33: Josh Wolfe - The Mind Financing The Future
Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital is a leading mind in the current wave of venture capitalists making waves. While aware of each other for some time, in this episode Josh sits down with Eric for their first meeting. Together the two explore various topics from comparing notes on their encounters with Jim Watson of DNA fame, to talking about what society gets wrong and how to see that as a source of opportunity.
|The Mind Financing The Future|
|Release Date||3 May 2020|
It is frequently asked what makes a great venture capitalist. This conversation reveals that it is likely not one thing but a combination of rigor, breath, flexibility of mind, openness, self-skepticism and mental courage to take on the unknown. That is because the myriad concerns that arise in any early stage attempt to grab the future by the tail from only the information available to us in the present will easily overwhelm those with narrow specializations. As the conversation takes many twists and turns, Josh's flexibility is put to the test as he freely doles out numerous wise observations from his wealth of experience.
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Hello, this is Eric with a few thoughts to share that have been on my mind this week before we get to this episode’s conversation. I want to share a line of thinking that many of you initially may find somewhat unsettling. Nevertheless, I believe that at least some of you will find it interesting and perhaps ultimately even liberating or useful.
The theory is this: When powerful people use their advantage to engage in new involuntary transfers of wealth or safety or freedom from those too weak to defend themselves, the winners are almost always forced to create an idealism as a cover for their siphoning. In simpler terms, these idealisms are actually cover stories or bespoke fig leaves, which almost exactly fit the extraction, or taking, that they are tailored to mask. Once this is understood, we realized that to test this theory, each wave of idealism would have to be matched to a highly specific effective confession for an injustice that pervaded the era in which it was found.
This concept of idealism as disguising theft is, of course, an upsetting cognitive shift. It is, therefore, naturally initially difficult to come to see the waves of idealism that characterized each era that we have lived through, not as the best of our aspirations for a better world, but rather as the photographic negative of the greed of our own ruling classes. For example, the idealism of United States competitiveness was everywhere in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s. At that time, it seemed to be about the need for all Americans to pull together and get back into fighting shape as a country. Looking below the surface, however, it was not really about the need of managers, owners and workers to pull together through shared austerity to reinvigorate American industry. Rather, it was a false idealism that instructed organized American labor to give up hard won gains that were then not matched by comparable sacrifices from the other groups. Once the United States labor had been sufficiently humbled and attenuated in its power by the mid 1990s, the drumbeat of patriotic competitiveness gateway to the post national Davos idealism of a world without borders, singing the praises of financial inclusion, trade, immigration, and philanthropy.
With the model and sentiments of 1985’s “We are the World” as its anthem, the purpose of the post national movement was not to include those overseas, but instead to allow the wealthy of the industrialized world to break the bonds with their fellow citizens of the working class, and to access cheaper labor pools abroad using far-flung supply chains. Likewise, the idealism of so-called constructive engagement with governments like communist China’s would be seen through this lens as the rationalization for ignoring issues of human rights and strategic risk in such a way as to benefit economically in the short term while selling out American interests in the long term.
Meanwhile, back home in the States, the techno-utopian perspective that arose to dominate the Bay Area of California held that information just wants to be free, and that now transparency is king because privacy is dead. Perversely, as you would expect in this theory, this hippie dippie sounding digital vision is exactly what ushered in the surveillance economy, as the platform’s became not windows, but half silvered mirrors through which the social media barons learned every intimate detail about their users. These startups-turned-techno-behemoths turn the most intimate personal details of our private lives into their proprietary business data, which was as far from free or transparent as one could possibly imagine. The idealism of gender and identity, too, fits this exact pattern. Second wave feminism seemed to be about recognizing the intrinsic worth of women in the workforce, but it may also be seen as an employer’s dream to push out the labor supply curve in such a way as to make the previous single-breadwinner household require a second income just to keep pace. The politics of identity, which caught fire in the wake of the 2010 Colorado senate upset, are explained largely by economist Pia Malaney’s theory that identity is the cheapest substitute for the labour voting bloc, which demanded far more significant economic concessions.
More bizarrely, the strange media ritual of pointing the finger of Islamophobia at anyone who dares ask about a mass murder, in which the killer triumphantly shouts Allahu Akbar, admits bloody and sadistic mayhem, may well be about protecting transfer payments from oil-rich monarchies, while the official admonition to see the nicob, hijab, burqa and clitorectomy predominantly as ethnic differences, or symbols of female liberation, is so absurd as to go a long way towards establishing the need for some theory as this to fill the space.
The left leaning idealism of making housing affordable for all that too many bad loans that inflated the housing bubble, while the right leaning on Randy and idealism of self regulating markets, practice by Alan Greenspan, allowed the banks to privatize gains, while socializing the risks and losses. The Giving Pledge, too, may well be an attempt to keep governments from clawing back unpaid taxes from carefully sheltered fortunes or establishing wealth and asset taxes in a period of radical inequality.
In this sense, It can be seen as something of a bargain. If I promise to screw over my own children for charity, I hope that you will leave me alone and unquestioned to enjoy my vast and carefully sheltered wealth while I’m alive. And, as we’ve just seen with the Biden endorsements from speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and former senator Hillary Clinton, the Me Too movement appears to be less about sexual assault, and more about adding a tool for extra judicial vigilantism, which can be wielded selectively or kept sheathed, according to taste. Suffice it to say that #BelieveAllWomen has now given way to #BelieveConvenientWomen.
So, you may ask, why bring this up now?
Well, in my opinion, what we need now is someone who is not part of any of the official idealisms. Of course, that would have sounded quite weird in isolation if I had simply said that we need an anti-utopian to lead us. Wouldn’t we want someone of vision, a dreamer, doer, or hybrid to point the way?
No, we want someone who is not signed on for any of these horrible anti-patriotic charades from either party. Someone who never believed in free trade, free markets, post nationalism, housing for all, deregulation, competitiveness, etc, etc. We need someone who was not close with Jeffrey Epstein, and who does not possess significant financial relationships abroad. Additionally, somewhat alienated by both the hardline pro-life and pro-choice perspectives would be perfect for where most Americans are today.
Since the time of Nixon, we’ve been in an era of predatory idealism with our best impulses used against us, from both right and left. It is now time to get back to the hard work of cleaning up from two disastrous generations of failed business people, politicians, reporters, and professors. And perhaps most importantly, we need to flush our dependence on near totalitarian Communist China out of our system before it is too late.
So I will leave you with this thought: One of the false idealisms that I’ve held back is the fight against ageism. The current seniors in firm control of our world benefited immensely from mandatory retirement policies for their elders and a general sense that used to be common. This was that-long term policy should be made by those who will have to live for many years in the world that they will create. By 2009, when Joe Biden, for example, left the Senate to become Vice President, he was already quite advanced as the fourth most senior senator at the time. But he had actually been a senator at that point for 37 years since 1972, when he was first elected at the age of 29. As luck would have it, this is almost exactly the year in which wages suddenly mysteriously stagnated, after 25 or so magical years of post war, technologically-led growth. This stagnation is what ushered in all of the false idealisms that we have discussed here previously.
