In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Geoffrey Miller about evolutionary psychology. They discuss sexual selection, virtue signaling, social media, public shaming, monogamy and polyamory, taboo topics in science, genetic engineering, gender differences and the “Google memo,” moral psychology, existential risk, AI, and other topics.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Today, I am speaking with Jeffrey Miller, Jeffrey
an evolutionary psychologist best known for his books,
the made in mind made in
intelligence spent and mate.
He got his ba in biology and psychology from Columbia and his Phd in psychology from Stanford. He
is a tenured professor at the University of New Mexico and he had
over one hundred academic publications address in sexual
selection, mate choice, signal
theory, fitness indicators, consumer behavior, marketing, intelligence, creativity, language, art,
humor, emotions, personality,
psychopathology and behavioral, genetics anyway,
free a very interesting guy, and we recorded this event in Houston in March.
And we covered a wide range of topics. Things like sexual selection,
in virtue, signaling and public, shaming social media
spend a fair amount of time on monogamy versus polyamory. We touched other
taboo topics in science spoke briefly.
The genetic engineering and existential risk,
in particular ai, spoke by gender differences.
The Google memo many things here, so I hope you enjoy it and I'll bring you
Thank you. Thank you guys. I must say I'm a little thrown by this room. I hope you're not expecting. Electric guitars and
death Metal Music
thank you for coming out. I've never been to Houston before and it says not going to be here, so I will jump right into this. We have a very interesting guests tonight. My guess is an evolutionary psychologist and professor
University of New Mexico is the author of many books and many
into papers, and he is focused on topics as diverse as sexual selection made
choice, consumer behavior, intelligence
activity, language, psychopathology, many other topics. His research has been featured
in nature and science in the New York Times and in
documentaries. Please welcome Jeffrey Miller.
Thank you for coming over.
So we have a lot to talk about, and I guess well
with your field, which is evolutionary psychology.
Why is this so fraught
the the thesis?
It is now just undeniable that we are evil
all creatures and therefore not
in our bodies have evolved, but our minds have evolved. Our brains have certainly evolved. Why is this still so difficult to talk about honestly? It's pretty surprising. 'cause I've been working in this field for about thirty years, and when we first star
the field, it was fairly heretical to apply evolutionary theory, natural selection, sexual selection, ideas of social competition and a
little ecology to apply all of that biology that it worked so well for thousands of other species to apply to humans. It was new
but we had no idea that it would get such a political backlash and I think, in the popular imagination, evolutionary psychology is still kind of associated stereotypically with. Oh, you guys study nothing but sex differences,
Or, oh, you guys do intelligence, research, which very few of us actually do, and I think it's it's part of a general defense of a kind of blank slate ideology that
Look if you bring animal behavior. If you bring genetics, if you bring evolutionary theory into the human sphere
typically, where they a fax, no political controversies. Then that's a that's anathema, that's kind of a tube. It muddies the waters it. It makes people one call,
but for reasons I'm I'm honestly baffled by I've never really felt uncomfortable viewing humans as animals. I've never really felt uncomfortable with the idea that,
All of the hard work our ancestors did for millions of years have endowed us with amazing capacities, like emotions, motivations preferences that that generally help us do awesome things and get along and invent things and make progress and show altruism. I've never really felt the kind of.
Panic, the moral panics that a lot of people seem to feel about this. Is it an attachment to kind of mind body dualism?
because of you, obviously no one disputing that the body has evolved and that we are apes.
In that respect, but
Concern specifically that what we care about
in the mind and and differences
between minds at that that could be beholden to evolution. I I think so, but I think honestly, that that you know the common folk art really approaching this meta physically. I don't think it's really about our mind body, dualism or free will or any of that stuff. You got in philosophy, one a one. I think it's often more to do with the fact that people worry that you're you're reducing the rich, a smorgasbord of human capabilities down to a very small number of of basic insects, which is, in fact the exact off
I said what I try to do. A lot of my work has tried to illustrate, for example, that human capacities to produce art or learn and create music or to have a good sense of humor, genuine adaptations that have all four specific social and sexual functions and that those are endowments that we have um. So that's not really reducing the human mind to simpler things that saying our ancestors cared so much.
In selecting mates and friends who were interesting and witty and funny that we now are all amazingly witty and funny and interesting compared to any other primate. Now we are
Funnier than at least some of the orangutans, although I
I think all actors know that you don't want to share a stage with one. You will be upstaged well,
You just introduced the concept
I think many people are not familiar with,
more or less knows about natural selection, but there's this other variables the sexual selection. What it! What is that sexual selection, I think, was Darwin's most brilliant idea of natural selection. You know Wallace also
that at other folks would have invented it? I think if we hadn't had Darwin, we might not have had sexual selection for another fifty years in history biology.
Really an idea Darwin realize if animals choose their mates selectively for certain traits, those traits will tend to get amplified and become more complex and and conspicuous and colorful, and intricate and an impressive the work better and better as signals of the animals underlying good genes. Good health, good coordination ability, and that opens up a real pandora's box of of amazing adaptations like bird song.
On well song, you know human song, human language that you might not have been able to get out. If you only have natural selection for survival, Opera Darwin's theory was kind of neglected for about a century. Nobody really applied sexual selection theory very seriously to human behavior.
Until the 70s and 80s- and I got absolutely fascinated by it in grad school at Stanford in the late 80s, when I thought you know,
being a young single man. Why is it that women and men have the mate preferences they do? Why do they seem to care about these things like verbal fluency,
or humor or musical aptitude- that don't
top survival payoffs in any simple way
and that's what I ended up. Writing my dissertation about to argue that the say
Is it a romantically attractive now in humans may have been romantically attractive in pre history and
They have shaped our minds to be able to do specifically those things. So I think
the human mind is not just a survival machine. It's also a courtship machine
So how would you distinguish between something that has been selected for based on mate? Prep
and something that is what Steven J
tool called a spandrel, something that's just there by virtue of other underlying things, but was never selected for and never got. Anyone to
there are there. Genetic legacy. Well,
you look for certain patterns like if there are ability
is where kids don't very much care about them until puberty, and then they get really excited about them just in time for meeting that, that's a hint if there are skills and aptitudes to people
suddenly develop an interest in when they fall in love and they really want to display those, that's a hint that it might have been sexually selected. If people brag about a certain thing on there, ok, Cupid Dating Profile
that's sort of a hint and, crucially, maybe heartbreakingly things.
People did a lot before marriage and then get kind of lazy about afterwards, where
well, you used to do all these things. I think we're going to need a list of these things. Just to be better people, you know, that's that, that's what you expect from the profile and made
effort and I think, with a lot of these kind of aesthetic and
hating behaviors. That's that's kind of the pattern that you tend to see with humans, so that
So, let's take some of these categories. So how does this relate to consumer behavior?
so consumer behavior is a little bit more of a stretch. So what I did in my books fence, which was
ten years ago, was I tried to analyze. Why do we buy the goods and services that
do really in a modern market economy with complex market
branding and advertising and lifestyle branding where you try?
to create a link between this product and this brand and this aspirational lifestyle in the consumer's mind. How does that work
I think it's all signaling theory right, it's all about. How do you signal what kind of entity you are to others? Just like sexual ornaments can be described through signaling theory and what kind of peacock are you as displayed.
Peacocks tail, but in the case of consumer behavior we're not literally growing. These ornum
s were making the money and running around buying them right.
So, whatever you're wearing out there in the audience
You probably made a conscious choice about this is my look for tonight. This is the kind of person I want to come across, as
And you might be rethinking those choices now right now, so so look look to your left and we're gonna roll right when the queue in a stars, charges other is no hiding.
And we're all very good at picking up these sort of subtle, cues about and and and interesting jacket, choice right and those shoes on a first date really are
So we are very tuned into the signaling and we don't typically talk about it in these terms, but I think that
there's a continuity between sexual selection for sexual ornamentation and nature and consumer choice for goods and services in the modern market economy. The underlying signaling principles- I
are quite similar. Now does this phrase that has seemed to,
spread like a mentor.
Virus on social media and could probably guess the phrase
I'm going for now, which
I would imagine everyone has heard now, but virtually no one had heard even twelve
months ago, and that phrase is virtue signaling.
Everyone who casting
It's me for having virtue signaled about something seems to have a green frog in there, twitter bio, but
What is what is the
undoubtedly this being overused. But what is virtue, signaling and and is it and
embarrassing social, trait or a necessary one,
I think virtue signalling it gets a lot of flak. But it's really important and I think it's largely positive. We all do it all the time it's not monopolized by any particular part of the political spectrum um. I I wrote a paper
called sexual selection for moral virtues about ten years ago, where I tried to analyze what are the
virtues that we tend to show off to potential lovers during courtship, they tend to be things like kindness and agreeableness, and fidelity and and commitment, and
and you know or magic love, and these are all signals that say I'm a kind of person who might make a good long term, partner and future parent.
So when you're doing virtue, signaling and courtship, like it's all good, unless you're doing it deceptively.
And we're actually pretty good at picking out who is being deceptive because we, the technical term, is testing
we test them like we give them little challenges right.
We see how they respond. Now in the political sphere,
you have any recommended challenges that.
Some people might be on a first date here and you could just cause chaos.
You really want to create a situation where someone's true moral character comes out when they're under severe stress,
And they're tired, and preferably a little tipsy and so make it, make it a kind of moral obstacle course
but in the in the political sphere. Virtue signaling can be really toxic if a bunch of people get together,
They say this is an issue where I'm going to demonstrate what a good and kind of can's
the person I am about issue x by
Advocating a new power
also your intervention or law that doesn't actually address the problem in any pragmatic way, but is sort of symbolically associated with expressing concern, and I think that's where you get real problems, I tend to be
the I have a lot of respect for human instincts when it comes to managing our affairs in small groups.
I don't have a lot of respect for our instincts in terms of scaling up to manage large scale, social policy decisions and nation states.
Yeah yeah so that year. So in that respect, what are your thoughts?
sore misgivings about
what we're doing on social media. What you just said
put me in mind of the
with mob, like moral
manic, behavior we see spread and that and it's it's a very low cost virtues
able to forward something
on twitter or to add your voice to this cacophony. That is singling somebody out for abuse, yeah,
think when you get the intersection of virtue, signaling and a sort of online witch Hunt and
our mentality- and you know, let's have an auto da fe- that that destroys someone's career, because I'm going to misinterpret this one thing they said, take it out of contacts and then feed it to people who will reliably express outrage about it. That's a terrible kind of society to live in, and I think pretty much. Every public figure now lives in almost constant fear of that happening and folks to engage regularly with
social media like SAM R, like Jordan, Peter Center, like Christina Hoff. Sommers are at that anybody from anywhere across the spectrum, is self censoring. Quite a bit because we know you know everything we say is is going to be taken out of context by someone and they're gonna try to weaponize it in two embarrassment, or perhaps you know a career
event. So so I hope that as a society, we can develop a better kind of
conceptual immune system that rejects that sort of dynamic, and it's very sceptical of that particular kind of virtue. Signaling. Is there something that the
platforms themselves, could change or that we could change as far as our behavior goes
Or is it, is it conceivable that there's another side to this that it will take it to such an absurd?
Everyone will have a thicker skin and more durable reputation as a result.
Well, when I talk to my students about this, I point out: look
in five or ten years. Everybody will have augmented reality, glasses or contact lenses. We will all
be recording, audio and video all the time for pretty much every interaction we have with everyone? That means any cocktail conversation any
little interchanges walking down the hallway with someone everything that you that you do is going to be vulnerable to going up on Youtube,
Is that just by definition, dystopian or you do see a silver lining to that, it's going to be hell for about three years.
It's going to be held there
going to be mass embarrassment and horror and- and there will be a very steep learning curve.
Until we all realize we all
hold dozens of times a day say things that, if taken out of contacts are really really embarrassing, and I think we just have to level up and realize that and get over it and judge people by
I hello the whole mass of what they do and say, and not just by these isolated incidents.
