Pablos on our Future with Technology
Top Sleep Doctor’s Brain Dump – Michael Breus, Ph.D
Sleep is the most natural process that you can do other than breathing. Like breathing, we don't need technology to help us sleep. The reason many people don't sleep is because of what's between their ears – their mental stability, anguish, or stress. Do you fall asleep easily or does the slightest noise wake you up? Dr. Michael Breus, gives me a full brain dump as I try to learn everything I can about sleep in one session. He takes on taboo ideas like polyphasic sleep and the role of nutrition and the microbiome in having a good night’s rest, how melatonin, CBD, and some pharmaceutical interventions such as Zolpidem affect the sleep process, how much sleep we should have, and more.
Pablos: The thing I'm trying to go after is that at least my way of seeing the world is through all these problems that we have. This is a pile of problems that are possibly growing. We also have this other pile, which is tools and technologies, and it's also growing because of what I mentioned. The job for us is to figure out how we sit in the middle and connect to those things. If we have some optimism that it's possible and we can demystify the problems so people understand what the real problems are, we can demystify the technology so they're not terrifying and complicated.
People then can build that sense of optimism about how we could make the future better. That's how I think about things a lot. Not only the idea here is to give people some insight into how we think about things and our experiences. One of the things I'm curious about is that years ago, there was no such thing as a sleep doctor. Maybe there were some researchers or whatever, but it wasn't a legitimate career track. How did you end up being a sleep doctor? What does that mean?
Michael: What's interesting about the field of sleep medicine in general is it's an incredibly small new field. The very first sleep lab in 1945, Walla Walla, Washington, built demand on narcolepsy. It wasn't even about sleep apnea. When you look at medicine and you think about Hippocrates. Thousands of years of innovations in medicine, we're literally at the sperm and egg stage of sleep medicine. That's where it was. I fell into it by accident. I was doing my residency. I was getting my PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Georgia and I was interested in Sports Psychology. I had no interest in sleep at all. I wanted to tell athletes how to get the mental game of sports and run faster into all this cool shit with psychology.
I went to the University of Georgia, the top twenty programs. The best internship residency program, believe it or not, is the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. They had an eating disorders and athletes program that I was fascinated with. This was going to be an interesting area for me to get into and understand more about, but I couldn't get into the program. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, they all got in the program. I went to Georgia's top twenty programs, but to be fair, it wasn't Harvard.
It wasn't even top seventeen.
I'm sitting there, I'm looking through the application and they have like a specialty track for sleep medicine and a specialty track for neuropsychological testing. I didn't know anything about sleep medicine in Jackson.
You figured out, “I can't get on a program I want, but I can at least go to Jackson.”
I had an ulterior motive because when I saw this thing, I had worked my way through graduate school in the Electrophysiology department. I'm the kid who used to take the old rotary phones apart, put them back together, there would be 4 or 5 pieces on the side, and this thing would work like a gem.
I took the phone apart for different reasons and did not get it back together.
I like to tinker with stuff. I like to measure stuff. I have that kind of a brain. When I saw that there was a sleep track that used those machines, I said, “I'm going to sell myself as a sleep guy. I'm
Urban Transportation & the Truth about Garbage — Assaf Biderman
About two billion people that are going to move into cities by 2050 and with that growth, the demand for efficient transportation is going to increase dramatically. In an era where we’re already seeing inefficiencies in urban mobility having a massive impact on the economy, public health and environmental health, it’s hard to imagine a future of transportation that doesn’t border utter chaos. Cognizant of these projected problems, Assaf Biderman, is working on solutions that harness the power of artificial intelligence, robotics and other technologies that are already within our reach. Assaf is founder and CEO of Superpedestrian, founder of the Senseable City Lab at MIT and an awesome guy to learn from. I'll admit, I have been dubious about the rentable scooter business, but Assaf has me convinced there's an important place for these things in our cities. If you have any interest in urban mobility, this conversation is important.
You're still at MIT, but you don't have to go anymore because no one goes to work anymore.
