Category Archives: Jim Rutt Show Podcasts

EP 157 Terrence Deacon on Mind’s Emergence From Matter

Jim talks to Terrence Deacon about the ideas in his 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.

Professor Terrence W. Deacon has held faculty positions at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the University of California, Berkeley. His laboratory research has combined human evolutionary biology and neuroscience, with the aim of investigating the evolution of human cognition. This work extends from cellular-molecular neurobiology and cross-species fetal neural transplantation to the study of semiotic processes underlying animal and human communication, especially language. These topics are explored in his 1997 book, The Symbolic Species: The Coevolution of Language and the Brain. Currently, his theoretical interests have focused on the problem of explaining emergent phenomena, in such unprecedented transitions as the origin of life, the evolution of language, and the generation of conscious experience by brains. His 2012 book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, explores how the interrelationships between thermodynamic, self-organizing, evolutionary, and semiotic processes are implicated in the production of these emergent transitions.

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.
James Poulos creates and advises brands and ventures at the intersection of technology, media, and design. He is the Cofounder and Editor of The American Mind at the Claremont Institute and the Founder and Publisher of RETURN at New Founding. He is the author of Human, Forever and The Art of Being Free, and his writing has appeared in The Claremont Review of BooksLe FigaroNational AffairsThe New York Times, and The Washington Post, among many other publications. He lives on the edge of Los Angeles.

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.

Stephanie Lepp is a producer whose work strives to hold up a mirror — inviting us to grow from what we see. She’s the Executive Producer at the Center for Humane Technology, the organization at the heart of the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. Her project Deep Reckonings — a series of explicitly-marked deepfake videos that imagine morally courageous versions of our public figures — won two Webbys and has been exhibited worldwide. Deep Reckonings was also the subject of her first appearance on The Jim Rutt Show, in episode 129. Be in touch with Stephanie on Twitter: @stephlepp.

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.

Iain McGilchrist is a former Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, an associate Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Consultant Emeritus of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital, London, a former research Fellow in Neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, Baltimore, and a former Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Stellenbosch. He now lives on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of North West Scotland, where he continues to write, and lectures worldwide. He is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise – the culture which helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains.

EP 153 Forrest Landry on Small Group Method

Forrest Landry

Jim talks with Forrest Landry about his Small Group Method and the obstacles to scaling it up. They discuss why studying group processes is important, the difficulty of doing new things with old structures, 3 classes of decision-making structures (consensus, meritocracy, & democracy), advantages & disadvantages of each, how to use each model as a check against the other two, treating internal & external work as separate, votes of no confidence, democracy as a red button to suspend consensus, the uncanny valley between small- and large-scale governance process, a good governance architecture that emerges past 200 people, how to involve an entire community in choice-making, layered governance architecture as a complex organism, why new cryptocurrencies, voting reforms, & other incremental improvements misunderstand the problem, underestimating the value of the earth, moving beyond creating & exploiting niches, outlining the characteristics of a solution, proto-Bs as theory-practice-theory loops, and much more.

Forrest Landry is a philosopher, writer, researcher, scientist, engineer, craftsman, and teacher focused on metaphysics, the manner in which software applications, tools, and techniques influence the design and management of very large scale complex systems, and the thriving of all forms of life on this planet. Forrest is also the founder and CEO of Magic Flight, a third-generation master woodworker who found that he had a unique set of skills in large-scale software systems design. Which led him to work in the production of several federal classified and unclassified systems, including various FBI investigative projects, TSC, IDW, DARPA, the Library of Congress Congressional Records System, and many others.