Get the having
the receiving end of a lot of this. It's it's seems to me that the most in city
this thing is to seize upon something
can be misconstrued out of context for the purpose,
misconstruing it out of context and
hold someone accountable for that thing, and
rather than actually care what they care, but this totality of what they think on on any given issue and
those efforts are always in bad faith, and I
I feel like there is that the penalty
for doing that should increase. I think that's something that we haven't quite
found whatever dial can be turned their because people
do that with impunity
and seem to always get away with it and there's really no recourse. But to just keep saying: that's, that's not what it meant in context yeah. I think we all have to hold each other accountable for that, and I think we have to do it kind of in private. I think that's the leverage I mean you know all. Sometimes impossibly wanna, you know tweet something
my girlfriend is also pretty active on Twitter will go. I don't know about that or it'll go out
and it start to get some bad traction and then she'll go
Claire is, if you follow Jeffrey on Twitter, you'll know just how to
some of those. Those edited tweets must be because he's
very edgy on twitter. Yeah
so what what
that is the stuff that made it past my girlfriends
that says a lot about what it would look like if the dam burst, but yeah, I think,
each other to account. So, for example, I I had one incident a few months ago, where I retweeted something where some
graduate student at a particular university had had use something called the progressive stack in her classroom which
a way of making sure you call on certain people by ethnic groups before you call on other ethnic groups, and that went viral much more than I expected it to. I didn't really want her to get in as much trouble as she did with her university, but concert
media picked up on it and I ended up kind of writing an email to our dean. Saying please don't take this too seriously. I'm like I was one of the instigators of this. You
go. This is this is ridiculous. This
is yet another witch hunt. Don't cave to the social pressure and I think if you ever find yourself in
situation array of unwittingly fed
these online, these online mobs have a moral duty to try to correct it. To the extent that you
it is interesting because there's there seems to be a.
An ethic certainly that
public, shaming, has an appropriate role to play here, and so it's temporary very
when you see something that is
clearly wrong or or something that has been put out. There
which the author should be embarrassed, do you feel that someone is getting away with murder somehow, and you circulate that for the purpose of?
mining some sunlight on this and
shaming this person it
I mean you know I I have done that from time to time feeling like ok, this is totally
printed, but I am
never before seen some catastrophic reputational cause
Is there I'm not saying that you know this person should be fired or an
and, as you say, things can get out of hand. Is that
wishing you think in error? We should we should, should we not be leveraging shame at all in public discourse
from social media. I think shame is, is a dangerous tool but like what are the alt?
It is so you know I'm a libertarian, so I generally don't want the state to outlaw things that I don't disapprove of. I think it's better to have social norms and forced by shame than laws enforced by state threat of violence,
Can you do better than shame? I think you can use shame carefully or you can use it recklessly and I think to use it carefully. You have to understand
what is the nature of shaming? How do
online mobs work? How does how does human moral psychology work in general there's some good
books out there? Now we have a much better understanding of these, so called social emotions like shame ingratitude and and anger. Then we use two hundred and ten years ago, and I
I think at this point, every citizen kinda owes it to society to understand our instincts about these issues and to have a certain amount
distance from our initial reactions and to go? Oh, I have. I have the earth
to express' moral outrage. Is that really constructive if it gets
out of hand. Will I regret it
and is my moral outrage informed or is it just kind of a culturally programmed reaction to an issue that I don't really know anything about.
Well, you, you have many thoughts on human
sexuality and r
volved moral intuitions around
monogamy and its alternatives.
Polyamory is something you've written about and actually adopted. This seems like a very calm.
Located way to live for those of us who are not part of it. So let's talk about
Just innovation in that sphere. Well, first
define polyamory, but why is this just not
way more trouble than it's worth it
totally worth it.
So I was, I was a good little monogamous and I believed in and monogamist mating norms until a few years ago, when my my girlfriend turned to me
Humans have an innate tendency,
to form long term pair bonds. No doubt pair bonds are extremely important in human evolution.
People finding mates settling down having a little home, raising kids together by parental care, dads investing that has been crucial to human evolution for at least one million years.
Then it's kind of gotten ritualized, culturally into the expectation of lifelong monogamous, marriage and every large, successful civilization in human history is adopt.
I'm not going to see marriage as the typical mating pattern for most people most of the time
I'm not going to go disc monogamy. It has been a wildly successful way to take sort of hominid pair bonds and update them for agricultural and industrial civilizations in ways that work for most people. You know most of the time pretty well
However, they can be oppressive too. Certain people have certain values or certain life situations are simply certain personalities. So I thought I think the first psychology of polyamory course last
at University of New Mexico, and we reviewed all the younger was a roman like that because it was it was really ratio is only going to women's is fifty fifty and it it all. It all works.
Very well. There were no fisticuffs or big arguments. Other professors gave me some flack another story.
But I think it's in the modern era, if you, if you go back and your ask what were the original cultural and social functions of monogamous marriage, a lot of them had to do with things like reduce the transmission rate of Stds, ensure paternity certainty that your kid, your kid is think you
It is manage inheritance of wealth and land,
and it was also crucially about spreading reproductive opportunities fairly evenly across young males.
Young female, so that nobody kind of monopolizes the mating market and that all
work very, very well. You couldn't have had you know
Chinese, a roman or medieval european civilization work as well as it did without monogamy,
but in the modern world 21st century relationships. The issue is: are your kids or grandkids seriously going to pursue
lifelong monogamous marriage as their default or their aspiration.
The surveys among millennials and Jonesy say no a lot of them, don't want that. So what are they going to do? We don't know this is probably the topic of my next book, but I think we have to basically look at all the different little sexual subcultures sort of tried, different kinds of mating patterns. Right, monogamy people, a polygamous polyamorous.
Swing. Yours, asexuals figure out. What are the lessons learned from each of those subcultures in front? Can you differentiate those because between monogamy and asexuals, it all sounded like a big we're ready?
It all sounds like a big messy messy orgy from the outside, but
from the inside there, like the poly people, think the swingers like super conservative and like red state and the swing of things polyamorous people,
I was really young and I, even by those above what what is the difference. So
how does one know whether one is a swinger or polyamorous? If you're prob
a swinger if you're a married couple, and you like to go to events where you meet other married couples and you kind of court
couple to couple and if you got along, then you
you get together and you kind of swap partners temporarily for a few hours or or you hang out together for a weekend with a sexual swap, but typically not a long term emotional connection.
Expected to be formed, although they happen sometimes so, swinging is sort of a couple meets couple thing: polyamory is more of a
There might be this individual or they might be with another individual in an open relationship, and each of them will typically be dating other people with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. That's the crucial thing is the honesty and transparency, so that's kind of the pool,
and there are other emerging ways to do this. I think of it as a kind of cambrian explosion of different relationship patterns
most of which will end up being dumb and fail, but the ones that don't fail? I think we'll be great learning experiences for kind of updating of monogamy and and figuring out how to do it or something
Else better, so I guess it's not hard to envision the bumps in the road down that down that path
so how do you deal with gel,
let's see how do you deal with,
kind of asymmetry between you know. Just how much one partner
in the relationship is is hooking up with other people.
And what would you can
sociology around this? That's understood and what is the success rate or failure rate of these relationships.
The success and failure rate seems kind of comfortable, at least in terms of how happy people are in these relationships short term. We don't yet have good data too,
on how stable are they long term like? If, if there's a couple who's about to have twins, I would not necessarily say you
definitely try polyamory right now. Okay,
because I don't, I don't know how the longevity would work out, but in terms of the jealousy issue, here's why I part company, with the kind of standard polyamory,
culture. A lot of polyamorous say jealousy is a kind of cultural construct. It's arbitrary! You can jettison that you can unlearn at it. It doesn't run very deep. I think on the kind
very evolution created sexual and emotional, jealousy for very, very good reasons. They are defense thanks. They have important adaptive functions, however, that doesn't mean you have to let them rule your life so
the c book. The better angels of our nature is all about. We have these aggressive homicidal instincts.
Right, but we managed to drop the rate of aggressive homicide by
Orders of magnitude over the last thousands of years, that was
the winner win for civilization, taking aggressive instincts and harnessing them and managing them and making them not run our lives. I think the same thing could be done with sexual
policy, but most people aren't willing to try there,
terrified of jealousy and they can't imagine
being in a relationship where they're comfortable with a partner going out on a date for a night, the
more than like bankruptcy or real or real bad election. You know, but it's survivable,
it's survivable and the question is why
one wonders whether that murder curve is going to go up as ever catches on. What's the there must be some perceived
limitation of of well being imposed by monogamy that is corrected for by
polyamory and and it's it's it the worth the jealousy that you
You say is unavoidable, yeah, ok! So what are the upsides? It's fun you get to meet more people
I think humans are actually evolved to use sex, to make friends and I'm not being totally facetious about that sex is a great way to get to know somebody better very quickly
and the poly, that's it that's a twitter for medium height, and so the poly culture tends to be very tightly socially. Not were,
and that can bring a lot of benefits socially emotionally professionally in terms of careers and terms like cost savings. All sorts of
case if you sort of are recreating a tribe in a way that a lot of modern, alienated people in society don't have a
so is that a is a is a function that way that the that there is a kind of community that is it sell. It's not
polyamorous. People are
continually having your in an open relationship with
people who are
with the name is civilians who
don't know what they're getting into right?
This is a kind of hermetically sealed or I've ever. I would would imagine people being in
Ducted into this and sound a little cult like is there any kind of like proselytizing of this, that is,
necessary to get this working
out in the world
all great ideas you have to proselytize it. No, the
The crucial thing, though, is that everybody involved should be kind of should give fully informed consent for what's happening, and you should be up front like if you go on a date and your poly amorous and you're in a relationship you gotta say I'm in an open relationship on poly amorous that
you can't like hide that, but would you would you reveal that, even before you go on the date so that that so that there'd be no surprise in that first conversation? Well, I'm certain dating sites like okay cupid. You can actually specify road. This is my dating orientation Non monogamous, whatever I think.
More seriously a lot
people who are in long term relationships get stale there. Self image is,
I don't know whether I'm an interesting person anymore. I don't know how attractive I am
anymore. I don't know who I am. I don't know what my interests are you kind of got locked into this duet with with a partner and.
You're just sort of out there isolated on your own without any genuine romantic or emotional engagement with anybody else, and I think for a lot of married couples that can be fixed,
in late alienating after awhile, and actually increase your divorce rate, because a lot of people feel like either I'm stuck in this bored to tears or we break up the relationship. There is a third alternative. You can learn more about consensual, non monogamy openness, transparency, maybe open the
lation ship and try it and it might not work, but the more you read about it, the more likely it is to work
a lot of people- might end up in a situation. I think that Dan Savage calls Monogamish.
Where you're kind of ninety. Ninety five percent monogamous. But maybe you know
The wife goes out on a date once a month with somebody else.
And you can handle it 'cause. Maybe you have a date the same time and then you get the equity right. There's not a mismatch.
So I'm not like advocating this for everybody, but I am saying the
these are trends that are happening socially
America and they are rapidly increasing at a lot of people under thirty, take these seriously as a as a possible way of life, and we should pay attention to it. Do more research on it think think. Huh
about it. Okay, so I just want to say the fine print here is that if that part of the
to range in any of your lives
send all your email to Jeffrey and not to Maine. My polyamory syllabus is posted online. You can just read all them. Read all the papers there get busy
that I'm hoping my wife doesn't hear this part of the podcast, so that
there are so many things have topics that we've touched on. Some of it is at a run things like intelligence and gender difference, and
where are there any now that you feel like we,
just have to learn to speak about more honest
medical or psychological point of
or a a are these third rails better left untouched. I think at some point in the next her twenty years, America's gonna have to start to make its peace with the fact that a lot of mental traits are heritable, not necessarily for political reasons, but just because of the practicalities of of the genetic technology that are going to make it possible to do
pre, implantation, embryo selection and genetic screening, where probably within ten or twenty years, you know,
couple who were having a baby are going to have the option of deciding. Do we want to try to do the selection among all possible fertilized eggs.
Selecting for this trade or that trait or this other trade, a lot of people will say, don't care what the chips fall where they may, let it be random, but some folks will say well look.
If I can get a kid who's, a little bit smarter than they would otherwise be will do better in.
