Currents 066: Matthew Pirkowski on Emergence in Possibility Space



Jim continues his discussion with Matthew Pirkowski on ideas of emergence and how they can be applied to today’s meta-crisis. They discuss the meaning of emergence, treating potential as ontologically real, exaptation & meta-adaptation, path dependency in the history of science, the naivety of closed systems, the apparent tension between energy efficiency & energy production, how GameA status signaling limits solution space, slack in metabolism & civilization, how greater energy inputs could synchronize with regenerative agriculture, carbon tax as a signal, the infosphere substrate of human self-organization, inertia vs conertia, artifactual membranes old & new, humanity’s giant exaptic leap into a new possibility space, destabilization & continuity of creative expression, the tradeoff between exploration & exploitation, unifying mathematics, thermodynamics, & free energy mathematics, systems as model-generating agents, the representation of values & the lack of telos in online interaction spaces, an invitation to collaborate, and much more.

Matthew Pirkowski works at the intersection of software, psychology, and complex systems. These interests first took root while studying Evolutionary Psychology and assisting with Behavioral Economic research at Yale’s Comparative Cognition Laboratory. From there Matthew began a career in software engineering, where he applied these interests to the development of software interfaces used by millions around the world, most notably as a member of Netflix’s Television UI team, where he worked on experimental initiatives conceptualizing and prototyping the future of entertainment software. Presently, Matthew consults on systems architecture, advises companies within the startup space, and writes about topics related to the evolution of human socioeconomic, technological, and representational systems–in particular the emergence and impact of cryptoeconomic protocols, as outlined in his Crypto Beyond Capitalism essay series. He spends most of his free time maintaining, restoring, and growing food on 6 recently acquired acres of Oregon woodlands.