We need young and dynamic people again to reinvigorate our society, but 50 years of fake idealisms have now piled up to create an unequal nation that cannot be explained by productivity. Most all of our idealisms have been poisonous, and from both left and right. In that, at least, we have been relentlessly bipartisan for almost 50 years.
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If you follow technology at the moment, ask yourself this question, Who is the venture capitalist who currently has the center of innovation in 2020 and is most likely to be on the trail of the future? In previous eras, I've heard many different names. But lately I've been hearing the name Josh wolf from some of the people I respect most. Josh is a founder of Lux, capital and the owner of a powerful and unusual mind. The thing I always have to remind myself about venture capital is just how many different skills it requires to do well. Even our best ideas are subjected to numerous hazards on the way to implementation, including intellectual property challenges, fraud, fierce competitors, interpersonal dysfunction, loss of funding, marketing failures, regulatory hurdles, and a host have other concerns. Thus, rather than talking about venture capital specifically, I thought I would try to explore the idea that most all leading venture capitalists are great intellectual generalists, conversationalist and contrarians. Now, why would that be? Well, first of all, investing in technology requires having a broad analytic base because when you're trying to invent the future, you never really know how to prepare for the next large opportunity that is going to walk through your door. That's the general stability to integrate. Many different areas of interest will typically be able to out compete the specialist advantage in a very narrow silo of knowledge. Next, conversational skill seems to be very important, but at a technical level. This is true in part because it is often easier to tell whether someone is genuine and on top of their game, by testing them on intellectual flexibility and insight well outside of their carefully prepared pitch, and it is easiest to do this if you can put that person that ease. Lastly, I wanted to say something about contrarian ism, namely that it is actually miss named simply putting a minus sign in front of whatever Crowd appears to believe is an excellent way to go bankrupt quickly, and really has nothing to do with being a contrarian. If you think about it, contrarian ism is usually not so much about whether the crowd is wrong, but about exploring in what highly specific ways the world may not be alert to possibilities or courageous enough to consider their implications. In this episode, I think Josh reveals that his mind and approach exemplifies all these traits in spades. This first meeting took place at the end of 2019, and I become an eager consumer of his thinking in the time since if you want to hear what the crest of the new wave of venture capitalists sound like in 2020, you could do worse than to listen to Josh wolf of Lux capital for the ease and fearlessness with which he appears to explore any landscape of new ideas. We will be right back with my uninterrupted conversation with Josh after these words from our sponsors.
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Hello, you found the portal. I'm your host, Eric Weinstein, and today I'm joined by none other than Josh wolf, the co founder of Lux capital. Josh, welcome. Great to be here. So I've heard a lot about you. You have a tremendous amount of respect right now from a lot of the innovators that I'm listening to in technology. They think that maybe you've got the ball with respect to venture capital. Can you tell me a little bit not about venture capital, but about what you can see from the perch of venture capital that the rest of us might not be able to see at the moment in terms of this moment in time in our innovative history?
Josh Wolfe 15:49 Well, I think the probably cliched thing of venture generally and you know, this, this extends beyond us specifically, is the best way to predict the future is to invent it and the people who are inventing it are the scientists and You know, typically engineers that often inspired by science fiction, say, I want that thing to be real. And then they go and make it so. And our job is to basically find them before others have and take this asymmetric view. It's sort of the power of somebody who has a secret. I think it was the Nobel laureate, who had the quote that, you know, I know something that nobody else knows. And they won't know until I tell them. And it's that sort of power and that asymmetry that we're trying to find just as investors so we go and scour the world trying to find really cutting edge technologists and engineers and entrepreneurs that are building the future. And then we have to figure out if they're flush it or not,
Eric Weinstein 16:38 that's a great place to be. You know, there's a famous story about Eddington, who I guess was the first person to sort of test Einstein's general theory that he was courting his lady love on a on a bench looking at the night sky, and his gal said something like, How beautiful are the night stars? He says yes, and right now I'm the only person on earth Who knows why they shine, ah, talk about the great patter. So you're looking for secrets, but you actually stepped into an area that I'm passionate about, which is I'm terrified that our actual innovators, the people who really break the new ground get completely screwed over in the feeding chain because they have to invent the future out of personal need. And so they're not watching the ball. And you see the same thing in music that the people who love the music are often preyed upon, to some extent by the industry, which is extremely extractive. And so if you don't survive long enough to learn how the game goes very often you wind up as prey for the predators that are supposedly simply helping the value chain along Do you see that at the moment?
Josh Wolfe 17:51 Well, I think that's a firm by firm kind of thing. So if we were predatory upon,
Eric Weinstein 17:55 oh, sorry, it has nothing to do with Lux capital. Yeah,
Josh Wolfe 17:58 no, no, I know. I know. But But I think generally, this is a sidebar playing golf on a tangent here, which is the transactional nature of certain businesses, I think about like Turkish rug salesman or something, you know, like, you go to the Blue Mosque and you know, you go to the bazaar, you have a one time interaction with that person. And so the game theory of it is that they can completely screw you over, right? Because they're never going to see you again. And they'll turn three people in venture capital, generally, I think that it's a game theoretic where I'm only as good as last deal that I did. And I've got to maintain a long term reputation that's compromised if somehow you exploit somebody because you're, you know, reputational, very quickly spread in a negative way.
Eric Weinstein 18:36 That assumes that the person is going to be exploited as the CEO that's coming to seek the venture capital. But what if, for example, the real innovator is buried inside the company and the person who's claiming to be the technologist is sort of the visible head at the top maybe that person gets a good enough deal because of the repeated games aspect just to take the game theory part Seriously, but that in fact, the problem is, is that the person who is actually the technologist is in fact too busy solving problem writing code or soldering joints or doing something. That means that they can't actually watch all of the games that are getting played.
Josh Wolfe 19:17 Yeah, I it's possible, I think that the best ones that I see tend to attract really talented people. And most of the really smart technologists can identify if somebody is like really trying to exploit them or not. And I think the best entrepreneurs, the people who are maybe taking a technology and trying to commercialize it, you know, I think they have that same sort of game theoretic of wanting to be good actors a long term. There's no doubt. There's bad scientific actors who are liars and bullshit artists. There's bad technologists, there's bad entrepreneurs, but I don't know that, that there's an epidemic of scientists or PhDs that are toiling away, you know, and being exploited. I'm more worried about the deception or the BS artists, you know, who are faking it. And are actually you know, bilking investors.
Eric Weinstein 20:02 Well, it's from the other side. So yeah, fair the words I see a two way game where you have predatory investors and predatory charlatans. Sometimes you have to, of course, adjust for the fact that people are fooling themselves. They're at least being kind enough to fool themselves before fooling anyone else.