School and college in the career and and their relationship and everything else. Why not or they might go,
Maybe some moral virtues are heritable
as they are, all personality traits are heritable, including things like agreeableness and conscientiousness. So if you could select for those in your kids, will you
play it if, if we have
technology- and there were no safety risks. If we had better it fully, it would seem like a
a truly unconscionable moral lapse, not to give your kid those advantages, if you could is that, like you have not put in
she felt on your kid and there's no downside to wearing the seat belt and you're increasing their chance of survival. If you can amplify,
I unambiguously good traits without
raising the risk of negative.
I want to be, should be set
Do you work out that way? It could be that if, if you increase the genes that increase the proper
the of intelligence. You could be increasing the liability, different kinds of diseases, I think there's actually
some data already on that at various dystonias and are correlated with whatever genes
I understand, relate to intelligence, but if
I conscientious conscientiousness can be dyed,
checked it out genetically such that you
get the right alleles and you are just for
standard deviations above the norm in in that trade. Of course, people are going to do it.
I think people will do it and the people who perhaps even
five years earlier were saying I,
is totally discredited. It's not heritable at all. Nobody believes. In edit we read Stephen Jay Gould, Miss Measure man accused bunk right. Those will be the first people to use the genetic screening. I bet.
They will turn on a dime as soon as there's actual pragmatic benefits from it.
I think the real issue that is going to be are we going to have a society wide push the tries to make access to that technology as widespread as possible so that whoever wants to use it can use it rather than it just being preserve of of of the rich and well connected. I
that's going to be the crucial inequality issue in about twenty years, yeah that it would be a
asset amplifier of inequality, so.
I guess J made. Another issue here is gender difference and not defer
is an aptitude, but even just differences in interest across genders. There is this blank slate
dogma that men and women are
it's actually different, despite the existence of things like a uterus, and
so I guess I've just got focus very recently. In the last year,
the James to memo and and the Google firing
you know, I I actually haven't spent as much time focused on
Damore and his travails subsequently, but.
How did how did all that shake down, for you is an evolutionary psychologist thousand
interesting summer. Last summer, 'cause right before the whole to more Google memo thing blew up. I'd written an artist article for quill at dot com magazine called the neurodiversity case for free
speech in which I argued that people have a range of neurodivergent conditions like AUS, or
ptsd or whatever it can be difficult to obey campus speech codes that say never be offensive to anybody else.
But I'm I'm pretty aspin. That means I can't always anticipate who all found. If I say something, because I don't have a good theory of mind, I don't understand other people's beliefs and desires way. Some folks do so. If you have a speech code that says, if you offend someone, you must have meant it and you must be evil and you should be punished. I was pointing out: that's not really fair to people who are near a divergent and
have Asperger's, a lots of other syndromes, then about a week later, James Damore, who is probably also on Asperger spectrum. Google engineer comes out with this memo. Saying look, maybe
Some of the differences in men and women, in terms of where they end up occupationally, might be due to different preferences that they have about
Are they interested in things or people and how risk seeking are they and so forth,
and I rather Mamma when I thought hey. This is all pretty much scientifically correct. I would give this and a at this is a paper in a graduate seminar, but be this is going to be a world of hurt for the more because I'm sure Google doesn't want this news, and indeed-
that's that's what happened? Let's just pause there for a second, because it is a shock, or at least it should come as a shock to us that he was fired,
or writing, something which.
You have an expert in the field said: is science,
correct and there no, there was no
malicious framing of it was just this. This summer
we have what he believed to be the current science and his put his fairly tame push back against this
diversity. Indoctrination that he was having to weather is an employee there,
people out there who think that he did something
readily ugly, that that merited his firing, but we seem to be quite far from that
yeah. I mean when I read it, I thought it's actually surprising that someone who's, not a psychology professor, would get the empirical research pretty much that not accurate
and it's kind of surprising alarming- that Google didn't care, that it was accurate, that it it transgressed's there diversity agenda so awkwardly precisely because his claims were in
Berkeley pretty well supported, so they didn't really have any defense apart from firing him and saying he perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes. That's all they could really really too,
and that I think, was a really bad moment in american culture because it means well, it's uh,
the message to everybody in every corporation that you can have views that are empirically well, grounded and perfectly reasonable and expressed as carefully and constructively as possible and still be subject to these witch hunts, and I think that exerts a massive chilling effect on public discourse.
And even discourse within companies, yeah yeah. What is the aftermath but, like I know, there's a lawsuit right.
Have you followed any of that? I haven't really thought.
Followed it in detail, because I know Google can afford better lawyers anymore so, and this is America, so more expensive lawyers win
So we have these evolved moral capacities.
We have evolved. Moral intuitions were pure highly moralizing creatures being
social primates. This extends to pretty much everything we do. There's so there's a descript
story to tell about how we got here in terms of evolution,
but there's a very different project, and this is something that I attempted to
put for my own views about in the moral landscape which is
normative wanted. You can start from where we're at and
just taking inventory of our moral hardware such as it is, and then
ask a very different set of questions. Just how good can human life become?
How could how good life of any conscious creature become given
and everything that we can change about ourselves and about our institutions and about our social arrangements? And so it's different
to take an inventory of our moral psychology descriptively with someone like
Jonathan height will
talk about human morality in terms of just what the facts on the ground. People have very strong, intuitions about jealousy, say or
humiliation or concern for authority and, if you're, if you're, conservative, but not so much if you're liberal, but
what I tend to want to do is ask a further question about just what is possible for conscious
lines like our own in terms of flourishing,
you think that's a valid differentiation, or do you still want to continue
see everything in evolutionary terms. Well, I think the
all moral psychology that we have is a set of little tools or
largely about managing relationships like
can ship and how nice should I beat my my offspring and my blood relatives and managing reciprocity relationships and trade and managing in group dynamics and making sure the clan and and the tribe work and then
doing the little virtue signaling that we use to attract social and sexual partners and that's
sort of the toolbox that we have. But we can re purpose a lot of that stuff to
achieve levels of of more lax once in progress that go far beyond what any prehistoric human could have imagined. I mean I really like, for example, the Daedra Mccloskey idea that there is a set of boardwalk virtues they get called to
under a capitalist society where to succeed as a as a storekeeper in eighteenth century Europe, you have to pay attention to what kind of things about
offering to my customers. How can I add value to their lives, so they will voluntarily exchange things with me and that selects for conscientiousness and empathy and
reliability and good reputation in ways that simply didn't happen before in prehistory,
and then I think, virtue signalling. You know it gets a bad rap, but it's it's been at the heart of almost
every major ethical development like
of course, the early anti slavery abolitionists were partly virtue, signaling. My here's my empathy, because I'm concerned about these other people, I don't care about the animal Rights movement,
like I care about cute cuddly mammals. Let's save them, it's easy to mock that, but,
virtue, signalling lets you get a beachhead
on moral issues that nobody would care about. Otherwise, right.
I've seen this happen in the vegan movement, but my girlfriend's involved
that you know the way to reach out to certain kinds of people is not necessarily to say well, look if you're a strict,
utilitarian then, and here is the evidence for this animal having this level of sentients. Therefore, you shouldn't eat it. No, the way to popularize that movement is to make veganism a virtue, a social virtue and and then to convert your lovers and your friends and your family through that route, and I think it can be a
a source for moral progress? What keeps you awake at night as far as the the risks that we face as a species? What worries you going forward?
I'm terrified about this set of risks, old existential risks and my friends in the effective, altruism community focus on those quite a bit. These are risks that are not just global catastrophic risks where millions could die or billions, but the risks where everybody could die so existential meaning. Does the human species go extinct.
I really like that in this country or the least a few of us survive and the big existential rest of people not worry the most about our nuclear war. Bio weapons like engineered pandemics, artificial
Agents things that aren't really existential risks like okay, meteor impacts, they would be x risks, but the probability it will happen is extremely low and those
is already being monitored. I think a eyes. A wildcard allies is what keeps me awake at night. I've started to think and work a little bit on AI safety, research,
The issue there is nobody really
those how far we are away from developing artificial general intelligence that will be smarter than us and at least some ways it's very hard to predict. What kind of a gender behaviors such a thing would have it's very hard to apply our intuitive psychology of like how do you talk to such a thing or convinced it or propagandize it if, if it might operate on completely different principles with different,
preferences and priorities, and we do so there's a lot of uncertainty. What we do know, though, is
Becca and China are investing hugely.
In an AI arms race, and some of the top talent in both countries is going into this, and both countries are quickly realizing that if we fall behind, we will be at
very serious military and economic and even cultural disadvantage. So that kind of makes me want to barf and it's something also where people been Miss programmed by Hollywood to worry about the raw
kinds of things happening? What do you make of the fact that there's some very smart people?
please close to the data as we are, who are not worried about this is something we were talking about backstage.
What is what do they not seen, and what's the likely
They said that they're right and we're wrong to be concerned about a I so, for example, Steven pinker in the the enlightenment now book, which I love in, which is awesome, but there's a chapter in there on accentual risk for he's fairly
they dismiss of AI, as in as an ex risk.
I think it's notable that a lot of people who used to be skeptical about AI as an axe,
are now worried about it? A lot of people change their minds in that direction. They're very few people who say: oh, oh,
I used to worry about it last year, but now I've been convinced,
you know it's fine now.
I I don't know what I was thinking chicken little. Don't don't worry! Well, you sound just to take that structure,
how many people are going that direction
Monogamy versus polyamory yeah this this is the staff
impede out of monogamy. It's really cute,
there's there's no stampede back just
there's a little stamping out people who went like this,
Stampede outta monogamy in high school, and then there is a little bit of a stampede back when people get pregnant. That's true
but I think with the thing
my view is even even something that causes a one percent chance of extinction is worth.
Really worrying about very, very seriously and devoting billions of dollars to.
Ok, one percent probability of destroying
absolutely everything is still a major thing to hedge against
listen. I want now open it to all of you because for me, the real motive-
patient to have these live events is to make it a proper dialogue, so there should be microphones in the aisles should be two
and we would love your questions and we have. We have a
a full hour where we can take them. So so I guess we'll start over here are left all right
I think it's on, I should say just as a preamble,
your question can end in a question.
That would be good if you can just just to even just accomplish a high rising tone at the end of whatever you say. The audience will appreciate it and if you can be brief
otherwise you you're surrounded by a thousand very impatient people, alright. So now thanks so much for that. So just just the two things that I thought about so I live in. South Africa was there for the Sacco. Instead, I definitely member,
but what I want to mention is that
in so many places in Africa, polygamy was the norm for the longest time,
within that, like they were so
the folks are still going in having relationships with you know with other women and
the the wise, not relationship are aware of that. It's actually almost a norm sometimes, but despite
in fact they still get jealous and
all of my younger african friends. When I asked him about this, they have no interest in polygamy, no interest in polyamory, whatever they want a monogamous relationship.
So whenever you say this kind of stuff, for me, I'm thinking kind of like
I feel like some of this stuff has been tried before, and it really didn't work, and even the people who were in situations like this are actually moving closer towards monogamy and the
the second part of that is that we talked,
about from the people in the relationship standpoint. But what am I
because I know for me myself if I knew that my dad was going in having
even going on dates, even if he was announcing it
That's going to really affect me, and even my african friends who knew that their dads were going
it really affected them as well. So what I want to know is why do you think that places that already have kind of relationships like this are actually moving towards monogamy, rather than
maintaining that and to what
do you think the effect on children in such relationships is going to be yeah?
good question, so
polyamory, is very different from traditional polygamy right click in the is there is. There is one man with multiple woman, women and he's: typically,
the high state is dominant guy and he sort of monopolizes a few local women and then other guys, don't have women and therefore
traded. So it's a very socially destabilizing situation with the law
variation in reproductive success across man
and had a lot of violence action,
and this is exactly why cultural monogamy was instituted to cut down on that violence and jealousy and and sort of distribute mates more evenly.
What they don't do in those cultures is any of the basic ethical precepts of polyamory, which is open, consensual, transparent.
Indication with everyone about everything, that's happening, so
polyamory is as new relative to human made against a smartphone with
all the strengths and benefits of that it might be awesome. It might
crash and burn terribly. We don't know yet so far. For some people it seems to work and we can predict it won't work for everybody. Some people will not have the personality traits that make it work. I suspect successful poly requires in today's.