The whole lab has been removed since March. I'm still on the board of the lab. I spend most of my time at Superpedestrian.
Is the Senseable City Lab still going?
What are you guys trying to do?
Senseable started in 2003, 2004, where the goal was to say, computers are becoming part of everything. They can emit data. They can act on data. You can embed them in your environment. That allows us to completely change the way we study design and impact cities. Some people call this field of smart cities and I don’t like that.
It is because there's no such thing
People are smart enough, but there is a lot that you can do. You can discover new things about how people organize themselves and about how it flows through the city, energy flows, waste, the things we consume, people, and communication. A lot of that can impact how you design them and how you manage them in real-time. It's got a lot of value. It's one of the largest lab fields. I've been doing work since 2004 in partnership with cities all over the world. Those are big city partners and a lot smaller. It was funded by corporate for the most part and more will survive by long-term brands, but most of the money came from corporate where cities volunteered themselves as a subject matter and tell us about what problems they care about. Probably they want to look at together with us. We use the bigger money from corporate, all thrown together into one pot. We basically manage the deployment of dollars into research areas that we care about and the cities care about and the consortium that the management cares about. Most of the time, technology surrounds machine learning, robotics, various types of analytics.
For example, when you think of the seventeen-year history or something, what are the things that stand out to you as examples of what that lab is doing so that I could understand?
The impact areas that we care about are the stuff that makes cities function better or worse. We look at a lot of transportation, and probably half of those are transportation, whether it is dispatch algorithms to global taxis that we’ve been working on for many years. There's quite a bit of knowledge there that’s generated this whole micro vehicle angle, which is what Superpedestrian is spun into.
How do you define micro vehicles?
These are tiny vehicles that take vertical space. The key thing is you got to take much less space on the road than a car does, but the longer answer it depends on the occupants. We want to make sure that we are able to get a lot more people on the road. There are about 2 billion people that are going to move into cities by 2050. There is no way that these people are moving. Cities are already overbooked so 1.16 people in a car, which is what we do today, like Sedan don't cut it. Think of something else where the utilization is a lot higher, either a tiny vehicle for “1.16 people” or some w
Reimagining Entertainment, Work & Education — Brent Bushnell
Brent Bushnell is one of the most positive people I know. He's created Two Bit Circus to reimagine how the newest developments in computing technology can shape the future of entertainment, work, education and human interaction. Brent grew up in the house that built Atari and has been a lifelong hands-on maker that brings a prototyping mindset to everything he does. Listen in to this candid and eclectic conversation and learn about the mass of possibilities that we can bring into fruition with just a little stretch of our imagination.
Pablos: We’re rolling.
Brent: Have you heard that term from reality shows, frankenbiting where they have a conversation for eight hours, “What do you think of Hitler? What do you think of all this stuff? What do you think of Pablos?” Later they cut those responses together and it is like, “Pablos is the worst person I've ever heard about.”
I've seen for the Joe Rogan podcast people who do that to his show. They're like, “Joe Rogan wants to eradicate Jews.” They clipped together two words snippets to make it sound like that's what he said, but it's such a popular show that people probably count it as clickbait.
It's almost like Machinima, people did with video games in order to be able to tell stories, but the AI side of that and the whole Deepfake thing has me excited from an entertainment perspective.
I was ahead of that one because my view of the entertainment industry for the last decade or so has been that the camera would get replaced with this pile of sensors. You could have a human actor, but the point would be to capture what they do because we're going to render them anyway. We're going to render them at the point of consumption like a video game. The reason for that is you don't know when you're making the film, my native language dialect, the aspect ratio of my screen, my preference for how big the boobs are or whether it's Ferrari's or Lamborghini's and product placement.
It's all going to get rendered at the point of consumption like a video game. The video game is oppression and showing the future of all entertainment and all media. It's interesting because a couple of things happened out of order. We've been making video game rendering better so that we could do real-time rendering equivalent to Pixar. We're getting pretty close to that, but then Deepfakes turbo-charged it because that gives you the ability to imagine making these high-quality renderings out of people who didn't even know. I saw somebody who's trying to make like a James Dean movie starring James Dean, “The legal parts were done with the estate of James Dean. He's going to star in a new movie.”
