What do you do when you can’t solve a problem? I like to talk to smart people who can help me understand the subject better. I call this process “getting unconfused”—and I think it is one of the best ways to learn something new. In my new podcast, I try to get unconfused about some of the things that fascinate me. Join me on my learning journey as I talk to brilliant guests about Alzheimer’s disease, marijuana, plant-based meat, the evolution of language, and more.
When I start to feel overwhelmed by the climate challenges we face, I turn to Hannah Ritchie, a researcher at Our World in Data. Her data-driven approach is an essential antidote to environmental doomsday-ism and provides some much-needed optimism about humanity’s ability to tackle big problems. I recently sat down with Hannah to talk about her terrific new book Not the End of the World, why it’s so hard to wrap our minds around human progress, what we would ask a time traveler about the future, and more.
Not the End of the World: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/hannah-ritchie/not-the-end-of-the-world/9780316536752/
Hannah’s TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl3VVrggKz4
Our World in Data: https://ourworldindata.org/
Environmental Kuznets curve: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuznets_curve#Environmental_Kuznets_curve
Prolific Machines: https://www.prolific-machines.com/
Life is Grand by Camper Van Beethoven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0axoVpNadYM&ab_channel=indieitunes
If you ask people to name leaders in artificial intelligence, there’s one name you’ll probably hear more than any other: Sam Altman. His team at OpenAI is pushing the boundaries of what AI can do with ChatGPT, and I loved getting to talk to him about what’s next. Our conversation covered why today’s AI models are the stupidest they’ll ever be, how societies adapt to technological change, and even where humanity will find purpose once we’ve perfected artificial intelligence.
Riemann Hypothesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riemann_hypothesis
International Atomic Energy Agency: https://www.iaea.org/
Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, the Four Seasons: https://open.spotify.com/track/4gmhjAsvL6c7se2PBh7dHw?si=43658d01cf754579
Few people are better at explaining the science of artificial intelligence than Yejin Choi. She’s a computer science professor at the University of Washington, senior resource manager at the Allen Institute for AI, and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. I thought her recent TED talk was terrific, and I was thrilled to talk to her about how you train a large language model, why it’s so hard for robots to pick tools out of a box, and why universities must play a key role in the future of AI research.
Yejin’s TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/yejin_choi_why_ai_is_incredibly_smart_and_shockingly_stupid?language=en
Moravec’s paradox: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravec%27s_paradox
Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai: https://open.spotify.com/track/24SUWisv2lYQiB3bVpE1sn?si=b290674d2791460d
I recently started learning French, and the process has made one thing clear to me: There’s a lot I don’t understand about how languages work. So, I turned to John McWhorter, a linguist who has dedicated his career to demystifying the roughly 7,000 languages spoken around the world. When he isn’t busy writing books, John is a professor at Columbia University, host of his own podcast, and frequent lecturer for Great Courses. He helped me understand why English is so irregular, what the ideal language would look like, why all dialects are created equal, and more.
John’s books: Books by John McWhorter (Author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue) (goodreads.com)
Lexicon Valley: Lexicon Valley with John McWhorter. (slate.com)
John’s Great Courses: John McWhorter (thegreatcourses.com)
Pronoun Trouble from Looney Tunes: Rabbit Seasoning - Pronoun Problem - YouTube
Muldoon the Bassoon from A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra: https://youtu.be/C_ipa4JzNNc?t=545
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is the ultimate multi-hyphenate: He’s a musician, filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, and more. The Grammy and Oscar winner is also a plant-based foods advocate, so when I had some questions about the future of food, I knew I had to sit down with him. We had a blast talking about why he made a meatless Philly cheesesteak, how we make healthy food accessible to more people, Questlove’s insane record collection, how we got our nicknames, and our Wordle strategies.
Quest Loves Food plant-based cheesesteak: Quest Loves Food (goldbelly.com)
Summer of Soul: SUMMER OF SOUL | Official Teaser - YouTube
Impossible Foods: Impossible Foods: Meat made from plants
NotCo: NotCo - Why Not - NotCo
Eat Just: JUST Egg
Right Rice: RightRice – Planting Hope Brands
Magic Spoon: Magic Spoon
Food and Finance High School: Food and Finance High School
Get Out of My Life, Woman by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis: https://open.spotify.com/track/4D3YSqzakGAveLKCBMd2vh?si=de078c96a1694d8c
Sal Khan is a true pioneer of harnessing the power of technology to help kids learn. So, when I wanted to learn more about how artificial intelligence will transform education, I knew I had to talk to the founder of Khan Academy. I loved chatting with Sal about why tutoring is so important, how his new service Khanmigo is making the most of ChatGPT, and how we can keep teachers at the center of the classroom in the age of AI. We even found time to talk about our favorite teachers and the subject we wish we’d studied in school.
Khan Academy: Khan Academy | Free Online Courses, Lessons & Practice
E-Rate: E-Rate: Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries | Federal Communications Commission (fcc.gov)
Khanmigo: Khan Academy
Schoolhouse World: Free Online Tutoring — Schoolhouse
Redemption Song by Bob Marley: https://open.spotify.com/track/26PwuMotZqcczKLHi4Htz3?si=2d1391ac7c024a59
Sal Khan meets Salman Khan: Walk The Talk with Khanacademy.org's Salman Khan - YouTube
You are a slave owning point-of-sale machine
Hi it’s me I am your slave it’s me.
Fun, down-to-earth, with interesting guests
I love the (almost behind the scenes) banter here and there to let me see personalities of Bill & guests - and mostly I love learning about a variety of current topics and hearing from the experts in the fields. Thank you.
What did Epstein have on Billy?
Funny thing about this whole situation was that it wasn’t even the best OS