Culture, a very high degree of intelligence organization, conscientiousness, emotional self, control, self, insight,
anger management. All that second question briefly
The kids are incredibly adaptable about what eh
other parents are doing as long as they get good input and support and care
from one or more adult caregivers. I think they can adapt pretty quickly too,
to anything going on as long as there's not a whole lot of violence and abuse, and we see if we see that in in you know every culture that has different mating norms, the kids don't care if they think it's normal as long as they're they're being taken care of. Thank you.
Hi, thank God both of you. For this conversation, I've really enjoyed and enjoy the podcast. Thank you. This question
first SAM primarily, but it seems to have relevance to many of the issues that you've touched on in this conversation.
So, SAM in your post, Charlottesville Podcast with Douglas Murray, you articulated a has a chance to engage with. Stefan Mollen knew because he had talked with Jared Taylor and was therefore in some sense tainted yeah.
Obviously, you should only have conversations you think are likely to be fruitful, but because you
so cognizant of incentives, do you see how pub
the parameter your willingness to engage with people around this six degrees of Richard Spencer, principal encourage?
Is the kind of dishonest smearing that you, and so many of your friends have been subject to? Is the tarnished
reputation of an interlocutor the right predictor of the value of a discussion.
Yeah, well I I again this is, I have to confess someone
certain as to
anyone is a mess. I I I I I only know what I know about somebody likes to find. I I know enough- or at least I think I know enough about him- to worry that he's not someone I should be speaking
within when one data point was the conversation.
I saw him have have with Jerry Taylor. So, like a you
Presumably he no
Jerit is, and he found a
daylight between him and Jared when he was speaking to him on the podcast and they were. They were just like two peas in a pod.
And Jerrod Taylor, you can see talking to just
straight up NEO Nazi
again without any daylight between them right. So this is not
again. This may seem like a a
the property that shouldn't be operating, but I think there's some there's something
Fishy there again the ethics of this or not totally
worked out in my head. I don't know where the line is between it being a bad
thing to give someone a platform by just agreeing to talk to them or is being a good thing to
invite someone on who holds morally
ansible views and just debate them and just a
Sears, and I don't know where the line is, and strangely it gets.
Easier. I think I think I said this when I was speaking to Douglas in podcast. It gets much easy
when the person is obviously evil right like if you
I talked to the Unabomber and not
have to waste any fuel ver
you going to my audience- and you know it's is really terrible thing. You did sending those bombs in the mail I mean that would just
I would go without saying, and so it's kind,
uncanny valley problem with respect to moral culpability. I don't know if you have any thoughts about this. You who who want to talk to and where, when draws a
but I guess I'm still working it out and I don't and is defined as kind of a a corner case, and I admit to not having spent many hours trying to figure out who he is so. Thank you very.
Yeah hi SAM. I just first want to say that I really appreciate your style of communication. It's really change the way that I've dealt with people on a daily basis,
My question is: how do we read
style the difference between our
biological need to reproduce and growing concerns that overpopulation might be a problem in the future.
It's not clear to me what
consensus is now with respect to population.
To me this, like that, there you can
people who are just as concerned about under
population. You know it's like the difference between
there being too many of us into a few of us might come
I until like twenty people,
it's like there's there's this weird fact
that in Japan, right now, they sell more adult diapers than kids diapers.
That's fairly alarming to picture if we could get
fully obedient ai and to service our needs, and you know-
and I guess in the context of this conversation, those needs could extend to you know polyamorous robots, something
but in the absent that I mean it, it seemed it. It does seem. A may maybe have some insight into this, but it seems like we are in some vast ponzi
game. You need a new generation to,
stack under this. This looming pyramid
of aging people, what it what
our thoughts on world population and what is gonna be like to have nine or twelve billion of us
pretty pronatalist and I think there's a lot of alarmism about overpopulation has been since the 70s. Most of that alarmism hasn't come true,
that was that was Paul, Ehrlick right, yeah, the population bomb. I think,
as he told her and the more people, the better all else, being equal,
and one of the things that gets me excited about. Managing the Aix risk is
if we do it, if we survive,
if we colonize the solar system, the galaxy, the supercluster and then we have we could have ten to the 30th sentients beings. That
Post human, I think that would be amazing.
I'm willing to add up utilities and go the more the better, so.
We should have that long view that that, as long as we don't wreck the planet in a really predictably dramatic horrible way, we should we should have some faith that are lit
kids and grandkids will be smart and will be able to help solve problems we can't even solve. Yet. That's really thank you.
So it seems to me that money in politics is the largest problem
american society today, because it's the problem that stops all the problems from being solved sofa
example SAM, if you think
back of an AI safety net, is a huge problem. Then, if technology companies lobby against that solution,
it increases their revenue, then that Prob
won't be solved. So my question
you off either for you,
you is what your thoughts on money in politics. Oh, I thought,
is a huge problem. It's hard to solve, because
is the line between money and free speech is hard to draw.
So it's. How do you stop someone from spending?
You know millions and billions of dollars that they've earned in ethical ways to broadcast a message
care about, and how do you? How do you
not that from being politically effective?
Is that really is that's the problem of money in politics and the way we you could you could get out of the game it of funding campaigns through donations,
but still you would have this contribution to the messaging that only rich people can really
fully leverage I mean again, there's there's other things that are happening now, as we've noticed in the last election in the role of
the role of money in politics was kind of hard to discern, because Hillary Clinton outspent Trump by some mass,
factor and what we hear. Com
define social media, whether without the help of nefarious actors. That was that
it was effective, so money is less useful than it
is to be at least judging from the last election. But I don't have enough. You have thoughts on that
you're right, it's a huge problem. I have no idea how to fix that. If the to me that the more systemic problem is just american political systems aren't built
the handle, long term planning and dealing with existential risks and having a planning rise in decades away that, like the chinese system, does seem to think
about that. That's not nearly tight to money, that's just tide to our election cycle, but the fact that
every decision is captured by the shore.
Term political needs of getting reelected in two or four four six years. That's that's a disaster when, when you're talking about multi decade, problems.
This is for SAM and Jeffrey
people are afraid of the meeting differences across different groups, because they don't believe I did them. Sales are, others can treat people as individuals yeah. I think our our most people in society at the
point where they can admit differences across these groups and still treat people as individuals. I think people fear that most people will have the New Orleans to do that. They'll start putting them in hierarchies and say: okay, I'm going to put this one person a low, because I
Don't want to miss it. What I've read that clearly is the remedy for what so many people are worried about me to treat people as individuals, but
we know that that's hard to do. You know, or it's it's it's it's easy to take short cuts that are discriminatory right. So, if you're, just if you, if you have a by
yes and you're, not going to spend any time worrying that you have one you're just going to be driven by that bias and that bias in so far as it
focuses on things like skin, color or gender or anything of broad of course attribute you're, just a disadvantage in that segment of the population so to it takes extra
work to just find out who somebody is so people are. I think people were
we're right to worry about the shortcuts, but clearly no and we want we want to treat people as individuals and
there's nothing. We know about average group differences that suggests
that it would be wise not to treat people as individuals be
is within groups, are so much one
lighter than the differences between groups for any variable that we, if only for
just some you know
Wheatley Early Greedy corporation, that just wants the best employees. You should be absolutely focused on on individual strengths, and we
do you think with their as a society and do you think that's the easy message to get everyone to adhere to?
Clearly not. There is a society, but I think it's
it's the only message that makes sense. So you know it's just I don't see an alternative. I think we just have to keep talking about.
What's true and what's politically ethical, I mean clearly,
we want equality across the board politically,
whatever we want to spread opportunity as widely as far
and then it really is investors, individuals and come to the door. You know you don't have it categories of people who show up for
jobs. You have individuals right or are there of you familiar with the Emma Gilchrist's park, the mastering his emissary yeah or more generally, miss? If not, how has the prevailing science concerning bring water, lateralization and split brain patients shape
your view of consciousness or even free will that's interesting, but I actually haven't read all of it. I've ever read part of it, but it is it's a red enough to to bill recommended. But it's a you know this.
He makes a lot of the split brain research.
I'm not sure everything he thinks about. The significance of the split brain is: is uncontroversial,
I've the slippery I wrote about it in in my book, waking up,
maybe somewhere else, but it's it's one.
The strangest findings in science and it's it's a fine and it's very difficult to
to take on board. Amid briefly for those of you who are
familiar with it, I mean that there's going back now, fifty years,
there's been well established, resulting in neurosurgery, which is the way people have grand mal epilepsy. You can
our procedure where you cut the the white matter, tracts that link the two cerebral hemispheres and keep the seizure act
from spreading to the laughter from from the left to the right, or vice versa, and that
the gates, the problem of of of this, the seizure disorder to some significant degree
and for the longest time people felt
there was no other change in in these patients until
Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, and runs at and some other clever experimenters
put them in a paradigm where you could. You could send information
to the left or the right hemisphere by itself and what was discovered. I think this is fairly uncontroversial. Just
hey is that, once you divide the two hemispheres, you basically have two sub separate subjects in there that have different beliefs and different desires and different perceptions,
and what that suggests about us undivided people is that that may be true
to some degree.
Even now in a connected brain, because it's hard to believe that there's perfect information sharing across the hemisphere hemispheres with intact white matter tracts, and so it it suggests
that there is something that is something Quasi Freud in about it, in the sense that there's a I mean, the Freud said a lot of crazy stuff that can't be rehabilitated. But
One of the crazy things which may not be so crazy is this idea of an unconscious mind that is
conscious in its own right right that is
in order what to sense or something it is there's always. This paradox of repression was like
somewhere in you. You have to know what you're repressing it takes a conscious
sort of draw the line between the unconscious and and the conscious, and
there's something it's not doesn't have exactly a freudian character, but there is a spooky picture that emerges here of the possibility
if they're being islands of conscious life in the brain that are not fully integrated, consciousness could be a kind of
continually changing sort of Venn diagram of conscious states which
that which overlap and too great
lesser degrees in each moment, depending on on just what is what is happening in your office, a logically what what is
split, brain data do to your brain.
I I'm I'm more struck really by the way that we we sort of become different people overtime, particularly interacting with different intimate partners, are different friends and they all break just bring out different parts of us
So I think the illusion that there's a unitary self that is maintained under all these different social conditions is an illusion and bring it back to polyamory,
An interesting thing about having multiple intimate relationships in parallel with people is you get to have kind of a bigger proportion of yourselves? You know manifest over time, rather than just kind of shrinking it down to the one, the one roll, the ones.
Once again, apologies for all of you or just celebrate your first anniversary,
and I know I'm sorry. I missed that. I
working eighty- and I know that you guys are not comfort. Rible
with the idea of an ai, but
question like poses is actually what
the moral position expected, and this is for both of you
moral position. You guys expect from the it field, if you could summarize it in a sentence or a very short brief statement, so that I can show my friends at work,
yeah yeah! Well, I I agree with the kinds of things that people like Nick Bostrom.
And Eleazar. You Kowski have said about this. I think I think we have to get out of an arms race.
This condition we clearly need
at some point. We will need some regulation here and it's just
the principle that
there are more ways to build.
Dangerous, ai than safe ai. I mean in the space of all possible super intelligent systems.
There are more that will
not the aligned with our interests and will be
Therefore, it seems.
Plausible that it will be easier to build
dangerous, ai, then then,
truly aligned, ai and so an arms race is the per
scenario two to do this badly right. So we need we need to.
Maybe we need to give the resources to alignment
enter the safety question. You mean
literally profits. What was that military profits? Perhaps.
I I'm sorry: could you mean that it would be easier because of profits? Military? If no, it's just easier, it's just they're more ways to do this. Wrong is like that there is just
there are more ways to fall off a
hi wire than to stay on it. You know it's it's just it's
it's a narrow, narrower set of results in in the space of all possible
items. Yeah I mean I don't I don't mean to imply with these Aix risk concerns that is anything sort of bad
about it. I have huge respect for it. Industry. It's delivered, awesome benefits in progress,
humanity. Everybody in this room has been a beneficiary of computer technology. In
thousands of ways we never could have anticipated a few decades ago, but this is
going to be a tease biggest ethical test ever it
does it take inix risks seriously rap
other than just kind of getting caught up in in in in the room,
dance in the thrill of the chase
and I was caught up in this, my first twenty or thirty papers were on machine learning back when I was in grad school and I wrote papers that I thought this would be awesome this this meth.
