Monthly Archives: May 2024

EP 239 Alex Fink on Improving Information Quality



Jim talks with Alex Fink about his company Otherweb, which uses AI to filter out fake news and create a more reliable news ecosystem. They discuss how Alex came to care about this problem, the decline of news media, how advertising wrecked the internet, the idea of an info agent, Otherweb’s curation engine, information filtering systems, unhooking the internet from advertising, the fight between AdBlock and Facebook, the decision to disinclude paywalled websites, economic tradeoffs of paywalling, AI in movie production, money-on-money return, initial results of the printing press, watermarking images, fair witnesses, how porn has driven internet innovation, catering to the seven deadly sins, social media addiction, binding the future of the company, public benefit corporations, the stewardship capital model, the crowdfunding process, and much more.

Alex Fink is a Tech Executive, Silicon Valley Expat, and the Founder and CEO of the Otherweb, a Public Benefit Corporation that uses AI to help people read news and commentary, listen to podcasts and search the web without paywalls, clickbait, ads, autoplaying videos, affiliate links, or any other junk. The Otherweb is available as an app (ios and android), a website, a newsletter, or a standalone browser extension.

 


EP 238 Sam Sammane on Humanity’s Role in an AI-Dominated Future



Jim talks with Sam Sammane about the ideas in his new book The Singularity of Hope: Humanity’s Role in an AI-Dominated Future. They discuss the hype around generative AI, obstacles to AGI, reinforcement learning, intuition & emotion, human-AI augmentation, rules of thumb, the plausibility of the brain as a quantum computer, Jim’s ScriptHelper project, machine-like jobs that will likely be automated, the age of retraining, using AI to self-augment, the digital proletariat, a compassionate approach to rethinking society, a priesthood for investing, AI-augmented drug discovery, a major uplift in education, love as an engine of learning, the danger of considering AI in education as cheating, personal info agents, advances in tuning of LLMs, brain-computer interfaces, roads toward AGI, the pure AI singularity, the limits of our understanding of intelligence, collecting wisdom, and much more.

Sam Sammane envisions a world in which rapid advancements in AI and technology have been harnessed for the greater good, creating a new age of global prosperity. He is a seasoned entrepreneur with multiple successful exits and an academician with a rich blend of expertise in applied physics, digital circuit design, nanotechnology, formal methods, life science, and business. Sam’s book The Singularity of Hope reflects his experiences and thoughts on the evolving relationship between AI, the economy, and the workforce.


EP 237 Simon DeDeo on the Odds of Major Civil Violence



Jim talks with Simon DeDeo about their wager concerning the likelihood of civil violence and mass killings in America in the next decade. They discuss the terms of the wager, the appropriate orders of magnitude, Alex Garland’s Civil War, the American readiness to use violence, honor cultures, the movement from violence to political violence, industrial mass murder, polarization, the one-dimensionality of current elites, basins of attraction, statistical distributions of violence, Rene Girard’s theory of mimetic desire, measuring political distance, the constant motion of contemporary American political views, tribalization around red-blue politics, door-holding & just-so stories, sexual signaling, the unreality of woke debates, accumulating factors that could lead to a brushfire, gun rights, the dilettantism of extremist groups, 3 specific scenarios of inciting conflicts, making sense of a post-ideological world, the question of who rules, and much more.

Simon DeDeo is an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He is also affiliated with the Cognitive Science program at Indiana University, where he runs the Laboratory for Social Minds. For three years, from 2010 to 2013, he was an Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. He and his collaborators study how people use words and signals, and the ideas they represent, to create a world. They have studied a diverse set of systems that includes the French Revolution, the courtrooms of Victorian London, the research strategies of Charles Darwin, the insurgency of modern-day Afghanistan, the emergent bureaucracy of Wikipedia, the creation of power hierarchies among the social animals, and the collusions and conspiracies of petrol stations in the American Midwest. They combine data from the contemporary world, archives from the deep past, statistical tools from cosmology, and models of human cognition from Bayesian reasoning and information theory to understand how cultures grow, flourish, innovate, and evolve.