155 episodes

Life is complicated, but we love simple answers. AI and robotics are changing the nature of work. Emojis change the way we write. Fossil Fuels were once the engine of progress, now we're in a race to change how we power the planet. We're constantly trying to save ourselves...from ourselves. Join Anthropologist and culture expert Dr. Adam Gamwell for curated conversations with humanity’s top makers and minds on our creative potential through design, culture, business and technology. Change your perspective.

This Anthro Life Adam Gamwell

    • Science
    • 4.6 • 65 Ratings

Life is complicated, but we love simple answers. AI and robotics are changing the nature of work. Emojis change the way we write. Fossil Fuels were once the engine of progress, now we're in a race to change how we power the planet. We're constantly trying to save ourselves...from ourselves. Join Anthropologist and culture expert Dr. Adam Gamwell for curated conversations with humanity’s top makers and minds on our creative potential through design, culture, business and technology. Change your perspective.

    How Tech can Democratize Scientific Knowledge with Eric Olson

    How Tech can Democratize Scientific Knowledge with Eric Olson

    The vast majority of published scientific literature and new research is hidden behind paywalls. Worse, what few accessible papers available online are oftentimes written in jargon, i.e., specialist language that can alienate non-expert readers.

    Combined, these two issues make it difficult for researchers, scientists, and even entrepreneurs to build on new discoveries and for members of the public to access credible, peer-reviewed literature in the age of misinformation.

    The good news is, natural language processing-based startups are working to change the conversation around access to scientific knowledge in impactful ways. One such startup is Consensus, an AI-powered search engine designed to provide users a view into what the research says with the click of a button.

    In this episode, host Adam Gamwell is joined by Consensus CEO Eric Olson to talk about the company’s inception, the promise and new waves of natural language processing technology, and how Consensus is making scientific findings accessible and consumable for all.

    Show Highlights:

    [04:08] How Eric Olson got into natural language processing
    [06:15] How tech can help users know what information to trust online
    [08:10] The difference between giving good information and giving engaging information
    [10:32] How Consensus attempts to disrupt the global search industry
    [13:50] The current state of search
    [15:32] How Consensus approaches partnerships
    [17:07] On the size of Consensus’ corpus
    [19:59] How natural language processing is evolving
    [21:19] How Consensus fine-tunes its AI system
    [24:53] On using AI generators to write papers
    [26:47] How search platforms like Consensus can be built in a way that’s usable for laypeople
    [30:32] Why context in AI is important
    [33:05] The three things that differentiate Consensus from existing search engines
    [39:37] What’s next for NLP-based technologies as a whole
    [41:14] What’s next for Consensus
    [43:10] On the hypothesis that AI can’t replace subjective, art-based roles
    [46:12] Closing statements

    Links and Resources:

    Check out Consensus
    Subscribe to This Anthro Life’s newsletter
    Connect with Adam via email
    Connect with Adam via the This Anthro Life website

    • 48 min
    How Humans Learned to See the Future with Byron Reese

    How Humans Learned to See the Future with Byron Reese

    What makes the human mind unique? How do we know there’s a future, and how do we recall the past? In this episode of This Anthro Life, Byron Reese, serial entrepreneur, technologist, and author of “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future--and Shape It,” discusses these questions and more with host Adam Gamwell. Together, Byron and Adam explore the three leaps in human history that made us what we are today and how those leaps changed how we think about the future, the past, and everything in between.