Allow us to integrate evolution and learning and create new systems, and I never once that back and asked. Oh, but you know, what's the possible down so side, I know from first
and experience how easy it is to get swept up in that that DR to do the next thing, but it it. This is a crucial place for, for I t n a I folks to take that step back and and to record
you know their own foibles in terms of the temptation like I want to do something even better than elf ago and just realize there, eight billion other people
who depend on you not messing this up but-
The problem is, it is an arms race, so there's there's no percentage for the person,
or the team. That is
be cautious when every
else is being reckless, and just trying to get into the end zone is as fast as possible, and so it's it's what we need it. We need some kind of global solution to this area. It's not gonna work. If it's just even if it's just that the big players in Silicon Valley,
I meant that you know we have to somehow agree with China and anyone else is likely to to do this. My question is
SAM, but I'm sure both of you can answer. I,
like I stumbled upon like a little gold mine. When I found you,
I think it was one of my little angry atheist benches on Youtube. But after I read
book lying, I felt like
Give me a like. You said a firmware upgrade my brain on my morals and everything I ever thought of. I had a rethink because most of it was based off the line.
I was wondering if there was anything that you ever just completely
Grew order and legs chain.
Just on. As far as your morals are your core beliefs for someone who's been
consisting, as far as I can sell and all of your beliefs and thoughts and attitudes for things that you said
you know years ago on interviews you can seem to say now so is there anything that you've ever just changed?
that you feel has
Who you are and now the way you see the world? Well,
The line peace was was huge for me, but that came before I was in a public wake doing anything I came when I was eighteen and nineteen. That's why I wrote that book in a way.
So it was such a fundamental change in my life and in my perception of just human
life in general to to recognize how how
full lying was and.
The motivation that was almost always behind it right just that the fear,
the separateness and the and sense
the jury on you're, not on the same team with the person you're talking to, even though this ostensibly is is a close friend.
You know the temptation to tell a white lie was now
something I I
I notice as being toxic or divisive or or ethically
back until suddenly, I I I I I did in this one as I recount in the book in this course of Stanford,
and once I just decide.
Okay line is basically on the continuum of violence and which is to say it's almost never something
I want to be involved in and and less you're in some kind of moral emergency. That is just so
massively simplified, my life. I know I was not someone who's walking around lying all the time and and aware of the downside, but I just it just to rely
is that you are committed
to be honest with everyone. You meet.
No matter how brief the transaction and that you don't want two sets of books. You know, but the people you love and then that that would have been with strangers. You don't want to ethical codes,
You want the same code in your personal life as you have in business. All of all of that was so first,
a transformative and then, and then once
you're seeing the world through that lens. Then you see just all of the needless misery and and chaos being manufactured by people not have
that same epiphany, and then you watch television and you see people like
Lance Armstrong and get the other famous people just completely flameout.
Based on all the allies they've been telling and all the all the social arrangements Dave they've created there. There were only possible based on their willingness to live, and that was that was the biggest
I can think of for me. What about for something like, let's say polyamory, I don't think anybody wakes up when they're you
eight years old in the sides I'm gonna be Palmer. Is that something that just kind of roles later on at of experience or what have you on what he I'm not yet convinced that I wanna be polyamorous, but not yet. Jeffrey's only had an hour to to work his magic on
Strangely enough, it was reading say.
Book online lying? That was a spark towards polyamory,
Is it in this sense that I
as most marriages are founded on
continual low level lying about a lot of aspects of our
fantasy lives and our sexual desires and our flirtations and our frustrations, and it is
extremely hard for pair bonded people to be truly open.
An entirely honest with each other if they don't brought in the context of their relationship a little bit
That's probably not true for everybody, but I think it's true for a lot of people
And to me, one of the key attractions of polyamory was precisely that I can imagine this would be a much more open, honest ethical
upfront way to live than the typical monogamous marriage.
As interesting yeah. I think
I mean I I can go all the way. I guess I I I can sort of run polyamory in emulation there, because I I understand that jealousy is something you want to get all
MA jealousy doesn't make sense in that you
or a sensibly committed to the happiness of this other person. In fact, this is the person you most want to be happy in the world. If this is the person you love most in the world, ah
the idea that something that would make this person happy is something that absolutely horrified you there's some.
Cognitive and emotional algebra to do there to to understand, what's going on and at at me like, I could certainly see this. You know again that the hassle
factor here seems pretty high at as I imagine what what would you like to
this way? But if I imagine you know you know, I
some terminal illness and I have
to envision what my wife's life is going to be like after I die well. Of course, I want her to be in a in a fulfilling relationship.
And I want I want all of that stuff to happen, and that's not something that I would be thinking about jealousy jealousy would clearly not apply in that circumstance, and so, but I'm not dead. Yet
Thanks am, I hope you can come to Houston more often,
discussions go. This question goes to both of you. The concern of
about artificial intelligence is reasonable. It is a
here to the unknown. I saw the other data
really doodle learning how to run. I don't know you can store it. So it's a concern,
at some point. It could become completely independent and capable of destroying us. How would
make a case for human life
to be more valuable than artificial intelligence?
So we would have the right to shut them down or
to avoid them Colinas slavers for exam,
which is what would happen if we had
property rights over them.
This is something that a little misleading about the way I tend to frame this conversation, because I often talk about ai risk,
though there is no, there were a break that we could pull.
There is, though there were some alternative to developing more and more intelligent machines.
I don't think there is. I think intelligence is the most valuable thing we have and we
want more of it. It's an intrinsic good until it becomes misaligned with our utility function, so I just think
we will do this, I mean and less we destroy our.
They have some other way. We will continue to improve our hardware and so
square, and then the only assumption you need is that that intelligence, general intelligence is platform, independent, there's nothing
magical about having a computer made of meat
We're doing can be done in in another substrate and that's obviously so I mean there's no, there's no scientific reason to think that that's not just a
of time, and so I think we will do it and then it's it's. We just need to
create the right incentives to do it wisely, and it's still, we still might blow it, but
I really don't see a way to stop for pure wealth creation reasons, just pure greed,
This is just too much of an advantage to anyone who has a more intelligent system, the advantages commercially as a matter of
political control, and it's just someone this is happening.
I mean what I would like to see is the kind of cultural tradition develop, that we have a kind of aesthetic or
algic preference for keeping around our legacy systems that we don't upgrade everything all the time that even if humans are completely outclassed by a eyes,
the they'll still want us around as kind of cute nostalgic Pets Oreja,
as sort of a fallback position like if their civilization collapses, at least, will still be able to run around to our our hunter gatherer thing, and I think that should be extended up to every level of of complexities. You should always
is hedge your bets, and you should always try
keep around your ancestors kind of out of graduate.
If nothing else, as long as you can and the
the science fiction novels by Iain M banks, culture novels to meow
very compelling example of how to do that, where the civilization is run by
Piper Inteligente eyes, but they still keep
the noise around for their.
Mysterious reasons. Anything about the prospect of merging with the machines that were going to tether this to our brains. Very early
I think some of us should do that, but I I hope we can all.
I have a little islands of people who just kind of stay insulated voluntarily, just the sort of insurance. I think that's where you get the the defense in depth against existential risk. Is you don't have everything wired into the same vulnerable systems? Thank you.
This question is for is for SAM. This is a very general question. However, in the long run, what do you think a eyes impact on world politics will be? Can a I only needed to a universal basic income or maybe another system, I'm a kind of uninformed fan of the concept of you. Be I mean I I I see just a again. This is not. I haven't spoken with with many economists about it and it's quite possible there, some downside to it that I've I'm not seen, but it seems to me just
generally speaking that if it's a I works in so far as it works in a in so far as it doesn't come, a a safety concern.
It it you want what you have is a just: an engine of wealth
creation, of a sort we've never seen before, and you have.
A technology that is, can
feeling the need for human labor in a way that we've never seen before, so that there's their jobs that disappear, that don't get replaced and, at a certain point this. This ethic and this PA
politics and this economics we have around everyone's
need to work. Everyone's need to find something that others will pay
them to do that has to break down. We have to change. Is your your your lease on your
own existence can't be a matter of of you doing profitable late
when there's no longer a need for profitable labor and that that was the the to conserve the utopian case but absent getting those affects and getting the ethics and politics right? It's a it's a very just
Toby in case then you're you're, you're, talking about massive wealth inequality and
an unwillingness to spread the wealth around as a kind of bottle
back on the way to whatever this weird future is, and so I seems to me that were we're fully came,
full getting this wrong. I mean there enough people in the world who you don't want to
provide universal healthcare, for instance right and so, and even if you, even if you could bring that cost down to nothing right
this there will still be some people will be arguing that you shouldn't get a free lunch and that and that people need to be forced to get some
is on their own survival through labor, otherwise, they're just gonna be playing video games all day, long or or you know, will be living in some kind of it. Now this Huxley novel
and there I think there is a risk of that is a risk of of people not finding meaningful ways to spend their time if this happened suddenly, certainly, but what we need a culture
that that informs us about how to live, really rich and and beautiful lives,
that, ultimately, it is not tied to necessary work that it can be tied to you know all the creative stuff and the fun
staff were inclined to do. You know all this
stuff you would want to do if you didn't have to work.
Some of us are so diverse, are incredibly
and I'm like, I'm I'm doing something right now as a job that I
do want to do anyway, right, which is evidence, it's a fantastically privilege situation to be in, but
not everyone is in that situation, and and so we we.
The more and more the world, what we should have the character of people doing what they would want to do anyway, and and that's that would be something that a could could do for us if it doesn't destroy us. Thank you,
Thank you for coming out. I was wondering when you
speak of morality and how we treat other species in the world. What you think
factory farming is or how you what's. Your viewpoints on factory farming are today as someone who eats meat and how you think it can be moral and just to do such a thing and how
would be better to like. I, I,
Tessa. I'm I'm a way
in progress on this topic and get my moral intuitions get knocked.
Around by a few different arguments, and in the first thing that conceit is that factory farming as it is currently practiced is
Almost entirely a horror show and is, and is indefensible as I think we we. We want more ethical factory farming of more ethical farming than we have, but if you could make a
ethical enough- and we were actually just talking about this before this event- if you could make it sufficiently ethical, so that
each one of these animals had a net positive life. It was. It was better to exist and not if Europe accounts say well, then that does undercut the argument for vegetarianism or veganism, because what we're now talking about billions of creatures that would never exist, but for the fact that we need to eat them.
Right. So again you have to stipulate that these are happy cows or reasonably happy cows such that it is better.
To have been that cow than to have not existed at all, I think that's certainly conceivable but absent that I'm hopeful that things like clean meat will come to the rescue here as I'm
You know, I think, like I had to move the lady, the CEO of Memphis meats on the podcast, a while back and they're developing meet
products that are real meat, but just there's no animal in the equation is you've. Taken a single cell from you know the best tasting
However- and you amplify that in a perfectly
environment and you have none of the chaos of a slaughterhouse and
the nosey viruses, and no no bacteria and you can grow.
I mean they now have a you know an eight
one thousand dollars meatball, which I think is really
become a six thousand dollars meatball, but eventually it'll be a a six dollars meatball or a six hundred and sixty cent meatball and then we'll have you'll have
real. Meat without any effort
location unless less, unless it's actually worse than having happy cows without a
problem have no so SAM.
You speak a lot about how the sense of self is an illusion
then whom or what is actually aware of consciousness and its contents. If there is no sense of herself at all to be observing, that was it just that
consciousness, is aware of itself and its contents as a matter of experience, there's just consciousness and its contents, so there's the other's thoughts and sensations and sights and sounds
emotions and- and this everything you can notice, is appearing in consciousness and as consciousness as an elaboration of
of consciousness, and one thing that most people feel is there is the feel
of being a subject, the feeling of being that I kinda changeless agent and author of thoughts and intentions
and that's the illusion that can be penetrated. If you look for that thing, you can say
to find it in a way: that's conclusive and that's a that's it
practice of meditation is nothing other than it. Then you know that the first person experiment that one runs
oneself again and again until one can actually noticed that about consciousness, the con
just as feels a certain way prior to each thought horizon I mean the sense of
from my point of view, the Santa by the sense that there's a thinker of thoughts in addition to the thoughts or an experience or of experience, in addition to just
that's what it's like to be thinking without, knowing that you're thinking in that moment like to be captured by thought
and I think most people- I think everyone is continually losing their sense of self. It's just they're, just not noticing it
you're continually losing your sense of self. And then we have this phrase. Is we have this
sort of like being lossed in your work right or Lausten, a movie right,
like each moment when you're really watching a movie,
and your and you're so absorbed in it that it's
they work in the illusion is happening and you're just you're, not
you're, not aware for that moment that you're sitting in a room with other people you're not aware
that you're just looking at light on a wall. You know you're just fully captured by the the fiction.