Josh Wolfe 20:20 Right. And self deception is probably the best evolved mechanism to deceive somebody else.
Eric Weinstein 20:24 Right, as we were, we were talking both.
Josh Wolfe 20:29 That's interesting. I, I would think that the payback that the consequence of an investor exploiting somebody who is maybe gullible, naive or you know, just scientifically innocent, I think it would be pretty Swift. I think somebody would say, Wait, what happened? You only owned what percent you know, like, and I think that person would end up getting a really bad rep pretty quickly. So I think there's a natural progressive
Eric Weinstein 20:52 Mariana Mercado has made an economics career out of claiming that the majority of the work happens. Government for right is funded by government effectively by taxpayers and that the taxpayer effectively socializes the cost of developing and then the sort of last mile towards invention is handled by the industry where the rewards are incredibly hands.
Josh Wolfe 21:22 Yeah, I think there's elements of her argument that have
A lot of the things that government has historically funded that she talks about are these base infrastructure things, you know, the substrates upon which an inventor then has some novel, often variant idea and then they say, okay, you know, let's, let's take that and run with it. And then you still need somebody to then take that risk and say, Okay, we're going to turn that into a product, we're going to build a company around it. And that typically is, you know, a profit seeking venture capitalist or co founder that says, let's go do it.
Eric Weinstein 21:53 Sure. But like a Tim berners Lee or Francis Crick, or Jim Watson or bill Shaw Rosalind Franklin. Yeah, although I'm not a huge fan of the Rosalind Franklin theory of the double helix construction, I think that she was a she was a much better scientist than Watson or Crick from the perspective or Wilkens. Maybe even from the perspective of regularity and skepticism, but they were wild eyed risk takers. And the fact that they were perhaps great scientists, but not good scientists at that point. Yeah. And so there's this I the way I the way it shakes out, she was a really great she was a really good scientist. They were great scientists, but not good scientists, like they would decided it had to be a helix on the basis of the Maltese cross, which was scant evidence and she you know, quite correctly said that you guys are probably too influenced by Linus Pauling the alpha helix. But anyway, I mean, my, my, just that's a contrarian view that we can't hold because for I'm reason because so many women have been treated unfairly in science. It's become very popular to say, well, Rosalind Franklin did the work.
Josh Wolfe 23:08 No, but it's not about the work in her case is more just like the
attribution of credit. There's some you know, she she's a, there are a lot of women, they
Eric Weinstein 23:16 were extractive upon her work. Yes. So that there's no question in my mind that we have to acknowledge Yeah, that that's true.
Josh Wolfe 23:23 I'm not trying to give I'm not trying to give her more credit than she deserves, but I think that history treated her and now it's sort of rectifying itself. But
Eric Weinstein 23:30 yeah, I think I think there's an aspect but, but Watson and Crick were huge value adds in that system.
Josh Wolfe 23:36 Yeah. Nothing to take away from them. Yeah, sure. But either way, gave me the best advice I ever got to his house. And you know, and they don't let him go out very often now because he says,
Eric Weinstein 23:45 you had it recently. Five years ago, six years ago, okay. I think I had him three years ago.
Josh Wolfe 23:50 Okay. So So and I'd love to hear you know, but his uh, his his his quote, which I think is beautiful double entendre is avoid boring people.
And you know it like avoid boring you and avoid people who are boring. And I think you know, everybody that you hang out with, I think like not boring people. And I think he standard is even higher. Ah.
Eric Weinstein 24:14 Well, I mean, I think actually we should talk about this because I'm very frustrated that his boorishness. And his desire to stick his finger in the eye of sensibilities has cheated us of one of the great sages of science. And so my quote, I think, is that Jim Watson is far too important to be left to Jim Watson, that we can't afford to have Jim Watson screw up all the stuff that he figured out.
Josh Wolfe 24:44 Well, this is interesting, because it ties back to the thing we were just talking about, about, you know, whether it's capitalist exploitation of a scientist or a scientists own reputation against the political correct environment. How do you separate and this is, you know, something I think transcends into Hollywood and elsewhere. How do you separate the artist from the art? How do you separate the scientist from their discoveries, when they might behave in a way that is socially unacceptable?
Eric Weinstein 25:10 Well, there's a certain amount of gym that is fubu. Right? So you have to you're served up puffer fish, it's not that you can't eat it. In fact, a little bit of toxin plays beautifully on the tongue. But if you consume the wrong organ, that's going to be really fatal. Right, Jim had all sorts of positive characteristics. And the problem is, is that you've got, like generations of people who've been taught, if there's anything wrong, like, you know, there's no fubu shift that's safe enough, since we get the all hundred percent dismissal. Yeah. And,
Josh Wolfe 25:42 and I do think I mean, that's generally and I know, it's something that you're drawing, I think important attention to is the idea of like, canceled culture, that somebody makes one footfall. And the tolerance for that is virtually nil. And so, you know, people who have great contributions for society are going to be shut down and say, you know, they're advised by people who care about them, you got to stay low, you got to stay out of the limelight, you got to stay out of the public. And I actually think he Jim had people that were trying to help him to, you know, you know, sort of be a counsel can ciliary like when he was going to things because I think he felt on the one hand entitled to just speak his mind. And
Eric Weinstein 26:18 this was the great privilege of actually understanding not only natural and sexual selection, but its molecular embodiment in genetics and epigenetics with the result of his discovery. Now part of the problem, just to be very blunt about it, is that biology is terrifying if you actually understand biology, it is, in some sense, like the worst possible collection of truths you could ever happen upon. There's something to offend everybody for every occasion. So if you believe the world should be a nice and beautiful place, you
Josh Wolfe 26:52 don't want to study biology.
Eric Weinstein 26:53 Well, you have no choice but to not be a biologist. You can't do it. And in fact, you have to leave the room when biology has been disgust because if you want any horrific trait that is found in the world to be explained, rationally, I can find you a perfect system that serves up that bad trait. And shows you know that motherhood isn't what you think it is. Trust isn't what you think it is, like, every bad thing happens.
Josh Wolfe 27:22 You know, this I actually agree with In fact, if you think about most of the books that I've written about biology, evolutionary biology, psychology, they're all like, you know, the, the true nature of this right or why we do these things. And it is important, I think that there has been a lot of them, you know, papering over or desensitizing of what true human nature is, and true human nature is and maybe this seems to Hobbs Ian, but you know, it is, it is dark, we are competitive social primates. We, we try to outwit each other and take advantage of each other there We have idealistic views. That is the thing that is taboo to go against. But, but I agree with you. I think human nature itself rooted in biology is a, you know, quite dark.
Eric Weinstein 28:12 I think once you've paid the price in biology, and you've seen all of the darkness and you've reconciled yourself to the fact that there's no escape from the darkness, then a new door opens and then you start to realize that ethics are in some sense, a means of out competing groups that lack, right that if you have an ethical system, you may be able to defeat a prisoner's dilemma that would be fuddle, your rival and therefore you're in the position after a while to take their land and their resources because they're always squabbling amongst themselves for position. Yeah, there's a great jack Handey quote that I'm gonna get roughly right, which is, you know, I imagine the great evolutionary theory
Josh Wolfe 28:55 Exactly. From SNL.
