- What is the next set of aha moments?
- Ignorance vs. Uncertainty
- Probability changed our view of reality and the future.
- 56 Dartmouth Conference
- Open Worm Project
- Brain & Consciousness
- Rocks that Think
- Free Will
- Final Thoughts
Podcast: Futurati Podcast
Episode: 98: How Humans Came to See (and Shape) the Future
Where does the capacity for humans to think about the future come from?
- He grew up on a farm in Texas.
- He worked in the Bay area in the 90s.
- He worked for startups and then, after an IPO, started speaking. I noticed some trends and enjoyed the interaction between people and technologies.
- Writes one book every six months and writes every morning from 6 am to 8 am. Some published, some not. Four published.
- He enjoys traveling and going to unusual places, providing a contrast.
- Runs a company that has an AI generating product ideas. Things people should create or build.
- "Rocks that think" is a metaphor for computers.
- Doctor asks what animal is coming up behind us in intelligence.
- Starts with the question: "What makes us special?"
- Homo erectus
- They lived for 1.6 million years, highly successful, across three continents.
- Acheulean handaxe was the only tool they knew how to make. All found examples were the same across 80,000 generations.
- Our history started 60,000 years ago. Called the "Great leap forward" or "Tree of Knowledge."
- This leap was something that gave us language.
- The primary purpose of language is not communication but thought.
- Helen Keller says she didn't think before she had language.
- Language allowed us to learn about two things.
- Animals cannot conceive of the future and past.
- Then we started telling stories to ourselves, and that is when we got a perspective on the past and future.
- Why do things happen the way they do? Four traditional reasons.
- The doctrine of necessity - it's inevitable.
- Fate - someone else has 'written' the events.
- Synchronicity - everything is connected to everything else.
- Free will - human agency.
- Another way is 'dice' - there is randomness.
- Gaussian curve, normal distribution - once people saw this curve, they started seeing it everywhere.
- The future comes randomly but is predictable. We will be able to have the same number of something every year, but who it happens to is random.
- Once we understood probability, it was the beginning of a human revolution. Pascal and Fermat led the process.
What is the next set of aha moments?
- What tools or language advances will come next?
- Byron doesn't know the answer.
Ignorance vs. Uncertainty
- Uncertainty - not clear how you would assign numbers to things.
- Ignorance has a well-defined problem space.
- Probability is sometimes overused.
Probability changed our view of reality and the future.
56 Dartmouth Conference
- Predicted a handful of computer scientists could generate general artificial intelligence in six months.
- They got it wrong because of a lack of human introspection - we hide much of the complexity from ourselves.
- The underlying assumption is that humans are machines. In 120 podcasts, only four people thought we were not machines.
- Byron believes we will continue to fail in achieving general AI because humans with general intelligence are not machines.
Open Worm Project
- Nematode worm. 302 neurons. 7700 synapsis.
- Members of the project have spent over a decade modeling that on a computer.
- In theory, hooking it up the same way as in the worm, you should get something that behaves like it.
- They have not been able to accomplish it.
Brain & Consciousness
- The brain does things that we don't understand. Emotions, consciousnesses.
- We don't understand how matter can experience reality.
- We have brains we don't understand. That gives rise to minds, that gives rise to consciousness.
- Byron finds it hard to believe we can make general consciousness from silicone.
- The requirement of consciousness for general intelligence is not confirmed.
Rocks that Think
- For most of history, DNA has been the only place to store 'memories.'
- Language allows us to move faster in generating 'memories' and knowledge.
- Then writing accelerated it more.
- We (each human) are just a part of a larger organism (Agora).
- It could be a metaphor.
- It could be a system like an automobile. It's a real thing.
- It could also be a creature that's alive and a real thing.
- The next book is all about this.
- In beekeeping, beekeepers consider the beehive as an organism. It's different than the bees.
- Believes free will is a real thing.
- Responsibility is a function of a healthy brain and your ability to reason.
- Sometimes the story doesn't make sense until the end.
- You could believe:
- We are just bags of chemical reactions. We careen through life, and then you die, and life is meaningless.
- You are a story and part of a larger story that gives your life meaning.
- Who is telling the story?
- The next book starts from cells and up to consciousness. Energy, technology, etc. Is Agora real?