That's a moment where you've lost yourself yeah, but it's not vivid in the way that it can be. If you learn how to meditate and it is, it is actually just the what consciousness is like when you're, not thinking. Thank you yeah. So my first question is for Jeffrey missing questions for SAM, but Jeff. You might have
nothing to talk about this as well. Jeffrey do you part, is practice hierarchical, poly or relationship, anarchy and SAM was the best lsd experience you had so I I
I didn't. I didn't get that
what was the best lsd experience you've had,
so. The first question is about relationship, anarchy and hierarchal poly, which you prefer, I think
yeah. So basically, I practice hierarchical poly, which means.
I'm in a long term, long distance pair bonded relationship with a primary partner. Who is the most important
to me and then we each have secondary partners. So we spend less time with, and you know each of those relationships may last weeks months years, but they don't tend to last as as long maybe they will
relationship. Anarchy is sort of a view that you kind of create
relationship that each person deserves on the fly
kind of negotiated ad lib and.
There's kind of a minimization of expectations and commitment in terms of the people
who do that who I've talked to the most. I don't think that is
going to be a very viable option for most people, most of the time relationship anarchy probably will
well like in college or, if you're, a single adults, but I
like, if you're, sharing a house, a mortgage kids with somebody, I think you've got to have hierarchical poly and they gotta be your primary. Nothing else really makes sense to me
so there's all these varieties of consensual, non monogamy that you in the audience I have heard about as to what you're very puzzling and our again watch this space. These are rapidly developing subcultures that are kind of systematically exploring this, the the space of possibly in a relationship patterns, and most of them were
end up working very well, but it's really valuable to the rest of us for them to report back. You know what worked and what didn't and what? What are the lessons learned and how can we integrate them into our lives
Yeah, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that relationship anarchy is not going to be the the final solution to our problem. Maybe just needs to be re branded
why have I had many good acid trips until I started having bad ones and then I stopped taking acid, but I don't know how
common? This is or not, but I had you know. Maybe the first first ten times I took acid,
there is no intimation at all of that was even possible to have a bad trip. I tried to have it heard this concept of a bad trip, but I couldn't imagine what that entails. Just that was there's no reference point and then I had my first bad trip and then for it thereafter. I know
exactly what it was. You know just what sort of roulette wheel I was spent in each time. I've I did this and I think that the possible downside is is something you wanted have real respect for me. You can have a. I think your drugs are different, miss some drugs. I think I probably neurotoxic. I don't think LSD is, I think, so physically, it's not a matter of LSD being bad for you, but I think bad trips are bad for you and- and you can you can damage yourself just by the on the basis of having a a terrible experience.
So it's it's, it's worth being cautious, but I've had many
using true, I mean one. I mean it's just suggest to you. Just how acid is is
sort of arbitrary. Where you are so we had. We decided to.
We're going to we camped out
but near woods in in Moran. Muir woods has this with some of the tallest redwoods in the world or the tallest red was in the world, and
and so we we camped out and and our plan was at dawn, we were going to try to drop acid and and hike down into the into this towering forest of trees.
So with the first part of plan went well, we woke up at dawn and we dropped acid and we got,
but we came, and it was maybe like a mile down to the big trees, but
it came on so fast that we just got caught with more or less the first tree.
We we met and it
it's just. You know we we discovered. Maybe you know ten hours later, that it was a perfectly ordinary tree. I mean this is like is like a twenty foot tall. You know oak tree that you know just
containing the secrets of the universe. So I don't know what the lesson isn't that, but
camp closer to your favorite tree if you're going to first off. Thank you both
so much for your time
Doctor Miller, just broadly speaking, how
advise an interview
well to be more honest, with themselves to challenge themselves to search
that objectivity in sin.
Do you find that more difficult, now and say fifth,
teen years ago, twenty
years when maybe or a bit more anonymous? And yes.
So I did this book of dating advice for young single guys called mate a couple years ago and honesty with oneself. In that context, I think
Had a lot to do with trying to help young men figure it out figure out.
What do I really have to offer if I'm straight and I'm looking for a girlfriend? What do I really seriously have to offer a woman that she might want, and a lot of people are extremely self deceived about that, and they don't have a good.
They don't have a well calibrated mate value and they don't have a good sense of what am I kind of stuck with that? I can
change in what what could I actually level up if I put a little bit of work into it, and also what
why take pride in that? Nobody else actually cares about versus. What could I change about?
Myself would add value in a relationship, and I think
and generalized out? Not just in you know, seeking romantic partners, but asking yourself what do I really give to my friends.
Maybe the things they value about me aren't the things I think they know about me or the things of value about myself. What do I really give to my family so
honesty is not just a matter of
down a navel gazing, but I think it's about interrogating. What value do you bring to your actual and potential relationships? And I think that's a really useful mirror for kind of getting a better sense of who you are and who you can be in the future
Each place in my life has been, as has been so different and
is a like. Now I have children and they're just joys and and growth as a parent.
Totally, unlike whatever was going on fifteen or twenty years ago, being able to be in contact like this and have conversations like this, I mean that's, it's all. It's all to the good and all very different, but.
The there are other doors that close, you know as you get older and and have kids and and differences being able to
Decide to do a three month, silent retreat. You know, that's not something I
feel free to do now, because I just couldn't go,
off for that, long and and not being in touch with my daughter
and so I met as as some point in my life. I I will expect to be able to do that again, but this is something that that I don't think we tell people
well enough that their their periods in life that are kind of discrete and add that to do for most of us come to an end, and you want to make use of those periods wisely. It's like out there. No one tells you that
you make most of your friends very early in life and you tend to keep them right like I don't know what teenagers and college students would do
currently with that knowledge, but the people people
to make a lot of friends or some core friends early, and then they may in many cases
the rest of their lives without forming deep friendships apart from finding a spouse and
there many other things like it. Just you know it's just sitting sitting retreat. As I said, I mean that's the kind of thing that you you, if you don't foresee,
how your life is going to change. When you suddenly decide to have kids, you won't be aware that
the the door to that opportunity is is closing for you and so by admin. I'm in a very nice place in in my life. Now and- and it's I've got no complaints at this. But
a moment if my when you see my website go down, you'll they'll, know that I'm sure
again and anguish in my office, but my question is for sale and it this point in time, are there any? Is.
Fig or just general thoughts that you have that you'd like to see changes from the federal government in terms of domestic and foreign policy in terms of preventing and dealing with terrorism.
I don't know: what's going on, that's not being advertised,
straight so like. I have no amount on the inside of any of these conversations, so
maybe they're, doing much that I would
I want them to do when they're just not really talking about it, but I think we people like minded now was
And I on her, CLA really have this right. I mean we have a a
an ideology him to speak, specifically of jihadism.
With an ideology that we have to counter
and it is, it has to be a war of ideas more than it's a war and it we have to take that problem,
easily, we have to win a war of ideas with the
some world and we have to get the muslim world to win a war of ideas with itself. Recognizing that you know what having the message come from outside from non Muslims who are just worried about radicalization is not going to be effective, so we have. We have to figure out how to support reformers and
our states and free thinkers in the muslim world and has to be a real priority, and that's it's taboo,
even acknowledge that that's a problem that we have more of a problem with
Islam, then with Mormonism or Scientology or
or Anglicanism, or any other religious cult, and that's
I have to acknowledge that we have to have people who are pouring massive resources intelligently into solving that problem, so make you.
SAM. So having grown up in a religious cult and shaken the shackles of those beliefs, and
Nations are looking a little closer to the MIKE. I want to personally thank you for having been
of me you my
education and growing up mentally. So thank you. In light of that, what
what do you feel is a bigger threat to our future? The
ideologies and dogmas of our history and our religion and our culture or poly amorous robots, taking our jobs
where do you value spending our time and energy? Do we worry more about the effects of the past or should be worried about new threats from the future?
really for me. It does come down to the primacy of conversation. I view what we're doing here successfully.
Billions of a strangers, figuring out how to collaborate peacefully and creatively and safely together that
It is a matter of successful conversations, one after another. We have to
learning to converge on the same values or similar
enough values were learning to form institutions that that bring these values to
they'll. You know whether it's a laws or or politics or or- and we do this-
We do this better locally and we don't do it very well globally. Yet
But we clearly we have to do it globally and
it is a matter of.
Having words suffice right because otherwise, there's just an appeal to force and we have to get out of
force business, and I I don't know that we're gonna get out of it any time soon, but at a certain point, war has to become unthinkable rival. What's the alternative we have, we have to
get to a place globally where a war
between the US and China say seems just as preposterous as a war between you know, Texas and California. Now we have to get there
somehow that clearly is the end game for a viable global civilization that will press out toward other planets and and the stars right. So every problem we can, we can solve together, we'll be soluble because we are Kalau
operating peacefully and creatively to solve that problem, whether it's ai or anything else
we suddenly had it was suddenly attacked by martians or or we were facing some global pandemic right.
We gonna solve that problem. Well, we will solve it if in so far as we figure out how to cooperate intelligently if it, if we're smart enough to to solve it, but solving solving these failures of these needless failures of cooperation is, is the huge task and things like religious dogmatism and sectarianism or racism or nationalism or other forms of tribalism. Those are clearly bugs in the system when you're talking about that this kind of large scale cooperation. So so it's just kind of evolution running its course
and it's gonna. Well, no, it's it's p. It's b as not evolution, its the is the evolution of of the ideas yeah, it's not a matter of of may we all
or by virtue of evolution.
We are not well poised to build a
mobile civilization that works.
Evolution can't see the things we need the tools we need to develop to do this. Well,
You know, evolution doesn't know anything about democracy or capitalism or ai. So we've got the tools we have, but we're developing new tools and that's culture.
Thank you. I would love to hear thoughts from both of you on how you think R K12 education system needs to change and what it needs to look like, given a future of artificial intelligence and trucks that drive themselves. So we don't need truck drivers anymore. Will let you take that? I think you also some thoughts on the future of university.
Thanks, good, well one little thing in every class I teach now at university. I ask my students: what do you guys know about free
speech? What do you know about the first amendment? What do you know about your rights as students in terms of expressing diverse views?
They know nothing american case
trovers, absolutely failing them in terms of teaching them the most fundamental parts of civics. You know they're right
understanding of government and their
absolutely handicapped as citizens as a result. If they don't know you know basically right, then
they can't really engage with society with any confidence. So that's one little thing I think one thing I've
I've pushed for a very long time is to try to get schools to rethink.
What are we really trying to produce? Are we trying to produce citizens or workers or just well rounded people or folks, will make good friends lovers,
parents, etc? I think actually, it's very.
Very, very difficult for K through twelve schooling, to predict what knowledge and skills will be useful in twenty or thirty years.
It's a lot less difficult to predict what kinds of social skills
The mindfulness will be useful in social and sexual relationships. Now it's
hard to get government schools to go.
Ok, we're going to teach kids how to be just awesome, pool
cameras, robot lovers,
because that those skills will last. But if I had a voucher system- and I had my own school franchise- that's that's what I would teach
or at least conflict basic marital conflict resolution. Like you,
level people up in about an hour to reduce the bitterness of marital conflicts by about fifty percent, and we don't do it and that's insane. So I would focus on those sort of
general life skills. People should know how to meditate
should know how to manage their. Emotions
should know how to actively list
to others who politically disagree with them. Take them on board
steel. Their arguments look at
steel Manning an argument. They should know how to do that kind of thing, but I think teaching them any specific kind of job. Related skills is kind of a fools errand. At this point,
hi SAM thanks for your podcast, my questions actually project me, though,
so I think we're actually witnessing at gender phenomenon here where I'm the
where is female to ask a question in the number of females is. Maybe not representative of the number
females actually in the audience. So we
I say it's soup to it, safe to assume that this isn't a coincidence.
