Crisp conversations with critical thinkers at the leading edge of science, technology, politics, and social systems.
EP 157 Terrence Deacon on Mind's Emergence From Matter
Jim talks to Terrence Deacon about the ideas in his new book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter. They discuss the story of zero, integrating absence into physical theories, systems that generate entropy to stave off entropy, the history of emergence & the risk of mysterianism, reframing emergence as removal & constraint, orthograde vs contragrade processes, 3 layers of emergence, the special case of end-directed (teleodynamic) processes, a simple model of autogenesis, contrasting & integrating Shannon, Boltzmann, and Bateson, moving toward sentience, nested teleodynamic processes, feeling as primary to consciousness, rethinking the nervous system in non-computational terms, consciousness as a self-undoing process, inverting the hard problem, and much more.
EP 156 James Poulos on Remaining Human
Jim talks with James Poulos about the ideas in his new book Human Forever: The Spiritual Politics of Digital War. They discuss his decision to publish the book on the blockchain, going beginner's-mind on media & communications theory, the meaning of Gnosticism, responsibility as worship & its transfer to machines, returning worth to the human, a short introduction to Marshall McLuhan, raising the first fully digital generation, expert engineers vs ethereal ethicists, "peak woke" & the collapse of wokeness, religion as "the only permanent state of mankind," resisting the temptation to call down apocalypse, the hubris of messiah-hood, Hebraic British Protestant theology & its incongruence with American civilization, how queerness & transgender identity became culturally dominant, the left's abandonment of liberalism for a new post-human religion, differentiating transhumanism & human-maxing, and much more.
Currents 062: Stephanie Lepp Interviews Jim Rutt on Musk and Moderation
In this episode, Jim Rutt is a guest on his own show! He's interviewed by Stephanie Lepp about the ideas in his Quillette essay "Musk and Moderation." They discuss where things stand with Musk's recent purchase of Twitter, Jim's 41-year background in online community moderation, strengthening & clarifying Twitter's decorum moderation, loosening point-of-view moderation, the "green sprouts" issue & the importance of tolerating fringe ideas, an appeal protocol for rulebreakers & stepping through an imagined violation by Trump, the meaning & plausibility of Twitter as a "fair and effective marketplace of ideas," a crowd-sourced fact-checking system, defining the metrics of a thriving marketplace of ideas, whether stricter moderation is needed at the start, using theory-practice-theory loops in complex domains, Elon Musk as a potential bridge from GameA to GameB, a direct invitation to Musk, and much more.
EP 155 Iain McGilchrist Part 2: The Matter With Things
Jim has a second talk with Iain McGilchrist about the ideas in his book The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. They discuss whether the continuity of time matters on the human scale, randomness as a real attribute of the universe, differentiating between unpredictability & randomness, deterministic chaos, the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, consciousness as an ontological primitive vs a biological process, separating consciousness from intelligence, animacy as a matter of degree, a non-reductionist view of purpose, finite vs infinite games & intrinsic vs extrinsic purpose, the purpose(s) of a white-tailed deer, the meaning of teleology, a drive toward increased complexity in life, the self-domestication of humans, relating the many-worlds idea to right-hemisphere damage, reasons to reject arguments from infinity, the odds of extraterrestrial intelligence, the lesson of paradoxes, and much more.
Currents 061: Nora Bateson on a Return to Earnestness
Jim talks with Nora Bateson about ecologies of communication and the value of earnestness. They discuss simple irony, dramatic irony, post-irony, & meta-irony; irony & the ecology of communication, the mistake of pitting earnestness directly against irony, questioning forms of cynicism vs despairing cynicism, the conditions for morale, full honesty as a starting point, rebuilding the meso-scale, the institutional systems of industrialization that developed around the 1870s, the invention of normalcy, building intersubjective consciousness of Game-A malware, free will as veto power, teaching individuals earnestness & making earnestness welcome, considering "aliveness" of information over qualitative-/quantitativeness, the seduction of optimality, the danger of systems holdback, the necessity of conceptual confusion in a time of transformation, and much more.
EP 154 Iain McGilchrist on The Matter With Things
Jim talks with Iain McGilchrist about his new book, The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. They discuss issues created by having one word for "know," the separation, asymmetry, & function of brain hemispheres, deprogramming pop-cultural right-brain/left-brain caricatures, the need for two kinds of attention, vigilance vs focus, ambiguity vs certainty, both/and vs either/or, pessimism vs optimism, arrogance vs humility, opponent processes & cross-inhibition between hemispheres, depth in space, time, and emotion, function of frontal cortices, lateralization of emotions, reductionism vs complexity, process philosophy, critiquing machine models of life, correspondence theory vs coherence theory, the error of truth as correctness, judgment & its replacement by bureaucracy, reclaiming imagination, the role of intuition in science, comparing the Renaissance & the Enlightenment, a complexity view on building a new social OS, appreciating C.S. Peirce, traditions as the currents of coherent innovation, differentiation within unity, relevance realization, discrete vs continuous time, Searle's analogy between digestion & consciousness, the problem of consciousness arising from non-consciousness, inanimacy as the limit case of animacy, Edelman's idea of primary consciousness, whether intelligence can exist without consciousness, integrative information theory, ontology of values, and much more.
Human Design Seems to embody much of what was discussed here. Can’t wait to hear more…
Great show!! Thanks Jim
Smart guests and reasonable discussion. Fun.