I imagine In a world where people live in peace and harmony, and love, and I imagine us attacking that world because they will never expect it.
Eric Weinstein 29:10 That's very funny. You ever Steve Martin has this, you know, wishes for Christmas or something it's off with my first wish for Christmas is for all the babies in the world to be happy and healthy in their mother's arms. And then, you know, like 12 wishes in, he wants the aerobics instructor in the portion. You know, it's like, it's just it's, it's completely Yes, every politically incorrect thing that you would actually want. So, I guess, you know, in this framework, one of the things that's really important to realize is that when people can't handle reality, and in fact, make it impossible to speak openly. You're creating niches of opportunity for people Who can handle reality and who can serve up? Who can cut out the bad parts. So I learned more from Jim Watson in a week by learning how to just ignore his incredibly, I mean, just has a need to be badly behaved in order to keep checking in that he's still a free person.
Josh Wolfe 30:21 It's interesting because he may do it for the provocation, the stimulation of the provocation, to be able to see that he gets a rise out of somebody, right, which itself is a form of intellect to know that I'm going to say something wittingly that might piss you off or make you unsettled. There is an entire class of people who we pay to reveal these kinds of truths and media. Yes. And and I find them absolutely fascinating because they are, to me, they are investigative journalists, scientists of human nature. You know, scientists study things, social scientists, study things who study things. And comedians to me reveal these great truths and they they are given permission on a stage To save the things that people might be thinking, but be afraid to say. And I mean, there's so many people that are
Eric Weinstein 31:06 given permission, they're given an opportunity.
Josh Wolfe 31:09 Now they're given permission because you can send you can send when you're going in there that you are going to be offended. And now clearly, there's a minority of people that you know, you hear stories of people walking out. And you know, Chappelle has talked about stories of this with transgender people that have walked out and like, he overtly will say, like, you know, I just, I can't stop telling transgender jokes. And he does this in a funny way and reveals these truths. But I actually think we give them consent when we when we sit down, give them initial consent to try. And then like, if you look at what happened to Michael Richards, well,
Eric Weinstein 31:42 because you have this issue where the cell phone first of all breaks, that used to be that the space Yeah, no, that's okay. So like, it's like namespace pollution and Python, you think that you're having a conversation at 2am with consenting adults who want to be offended, right, and there's an And then suddenly you're talking to your grandmother on Sunday morning about the video that circulate right
Josh Wolfe 32:05 with no context or Is that right?
Eric Weinstein 32:06 Yeah. And in that case, no skill. Like that was not a funny routine. He tried. And he failed. And he paid a very large price for trying and failing. Yeah. And I think that you have to appreciate that. If we are giving them consent. It's very, it's very tenuous, it's it's up to us to retract it.
Josh Wolfe 32:26 It is it is interesting, though, because I do think that the funniest things that are both most psychically relieving the release you know, like when you have this great laugh, yeah, are often the most taboo topics, you know, and again, that's a certain brand of humor, but the people that touch the third rail we just went to a comedy show last week in New York and comedy cellar now it was the stamp and and I wish I could remember the comics name I'm doing horrible injustice, but I'm not gonna tell the jokes but but they talked about school shootings. And and they talked about The current environmental movement against plastics. And in the latter case, you know, he's talking about turtles and straws. And this was a phenomenon that amazed me. There's no way a decade ago or two decades ago, straws would have been, you know, obsolesce like that plastic straws. I happen to like plastic straws. I know that's probably taboo. Maybe it's politically incorrect, but like, I don't like I use for paper straws instead of one plastic straw. But he was saying, like, you know, people are saying save the turtles. Do you know how old the average turtle lives? It's like, people like 70 years. He's like, 200 years. These things live three times as long as us you know, and we're telling this very funny Okay, so so but it put it in perspective. But then he went on to this school shooting thing. And if I told you, without the context, that was a comedy club, that you were going to take 150 or 200 people and put them in a room and talk about school shootings and they would be hysterically laughing. Like that moment, that phenomenon was just confounding to me. And everybody in there felt really uncomfortable. Even less laughing at the topic, but he did it in such an artful way. This is it to
Eric Weinstein 34:04 get to a truth. Just in general we don't have the Indiana Jones ability to steal the thing we want and put the sandbag and it's exactly the same way. Right. And this is the and I guess I get really I discriminate very strongly between comedians of great skill and comedians are just gonna go for it. And then the other two they're two very different kinds like one just shocks you Yeah, for the sake of shocking you and sometimes you sometimes you marry the two I don't know if you've ever watched the Gilbert godfried version of the aristocrats Joe to signal that it was okay to laugh after 911 Yes, yeah.
Josh Wolfe 34:48 We was this in the Penn and Teller produced one the the movie the aristocrats?
Eric Weinstein 34:53 I don't know. I saw. I saw a clip of
Josh Wolfe 34:57 it. Yeah. And once it came to who I never expected was a But Sagat
Eric Weinstein 35:02 Oh Bob sag It's famous for like working blue. But Kevin a squeaky clean image. Lots of people did that. There was another one of these jokes in SNL where I think Lorne Michaels turns to Rudy Giuliani and says Is it okay? To be funny? And he says why start now? Right and like there's this moment where it's the first time after something traumatic that you're saying it's okay to laugh. Well, there's that or there's like a there's another version of this which is, was an Eve Celeron was the first one to introduce sumptuous fabrics after world war two to signal rationing is now over, or coming back to Eddington Eddington's discovery of the bending of light in the crook of Africa, around South Tomi was the first positive thing that a European had done other than bowing somebody down,
Josh Wolfe 35:55 betrayed, that is interesting generally in you know, and even the way that you phrase that earlier question about, you know, where where we are in this moment of silence is like, there are these moments and those moments are shared moments. And suddenly it's like, there's a temperature, there's an emotional temperature, you know, in society in the room and like, Where are we? Is it okay to laugh? Is it okay to be silly? Is it okay to be? And and that that itself is an interesting phenomenon of like, what is the, you know, what is the shared collective temperature and who gets to set that? And sometimes it is, you know, the, you know, sometimes it's the shocking moment, it's Kanye in the Katrina, you know, when he's standing next to Mike Myers, and shocks people right and, and changes the conversation and it's completely diverted shift
Unknown Speaker 36:37 watching right
Unknown Speaker 36:39 now, he's just like, wait, wait, right. And
Josh Wolfe 36:41 that itself is genius, because, you know, he himself is a master of comedy and delivering surprise and the fact that he had like no idea that that was coming that moment. And with a white guy and a black guy in the context and like the
Eric Weinstein 36:54 like so clean cut, he just looked at me.