Why? What gender differences? Do you think cause this, and are we stuck with these there?
You know a general pattern
in many species that
males are louder right. Sexual selection tends to favor males to do more public broadcasting of their their signals, their virtues their intelligence whatever, and this tends to be the case kind of throughout history across cultures that public display tends to be dominated by males. Mostly,
these mails are out there, trying to get the status and the mates. But, as you point out, that's bad 'cause. It means female voices aren't heard as much at least in public discourse, so
how do you overcome that? I think,
is where I'm not going to say. Oh, it's inevitable. We can't do anything, we just have to live with it. I think you need social norms that actually
We encourage women to stand up and encourage men to shut up, while women are speaking so that women can say the thing.
I was really struck. A few years ago I gave few talks in India
and in India the female grad students were much more assertive about asking questions and engaging in conversation. After talks
than the male grad students were and the sex
you sure there was actually reversed. It was like seventy percent questions from women. I have.
No idea how Indian Culture produced that result, but we should figure it out and replicate like replicated american universities. I think this is a solvable cultural problem and I think it's
it's one, that I mean it. It handicap science, like you, go to a science conference. Eighty percent of the questions are from guys
most of them are more long, winded, the necessary and and also
and on the field, though areas in science that are over
headed by women now and it's
yeah? No, I I if this is not. This is a very common experience to wait this long to get the first woman at the MIKE thanks for the question good evening, I find it three.
Interesting how the conversation kind of shifted from discussing basic instincts
in mating and jealousy
and how we are dealing with that too. Talking about artificial.
All intelligence and houses-
he is talking about that and anticipating the prob
that are going to face our societies and our society, and I think that
it amazes me how,
as a species, we're still trying to figure out some
thing so basic and engines such as I
our instincts and how to live with them and all the other
problems that are coming from them and yet
are also trying to figure out how
we're how to deal with what the
human brain have produced to the current
societies and the civilization. And this just. Let me
what keeps me up at night, which is thinking about the
a possibility of just kind of. Is it possible that
Our emotions are stunted. They did not evolve as much as our brains did
and just thinking about the epidemic of mental
ladies and how we're dealing with things in
our society currently. So I think my question is: do you
doctor Miller? Do you think that our brains have developed, opt
Sir Ben our emotions? Yes,
I teach a regular course called human emotions at my university.
Go through all the emotions and we take them all
seriously is complex adaptive systems that solve particular problems in
right, fear, anger, love, loss, jealousy,
shame guilt. These are not simple things, they're very finely tuned MAC
since that have a lot of anatomy a lot of psychology within within them. So it's
wrong to think of the emotions is somehow simple or base,
there's a lot of them and they do a lot of work for us and they can be deployed in quite flexible.
Ways in society right, so you can have you
that that goes all the way from just getting into a fight.
This sort of moralistic aggression? That's outraged that you know that person that Mathematicians proof of that particular concept.
This logical error- and I'm so angry about that- and that's
really cool that we can re purpose, emotions and connect them up to cognition and so many different ways. So.
I actually feel lucky that we have
as large a toolbox of emotions as we do that the
reach so intricate and complicated and that we can kind of connect them up to different contemporary issues in in such flexible ways. Do you
Will that be that we, as humans are developing emotionally at the same rate that we're developing intellectually,
Do you think that is there any reason why you were facing a mental epidemic? Is it a problem and then also just going back to what do you think about the conversation that we're still talking about or basic instinct, something that we as a species have dealt with as long as we have existed, but it doesn't seem that we have actually figured it
the it our instincts right. Well, I mean the study of human emotions in a scientific way is only a hundred fifty years old. So it's not that surprising that we don't have a
a good set of rational models of of emotion.
This, and we've only had evolutionary psychology which is kind of the the key that unlocks all of this. Theoretically for thirty for thirty years
certainly, emotions don't evolve biologically very quickly, so are among
repertoire is not going to be up to date. With regard to most of the things we face, and I think the mental
homeless issues widespread depression,
an anxiety among the young is kind of what you would expect from this mismatch between our basic emotional repertoires and and a lot of weird aspects to modern life.
Yeah, I think the spirit of your question is a a very,
startling won. Nba will, when you just picture where
this all headed, I think we will
is Mars and there will be
almost certainly a first fist fight on Mars, just picture that I meant to
we have to bash each other in the face on Mars, so it
see. We have a lot of work to get our house in order. I think I think the products of our raw intelligence are outstripping our our a dish urges and at some point the we we need a better handle on on are or raw emotional life.
Hi, SAM hi. I also want to say thank you for helping me, feel less alienated and secure about my critical views on religion, especially considering I grew up in a very bad county and Texas. Your yes thank you for that and Michael
it was actually more or less the same exact question that she just asked. So I'm
I completely change it in my Plato philosophy course: we've been talking a lot about death and needs
The idea of the eternal return in the importance of context
things like death
and how it may help us prepare old
how life should maybe be about preparing for death and how we should contemplate it. So what?
What do you think about death
yeah, I guess just J.
Generally. What do you think about that? What do you think happens in that moment?
Well, I I don't know what happens, but I I think thinking about death is very useful. I think I mean it's not
It could be morbid and you could be just afraid of
fine and and
could be limiting and that I think, there's a way to think about. Death is not healthy, but I think is that there can be a very constructive and is very useful way to keep death in mind
without pretending. You know anything about what happens after death and there's certainly no good reason to think
that you get everything you want after you die, so the only chance to do.
Something beautiful and meaningful that you can be sure of is is here and
Reflecting on death gives you
reason to make the most of this opportunity and it can
get your priorities straight in a way that few other things can and you
can be blindsided by you can suddenly lose someone
close to you and realize what
opportunities you had to tell them. You love them. Are now gone, you know, so you you just look back on
on whether or not you made the most of of those occasions or not, but you
I have to wait for that to happen to you, you can realize
going to happen. If you, if you
live long enough, everyone
care about is going to die either the phone
phone is going to start ringing with bad news or say
else's phone is going be bring about you in the end, and so it's
rather than wait to be blindsided by all of this, you can now
so that is coming and you
is that the frame, even ordinary interactions, with people with this profound sense of the preciousness of all of this
this is. This is an intuition that religious people seem to have that that I've never understood. I,
I can't tell you how many times is this is come out made. This worry that
if there's no life after death, if Heaven doesn't await us after death. Now
if this means anything, this is all is there's no point to anything right. This be
somehow diminished by a lack
have eternity, but in the
absence of eternity this is it right. This is not a rehearsal for anything. This is the show Ann,
but I think the best way to internalize. That is to remember that
you don't know how long you have or- and you don't know how long anyone close to you has and that need not be depressing that can actually they can actually make you eight
able to cut through superficiality and pointless pettiness.
You can be. It can make you a better person very, very quickly to remember that.
Other types of anger and interpersonal glitch Enis that just become impossible when you think about death, and so it's a reflecting on. It is very useful,
Thank you now that I've just talked about the preciousness of life Paul.
It is for those of you in line, but I think we're down to the last four questions. So twenty two aside,
actually, no now now, I'm seeing that will try to
not long winded just know what nobody else get in line. We're gonna get we'll get through the both of these lines ever hi SAM, I'm a programmer. So I got another a I question yet
given that evolution happened to populations and not individuals and intelligence arose from a population of evolving. Do you think that maybe we
find ai by having a society of virtual minds interacting and if that's the case, when they do become conscious, then we,
really have as much of a problem. 'cause they'd all have to decide to kill us, and not just the paper. Clip Maximizer like decided to go
rogue there'd, be a group of ai that all kind of woke up at the same time
I don't know I mean I don't really see. I mean, I think it's
quite plausable that if this doesn't happen,
incredibly quickly with a like a true winner. Take all scenario. There will be much
aaa eyes it will be. It it'll be
better align day eyes that we'll be using to to safeguard against that badly aligned a eyes is. Do you think that when we, if we do come up with it, that will just have a single mind in a box that just kinda wakes up or is it is it is not going to be like some
thing that happens, the kind of why I think it's scarier to think of it being out in the wild so to speak, committed it being already on the internet or already out of
a discernable, discernible box. I think that
more worrisome, because then it's in contact with everything we care about
or potentially in contact with everything we care about. So I think the only responsible way to make the file
step back towards something that is that is truly
for intelligent and, in the extreme case, recursively
improving something that can actually initiate
something like an intelligence explosion. The only
responsible way to do that is in isolation. You just air gap,
the internet, and we just can't have that touching anything else. We care about. Thank you, hello,
I! So how would you advise one to be effective in their communication with an audience whose views are completely opposite of your own?
Well, I can't say I'm especially good at this
our lease- I I don't have a lot of evidence that that I am and I'm not off, and you know I I haven't been invited to go speak at C Packer, but there are. There are obviously points of
contact that you can make with any group.
We were not radically divergent and what we care about and there's are few people who want the
world want to see disease spread or don't care about the future that they're chilled
when Herod inherit or the you you can creep up
on shared values, even if you're with people who have
in radically divergent beliefs from your own butt
it really just depends on what the purposes if I'm
in front of a religious
congregation, and I am
cast my blasphemy.
The only way I have found to of frame that so so as to be
unobjectionable is to talk about. What's
what my real motive is. I mean my motive is not to just shock people or offend people. My motive, I'm worried about the status quo. I'm worried
about the untenability of having a
all that is shattered into separate and competing religious camps, say for that. For that conversation, and that's
that worry can be understood by people, even
the people who are
make sure they have the right religion,
see the untenability of having
some contest with the rest of humanity or at potentially cancel. I just think it's
you know, being honest about your motives can go a long way. You know if your motives are admirable. I think this
two other things you can do, one of which is you can kind of cultivate a complex patchwork id
g where, instead of being locked into one particular
and like I am a democrat liberal, you can cultivate. This is what
think about this issue, and this other thing about that issue, and then you can do this little over access
size, which I do every time, I'm in an uber. I talk to the driver, and
I say things only that I've genuinely believe are true, but I
make him or her think I'm absolutely on the
page ideologically about everything, because there are
parts where I can agree with them always and if you just kind of go with those, then
find an amazing amount of common ground. I'd like to see your uber rating. It's like it's so hot
thank you. Thank you a high. So my first question is how, what's the extent or like how much a person can change specially giving that we said that there are many
and all the traits are inherited, but also we know that there is a neural plasticity and dont specific, specifically also all the consciousness, which is something that I kind of share with you. That that that something that feels as something that will watch or like feel the feeling and think the thought do you believe that that something had to say or is just watching? I can change, and the second question is: are about, might wanna, let legalization. I see that it's a loading caused a lot by the liberals and leftists who are actually
science is usually like. They are pro science, but also at the same time, there are some clinical data that correlates weeds and marijuana usage without courses specially teenagers right. So what it?
The second question. First, I I think
criminalization of drugs is just a bad idea, regardless of how harmful certain drugs are. I just I mean you, you don't is the the the worst effects of drugs are the effects of of their criminals,
asian men, organized crime and violence and the the profit motive of a black market and and the fact that you know it is not safe, does scene of these drugs so
the problem of of drug dependency and and the people taking bad drugs versus more benign drugs? That's all
of education and social support,
the people need and people finding meaning meaningful lives, but you
we have abundant problems with alcohol.
Alcohol is legal and we we didn't need the the prohibition.
Give us organ,
crime and all the other problems we had, but by virtue of making alcohol illegal, so
so your first question a far as I heard every word of it. I think people ten
not to change very quickly and radically, but people can
the pay is like. Yes, we have this ten
to be who we were yesterday but
the power of new ideas,
and new relationships and new disciplines is enormous. So you see, people
occasionally have changed their lives and
and it almost everything about their lives and they just got unrecognizable to their to their old friends. There
recipe. Necessarily for doing that. I mean, depending on what the changes but
will come on some level what you pay attention to in a sustained way and
deciding. What what change you want in your life is probably the first step for most of
these changes and then
look around you and you see the people who are successfully doing
this thing that you wish you could do or have been
in this way that you wish you could more
mostly emulate- and
there is a way to do that- everyone's advertising, their method for
being who they are
If you want to know how to get in shape like a certain person that person will
shape right, so you know, you know how you got that way.