    Show Highlights:

    [03:16] The inception of “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future--and Shape It”
    [05:23] Homo erectus and the Acheulean hand axe
    [06:38] How the Acheulean hand axe is a genetic object, not a cultural one
    [08:27] The awakening that ancient humans had undergone
    [09:27] Language as a means to conceptualize the future and gain knowledge of the past
    [13:02] The four things that all languages have
    [16:01] How humans’ group action became more than just the sum of its parts
    [18:57] A superorganism named Agora as a metaphor for how people working together can get more done
    [24:06] How the probability theory helps us understand how we imagine the future
    [24:37] The probability problem
    [28:01] How there is predictability in randomness
    [34:33] The human body as a superorganism
    [36:30] The problem with data in artificial intelligence
    [41:48] Galton’s regression to the mean and eugenics as a cautionary tale
    [44:59] Eternal vigilance as the price of current and future technological advancements
    [47:04] Why humans are not machines
    [50:05] The 21st purpose of telling stories, according to Byron
    [52:32] Closing statements

    • 54 min
    Growing Roots as a National Cultural Anthropologist with Ashley Meredith

    Growing Roots as a National Cultural Anthropologist with Ashley Meredith

    Ashley Meredith serves as the National Cultural Anthropologist and Deputy National Historic Preservation Officer for the Federated States of Micronesia. Micronesia is a sovereign island country in Oceania situated northeast of Australia and Papua New Guinea and consists of 600 islands covering a massive area of around 1 million square miles. There are 18 languages spoken across the islands.

    Echoing what we might call a traditional fieldwork approach, Ashley works with a team to document, preserve, and establish cultural pathways for different Micronesian communities. This includes work like ethnographic surveys, linguistic studies and observational fieldwork.
    Yet, her work is also applied anthropology. She talks with communities to understand what they want in terms of infrastructure, tourism, education, or heritage development and works with them to find resources, generate funding and support. Beyond this, she interfaces between communities, government and international relations including with the United States and UNESCO.

    Ashley’s breadth of experience provides a key perspective for rethinking how we use data. This includes why we need qualitative data in a world obsessed with numbers, but also how transmission matters. As we explore in this conversation, transmission has to do with cultural practices like storytelling as much as with technological limitations such as internet speed across the islands.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    The Fight to Save Cultural Memory with Charles Henry

    The Fight to Save Cultural Memory with Charles Henry

    Interdependence is the idea that the wellbeing of our world and for our physical and emotional selves depends on those around us, yet when we find ourselves up against a challenge bigger than ourselves, our sense of interdependence becomes stronger.

    When we move that scale even larger (i.e. a global climate crisis), interdependence becomes paramount. Climate change not only affects our everyday lives, but affects cultural history and cultural artifacts such as books and architectural styles, as well as more ephemeral practices like theater, song and language.

    How well we are able to face these challenges has to do with how we tell stories. How well we tell stories depends on what we choose to protect, preserve, and make prosper in our cultures. If you’ve used the Internet in the last 20 years, or 20 minutes, you know that there isn’t a lack of information or stories online, but how much of our and others’ cultural heritage exists digitally, how accessible is it, and who is able to contribute?

    These are questions that Charles Henry engages with in this episode. Charles is the president of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), a nonprofit that works with libraries, cultural institutions, and higher learning communities to improve research, teaching, and learning environments.

    Check out the Council on Library and Information Resources: https://www.clir.org/about-us/history/

    Digital Library of the Middle East, one of the world’s largest online archives of Middle Eastern and North African artifacts. https://www.clir.org/2020/07/clir-and-stanford-libraries-announce-digital-library-of-the-middle-east-platform/

    The HBCU Library Alliance Partnership, which is a long-term partnership to foster awareness of and access to collections held by Historically Black Colleges and Universities. https://www.clir.org/initiatives-partnerships/hbcu-library-alliance/

    • 52 min
    On Being Heard and Learning to Listen with Nethra Samarawickrema

    On Being Heard and Learning to Listen with Nethra Samarawickrema

    When we think about social science and social scientists working out in the world, we tend to jump to the science part, you know jobs that focus on research - consumer research, user experience research, or qualitative studies for non-profits. But if you have any experience with therapy, whether as a patient or therapist, worked with a career or life coach, or anything to do with conflict mediation, you might have noticed there’s more than a little overlap in skill sets with anthropology.

    I have been really fortunate to get to know Nethra Samarawickrema, co-founder of the Listen Up Lab, an anthropologist and coach and all around calming presence - something we need more of today.

