All Videos

THINK ABOUT NATURE

Conversation:
[5.14.13]
Topic:

Feynman once told me, "Whatever you do—you're going to have to do crazy things to think about quantum gravity—but whatever you do, think about nature. If you think about the properties of a mathematical equation, you're doing mathematics and you're not going to get back to nature. Whatever you do, have a question that an experiment could resolve at the front of your thinking." So I always try to do that

 

DISFLUENCY

Conversation:
[2.25.13]
Topic:

"We've shown that disfluency leads you to think more deeply, as I mentioned earlier, that it forms a cognitive roadblock, and then you think more deeply, and you work through the information more comprehensively. But the other thing it does is it allows you to depart more from reality, from the reality you're at now. .."

 

ENCAPSULATED UNIVERSES

Conversation:
[2.19.13]
Topic:

"Think about it this way. We have 7,000 languages. Each of these languages encompasses a world-view, encompasses the ideas and predispositions and cognitive tools developed by thousands of years of people in that culture. Each one of those languages offers a whole encapsulated universe. So we have 7,000 parallel universes, some of them are quite similar to one another, and others are a lot more different. The fact that there's this great diversity is a real testament to the flexibility and the ingenuity of the human mind."

 
 

THE NORMAL WELL-TEMPERED MIND

Conversation:
[1.8.13]
Topic:

"The vision of the brain as a computer, which I still champion, is changing so fast. The brain's a computer, but it's so different from any computer that you're used to. It's not like your desktop or your laptop at all, and it's not like your iPhone except in some ways. It's a much more interesting phenomenon. What Turing gave us for the first time (and without Turing you just couldn't do any of this) is he gave us a way of thinking about and taking seriously and thinking in a disciplined way about phenomena have, as I like to say, trillions of moving parts. Until late 20th century, nobody knew how to take seriously a machine with a trillion moving parts. It's just mind-boggling."

 

HOW TO WIN AT FORECASTING

Conversation:
[12.6.12]
Topic:

"The question becomes, is it possible to set up a system for learning from history that's not simply programmed to avoid the most recent mistake in a very simple, mechanistic fashion? Is it possible to set up a system for learning from history that actually learns in our sophisticated way that manages to bring down both false positive and false negatives to some degree? That's a big question mark.

Nobody has really systematically addressed that question until IARPA, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, sponsored this particular project, which is very, very ambitious in scale. It's an attempt to address the question of whether you can push political forecasting closer to what philosophers might call an optimal forecasting frontier. That an optimal forecasting frontier is a frontier along which you just can't get any better."

 

COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

Conversation:
[11.21.12]
Topic:

"As all the people and computers on our planet get more and more closely connected, it's becoming increasingly useful to think of all the people and computers on the planet as a kind of global brain."

 

WE CAN'T DO EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY WITHOUT EVIDENCE

Conversation:
[11.7.12]
Topic:

Make it easy, make it personal, make it salient. It's not rocket science, it's somewhere between common sense and psychology 101, and that goes a long way. 

 

WHAT DO ANIMALS WANT?

Conversation:
[10.31.12]
Topic:

"Whatever anybody says, I feel that the hard problem of consciousness is still very hard, and to try and rest your ethical case on proving something that has baffled people for years seems to me to be not good for animals. Much, much better to say let's go for something tangible, something we can measure. Are the animals healthy, do they have what they want? Then if you can show that, then that's a much, much better basis for making your decisions."

 

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