79 episodes

A podcast by venture capital firm Lux Capital on the opportunities and risks of science, technology, finance and the human condition. Hosted by Danny Crichton from our New York City studios.

Riskgaming Lux Capital

    • Technology
    • 4.7 • 15 Ratings

A podcast by venture capital firm Lux Capital on the opportunities and risks of science, technology, finance and the human condition. Hosted by Danny Crichton from our New York City studios.

    The soon-to-be-solved protein problem that will accelerate drug discovery

    The soon-to-be-solved protein problem that will accelerate drug discovery

    We’ve known for decades that one of the key mechanisms of biology — and of life itself — is the binding of molecules to proteins. Once bound, proteins change shape and thus their function, allowing our bodies to adapt and change their molecular machinery as needed for survival. The challenge that remains unsolved is to predict — across billions of potential proteins and a similar number of molecules — how those proteins change and how they might interact with each other.

    The fervent hope of many scientists and entrepreneurs is that artificial intelligence coupled with experimental and synthetic datasets, may finally unlock this critical piece of the biological puzzle, ushering in a new wave of therapeutics.

    My guest today is one of those science entrepreneurs, Laksh Aithani, the co-founder and CEO of Charm Therapeutics. He’s made cancer the focus of his work, and through Charm and his team, is building expansive datasets to develop AI models that can predict the 3D shape of proteins.

    Alongside host Danny Crichton and my Lux colleague Tess van Stekelenburg, we explore protein folding’s past, present and future, the utility and risks of synthetic data in biological research, how much money and time we might expect for future drug discovery, what individualized medicine might look like decades from now, and how new grads can get into the field as the century of biology kicks off.

    • 20 min
    Margaret Mead and the psychedelic community that theorized AI

    Margaret Mead and the psychedelic community that theorized AI

    How does science progress? One way to look at the question is to peer into individual fields and observe the flow of ideas from laboratories and experiments into seminars and conferences and ultimately into the journal record. But the reality is so much more complicated since science is truly a creative act, a set of imaginative leaps from incumbent ways of thinking to new possibilities. The milieu that scientists inhabit — and particularly science’s most productive leaders — is often far more expansive than one would expect.

    That’s the story today with Margaret Mead and the rise of psychedelic research. Best known as a cultural anthropologist, Mead spanned the sciences, from information theory into the humanities. That range brought her into regular contact with brilliance, and also helped her transmit vital ideas and concepts from field to field. One of the circles she participated in was an emerging group of scholars conceptualizing ideas around computer science, neurology and consciousness, linked together by a curiosity around psychedelics within the paranoia of Cold War politics.

    Joining host Danny Crichton on the Riskgaming podcast today is Benjamin Breen, a professor of science at the University of California Santa Cruz who just published his new book, Tripping on Utopia: Margaret Mead, the Cold War, and the Troubled Birth of Psychedelic Science. Also joining me today is Lux Capital’s scientist in residence Sam Arbesman.

    We cover Margaret Mead’s early work, her popularization of science, the Macy conference circles that brought disparate networks of scientists together in New York City, the utopian dream of science in the 1920s and 1930s recently depicted in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer movie, the rise of LSD and finally, why there were so many interconnections between these scientists and defense institutions like the CIA.

    • 34 min
    The nightmare specter of designer bioweapons and the people trying to stop them

    The nightmare specter of designer bioweapons and the people trying to stop them

    Ever since the invention of CRISPR technology about a decade ago, biologists have gained increasing power to discover new DNA sequences, cut and mash them up, and then print them in ever larger volumes through biomanufacturers. That freedom and openness is the opening to a long-awaited Century of Bio, with scientists bullish on the potential to discover cures to long-resistant diseases.

    On the tails side of the coin though, there are fears that the open nature of these tools afford a rebel scientist the means of inventing and distributing well-known or completely novel pathogens that could threaten the lives of millions. It’s not the premise for a bad Hollywood B-movie, but a top security threat that experts at the White House and in the intelligence and defense communities are rapidly trying to solve.