    What’s her secret? Well a lot of things, but one I want to pull out here is her application of a mode of listening called Nonviolent Communication. Nethra reveals the common connection between anthropology and nonviolent communication that drew her to both and shows how they complement one another. Think about things like withholding judgment, active listening, situated perceptiveness.


    If this episode sounds good to you, I highly recommend you check out our conversation with Jeremy Pollack on how to manage social conflict, communicate effectively and finding common ground. These episodes complement one another really well.

    https://www.thisanthrolife.org/how-to-manage-social-conflict-communicate-effectively-and-find-common-ground-with-jeremy-pollack/

    Listenup Lab: https://www.listenuplab.com/

    Listen Up Lab is running a 2-day online workshop called FLOW to support writers and artists with unblocking themselves on April 23 and 24th, 2022. The details and sign up information can be found here: https://www.listenuplab.com/course-content-flow

    Nethra would love to connect with people who might be interested in coaching related to work, creativity, or getting in touch with their needs in their relationships. She offers free introductory hour-long coaching sessions that folks can sign up for on my website here: https://www.workwithnethra.com/

    • 53 min
    Bitcoin and the Cryptocurrency Revolution with Mick Morucci

    Bitcoin and the Cryptocurrency Revolution with Mick Morucci

    If you’re alive in 2022 you’ve probably heard of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Whether you’re an active trader, just dabble, or think you’d never touch the stuff, cryptocurrency raises a fascinating challenge to the question of what is money? And how can technology fundamentally reshape how we engage in finance and social life? Is crypto a revolution?

    If you're listening to this episode in early 2022, then you're probably well aware of the ongoing inflation and commodity price increases both in the United States and globally. You know, money and finance are often the table stakes of how we think about navigating life today. That can both be part of the background or very much in the foreground of our minds, depending on how things are going. And as we wrestle with economic uncertainty in the wake of war, a changing climate and geopolitical shifts things can feel bleak. But at these moments, it's important to stay curious and ask where and how are we trying to make things better? And this is a bit about where that revolutionary technology part just might come in.

    Mick Morucci is a crypto-anthropologist, Bitcoin expert and the co-founder of geyser.fund, and NFT social discovery platform. He’s also a prolific writer and publishes regularly on Bitcoin, block chain technologies and NFTs.

    In this episode we explore:
    - the cultural and financial origins of Bitcoin
    - what is a blockchain
    - money as information and story
    - open source technologies
    - why decentralization matters
    - privacy and surveillance
    and more!

    https://www.mickmorucci.com/
    https://geyser.fund/

    Check out some of Mick's writing:
    Bitcoin as a Divine Idea - https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/bitcoin-as-a-divine-idea
    Why Anthropologists are More Interested in Bitcoin than Economists - https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/anthropologists-are-interested-in-bitcoin
    The Social Experience of NFT Art - https://forefront.news/blog/feat-mick-social-experience-of-nft

    Episode produced by Adam Gamwell

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
65 Ratings

65 Ratings

Adarcus ,

Engaging

This podcast is awesome! There are so many insightful lessons from different experts, all led by Adam Gamwell's entertaining interviewing approach. You'll fall in love with this Anthro Life right away!

denathompson ,

Fantastic Podcast!

I get excited every time I see there’s a new episode. Interviews are engaging and conversational in ways that no other anthro podcast is. As an anthro undergrad who is trying to figure out my future, this podcast has helped give me a language for talking about my interests. I got my current internship at a major tech company because I learned how to talk about my anthro major (in part through listening this podcast) in applied contexts. I’m really fascinated by issues around the future and meaning of work—which is why I loved the recent ‘The Ghost in the Machine’ in episode. Also definitely recommend this podcast for anyone with a curious mind!

Aurorii ,

Engaging and insightful

I love this podcast. It helps keep me engaged with Anthropology in a way that is consumable, insightful, and illuminating. I love starting my day listening in as I learn more about the world around me through an anthropological lens.

My favorite part is the high level overviews of books and research that helps me feel that I am still engaged with anthropology. I can’t recommend this podcast enough!

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