The guy creating it won't ever leave his room and the rendering bay.
You might still have a human actor because the toolkit for the guy in the room to make the virtual actor expressive is still limited. That's why we still use a human actor because they're a stand-in, but it could be your wife playing James Dean, get a real actor. They have to move and express themselves.
There are certain times where the expression says that the actual mouth forming the syllabus matters less. If they were across the room, all of a sudden you could do synthetic audio and James Dean is pronouncing your names.
The AI to do the synthetic audio are there. With twenty minutes of audio from you, we can make you say anything. We can make you read war and peace falsely and know the Brent Bushnell applications. That's all solved. We're not going to be aiming a camera at the actor's lips for that because we're going to render the actor in speaking whatever language the audience is watching. Get rid of the subtitles, overdubbing and stuff.
I think it's better to get the audio right than their lips matching.
I thought about this a long time for AR and VR. Everybody's fixated on those goggles, but the audio matters.
The 360 is amazing. Some of these proximity audio games, you turn your he
Kids Building Dyson Swarms — Levi Hurt
Probably whatever you were doing with your life as a kid isn't as cool as building a Dyson swarm. 12 year old Levi Hurt has already decided to devote his life to doing so.
Levi is a delightful kid. It will warm your heart to hear his curiosity and excitement about these ideas. Even with my antagonistic questioning, his sense of wonder is infectious.
Exosomes, Stem Cells, Ketamine & VR — Dr. Melissa Selinger
My friend, Dr. Melissa Selinger is a Doctor of Neuropsychopharmacology who has done actual research on using psychedelics and virtual reality for treating things like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. A huge frontier where there are all kinds of potential, and very little actual scientific research has been done here so far. It's an exciting frontier to be able to help a lot of people who we don't have any real idea how to help otherwise.
I'm super thrilled about that and the potential for it. It's great to get to talk to somebody who knows what state of the art there is. Melissa knows a lot about all kinds of things that I don't know anything about. As you guys know, part of what I love to be able to do is sit down with somebody who has a lot of knowledge and experience in something that I don't know about, pick their brain, try and break it down, see if I can understand it and take you guys along for the ride so that we can all learn.
Carcinogens, teratogens, exosomes, stem cells, cytokines, CRISPR, gene editing, all these are things that we talk about in this conversation. A lot of it is me trying to get her to explain in layman's terms what this stuff is and how it works. There is incredible potential here. If you were ever interested in what's possible in stem cell therapy, you're going to want to learn about exosomes and her experience with that. A couple of biotech startups had some ups and downs in that and learned a lot. I'm thrilled to be sharing our conversation with you. Enjoy this episode.
Pablos: I'm going to explain what I know, which is not very much, and you could tell me if I'm full of shit. Sound good?
Human bodies are made up of a bunch of cells, most of which are not actually human. They're like parasites and shit, and microbiome crap and other bacteria are living on your body everywhere. To the extent that there are human cells, the cells are super complex little cities inside. I've seen these microscope photos of all the shit inside of a cell, and it's a lot. It's complex.
Most people like me have a vague notion that there's a cell wall, which makes it like a balloon or a bowl or something, and then on the inside is all these goodies, including DNA, RNA, and other stuff. That's the extent of anybody's general education on this stuff. There are different kinds of cells. There’re bone cells, blood cells, meat cells, and shit.
There's a variety of different cells that do different things. All of them started out as stem cells which were basically blank cells. The thing got written into being whatever they're going to become. You have some of those in an embryo. Over time, as your body is growing, these cells get programmed to be different things. Muscle tissue or brain cells, and then what happens is gamma rays come from space, bombard them, and you get these cell mutations. You end up with all kinds of variations and mutations, and then everybody ends up eventually getting cancer and dying. Is that pretty much the circle of life?
It's fairly accurate. There's a lot of causes of cell mutations.
