Category Archives: Jim Rutt Show Podcasts

EP 219 Katherine Gehl on Breaking Partisan Gridlock



Jim talks with Katherine Gehl about her and Michael Porter’s book, The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy. They discuss Jim’s past familiarity with Michael Porter’s work, Porter’s five forces, the “what the hell is water” phenomenon, the Schoolhouse Rock problem, political industry theory, political payback for unhelpful activities, why political competitors are doing better as “customers” become more dissatisfied, the current American party system as a protected duopoly, nonprofit investments in things that have no chance, non-constitutional problems, the reversible accident of plurality voting, whether more parties are essential, how Ross Perot’s 1992 election pressured the two parties to balance the budget, reforming the primary system, final-five voting, Alaska’s experiment in final-four voting, instant runoffs, freeing players to make good strategic choices, lowering the barrier to entry for new thinking, and much more.

Katherine Gehl is the originator of Final Five Voting (FFV)—a new election system designed to positively transform the incentives driving our dysfunctional politics. In 2020, Gehl published The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy (with co-author Michael Porter of Harvard Business School). Her work applied a competition lens and classic tools of industry analysis to politics for the first time. Today, Gehl leads the national Campaign for Final Five Voting which she co-founded with leaders across the political spectrum.


EP 218 Max Borders on Christopher Rufo’s New Right Manifesto



Jim talks with Max Borders about the ideas in his two-part essay series responding to Christopher Rufo’s recent manifesto “The New Right Activism.” They discuss the commentary form of the essays, pillar saints vs boy Pharoahs, the Gray Tribe, Rufo as a rockstar gladiator, the white-paper industrial complex, the Gramscian model of capturing the institutions, the tit-for-tat approach to politics, recapturing the power of the state to indoctrinate the youth, the wartime point of view, the means & ends problem, subversive innovation, the University of Austin, public universities as indoctrination factories, a Handmaid’s Tale vision of virtue, why Rufo is more Machiavellian than Aristotelian, the danger of rejecting an open society, changing the language & the case study of “equity,” defending abstract principles in politics, how Rufos misses the point about real power, re-enlivening the U.S.’s founding principles, and much more.

Max Borders is the author of The Social Singularity (2018) and The Decentralist (2021). His latest book is called Underthrow (2023). Currently, he is working on two major projects: a cosmopolitan constitution designed to open the era of open-source law, and a global fraternal society dedicated to the mission, morality, and mutualism of the “Gray Tribe.”


EP 217 Ben Goertzel on a New Framework for AGI



Jim talks with Ben Goertzel about a paper he co-wrote, “OpenCog Hyperon: A Framework for AGI at the Human Level and Beyond.” They discuss the way Ben defines AGI, problems with an economically oriented definition, the rate of advancement of a society, the history of OpenCog, mathematical models of intelligence, Jim’s early use of OpenCog, a distributed Atomspace, Atomese vs MeTTa languages, knowledge metagraphs, why Ben didn’t write a custom programming language for the original OpenCog, type theory, functional logic programming, moving from weirdly ugly to weirdly elegant, technical debt, grounding of Atoms, interfacing Hyperon with LLMs, nourishing a broader open-source community, hierarchical attention-based pattern recognition networks, heuristic induction, cognitive synergy, why scalability requires translating declarative representation into procedural form and vice versa, retrieval-augmented generation, predictive-coding-based learning as an alternative to back-propagation, the possibility of an InfoGAN-style transformer, and much more.

Dr. Ben Goertzel is a cross-disciplinary scientist, entrepreneur and author.  Born in Brazil to American parents, in 2020 after a long stretch living in Hong Kong he relocated his primary base of operations to a rural island near Seattle. He leads the SingularityNET Foundation, the OpenCog Foundation, and the AGI Society which runs the annual Artificial General Intelligence conference. Dr. Goertzel’s research work encompasses multiple areas including artificial general intelligence, natural language processing, cognitive science, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, virtual worlds, gaming, parapsychology, theoretical physics and more. He also chairs the futurist nonprofit Humanity+,  serves as Chief Scientist of AI firms  Rejuve, Mindplex, Cogito and Jam Galaxy, all parts of the SingularityNET ecosystem, and serves as keyboardist and vocalist in the Jam Galaxy Band, the first-ever band led by a humanoid robot.


