Transcript: Ted Chiang on Free Will, Time Travel, Many Worlds, Genetic Engineering, and Hard Science Fiction – #19

Steve: Thanks for joining us, I’m Steve Shoe. Corey: And I’m Corey Washington. And we’re your hosts for Manifold. Steve: Our guest today is Ted Chang. He is one of my favorite science fiction writers, and also one of Corey’s. His work has won, I’m now reading from his Wikipedia entry, which I hope is […]

Transcript: Rebecca Campbell on Identifying Serial Perpetrators, Rape Investigations and Untested Rape Kits – #18

Steve: Thanks for joining us. I’m Steve Hsu. Corey: And I’m Corey Washington and we’re your host for Manifold. Our guest today is Doctor Rebecca Campbell, professor of psychology at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on violence against women and children with an emphasis on sexual assault and specifically understanding how contact with the […]

Transcript: Mark Moffett on the Life and Death of Human Societies – #17

Steve: Thanks for joining us. I’m Steve Hsu. Corey: I’m Corey Washington. We’re your hosts of Manifold. Today, our guest is Mark Moffett. Mark is a research associate in the Department of Entomology at the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institute. He is also one of E.O. Wilson’s last students. As I’ve talked about […]

Transcript: John Schulman: OpenAI and recent advances in Artificial Intelligence – #16

John Schulman is a research scientist at OpenAI. He co-leads the Reinforcement Learning group and works on agent learning in virtual game worlds (e.g., Dota) as well as in robotics. John, Corey, and Steve talk about AI, AGI (Artifical General Intelligence), the Singularity (self-reinforcing advances in AI which lead to runaway behavior that is incomprehensible to humans), and the creation and goals of OpenAI. They discuss recent advances in language models (GPT-2) and whether these results raise doubts about the usefulness of linguistic research over the past 60 years. Does GPT-2 imply that neural networks trained using large amounts of human-generated text can encode “common sense” knowledge about the world? They also discuss what humans are better at than current AI systems, and near term examples of what is already feasible: for example, using AI drones to kill people.

Transcript: Daniel Max on Writing a Literary non-Fiction Classic and Prion Diseases Then and Now – #15

Steve: Corey, our guest today is an old friend of yours, D.T. or Dan Max. I’ve heard you talk in the past about a nonfiction science book he wrote called The Family That Couldn’t Sleep, which is about a family with a genetic condition that makes them vulnerable to a kind of prionic disease that […]

Transcript: Stuart Firestein on Why Ignorance and Failure Lead to Scientific Progress – Episode #14

Corey: This is Manifold. Our guest today is Stuart Firestein, professor of neuroscience at Columbia University, where he specializes in the olfactory system, and Stuart is the author of two books — the first, Ignorance: How it Drives Science; the second is Failure: Why Science is so Successful. Welcome to Manifold, Stuart. Stuart: Well thanks, […]

Transcript: Joe Cesario on Political Bias and Problematic Research Methods in Social Psychology – #13

Corey: So we have Joe Cesario back. Joe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology here at Michigan State University. He studies police shootings, and he’s also a broad commentator on research methods in social psychology and broadly a critic of his own field, which makes going to conferences interesting. What I’m interested […]

Transcript: James Cham on Venture Capital, Risk Taking, and the Future Impacts of AI – Episode #12

Steve: Hi, this is Steve Hsu, and this is Manifold. Our guest today is James Cham, a venture capitalist at Bloomberg Beta. Corey couldn’t make it today, so it’s just me and James. We got to know each other, I think, starting many years ago through a kind of unstructured Silicon Valley meeting that has […]

Transcript: Ron Unz on the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, The Unz Review, and the Harvard Admissions Scandal – Episode #10

Ron Unz is the publisher of the Unz Review, a controversial, but widely read, alternative media site hosting opinion outside of the mainstream, including from both the far right and the far left. Unz studied theoretical physics at Harvard, Cambridge and Stanford. He founded the software company Wall Street Analytics, acquired by Moody’s in 2006, and was behind the 1998 ballot initiative that ended bilingual education in California.