Josh Wolfe 36:57 That was like a great defining moment, and there's no He predicted that right that that informational surprise in that moment. It it made it okay to talk about this uncomfortable thing that was there but nobody was like actually comfortable talking about Yeah. And anyway, so so in that moment, you know, I think he did it with deep gravitas but it was a funny moment. And so going back to this idea, like comedians revealed great truths. I also think it's why and I'm making a horrible generalization because I know you're also friends with a lot of comedians and, but I think a lot of them are like, seriously depressed because they see truth. Oh, dude, they all talk about how screwed up comedians are.
Eric Weinstein 37:38 You don't have to, you're not gonna worry, no, no, they they're aware. So they're badly
Josh Wolfe 37:42 broken people. So so you know, they see reality, I think in a way that other people don't, and they reveal it to people in a in a comfortable way. In the same way a chef might prepare a meal and like I'm going to prepare this for you and so that you can digest it in a way that might be comfortable to you, but, but I admire them because I think they're there. burdened, they have to carry truths that they see that I think make them depressed and sort of this great irony and weird paradox of like they're on stage making these people who stare at the left, but I think deep inside they're like, Oh my god, like, you know, I can't believe reality in nature and people are like this. Yes, it's a beautifully dark thing what
Eric Weinstein 38:20 it so so I think this is broader than comedians I have a general theory that says, reality is a second best strategy. That's the bumper sticker. And what it means is, is that if you're born into a functional universe, so you take the Anna Karenina principle that all happy families are exactly alike, but each unhappy one is unhappy in its own way. I believe that reality is only discovered when social reality breaks. So if you think of social reality as the matrix like thing that was actually being referenced in that movie, you discover underlying reality when you can't maintain social reality something cracks it open and you've it's like, if you think about it, one analogy that I like to talk about is separated regimes. If you have an ice hockey game, you only discover that's taking place over a frozen lake. When somebody has cracks, yeah. And then it's like, oh, okay, they're Fishtown here and it's quite cold. And, you know, you learn a lot. I think that comedians are one group of people who are not able to maintain the illusion that this is solid ground. And I think we're entirely dependent on so called dysfunctional broken people. And this is like the dirty interesting ones. The truth. Well, not just to tell us the truth, to create to take risks to manage those risks. You know, when I first saw Rodney Mullen skateboarding, huh, I thought something went wrong in this guy's life. Boy, did he spend a lot of time alone, nobody would over invest. But like the explosion of creativity. I mean, I talked to My producer Jesse Michaels about this. I said, What should we get Eddie Van Halen and Rodney Mullen in for one common interview, because they're sort of the same guy. They both came up with so much in terms of a vocabulary that no one had known was was president, either the guitar or the skateboard, that it's pretty clear that something in common happened to both people. Now that may be a bad idea for a show.
Josh Wolfe 40:25 No, I think it'd be awesome. I mean, I think actually, this this is I think you're hitting on something that transcends not just skateboarding in heavy metal or rock. But I think human nature, which is that I think great artistic expression comes because somebody wants to communicate, they find their medium to communicate, and the way that they express it. I am always caught by that thought experiment of imagining a world in which a particular person existed but the technology didn't. Hmm. So imagine a world in which Hendrix exists, but the electric guitar didn't imagine a world in which this is good. I really want to know where you go with that where Spielberg exists. But the eight millimeter camera doesn't where Mozart exists, but the harpsichord doesn't where gates exists, but the PC doesn't. All these things were instruments for them to express some sort of genius. Now, maybe the geniuses hindsight post facto, but there was something in them. Now, if you look at all of those things, it could be, you're the African American guy that like people don't want to hear from in a white, you know, club, you are the nerd that's being picked on, you know, so you spend your time in a more solitary state programming, but there's something that you know, is sort of broken in you, and you want to express it, you You almost by definition, don't feel understood. And you need to communicate, and you find the instrument to express yourself. And I think the common thing between skateboarding and, and, and rock and programming and scientific entrepreneur, like they all are, like, I have something to say, and I'm gonna express it in this different instrument.
Eric Weinstein 41:53 Okay, you hit on the Hendrix one, which has been an obsession of mine. So let's just do an analogy here. urethane wheels and the drought in the early 1970s or mid 1970s exactly when it was created a universe in Southern California of impromptu skate parks, where you could actually grip the walls of the pool so the dry so no water right? And that weird collision was like the electrified guitar now Charlie Christian had been like the first electric guitarist, but he wasn't really fully exploring what was new, which was the the instrument is no longer the guitar. It is the guitar amplified system. Now Les Paul had been there with using the recording studio and multitrack recording and all sorts of trickery. What would Hendrix have done because the the the reason I love what you brought up is we have almost no recordings of him visually. on acoustic instruments. I've seen him playing hounded At some party, and I've seen like here my train of common which is like the famous video of him with a 12 string guitar, but it's not like the Stevie Ray Vaughan where you're actually see just the absolute mastery of the acoustic guitar. Hendrix was really fused with with the Amplified system as the total instrument including the feedback
Josh Wolfe 43:25 I mean, that's really interesting, though, because I I don't know, to your point. Was he classically trained before Did he just pick this thing up and then started breathing? like Picasso? You know, we see the crazy Picasso paintings but he was
Eric Weinstein 43:38 his early classical before that.
Josh Wolfe 43:39 I mean, there's like you would look at it you think of something you buy it like a you know, comes in. Yeah, exactly. And yeah, it's horrible, right?
Unknown Speaker 43:46 No, it's not it's not how it standing.
Unknown Speaker 43:49 Okay, I can't draw but I
Eric Weinstein 43:50 don't want to keep going.
Josh Wolfe 43:53 But But, but but so he was really quiet. Picasso was really classically trained. And then, you know, found his voice right. Found The confidence or the comfort to basically do something totally different. I think there's a lot of examples of that where Dylan was another one you know who like, you know, copycat people and, and really Woody Guthrie at the beginning, right, really study and then found his own voice in his own comment. So I wonder if I don't know. I'm
Eric Weinstein 44:16 sorry, Andrew, I have some information that Dylan was actually the one who told Hendrix which path to go down. He said your thing should be psychedelic rock, psychedelic blues.
Josh Wolfe 44:26 But I don't think but he must have heard him doing something else and said, No, no, that john was already taken, you need to find your white space.
Eric Weinstein 44:33 Yeah, that's that this is so this is my obsession, which is how does someone know that there's space to break into? Right, like that's the portal.