There’re other causes like nicotine.
A lot of just manufacturing in our environments in general are heavily laden with carcinogenic compounds that was a byproduct of the industrial area. Look at California, for example. Everything is a possible carcinogen.
What does carcinogen mean?
It's a compound that's able to alter the cell's DNA structure in a manner that causes aberrant growth, like a malignant tumor. Essentially, the way that cells operate is they have a terminal point of senescence where they die. With cancer cells, they lose that, and they are able to live continuously.
They don't die like they're supposed to. They just hang around and replicate. I know some people like that. Carcinogen means that it's some chemical that you could ingest or come in contact with that can alter the DNA in a cell.
Also, teratogens, which are birth defect c
Sex on Demand for Women — Saundra Pelletier
There's this kind of pattern you can see sometimes, when you dig behind very successful projects, a lot of times there is some woman who is dead set on making it happen. And for a lot of them, she's working behind the scenes and you don't find out until you get real close, what's really going on.
But occasionally you meet these women who are badass leaders that are so dogged that they're going to make something happen by force of will. And I'm always honored to get to meet them. Today we get to spend some time with Saundra Pelletier, the CEO of Evofem Biosciences.
This is a super fascinating company that is dedicated to creating medical and healthcare products for women. You don't find a lot of companies focused on that, which is sad because women are the ones who drive a lot of the healthcare decisions for their entire families. So I don't understand why the market hasn't picked up on that one.
I think you're going to love Saundra. She's created a product at her company called Phexxi. It is the first and only FDA approved, non-hormonal contraceptive gel for women. They can use it anytime on demand whenever they want. This is the kind of product that is really important to change the balance of power and determining who ends up procreating and when. We want that control to be in the hands of everyone, but in the past, a lot of the responsibility has landed on women and, they've been given, in some sense, relatively crude tools to do it. Most women in America at least are using a hormonal contraceptive, which has a lot of additional health side effects.
As Saundra will tell you, she developed late stage breast cancer. She survived through a double mastectomy but the doctors told her the only real reason that she probably had cancer, in the first this place was being on a hormonal birth control for 20 years. Lots of stories like that, that you probably know and have heard with your own friends and family.
So I think this is a very important project. This type of advancement in a technology that changes what humans can do, when they can do it, who has the decision-making power is important. We have a lot of options here where I'm at, but when you look globally at what's happening with contraception in other countries especially in the developing world, there's a lot of social stigmas that affect what women can get away with when they're trying to find contraceptive choices.
Giving them some options is paramount, not just because I would like to see population managed in a more thoughtful fashion. And hopefully create a few less humans that we don't have a plan for, but also to give them the ability to choose when the time is right, who the right partner is, what they want to do, and not have to subject themselves to the entire weight of society's idea about what they should do with their lives. That's important, I believe for humanity as a whole. And so I'm really excited about Phexxi getting some support. Evofem Biosciences is publicly listed. So I certainly don't want to give anybody investment advice, but these are some folks who could really use some help. And if they can get enough support for this company, they'll be able to take Phexxi around the world and that's gonna make a big difference for a lot of people.
I hope that you guys love this very soulful conversation I got to have with Saundra, and I'm thrilled to be sharing her with you.
Pablos: What I'm really excited about here is that I think the things that matter in the world for humans to do is how we're gonna evolve as a species. How we are going to keep going? How are we going to make it possible for more lives to exist? And but also for those lives to thrive in some sense, right? And when you look at what has worked so far in all of human history, it's humans inventing a new technology, bringing it into the world, solving a problem at a bigger scale, and being able to advance the species. That's really how we g
Pablos is over off the most interesting people to listen to
I first heard him on SuperDataScience and have been hooked ever since
Great minds talking to a Great Mind
Great guests, host, and timely topics! Great work so far. Looking to more great podcasts.
Fascinatingly relevant, yet off the beaten path
The topics and perspectives are stimulating, yet rooted with the facts and insights shared by true experts. Listen to some stimulating tech rooted talk!!