EP 216 Kevin Dickinson on A Short History of the F-Word



Jim talks with Kevin Dickinson about the ideas in his recent essay “A Short History of the F-Word.” They discuss the mystery of the F-word’s origins, a damn fucking abbot in the sixteenth century, the hierarchy of curse words, religious profanities, the poet William Dunbar’s use of “fukkit,” the case of Roger Fuckedbythenavele, folk etymologies, false acronyms, movies with the most fucks, fucks per minute vs absolute number of fucks, a high Ngram watermark in 2017, the Lady Chatterley’s Lover obscenity trial, senses of fuck, veiling words, John McWhorter’s research, the history of fuck in the dictionary, language as fashion, and much more.
Kevin Dickinson is a staff writer and columnist at Big Think. His writing focuses on the intersection between education, psychology, business, and science. He holds a master’s in English and writing, and his articles have appeared in Agenda, RealClearScience, and the Washington Post.

EP 215 Cody Moser on Inequality and Innovation



Jim talks with Cody Moser about the ideas and findings in his and Paul Smaldino’s paper “Innovation-Facilitating Networks Create Inequality.” They discuss transient diversity, group performance vs the agent level, taking an agent-based modeling approach, Derex & Boyd’s group potion-mixing experiment, no free lunch theorem, random network structures, an inverse correlation between network connectivity & performance, effects of sharing intermediate results, Fisher’s fundamental theorem of natural selection, measuring inequality with the Gini coefficient, higher performance in less equal networks, connected caveman networks, ring networks, Ashby’s good regulator theorem, exploration vs exploitation, randomly allocating lifetime endowed academic chairs to 25-year-olds, institutional design, generative entrenchment, implications for internet platform design, the parochial pyramid, tribalism at the Dunbar number, and much more.
Cody Moser is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences. His research examines the origins of individual and institutional behavior where he uses approaches from complex systems and evolutionary dynamics to study collective problem-solving, systems collapse, cultural evolution, and innovation. Before coming to UC Merced, he studied primatology where he worked with capuchin monkeys, dwarf and mouse lemurs, lorises, and aye-ayes. He obtained a B.S. in Anthropology with minors in statistics and biology from Florida State University, a Master’s in Anthropology from Texas A&M University, and worked for two years with The Music Lab in the Harvard Department of Psychology. He is interested in the history and philosophy of science and has written for a number of popular science venues on the applications of research from his field.

EP 214 Douglas Rushkoff on Leaving Social Media



Jim talks with Douglas Rushkoff about the ideas in his podcast monologue/Substack post “Why I’m Finally Leaving X and Probably All Social Media.” They discuss Douglas’s history with social media, the early social internet, Facebook’s parasitism of legacy news, the decontextualization of content, The WELL, owning your own words, leaving Facebook in 2013, Jim’s social media sabbaticals, the opportunity to create an info agent, the number of daily interruptions, attention-deficit disorder as an adaptive strategy, books versus articles, effects of long-term social media use, the quest for nominal identity, how careful curation improves X, using social media as a professional writer, the organic in-between, strong vs weak social links, the ability of strong links to hold & metabolize, how the internet spawns billionaires, airline subsidies, Girardian mimesis, liberal universal humanism, rebuilding embodied life at the Dunbar number, John Vervaeke’s “religion that is not a religion,” starting where you are, and much more.

Named one of the “world’s ten most influential intellectuals” by MIT, Douglas Rushkoff is an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His twenty books include the just-published Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, as well as the recent Team Human, based on his podcast, and the bestsellers Present ShockThrowing Rocks at the Google BusProgram or Be ProgrammedLife Inc, and Media Virus. He also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Generation LikeThe Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His book Coercion won the Marshall McLuhan Award, and the Media Ecology Association honored him with the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.

Rushkoff’s work explores how different technological environments change our relationship to narrative, money, power, and one another. He coined such concepts as “viral media,” “screenagers,” and “social currency,” and has been a leading voice for applying digital media toward social and economic justice. He is a research fellow of the Institute for the Future, and founder of the Laboratory for Digital Humanism at CUNY/Queens, where he is a Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics. He is a columnist for Medium, and his novels and comics, Ecstasy ClubA.D.D, and Aleister & Adolf, are all being developed for the screen.


EP 213 Robin Hanson on Declining Fertility Rates



Jim talks with Robin Hanson about the ideas in his recent Substack writings on human fertility rates. They discuss why the fertility rate is important, fertility decline as a harbinger of societal decline, how income impacts fertility rate, investing in status markers vs fertility, runaway selection effects, copying elites, absolute vs relative levels of wealth, South Korea’s low fertility rate, implications of the decline, losing scale economies, pay-as-you-go retirement plans, innovation as linear to population, effects of declining innovation, likely dominant ethnicities of the future, insular high-fertility religious communities, what happens in a scenario of worldwide population decline, the main trends causing low fertility, high-effort parenting standards, legal protections for religious groups, capstone vs cornerstone marriages, learning from the winners, Robin’s childhood cult experience, promoting less crazy insular subcultures, and much more.