Josh Wolfe 44:43 So I am psychotically focused and obsessed in my companies. And when I look for things on competitive ventures, and looking at things where somebody else isn't there, either because they've it requires an understanding of the consensus. So you have to understand and this is interesting, it goes back to sort of ocean Shared realities. Yeah. And it's a very analogous phenomenon. There's just like the comedian or somebody else, breaking that shared reality and you know, cracking through the ice, the entrepreneur, the engineer, the scientist, the inventor, the person who says, I'm gonna create a new company, it is considered arrogance of the highest order. They're basically saying, this is the way that the world ought to look, and I'm gonna go create it, or I've invented something, and nobody else knows about it. But in any of those cases, I think it requires an understanding of what everybody else believes. And then having that confidence to say, I'm going to go orthogonal in this different direction. And so whether it's Hendrix being told, or identifying like, okay, he had to have a survey of whatever we
Eric Weinstein 45:35 are doing, he started as a left handed guitars with a right handed guitar flipped over. So that's already a pretty clear indication you're not in Kansas. Right? Right. It's not completely unheard of. But it's, but there has to be an intrinsic general desire to say I want to stand out I want to be different and that itself requires whether it's an acknowledged or It's a neat or implicit understanding of what everybody else is doing. Whether you're in rock music, or you're writing or you're doing a podcast, or you're doing math, or you're inventing something, you have to understand like, What does everybody else believe? What is everybody else doing? And then what's the thing adjacent orthogonal that I can do that nobody else is doing? I mean, in a sense that that's the status seeking, identity creating thing that I think leads, I think that's what we call creativity. What I find is that there are two separate things do you have creativity to break into new space? And do you have the disagreeable disagree ability in your nature to tell everyone else? No, you're all wrong. Let me do my thing. The number of times I've seen somebody innovate something and they cannot find the bad attitude necessary to carry that thing to market. You know, like, we're both friends with Peter teal. And here's a guy who his conviction gets stronger the more people tell him he's an evil idiot. I
Josh Wolfe 47:00 think it's a secret weapon. Yeah, it's I mean, you know, it's one of these like, you know, things where everybody wants to be a contrarian. Right? So then everybody's like this consensus contrary, I think he is an authentic contrarian, but it also he has a measure of what does everybody else believe?
Eric Weinstein 47:14 Sure. I mean, he's also he's also running. I mean, maybe I shouldn't be giving away a secrets. But one of the things that I'm very impressed by is that he's cornered the market on first order contrarians. And so he runs them all his sub routines, because everybody loves talking to him, because he's, he's an amazing Judge of talent and risk and strategy. So he's an authentic genius. And it's weird because I think a lot of business doesn't really require genius. It requires other traits more than it requires that and then he's got the the strength to tell absolutely everyone that they're wrong. And what I look at is the number of times where if you told me the end result result that he was going to get was going to be positive. And I said, Okay, let's imagine that you told 1000 people that if you just hold this position for two years, you're going to be fabulously rewarded. But it's going to be so painful, you're going to lose friends, you're going to be denounced in the press, almost everyone would drop the hot coal rather than carry it through to completion. Mm hmm. And that is a separate trait from the ability to break into new territory. It's not the same thing.
Josh Wolfe 48:30 It's a comfort with discomfort. It's the willingness as you said, it's the the ability to be like the bad guy to stand out to its ability to be misunderstood for extended periods of time but not just misunderstood, disliked. Well, yes, maybe misunderstood, but like but it's, it's it's being misunderstood and disliked. It's the fueled I mean, it's the whole nine yards which going back we are social primates, the most painful feeling aside from like somebody like slicing your stabbing you is it socially ostracized. So how The thick skin having I mean literally like, it is why we have epidemics of depression and suicide is when somebody is socially ostracized, whether by means of technology or just you know, Mean Girls, it is a horribly painful thing. It is why when you watch these documentaries about people trying to leave Orthodox Jews or or any sect the despite the pain, the tribal exclusion. And so if you are part of some tribe in society, whether it's you know, a tribe of venture capitalists or a tribe of San Franciscans or whatever, you know, and and you don't have that willingness to stand out from the pack with comfort knowing these people are going to talk about you behind your back, they're gonna ostracize you. I agree with you. I, I actually find it interesting when, when I hunt for entrepreneurs, there's a common trait that I that I find which is that, that chip on their shoulder. I always say that you know, chips on shoulders, put chips in pockets. And there's something that you know that they could have been the fat kid they could have been the lone minority they could have been from a broken family, there's something that they have to prove. And it's like this in extinguish double flame doesn't matter how much money they make, doesn't matter how much success they have each this, it's this thing inside that is going to propel them forward. And, and it's often or always in the face of some adversity that they suffered where everybody else was like over here and they're okay being the lone person
Eric Weinstein 50:27 or they can't be other. Yeah. And in some cases, it could be other than than that thing.
Josh Wolfe 50:33 But maybe in some cases, maybe the rejection from the others have defined them. Okay, you're not one of us.
Eric Weinstein 50:37 Well, so why don't we teach this like I, I have had a curriculum, somewhere in a drawer in which you graduate people based on the the question, can you pass the Asch conformity test? Can you pass the Milgram obedience test? And can you pass the Zimbardo image Reality reproductive environment. Yeah. So you've got these three great experiments and bunch of people now leader
Unknown Speaker 51:07 questioning on the second and the third.
Eric Weinstein 51:09 Yeah, you know those things have been debunked the Ash Ash still holds up. And it's amazing because I think Milgram, I think I think all of these things hold. Well it was done in the worst
Josh Wolfe 51:18 elements of truth. But but the Asch experiment interesting two times, Weiss is what it takes for social conformity, right, because the first time you watch him, the guy in the red sweater on the, you know, the sort of famous video of it, and he's like, it's to you idiots, you know, he's like confounding it, and then they do it again. And it's just like that quickly as again, as a as a social primate. To feel the pressure when you know, objectively the truth, and you see, everybody else is wrong. And you're like, you know what, it's not worth pursuing truth. I'd rather pursue the comfort of being accepted.
Eric Weinstein 51:51 Amen. And and the other thing is that all it takes is one other person for most people If that if that person goes first, like you have seven Confederates before you get asked Yes. And one person out of those seven and you feel comfortable says the truth, then you're willing to say the truth as well.
Josh Wolfe 52:13 Yeah, you need an ally.
Eric Weinstein 52:14 You need not to be the only lunatic that it's a question of fitness versus truth. And
Josh Wolfe 52:21 there was a you know, one of these playful videos that surface Donald 510 years ago of the guy who is freakishly dancing at the festival by himself
Eric Weinstein 52:31 and then everybody's freakishly dancing but
Josh Wolfe 52:32 like it starts out in like, at first he's the joke. Yeah, because he looks like maybe he's on drugs or just to happier. I don't know what it is. But like, he's got a shirt off and like people are like laughing at him. I think the first person that joined him, yeah, probably joined him to mock him. Maybe intent. It felt like an observation or
Eric Weinstein 52:49 I think so I, a previous portal victim was to more Quran in one of our first episodes. I think maybe it's the third or something like that. And he studied exactly this phenomena. What happens when you get the second person, which is like the curating role? I am willing to say that I see with that person who has previously been isolated says, and then you start to find this chain reaction that is incredibly powerful. And so, you know, this is how, I don't think we've talked enough about it, you know, Jeff Tenenbaum?
