“Will you donate your body to be stuffed and put on display (at the American Museum of Natural History)?” This is one of the many questions John Hodgman poses to Neil during their monumental meeting of minds. From the Mac vs. PC debate to ‘geeks versus jocks,’ John and Neil provide more information than you require on the questions and challenges that face our age. Astrophysicist Charles Liu sits in the co-host chair this week, and comments on areas far beyond his usual expertise.
Also huffduffed as…
Michio Kaku tells Alok Jha that the science fiction of Star Trek is closer to reality than we might think. Some 80% of the technologies portrayed in science fiction like Star Trek and Star Wars – including force fields, teleportation, telekinesis, mind-reading and invisibility – will become possible within the next century.
Hugo de Garis is the past director of the Artificial Brain Lab (ABL) at Xiamen University in China. Best known for his doomsday book The Artilect War, Dr. de Garis has always been on my wish-list of future guests on Singularity 1 on 1. Finally, a few weeks ago I managed to catch him for a 90 minutes interview via Skype.
During our discussion with Dr. de Garis we cover a wide variety of topics such as: how and why he got interested in artificial intelligence; Moore’s Law and the laws of physics; the hardware and software requirements for artificial intelligence; why cutting edge experts are often missing the writing on the wall; emerging intelligence and other approaches to AI; Dr. Henry Markram‘s Blue Brain Project; the stakes in building AI and his concepts of ArtIlects, Cosmists and Terrans; cosmology, the Fermi Paradox and the Drake equation; the advance of robotics and the political, ethical, legal and existential implications thereof; species dominance as the major issue of the 21st century; the technological singularity and our chances of surviving it in the context of fast and slow take-off.
This time around I listened to a fascinating interview with Jackson Lears, who tries to make a point about a fundamental weakness in American foreign policy. The basic paradox to begin with is that American ideology is against empire and Americans persist in view their country not as an empire. The foreign policy however, has been that of an empire ever since the beginning of the twentieth century. Lears add to this an almost Freudian point with the example of president Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, he claims , had an idea that was inspired by his Presbyterian background of personal elation. Lears claims that the American culture is full of this strive to improve oneself. And on the collective level Roosevelt thought of war as elating for the nation.
Lears warns that this idea has taken a strong hold on the American psyche, especially under Bush, but with Obama has not gone away. He pleads for less of this idealism and more realistic pragmatism in foreign policy.
The next podcast I am going to review is not about foreign policy, but is also warning the American Psyche for itself and its tendency to lose track of reality. Stay posted.