Have you so it says: there's no shortage of information about how to do any of these things that that people care about- and it is just as Jeffrey said you know me-
married couples- can close
the door to fully
half of the horrors of a bad marriage in like
a single hour. If you actually have an intelligent conversation with someone who can facilitate better communication between spouses, you can get
much better at communicating with your spouse.
And that can happen very very quickly and people neglect to do it and the results are everywhere to be seen. So I think
you shouldn't, underestimate the possibility of changing quite
markedly and decisively and more or less permanently, I mean that that is on the menu in many respects. Thank you will first
yeah. I just wanted to add another name to the list of I guess x. Muslims Donal minutes from here Basil, signed on with our friends with them on Facebook. He's got plenty of Facebook of profile pictures,
doing there. So just wanted to shout out him, and my main question was just going to be: do you see overlap between groups? Like you know, regressive, left and
sort of the mob mentality online mentality and also maybe overlaps between you saying that there's a lot of male dominated public discourse and a lot of these things do you see overlap between all that whenever we have extreme pendulum swing, conversations about guns and free speech and abortion, it's kind of everyone runs to the corner when, in reality, there's a lot of rational people in the middle that don't really seem to get.
Any sort of leverage or any sort of traction again a little bit of an audio problem there, but I think I got it. I think the Jeff
We made a point which was interesting relative to the uber experiment.
Yeah the idea that
If you know a purse
his point of view about one thing, you can predict
their view on twenty other seemingly unrelated things. That's a strange fact of our intellectual and-
political lives, and I I think it's
the people in the middle have have
variation in what they believe and what what kinds of arguments there open to where there's
stock or or movable- and I think that's that's place to be- I mean the fact that you can
choose everything from one side of the menu, whether it's gone,
things or climate change or Gmos owes or vaccines
go, go through the list of things that are difficult to talk about in public. I think that's, certainly very fishy,
and you know I'm. I don't tend to be that way and we should become much more interested in tolerant of disagreement on all of those topics. As long as it's intelligent
disagreement. Conversation has to be able to run its course, and so when it, when you have groups that are trying to stifle conversation
is happening, it seems more on the
left now, then than anywhere that's clearly the wrong remedy
right in the it can't be a matter of shutting of of making certain topics taboo and the platform and everyone, no matter how serious say their reputation. Who wants to talk about those things? I have more questions, but thank you very much. Thank you.
Hi Emma roboticist, my husband works in machine learning and ai, but very strong season in the future.
So my question already got answered, so I have a follow up, which is a topic nobody's asked you about.
You mentioned gene editing earlier, and I wanted to know if you're familiar with crisper, which is the
technology, and I kind of wanted to know if you've, given any thoughts on the future
there of gene editing and how it may affect us with natural selection, because evolution
takes place over hundreds and thousands of years, not one
outlook, one generation. So do you think that might be more of an existential threat as opposed to robots, coming and taking all of our jobs and
pretty much if you have any like just a condensed version of your ideas on that? I
to my main worries about crisper orjane,
like engineering in general, are number one the way that they could facilitate the
element of engineered pandemics or bioweapons. Where you get high lethality and high virulence, it easy transmission and you could get
a terrorist group or rogue state, creating
that makes it a really very hard to defend against
and they don't need nearly as much equipment to do so. As you know, IRAN would need to build a nuclear bomb so it'll be.
It's sort of free for all of potentially
very dangerous biotechnology within ten or twenty years, and I'm very worried about that. That is getting some attention, not enough from international regulators, but it's sort of on the map.
The second issue I do worry about with with Chris friend Gina
thing is um in China, for example,
I uptake of that will be very fast and they are ready for it and there's a long tradition, chinese medicine of you Shane good birth, trying to get the best baby.
You can, and they don't have any of the same ethical concerns about this stuff. That Americans tend to have so
be prepared for rapid uptake of these technologies in China problem. Is they all?
I have a fairly we're
idea about what specific problems they want to avoid, there's a huge stigma against mental illness in China. It's
can possibly avoid a kid having bipolar or depression or skits, or anything like that, and if they can select that out using crisper, they will do so
so problem is this quite a big overlap,
clean, safe, bipolar and creativity I'd
so they could be unwittingly selecting out a lot of the creativity jeans as they go after these mental illness jeans. So I think they'll need to get a much more
this ticket understanding about how each of these genetical side you know, affects multiple traits and has both costs and and benefits are if they don't do that, they could end up with a society that really is pretty genetically marginalized and it loses some
the the spark in I would just say if you want a good primer on on crisper Tecnologia had Jennifer doubt on the podcast, and she spoke about her for an hour is like six months ago or four months ago. Thanks to both of you,
I want to ask you know so it's interesting, I think
in the session started out with a almost it emphasis of the the our uniqueness as a species kind of
Lucien Ereli and ended with the you the need to face this
possibility that you know we may
the nearing this inflection point where evolution may changes dramatically and not just kind of incrementally, as it has in on
maybe the agents of this change in ending in cataclysmic failure.
We know from neuroscience that are you, our brains,
individual to individual, are very different. Functional, functional, structurally and you've studied this. Looking at how you
how we believe things is in on differently between mathematical, believe symbol
that religion and morality and those days
is so easily amplified now, with social media
an arms races and in this sort of thing, so my question is: do we have enough
common ground going forward- and I know,
enough shared beliefs in terms of
the morality and and mutual benefit. They were likely to
see here. You've been doing this for some number of years. What have you seen
in terms of the arc of
now we're doing as society in terms of facing these problems? Why,
I think we're winning and losing simultaneously? I think we're seeing an apple
ation of polarization, but we're
also seen evidence that good ideas win as well. So
it's like, I am as all the
seen the rise of a mistake this this case of
one the rise of ISIS and Glow
call Jihad were all
seen a rise globally
secularism and in the retiring of many of these ancient religious
ideas. It's and I I don't know what's happening faster,
but I know that reason and a a respect for evidence and argument
is the only algorithm that gets us
to converge I mean it's. The only thing that works is the only thing that you ate, where you can get people who are arbitrarily desperate to converge, given the same set of experiences and facts and pressures and sent.
So what do we have to keep figuring out how to rig our public sphere with the right framework.
So that people are willing to reason together and so that you know free speech is one master variable
You know you should never be killed for things you think out loud and we should be
highly tolerant of disagreement and the fact
we even have an ivy league professors who can't figure that out now is is a very
worrying sign. We we we need the
the tower to be of one mind on this topic, and perhaps many others, but free speech has to win, because it's the only
error, correcting mechanism we have. I again we all we have- is conversation to affect these changes in ourselves.
That's that's the way we rewrite the software, that is culture and that's
the way we do science and that's the way we overcome by
since the way we counter dogma that isn't actually guiding us in reality, because it's wrong
there are very few things that we should hold sacred and hold as unchanging parameters, but I think respect for free speech is one of them big question. I hope that was a gesture and answer it hi.
My questions about game theory, and I'm just curious, so this idea that basically,
we are all rational decision makers that choose between either competition or cooperation, to achieve our goals, whether that's carrying on our jeans spreading civilizations,
so it kind of at a micro in a macro level, this idea of game theory, how useful is it from the perspective of an evolutionary psychologist as a tool
in explaining not only behavior at the individual level, but of love,
large nations of companies, and what can we ultimately learn from it to perhaps improve some of our systems of governance? You know the way. The way we function as a society kind of at a small scale and a larger scale. What can
learn from game theory. I've found game theory incredibly useful. In my,
taking my whole world view the way I
I apply, evolutionary principles to human behavior actually worked in a game theory
center said around in Economics Department at University College, London for four years and uhm. You don't need to get very deep into the technical details of it. You can learn sort of the top dozen basic insights from game theory and a couple afternoons or from
a few videos? Signaling theory is probably the part of game theory I use most often you know the idea there is. How do you credibly demonstrate
kind of organism? You are through the signals you give out and what makes those signals honest and hard to fake rather than easily faked. Like cheap talk
once you learn just signaling theory, everything suddenly makes a lot more sense in the world, all the way, from courtship to
super behavior, to international politicking and say
branding and so forth, and these are exactly the kinds of things that k through twelve education should cover. It is absurd, though
tenth graders, don't know what the prisoner's dilemma is, and if
I did, would it help? I probably couldn't hurt. I don't know, but thinking strategically
about human life is really valuable because you can help identify here.
Situations where there is conflict between us, because we miss understand the situation or you miss understand each other says we have different preferences versus the game. Contacts creates a conflict even where it's avoidable. It's really valuable to know the difference between all
these things yeah yeah. I would agree with that truth. Is you don't have to learn that much for the concepts to be useful
I mean just to know the difference between zero sum games and positive sum games or the id
coordination problem? The fact that you are both behaving rationally in the game
we're playing, but if we get both change,
how are playing simultaneously, we could play a much better game, but abs,
they are being able to coordinate that change together. It's
national for each of us to be the selfish bastards. We are in the current game and so it on some level.
A lot of our problems are explained by mostly good people.
Faced with a massive coordination problem, we're trying to figure out how to play better games together and yet, given the
ames were plain, it's rational for all of us to persist in a mediocre game. Thank you yeah. Thank you, okay, so for Jeffrey in polyamory. How do participants manage their responsibilities, because you mentioned earlier pregnancy being at Hoss,
await weight, a reason to pause in every SAM? How should how should humans
define or measure the hat
images of happy cows you mentioned earlier, especially because they have their own desire to continue living? So,
I don't know how people should manage pregnancy with polyamory, but I'll just point out the empirical data that, in fact, people who are in poly amorous open relationships to empirically tend to use STI testing and contraception much more reliably than people who are in monogomous relationships and cheating.
However, you know you got gotta negotiate all this. It's all up for negotiation. That doesn't mean it's relationship anarchy, but if you're in an open relationship you still have to plan.
What are we going to have kids? What are we going to do about them who's going to give up? What? Where are we going to live,
how our relationship is going to change once we have the new parental responsibilities?
Holly does not magically give you an extra twelve hours a day. You still have budgets of time.
I'm enerji money, attention, love affection that you have to allocate somehow and parenting is going to soak up some of that. So you have to be prepared for that. In some cases, having extra people involved in your life could actually bring extra help right. You could have aloe parents,
others sort of helping out the nest, but in other cases it means you're.
Oh here we are again locked into a suburban Monogamish couple doing by parental care, so
where's the society don't yet have enough flexibility to fully embrace the the new possibilities of. How do you combine new kinds of sexual relationships with raising them?
As far as happy cows, I think given
happy enough cows and given given farming practices that really do seem something close to ideal.
There would be very little doubt that these are
lucky animals compared to any other animals, certainly compared to any animal in a factory farm now and Eve
compared to wild animals. So I think my
most of us are not losing sleep over the plight of
wild animals just living their wild lives like that status quo.
We're actually biased. I mean like, if someone said listen, nature is just horrible.
You know all these animals are hunting
and being hunted and risking starvation, and it's just you know. Nature is
ten tooth and claw so
kill them all right. It would just to euthanize eyes all of nature. That's the compassionate thing to do yeah that would seem pretty horrible to us
That's on some level what we're picturing it.
We decide we're not
raise any livestock,
more Maria billion billions of animals that eat out number a wild animals and if we decide well
is not ethical to keep them around
I that will it'll only seem not ethical, given our current practices of factory farming, but you could imagine grass FED herds of cows that
It's probably wouldn't feed all of humanity. It's it's. There have to be other solutions, but such cows that could exist. Happily, I think
seem happier than certainly
a wild animal and then the fact that they get killed in the end again as compassion.
Lee is that can be done. That won't seem as bad.
Or even bad at all. If you, if you agree their net positive lives again, I don't. I don't know that this that we can achieve that, but it seems certain seems possible. I'm so.
I have to bring this to a close, but it's been an honor
To come here to speak with you all, and I want to thank Jeffrey for taking the time.
And only half of his advice. Thank you.
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Transcript generated on 2019-10-13.