Josh Wolfe 53:25 No, but but before we go to Jeff, to Peter's deal, and to what we do in venture capital, that sense of belief, especially if you have an entrepreneur, an engineer and inventor, who feels like they haven't had somebody believe in them, and suddenly they're doing something and somebody says, Yes, I agree with the way that you the world you want to create. That is mg. I mean that that shuts it off.
Eric Weinstein 53:47 You're catalyzing certain so this is
Josh Wolfe 53:50 we like to say that we like to believe before others understand.
Eric Weinstein 53:53 Oh, really, is that you're lying?
Josh Wolfe 53:55 Well, it's a lie. I love that. Yeah, but but we also have to be careful Because, you know, we talked about this before, at the moment of Inception or conception of a company, you don't know whether that person is a true visionary ingenious with good intentions or is trying to defraud you.
Eric Weinstein 54:13 Yeah, but even when somebody is trying to defer, I mean, this gets into really crazy territory. So if I have a great personality flaw, it's that I don't think I see people as they are. I think I see people as I believe they could be
Josh Wolfe 54:28 very optimistic take,
Eric Weinstein 54:30 well, it's not always functional.
Josh Wolfe 54:35 You so you see the better nature of somebody.
Eric Weinstein 54:38 All I see is limitless potential in the betterment of just about everyone.
Josh Wolfe 54:42 Okay. So it's amazing because I am a polar opposite. Tell me I meet somebody and it's like, my favorite line from Shakespeare. There's daggers and men smiles. Somebody smiles and I'm assuming that there's an ulterior agenda, an ulterior motive. I remember my first day I grew up in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Everybody's running some scammer game, you're always on guard, you don't make eye contact. My first day in college, somebody was like, Hey, nice hair. They were being authentic. They would be nice. They would give me a compliment. Yeah, my reaction is what are you trying to say? So I think it totally depends. I mean to be interesting of,
Eric Weinstein 55:15 but I don't disagree with that. But But your default
Josh Wolfe 55:18 first impression when you meet somebody
Eric Weinstein 55:21 is we're not we're not having a conversation yet. So the way I would say is, let's imagine you and I both meet somebody who's got an ulterior motive, okay. And they start flattering you. My feeling is, wow, look at them trying to scam Josh. Okay. That skill could be repurposed with huge rewards if they only realized that sometimes you have to tell a narrative about something that's actually positive. And by by fraud, that's the shortest ride in the world. You're not going to get the value out of that. thing.
Josh Wolfe 56:00 Okay, so that's interesting. So you you view the temporary liability as a long term asset, should it be repaired?
Eric Weinstein 56:07 I'm trying to, I'm trying to de risk the deal. And I'm trying to figure out what is the value of the resource. Now, if the person turns out to be pathologically committed to the short term, you can convert, it's not
Unknown Speaker 56:19 Yeah, verbal.
Eric Weinstein 56:20 Yeah. But like if I met a fraudster or a murderer, or, you know, a psychopath, or any one of these things, there would at least be a period of time where I would say, Wow, that's a really unusual trait. I wonder if it could be used positive.
Josh Wolfe 56:39 I admire your curiosity. I think as a protective mechanism, I am way more quick to dismiss that when I sense
Eric Weinstein 56:47 somebody run for cover. No, it's not. It's not a commitment to martyrdom, right? It's not like I don't feel filled, you'll
Josh Wolfe 56:54 sit in it and explore. Curiously, is there some is there some virtue?
Eric Weinstein 56:58 Well, so I get This example I forget what show it was. If you ever listened to Charles Manson's music now, there's a good Well, there's one song called the look at your game girl. If you really want to creep yourself out, listen to that song, because it's pretty terrific.
Josh Wolfe 57:16 Now, meaning if you played it for me, without telling me who this was,
Unknown Speaker 57:21 yeah, you'd love it. Really?
Josh Wolfe 57:24 I mean, this goes back to what we were talking about before, like exactly when the artist and the art and are they
Eric Weinstein 57:28 said, okay, you know, one of my favorite mathematicians or physicists is this Nazi named Pascal Jordan. The son of a bitch. I know goodness, I cannot horrible man.
Josh Wolfe 57:40 I came from an entrepreneur in LA today. Yeah, brilliant. Brilliant entrepreneur. Yeah, incredible branding. And he made a comment that's so unsettled me to your to your point. Maybe Maybe I maybe I need to give myself a little bit more credit. He said, you know, we were talking about his logo. And it does level which is very thoughtful. And he said, you know, the SWAT sticker was a brilliant logo. And it and I was like, I was shocked neither, you know, same sort of Jim Watson style. I don't know if he said it as a measure of avocation, or as an objective thing of this symmetry and, and but I sat there thinking like, I'm, I'm sitting here. And maybe he's right, maybe, maybe there's something, but there's so much meaning in the object.
Eric Weinstein 58:29 So here, so if you go to India, right, so I don't exactly know what the etymology is, but SWOT is going to be Indic for beautiful. And you've got a fourfold symmetry, so z mod four. And then there's, I forget, how do you say this word like a pose emetics, where you use colorations that are used as warning symbols. So it's, you know, you have like a white, black and red field. So you know, just in terms of design. You know, this is extremely powerful now, it is so colored by the horrible fucking things that were done under it, that I can't have a normal reaction so that when I go to India, even though the thing is turned the other way around, it's not on a tilt the odds in the middle, the emotional environment still going on. Right? You know, it's like
Josh Wolfe 59:21 what? So this is interesting, by the way, too, because,
you know, I think one of the purposes as I listen to your journey through the portal is about the meaning of meaning.
Eric Weinstein 59:31 Yeah, thank you. And, and it sounds like the warp. Yes.
Josh Wolfe 59:36 And, and I've been caught, you know, so I invest in technology. I love engineering. I love magic, right? Magic is a form of engineering. I saw this one guy, maybe it's an LA guy, Derek Delgado. Have you heard of him? No, he did this. This show in, in Union Square called in and of itself, and it had great production was Frank Oz. It was very thoughtful and I like thoughtful magic. I don't like Hocus Pocus bs I like people that are philosophical Ricky j and Penn and Teller. And so he had five props that he did different magic pieces. But this one thing, it's sort of like in the same way. I say when I see Chappelle or somebody else, like, I can't remember the jokes, but I remember the socially poignant points that they make. He, he takes one of the five objects, which is a gold brick. And he tells a story about how he was a teenager, and he came home with his friend, and he opens the door, and he sees his mother on the couch, and she's making out with another woman. And his friend feels really uncomfortable and runs away. And he felt slightly uncomfortable. But then he said, You know what, my mom who's single, she found somebody she loves. And it was his mother, and he fell in love. They talked about it, and it's totally cool and common, whatever. And he wakes up the next morning, they're having breakfast and a brick gets thrown through the front window of their house with a paper on it that says go home faggots. And it was either his friend or somebody that his friend told or whatever it was So he does this magic trick. Now having told you the story, and I'm getting chills, you know, think. Sure, and and the goldbrick and he built this house of cards over it. And then you know, with this flourish, he blows the House of Cards away and it and the brick are gone. Now earlier in the show, he asked people for two intersecting streets, and it's sort of out of context and you didn't understand why but let's say he said Dilantin, Essex. He said now I want you to know that when you leave the show in about five minutes, because it was pretty much the the either the ultimate or penultimate trick he did. If you go to Dilantin, Essex, you will see that brick on this on the corner of Valencia next, but the notable thing and this is the thing that shakes me in when we're just talking about the symbol that shakes us to this day because of the historic meaning that's put into it, right. He's like 10,000, people will walk by that brick, that gold brick on a corner, and they won't think of a thought about it. But because you know what this brick means to me what it caused the relationship between me and my mother, the betrayal of a friend all of this meaning right now. Was narratively injected into this physical solid object. To me, it was really powerful. And so I offer that as a story because I think just in this quest that you're on, on the meaning of meaning, and just thinking about the objects around us, and the stories that are in the ether, there's something really powerful there to explore.
