An interview podcast where I, Daniel Filan, interview guests about topics I'm interested in, with the aim of clarifying how the guest understands that topic.
13 - Aaron Silverbook on anti-cavity bacteria
In this episode, I speak with Aaron Silverbook about the bacteria that cause cavities, and how different bacteria can prevent them: specifically, a type of bacterium that you can buy at luminaprobiotic.com. This podcast episode has not been approved by the FDA. Specific topics we talk about include:
How do bacteria cause cavities? How can you create an anti-cavity bacterium? What's going on with the competitive landscape of mouth bacteria? How dangerous is it to colonize your mouth with a novel bacterium? Why hasn't this product been available for 20 years already? Lumina Probiotic (the brand name of this new type of bacterium): luminaprobiotic.com
Lantern Bioworks (the company making the bacterium): lanternbioworks.com
Jamie Wahls (Aaron's writing career): jamiewahls.com
12 - Holly Elmore on AI pause
In this episode, I talk to Holly Elmore about her advocacy around AI Pause - encouraging governments to pause the development of more and more powerful AI. Topics we discuss include:
Why advocate specifically for AI pause? What costs of AI pause would be worth it? What might AI pause look like? What are the realistic downsides of AI pause? How the Effective Altruism community relates to AI labs. The shift in the alignment community from proving things about alignment to messing around with ML models. Holly's X (twitter) account
11 - Divia Eden and Ronny Fernandez on the orthogonality thesis
In this episode, Divia Eden and Ronny Fernandez talk about the (strong) orthogonality thesis - that arbitrarily smart intelligences can be paired with arbitrary goals, without additional complication beyond that of specifying the goal - with light prompting from me. Topics they touch on include:
Why aren't bees brilliant scientists? Can you efficiently make an AGI out of one part that predicts the future conditioned on some plans, and another that evaluates whether plans are good? If minds are made of smaller sub-agents with more primitive beliefs and desires, does that shape their terminal goals? Also, how would that even work? Which is cooler: rockets, or butterflies? What processes would make AIs terminally value integrity? Why do beavers build dams? Would these questions be easier to answer if we made octopuses really smart? Divia's twitter account: https://twitter.com/diviacaroline
Divia's podcast: https://mutualunderstanding.substack.com/
Ronny's twitter account: https://twitter.com/RatOrthodox
Arbital page for the orthogonality thesis: https://arbital.com/p/orthogonality/
Crystal Society: http://crystal.raelifin.com/
Video of a rescue beaver building a dam inside a human house: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ImdlZtOU80
Kelly betting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_criterion
10 - Jeffrey Heninger on Mormonism
In this episode I chat with Jeffrey Heninger about his religious beliefs and practices as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes colloquially referred to as "the Mormon church" or "the LDS church". Topics we talk about include:
Who or what is God? How can we know things about God? In particular, what role does religious experience play? To what degree is modern morality downstream of Jesus? What's in the Book of Mormon? What does modern-day prophecy look like? What do Sunday services look like in the LDS church? What happens after you die? Why don't Mormons drink coffee? What's the role of utopianism in Mormon life? Jeffrey's email address: jeffrey dot heninger at yahoo dot com. Please include "The Filan Cabinet" in the subject line so he knows you came from here.
LDS church links:
Website of the LDS church: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/ Scriptures of the LDS church: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures LDS chapels close to you: https://maps.churchofjesuschrist.org/ Chat with LDS missionaries: https://chat.comeuntochrist.org/chat/ Jeffrey's notes and corrections:
0:33:00 The combatant - noncombatant distinction did not start in Ireland in the 900s. It was started by Adomnán, an Irish abbot in Scotland, in 697, and was proclaimed throughout Western Christendom after the Council of Charroux in France in 989: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_and_Truce_of_God 0:36:00 A better explanation for why the inverted hierarchy doesn’t lead to a different elite is: The king is told that he should be a servant for the poor, but the poor are also told that the king is their brother. This removes the push for violent revolutions to reverse the social order. 1:05:00 The Plat of Zion, with a Historical Introduction: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/plat-of-the-city-of-zion-circa-early-june-25-june-1833/1#historical-intro. 1:11:30 Shift to Home Centered, Church Supported learning: https://site.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2018/10/home-centered-church-supported.
Nelson’s quote was “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” https://site.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives. 1:17:00 Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides (1190). http://files.libertyfund.org/files/1256/0739_Bk.pdf. I should also note that Maimonides is more Aristotelian than Neo-Platonic, although he is still using a notion of God coming from Greek philosophy. 1:27:30 Here is the Church’s explanation of the Initiatory and Endowment in the temple, including the associated covenants: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/temples/what-is-temple-endowment. 1:46:00 I actually teach Elder’s Quorum, rather than Sunday School. I’m including Elder’s Quorum as a thing like Sunday School which happens during the second hour of church. I don’t think that the distinction is important for this conversation. 1:55:00 The Plan of Salvation is usually explained with the help of a diagram, like this one: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mormon_plan_of_Salvation_diagram_(English)_(1).jpg. 2:01:40 “Every knee shall bow … and every tongue shall confess” - Philippians 2:10-11. 2:15:20 The ‘EAs should be more Mormon’ talk is part of Tyler Cowen’s Fireside Chat from EAG DC 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNtqRbz-5c0. 2:16:00 Pew has some data indicating the Mormons take our religion more seriously than most other denominations (although not Jehovah’s Witnesses): https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/ (esp Ch 1 & 2). 2:20:00 Over 70,000 Mormon pioneers walked across the plains to Utah: http://npshistory.com/publications/mopi/index.htm. 2:23:15 The attempts at building ut
9 - Effective Altruism Global: Bay Area (2023)
Every year, the Centre for Effective Altruism runs a number of "Effective Altruism Global" (EA Global or EAG for short) conferences thru-out the world. This year, I attended the one held in the San Francisco Bay Area, and talked to a variety of participants about their relationship with effective altruism, the community around that idea, and the conference.
00:00:16 - interview 1 00:07:06 - interview 2 00:15:46 - interview 3 00:22:35 - interview 4 00:31:22 - interview 5 00:38:30 - interview 6 00:44:18 - interview 7 00:48:59 - interview 8 00:53:14 - interview 9 00:56:22 - interview 10 01:01:08 - interview 11 01:06:50 - interview 12 Website for EA Global conferences
8 - John Halstead on climate doom
In this episode I chat with John Halstead about whether climate change will kill us all. He thinks it won't. Topics we talk about include:
How did the effective altrism community come to have someone dedicated to the question of whether climate change will kill us all? How bad will climate change likely be? How is the role of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere different from that of other greenhouse gasses? How big a volcano would have to go off to warm up the world by 10 degrees Celsius? How concerned should we be about climate change as a general stressor that makes other risks worse? John's report on climate change and longtermism