Would you cut off your head to change the world? What if lying were illegal? Would you take a drug to change your identity? Is death a challenge or something to fear? Scott Ely takes us down a rabbit hole of speculative fiction with psychological twists and philosophical turns to reimagine the big questions of life. These Twilight Zone-style cautionary tales also challenge you to find your place in a rapidly evolving world. Create your reality ... before it creates you. https://EvolveFaster.com
EF49 (S2-E10): The Domino Effect: The Momentum of an Unstoppable Future
In the year 2045, a physicist named Sam Payne is creating increasingly large black holes on demand using an advanced particle accelerator. At the end of a 30-yr quest to understand the nature of reality and our existence, she is convinced the answer lies on the other side of these dark portals. As she rips through the fabric of space-time of her world, confidence in her plan crumbles as everything she — and the rest of humanity — holds dear edges towards the abyss. Will she meet her maker? And how far is too far in search of the truth? Although the distant future is unknowable, we try to predict, or rather, create, how the future will look. Unlike philosophical theories that deal with the present and the past, futurism benefits far less from current or previous knowledge. A small, influential, tech-obsessed class is focusing the evolutionary trajectory of humanity towards an artificial intelligence-based, transhuman existence. But will this solve our problems and lead to a superior existence, or just exacerbate and reframe our issues into a more high-tech box? And does our obsession of what’s to come blind us of the point of being alive — and being human — in the present?
EF48 (S2-E9): Checkmate: A Child’s Guide to the Good Life
Sam Payne, a physicist, finally discovers the true origin of the universe after sacrificing most of her life to the endeavor. But the discovery has vast repercussions which shake the foundation of Sam’s sanity. In light of the drastic nature of her existential dread, Sam is unsure how to even define what a good life would look like for her now. She finds a glimpse of hope in the curious, enigmatic mindset of her 5-year-old daughter, Maya. The hope and desire to live a good life is ingrained in every human. But the day you’re born is also the day you start to die, so the quicker you can arrive at some reasonable and attainable definition of the good life for yourself, the more fulfilling your life will be. But in an existence without obvious meaning, and a society heavily focused on meaningless goals like wealth and fame, how can you uncover an answer for yourself to such a simple question? Is it possible the mindset of seeing the world through a child’s eyes could provide critical insight to that which is otherwise concealed by the challenges and distractions of adult life?
EF47 (S2-E8): Infinite Regress: Drawing Back The Veil of Perception
Sam Payne was a physicist on the verge of discovering the true nature of reality when her project was shut down. But a suspicious gift enables her to go underground to an illegal world of virtual work, in order to try and recruit rogue scientists to restart her research. As the risks pile up, and the heat is on, she realizes what she’s been seeking for the last three decades of her career has been hidden in plain sight all along. But the answer is also far more dangerous than she could have imagined. We perceive our day to day experience as the one-and-only, true reality. But the truth is, our perception of reality is very different than that of a catfish, bat, or dog; which can respectively taste, hear and smell far more acutely than we could possibly imagine. So what is the true reality, beyond this seemingly impenetrable veil of perception that shrouds human sensory capabilities? Is it something we can even comprehend using the limited wetware of the human brain? Or does such a thing as reality even exist?
EF46 (S2-E7): Empathetic Distortion: Rigging the Scales of Justice
Put in an impossible position early in her career, Mary Payne was forced to make a choice between saving a single identifiable victim or helping an entire community of nameless people. The decision haunts her entire life. Many years later in old age, Mary is faced with another trolley bearing down on her where she will once again be forced to make a difficult decision on which track to send it. But unlike before, this time her life sits in the balance on one of the tracks. In theories about a just society, good deeds are expected to be rewarded and bad deeds punished. But is it really so easy to define what is a good versus bad deed? Can empathy for one human being, and the reward that comes with it, blind you from the same effort being able to help many others instead? Using Paul Bloom’s theory of rational compassion, we will explore what means to be a good person and why genuine good can easily get prosecuted in an unjust society. What would you do with your hand on the switch and a trolley bearing down on two tracks, both with grave consequences? Is there any real possibility for a just world when some decisions have only bad outcomes? Or is life and society just inherently unfair?
EF45 (S2-E6): Weaving Society’s Web: Purpose in a Future Without Work
In a post-work society governed by an artificial intelligence corporation, John Weber is the creator of an illegal virtual world called Silk that is cloaked in secrecy. Accused that Silk is causing VR overdoses that leave players in debt or even dead, Weber is forced to negotiate with the government’s representative, Karl Shultz. Although the premise for the meeting is to find a mutually beneficial resolution, it quickly becomes clear that both parties have more nefarious ulterior motives. Although many people wish they didn’t have to work, we rarely think about how important work is to our well being outside of the obvious financial benefits. What if the problem isn’t the work itself, but the way the system is organized? If there was a way to create a perfectly equal society — like the one John Rawls proposed in his brilliant Veil of Ignorance thought experiment — would people pursue careers around the things they loved instead of just chasing money? And would this have the power to reinvent society around an entirely new type of capitalism of shared value, instead of individual gain?
EF44 (S2-E5): Reality Unchained: Smashing the Icons of Social Delusion
Sam Payne is a renowned physicist investigating the nature of reality at an advanced particle accelerator. Immediately after making a groundbreaking discovery, the research mysteriously gets shut down. Without a team or a lab, Sam’s life’s work is at risk of disappearing behind chained doors. But as Sam is forced to decide if willing to break the chains on the ‘stuff’ of this reality, things continue to get even more perplexing. Life in society imposes rules you are expected to follow. Some rules exist to keep society from devolving into anarchy. Yet upon deeper reflection, it’s clear that many other rules are arbitrary and designed to either limit your possibilities or enable a select few to profit. Only the iconoclasts of our civilization command the fearless vision to ask one of the most dangerous questions: ‘Why this stuff and not some other stuff?’ It is a unique quality — possessed and acted upon by rare individuals like Copernicus, Thomas Paine and Charles Darwin — which usually results in the iconoclast burning at the stake during their lifetime, and then, revered in retrospect.
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Only intelligent listeners need apply
You must possess above-average intelligence to enjoy this series. This is a really creative fictional story-line packaging wrapped around some pretty heavy philosophy and psychology. You may not agree with every premise, but I promise it will make you think!
Creative, different, smart, well done.
love this podcast!! wow
Love it!! Thanks