Robin Hanson is an Associate Professor of Economics, and received his Ph.D in 1997 in social sciences from Caltech. He joined George Mason’s economics faculty in 1999 after completing a two-year post-doc at U.C Berkely. His major fields of interest include health policy, regulation, and formal political theory.


EP 212 Joy Hirsch on How the Brain Responds to Zoom



Jim talks with Joy Hirsch about the findings in her paper “Separable Processes for Live ‘In-Person’ and Live ‘Zoom-like’ Faces,” which explores how humans respond at the neural level to Zoom calls versus in-person interactions. They discuss the advantages of near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) & how it works, the speed of imaging, brain imaging for social interactions, what fNIRS can do that fMRI can’t, previous work on face processing, the design of the experiment, controlling for distance, angles, & presence, the data collection process, longer eye fixation in in-person interactions, increased pupil size compared with Zoom calls, differences in neural activity between groups, EEG findings, decreased neural synchrony in Zoom interactions, what the results might indicate, social media & strength of social links, how this research might be used to make video calls more brain-friendly, and much more.

Joy Hirsch is the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry, Comparative Medicine, and Neuroscience; and the Director of the Brain Function Laboratory at Yale School of Medicine. The overarching goal of her research is to understand the fundamental neural mechanisms that underlie live interactive social behaviors between individuals. Her laboratory has developed multi-modal two-person neuroimaging technology based on near infrared spectroscopy, fNIRS, configured for real-time live face-to-face and dialogue interactions between humans.


EP 211 Ben Goertzel on Generative AI vs. AGI



Jim talks with recurring guest Ben Goertzel about the ideas in his paper “Generative AI vs. AGI: The Cognitive Strengths and Weaknesses of Modern LLMs.” They discuss the exponential acceleration of AI development, why LLMs by themselves won’t lead to AGI, OpenAI’s integrative system, skyhooking, why LLMs may be useful for achieving AGI, solving LLM hallucinations, why Google hasn’t replicated GPT-4, LLM-tuning lore, what differentiates AGI from other forms of AI,  conceptualizing general intelligence, Weaver’s theory of open-ended intelligence, multiple intelligence, the Turing test & the Minsky prize, what LLMs aren’t good at, the danger of defining AGI as whatever LLMs can’t do, the derivative & imitative character of LLMs, banality, doing advanced math with GPT-4, why the human brain doesn’t form arbitrary abstractions, the duality of heuristics & abstractions, adding recurrence to transformers, OpenCog Hyperon, using a weighted labeled metagraph, orienting toward self-reflection & self-rewriting, the challenge of scalability of infrastructure, acceleration on non-LLM projects, and much more.

Dr. Ben Goertzel is a cross-disciplinary scientist, entrepreneur and author.  Born in Brazil to American parents, in 2020 after a long stretch living in Hong Kong he relocated his primary base of operations to a rural island near Seattle. He leads the SingularityNET Foundation, the OpenCog Foundation, and the AGI Society which runs the annual Artificial General Intelligence conference. Dr. Goertzel’s research work encompasses multiple areas including artificial general intelligence, natural language processing, cognitive science, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, virtual worlds, gaming, parapsychology, theoretical physics and more. He also chairs the futurist nonprofit Humanity+,  serves as Chief Scientist of AI firms  Rejuve, Mindplex, Cogito and Jam Galaxy, all parts of the SingularityNET ecosystem, and serves as keyboardist and vocalist in the Jam Galaxy Band, the first-ever band led by a humanoid robot.


EP 210 Frank Lantz on the Beauty of Games



Jim talks with Frank Lantz about the ideas in his new book, The Beauty of Games. They discuss Frank’s analysis of Benjamin Soule’s arcade game Serpentes, reflecting on the enjoyment of games, panicking & choking, levels of understanding, Jim and his wife’s experience playing Othello, Hanabi, partnership games, games as an aesthetic form, art vs aesthetics, playing for its own sake, thinking & doing, fulfilling the desire to be a coherent agent in the world, the performance of desire, games as systems, heuristics, strategy in military games, a game as a series of interesting decisions, overindexing on the flow state, going up the ladder of heuristics, maximizing for rate of learning, systems literacy, games as an art form for nerds, and much more.

Frank Lantz is a game designer with a focus on exploring emerging technology to create new kinds of gameplay. He is the Founding Chair of the NYU Game Center, the co-founder of Area/Code Games (acquired by Zynga in 2011), the co-founder of Everybody House Games and the creator of the game Universal Paperclips. He has taught game design for over 20 years at New York University, Parsons School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts and has created numerous influential talks and writings on the subject of games.