished AI researcher Stuart Russell argues that this scenario can be avoided, but only if we rethink AI from the ground up. Russell begins by exploring the idea of intelligence in humans and in machines. He describes the near-term benefits we can expect, from intelligent personal assistants to vastly accelerated scientific research, and outlines the AI breakthroughs that still have to happen before we reach superhuman AI. He also spells out the ways humans are already finding to misuse AI, from lethal autonomous weapons to viral sabotage. If the predicted breakthroughs occur and superhuman AI emerges, we will have created entities far more powerful than ourselves. How can we ensure they never, ever, have power over us? Russell suggests that we can rebuild AI on a new foundation, according to which machines are designed to be inherently uncertain about the human preferences they are required to satisfy. Such machines would be humble, altruistic, and committed to pursue our objectives, not theirs. This new foundation would allow us to create machines that are provably deferential and provably beneficial. Shermer and Russell also discuss:
    natural intelligence vs. artificial intelligence “g” in human intelligence vs. G in AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) the values alignment problem Hume’s “Is-Ought” naturalistic fallacy as it applies to AI values vs. human values regulating AI Russell’s response to the arguments of AI apocalypse skeptics Kevin Kelly and Steven Pinker the Chinese social control AI system and what it could lead to autonomous vehicles, weapons, and other systems and how they can be hacked AI and the hacking of elections, and what keeps Stuart up at night. Stuart Russell is a professor of Computer Science and holder of the Smith-Zadeh Chair in Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He has served as the Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on AI and Robotics and as an advisor to the United Nations on arms control. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the author (with Peter Norvig) of the definitive and universally acclaimed textbook on AI, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1h 21 min
    117. Matt Ridley — How Innovation Works: and Why It Flourishes in Freedom

    117. Matt Ridley — How Innovation Works: and Why It Flourishes in Freedom

    Innovation is the main event of the modern age, the reason we experience both dramatic improvements in our living standards and unsettling changes in our society. Forget short-term symptoms like Donald Trump and Brexit, it is innovation itself that explains them and that will itself shape the 21st century for good and ill. Yet innovation remains a mysterious process, poorly understood by policy makers and businessmen, hard to summon into existence to order, yet inevitable and inexorable when it does happen.
    In his new book, How Innovation Works, Matt Ridley argues that we need to change the way we think about innovation, to see it as an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens to society as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Innovation is crucially different from invention, because it is the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people. It speeds up in some sectors and slows down in others. It is always a collective, collaborative phenomenon, not a matter of lonely genius. It is gradual, serendipitous, recombinant, inexorable, contagious, experimental and unpredictable. It happens mainly in just a few parts of the world at any one time. It still cannot be modelled properly by economists, but it can easily be discouraged by politicians. Far from there being too much innovation, we may be on the brink of an innovation famine.
    Ridley derives these and other lessons, not with abstract argument, but from telling the lively stories of scores of innovations, how they started and why they succeeded or in some cases failed. He goes back millions of years and leaps forward into the near future. Some of the innovation stories he tells are about steam engines, jet engines, search engines, airships, coffee, potatoes, vaping, vaccines, cuisine, antibiotics, mosquito nets, turbines, propellers, fertiliser, zero, computers, dogs, farming, fire, genetic engineering, gene editing, container shipping, railways, cars, safety rules, wheeled suitcases, mobile phones, corrugated iron, powered flight, chlorinated water, toilets, vacuum cleaners, shale gas, the telegraph, radio, social media, block chain, the sharing economy, artificial intelligence, fake bomb detectors, phantom games consoles, fraudulent blood tests, faddish diets, hyperloop tubes, herbicides, copyright, and even a biological innovation: life itself. Shermer and Ridley discuss all this and:
    why the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is the First Law of Life why the patent/intellectual property rights concept is antithetical to innovation why innovation is so much more important than invention why the Chinese system of innovation works even though it’s government is anti-freedom why musical innovation did not decline with the advent of Napster the difference between scientific discoveries and artistic/musical creations vaccine innovation in the era of COVID-19 why innovations are postdictable but not predictable, and how the future may change after this pandemic. Matt Ridley is the award-winning, bestselling author of several books, including The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves; Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters; and The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. His books have sold more than one million copies in thirty languages worldwide. He writes regularly for The Times (London) and The Wall Street Journal, and is a member of the House of Lords. He lives in England.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1h 34 min

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