Currents 034: Samo Burja on the Consilience Project



Samo Burja joins Jim to talk about the Consilience Project: a project that aims to create positive cultural change in unique ways. They cover its founding goals & approaches, big tech’s ability to amplify negative externalities, the rise of Trump, memetic noise & virality, how digital cultures change, types of articles, sense-making, meaning-making, choice-making & social norms, de-energizing society & carbon accounting, unique ways the Consilience team collaborates & operates, new/upcoming articles, and much more.

Samo Burja is the founder and President of Bismarck Analysis, a consulting firm that specializes in institutional analysis for clients in North America and Europe. Bismarck uses the foundational sociological research that Samo and his team have conducted over the past decade to deliver unique insights to clients about institutional design and strategy. Samo’s studies focus on the social and material technologies that provide the foundation for healthy human societies, with an eye to engineering and restoring the structures that produce functional institutions. He has authored articles and papers on his findings. His manuscript, Great Founder Theory, is available online. He is also a Research Fellow at the Long Now Foundation and Senior Research Fellow in Political Science at the Foresight Institute. Samo has spoken about his findings at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Y Combinator’s YC 120 conference, the Reboot American Innovation conference in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. He spends most of his time in California and his native Slovenia.


EP131 Jason Mauck on #FarmWeird



Jason Mauck

Jason Mauck talks to Jim about what lead him to farm, how & why he started Constant Canopy, agriculture innovation dynamics & economics, finding crop combinations, turning manure into methane, utilizing Biochar, acquiring a meat-packing business, building direct-to-consumer meat distribution & strategy, farm integration models (livestock, agro, food, entertainment…), robotic berry picking, and much more.

Jason is obsessed with narrowing the gaps of agriculture. An apostle of relay cropping, Mauck, is blazing a new path using cash and cover crops in unison. One middle at a time, the maverick grower is uncovering clues and running wide open toward greater farming efficiency. Jason works 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, in addition to 25,000 hogs per year. His company, Constant Canopy, is developing cutting-edge farming methods and currently holds the Indiana state record for the highest yield per acre for soybeans and has developed scalable systems for corn yields that surpass most high-test plots.


EP130 Ken Stanley on Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned



Ken Stanley

Ken Stanley and Jim talk about his wide-ranging book Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective. They cover the no free lunch theorem, exploitations vs exploration, the myth & issues of objectives, the room of all images & adjacent possible, the problems & dynamics of deception, the power of serendipity, gradients of interestingness, intuition & novelty search, social change & innovation, emergent education & AI insights, incrementalism, risk & reward, Ken’s unique journal idea, and much more.

Ken Stanley leads a research team at OpenAI on the challenge of open-endedness. He was previously Charles Millican Professor of Computer Science at the University of Central Florida and was also a co-founder of Geometric Intelligence Inc., which was acquired by Uber to create Uber AI Labs, where he was head of Core AI research.  He received a B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997 and received a Ph.D. in 2004 from the University of Texas at Austin. He is an inventor of the Neuroevolution of Augmenting Topologies (NEAT), HyperNEAT, novelty search, and POET algorithms, as well as the CPPN representation, among many others.