All Videos

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."

 

CONSTRUCTOR THEORY

Conversation:
[10.22.12]
Topic:

"There's a notorious problem with defining information within physics, namely that on the one hand information is purely abstract, and the original theory of computation as developed by Alan Turing and others regarded computers and the information they manipulate purely abstractly as mathematical objects. Many mathematicians to this day don't realize that information is physical and that there is no such thing as an abstract computer. Only a physical object can compute things."

~~

"I think it's important to regard science not as an enterprise for the purpose of making predictions, but as an enterprise for the purpose of discovering what the world is really like, what is really there, how it behaves and why."
 

 

BRAINS PLUS BRAWN

Conversation:
[10.17.12]
Topic:

"There are many other features in the head that help us become these exceptional long-distance walkers and runners. I became obsessed with the idea that humans evolved to run long distances, evolved to walk long distances, basically evolved to use our bodies as athletes. These traces are there in our heads along with those brains."

 

"THE CLOTHESLINE PARADOX"

Conversation:
[10.4.12]
Topic:

"If we're going to get science policy right, it's really important for us to study the economic benefit of open access and not accept the arguments of incumbents. Existing media companies claim that they need ever stronger and longer copyright protection and new, draconian laws to protect them, and meanwhile, new free ecosystems, like the Web, have actually led to enormous wealth creation and enormous new opportunities for social value. And yes, they did in fact lead in some cases to the destruction of incumbents, but that's the kind of creative destruction that we should celebrate in the economy. We have to accept that, particularly in the area of science, there's an incredible opportunity for open access to enable new business models."

 

THINKING IN NETWORK TERMS

Conversation:
[9.24.12]
Topic:

"One question that fascinated me in the last two years is, can we ever use data to control systems? Could we go as far as, not only describe and quantify and mathematically formulate and perhaps predict the behavior of a system, but could you use this knowledge to be able to control a complex system, to control a social system, to control an economic system?"

 

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