    Today, I have Kevin Flyangolts of Aclid joining us. Aclid is using artificial intelligence to identify what new sequences of DNA might do, scaling up screening efforts that might allow biomanufacturers the ability to verify their customers’ intentions in a more thoughtful and comprehensive way.

    Kevin and host Danny Crichton talk about the recent history of bio, the rise of biohacking, the differences between bioweapons, cyberweapons and financial crimes, why we need new approaches to biosecurity, whether executive, legislative or industry approaches might work best, and whether designer bioweapons are as dangerous as many are making them out to be.Finally, a note: in line with the launch of our first riskgaming scenario on the Lux Capital website, Hampton at the Cross-Roads, we have officially condensed the “Securities” podcast name into just “Riskgaming,” which I think captures in one word the risks and opportunities that come from science, technology, finance and the human condition. Same show, more focused name and a great future.

    • 33 min
    Lux and the Art of Startup Maintenance

    Lux and the Art of Startup Maintenance

    Every quarter, Lux publishes our latest quarterly letter to our limited partners, highlighting the key themes we’re working on as a partnership. These topics are — unsurprisingly — bold, as the frontiers of science fiction transition into the world of the possible. But this time around, we’re emphasizing a new thesis that we think combines the future and the past, and might just help the entire world to boot.

    Lux co-founder and managing partner Josh Wolfe joins host Danny Crichton to discuss Lux’s new theme of “maintenance.” As Josh wrote, “Maintenance is not about preserving the status quo but thoughtfully fueling forward progress by improving on humanity’s past achievements.” Josh discusses the opportunity with maintenance, as well as why the repair of our society and its infrastructure is a growth industry since “the value of maintaining existing systems grows as entropy accelerates, and as we reach the Entropic Apex, that value becomes concomitantly unbounded.”

    • 24 min
    The Zone of Totality with Sam Arbesman

    The Zone of Totality with Sam Arbesman

    This week’s solar eclipse captured the imaginations of millions of Americans throughout an arc across the continent. One of those entranced was Sam Arbesman, Lux’s scientist-in-residence and a local of Cleveland, which sat in the full zone of totality. Sam also happened to live in Kansas City during the 2017 eclipse, so he has (accidentally) eclipsed-chased in his choices of residence.

    Briefly, Sam and host Danny Crichton talk about the eclipse, the mesmerizing impact of science, and the unique community that comes together in cities lying in the darkness. Lux is “light” in Latin, and so what happens when darkness descends across the Earth? Surprisingly, something magical and optimistic, showing how science and mathematics has the ability to transmute our passions into something great.

    • 9 min
    Biology is becoming engineering and not just science

    Biology is becoming engineering and not just science

    During a recent interview, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized his interest in how Nvidia’s AI processing chips could transform the science of life. He noted that this science, when properly understood, could evolve into a new form of engineering. Currently though, we lack the knowledge of how the extreme complexity of biology works, nor do we have models — namely AI models — to process that complexity.

    We may not have a perfect understanding of biology, but our toolset has expanded dramatically over the past ten years. Now, with the combination of data, biology and AI, we’re seeing the early signs of a golden era of biological progress, with large-language models that are able to predict everything from protein folding to increasingly, protein function. Entire spaces of our map are being discovered and filled in, and that is leading to some bullish scientists and investors to call the period we are living in the century of biology. But much remains to be done, and that’s the topic of our episode today.

    Host Danny Crichton is joined by Lux Capital’s bio investor Tess van Stekelenburg. Tess and Danny talk about Nvidia’s recent forays into biology as well as the new foundational model Evo from the Arc Institute. They then look at what new datasets are entering biology and where the gaps remain in our global quest to engineer life. Finally, they’ll project forward on where evolution might be taking us in the future once unshackled by nature.

    • 24 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

Tucsonlistener ,

Silicon Valley's Dependence on American Foreign Policy

Enjoyed the depth and extent ofthe knowledge displayed by both the host, Danny and his guest. They provided an excellent historical context of the growth of the tech industry in USA and compared to other countries. Gave me new insight into the Geopolitical impact that tech could have if worked in cooperation with our government as other countries do. Very interesting, new facts, new perspective and new ideas

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