Steve Hsu is a Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University and cofounder of the company Genomic Prediction.
We go deep into the weeds on how embryo selection can make babies healthier and smarter.
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(0:00:14) - Feynman’s advice on picking up women
(0:11:46) - Embryo selection
(0:24:19) - Why hasn't natural selection already optimized humans?
(0:34:13) - Aging
(0:43:18) - First Mover Advantage
(0:53:49) - Genomics in dating
(1:00:31) - Ancestral populations
(1:07:58) - Is this eugenics?
(1:15:59) - Tradeoffs to intelligence
(1:25:01) - Consumer preferences
(1:30:14) - Gwern
(1:34:35) - Will parents matter?
(1:45:25) - Wordcels and shape rotators
(1:57:29) - Bezos and brilliant physicists
(2:10:23) - Elite education
Dwarkesh Patel 0:00
Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Steve Hsu. Steve, thanks for coming on the podcast. I'm excited about this.
Steve Hsu 0:04
Hey, it's my pleasure! I'm excited too and I just want to say I've listened to some of your earlier interviews and thought you were very insightful, which is why I was excited to have a conversation with you.
Dwarkesh Patel 0:14
That means a lot for me to hear you say because I'm a big fan of your podcast.
Feynman’s advice on picking up women
Dwarkesh Patel 0:17
So my first question is: “What advice did Richard Feynman give you about picking up girls?”
Steve Hsu 0:24
Haha, wow! So one day in the spring of my senior year, I was walking across campus and saw Feynman coming toward me. We knew each other from various things—it's a small campus, I was a physics major, and he was my hero–– so I'd known him since my first year. He sees me, and he's got this Long Island or New York borough accent and says, "Hey, Hsu!"
I'm like, "Hi, Professor Feynman." We start talking. And he says to me, "Wow, you're a big guy." Of course, I was much bigger back then because I was a linebacker on the Caltech football team. So I was about 200 pounds and slightly over 6 feet tall. I was a gym rat at the time, and I was much bigger than him. He said, "Steve, I got to ask you something." Feynman was born in 1918, so he's not from the modern era. He was going through graduate school when the Second World War started. So, he couldn't understand the concept of a health club or a gym. This was the 80s and was when Gold's Gym was becoming a world national franchise. There were gyms all over the place like 24-Hour Fitness. But, Feynman didn't know what it was.
He's a fascinating guy. He says to me, "What do you guys do there? Is it just a thing to meet girls? Or is it really for training? Do you guys go there to get buff?" So, I started explaining to him that people are there to get big, but people are also checking out the girls. A lot of stuff is happening at the health club or the weight room. Feynman grills me on this for a long time. And one of the famous things about Feynman is that he has a laser focus. So if there's something he doesn't understand and wants to get to the bottom of it, he will focus on you and start questioning you and get to the bottom of it. That's the way his brain worked. So he did that to me for a while because he didn't understand lifting weights and everything. In the end, he says to me, "Wow, Steve, I appreciate that. Let me give you some good advice."
Then, he starts telling me how to pick up girls—which he's an expert on. He says to me, "I don't know how much girls like guys that are as big as you." He thought it might be a turn-off. "But you know what, you have a nice smile." So that was the one compliment he gave me. Then, he starts to tell me that