Eric Weinstein 1:02:20 Well, in particular, just to riff with you, in a world in which we can no longer be certain, like, for example, if I see a Nazi flag, am I seeing it as part of a documentary? Mm hmm. Which changes its meaning as opposed to somebody decided to fly it in the front lawn. As opposed to it's being used in an art exhibition by somebody who is a survivor of the Holocaust. Versus, well, you know, this is the odd thing that and I always use this example of pythons namespace Where you have a variable that means different things depending upon what context. And then you have this beautiful concept of namespace pollution. So that, you know, when we referred earlier to Peter teal, if I, if I know that we're in a VC context, I might just say, Peter, but if we're in some other context, it might be describing robbing Peter to pay Paul, and then it has nothing to do with Peter. Right. That other Peter, so part of the problem is, is that what we've built now is technology that has created universal namespace pollution. And we can't tell whether somebody is using something for a scholarly reason whether they're using something as a troll, you know, the Pepe image. I've had it used maliciously against me so many times. And then somebody says, Wow, you're just reacting to a frog. It's a joke. Don't you even know that the history of it but it's an anti semitic or Well, the point is, it isn't any of those things. It's an ambiguous object with mysterious ties, some of which can be anticipated. Why is somebody choosing to play with it? You know,
Josh Wolfe 1:04:09 but it's but it's intent. There's an embedded intent.
Eric Weinstein 1:04:12 Well, but sometimes that you it's not even the intent. Maybe somebody has good intent. And they're a skilled player and they're using it correctly. But you're so afraid that there are unskilled players, that you want to make sure that nobody even reproduces the image like you have this thing with the Christchurch shooters manifesto in New Zealand, which I think it's a crime now to possess the manifesto. Wow, I mean, so what if I need to say, Oh, well, we have an exception for scholars, they can possess it
Josh Wolfe 1:04:41 in a safe space.
Eric Weinstein 1:04:42 Well, and what we've what we don't realize is that embedded for example, in the First Amendment were assumptions about the context of a pamphleteer, let's say, Now, what happens when you've got some channel that can broadcast something Instantly, to 25 million people within five minutes, that isn't being checked for its impact. We have no idea as to whether or not we should be clinging to the original letter of free speech to the intent of free speech to the embedded context of free speech. And we're terrified that if we open that up, we're going to have so many bad unskilled actors talking about it, that we're never going to get something as good as the original intent of our Constitution, let's say war, that you're fusing a culture where you can't talk about something like the you know, Pakistan has been making these legal complaints that Twitter agrees to pass along, saying, I know that you have never been to Pakistan and you're not Pakistani, but you are apparently violating Pakistani law and we are obligated to tell you that you're doing we now have no idea what anything means. And you know, I give this example of it. If you see see the letter C in Roman orthography On a water faucet, what does it mean?
Unknown Speaker 1:06:03 I'm able to assume 200. But what? What does it mean?
Eric Weinstein 1:06:07 Well, it could mean cold. Or it could mean caldo or Kellyanne de. Right. So depending on hot Yeah,
Josh Wolfe 1:06:16 well, if it's if it's if it's if it's a to tonic derivative, or be cold and if it's, but these are meanings that are lost in translation, right? I mean, the, you know, yeah, the Pinto right as the car and, and there's all these examples where something was done with good intent, but with ignorance,
Eric Weinstein 1:06:32 because it explodes or do you mean the Chevy Nova? Because it doesn't go
Unknown Speaker 1:06:35 Yeah, exactly. You know, the Yeah, right. Oh, yeah. Oh, is it the Nova?
Eric Weinstein 1:06:40 I think, well, I don't know
Josh Wolfe 1:06:42 either way, but but the point is, the intent was not malicious, right. But it was ignorant of the context of another culture. And it's almost impossible to know, the I don't wanna say near infinite, but there's so many different uses of certain things that in one case, it's dangerous, right and in one case, You know, nobody cares. And these people who find a dangerous are really offended by the thing. And so, so that is complicated on how the sort of meta labeling of these things, you know, and you know that that's why we're getting these. I mean, you know, I know you've talked extensively about this but like, trigger warnings and and you know, the Jonathan Hite view of the antithesis of the heterodox in the academy is like, it's really complicated. You You have these minefields of, of being able to speak freely, and I know what that's what this space is for.
Eric Weinstein 1:07:36 But it isn't, see that people even get this wrong. I mean, this was this was very disheartening to me is that the media needed an extremely simplistic thing to say, which is these people wish to have every possible conversation there is no holds barred. There are no safe space, you know, absolute free speech. Are you kidding me? No. That's not how It works. We've had you know, Brandenburg versus Ohio, we've had all sorts of adjustments. You know, slander isn't necessarily okay. You can't create clear and present dangers. There's all sorts of barriers to free speech just well to we call free speech. The thing that we have, that's a remainder after we've fenced ourselves out of the things that we all agree are pretty dangerous. child pornography probably won't be counted as free speech. And I watch people get into into error because they start off with this idea of what Christopher Hitchens really had it right. You should be able to say anything. You know, I did this riff. I opened for Jordan Peterson doing a harmonica. Little harmonica solo. And I said, well, will you guys sing along? I said, will you will you indulge me? I have a song that I love that I want to sing but Don't remember all the words I said, you know that would be untrue, you know that I would be every liar if it was girl couldn't come. So I build it up come on baby light by and ever because gratulations thousand people screaming fire in a theater well done and context. Well and that was the whole point is that we don't notice the stuff. And that's what scares me is that we don't realize that there were embedded hypotheses in the First Amendment we don't realize the role that context plays and now we're exploring every flavor of stupid with respect to trying to put this back together
Josh Wolfe 1:09:41 so easy. Is it a function of speed? Would it be better if we slowed down so that you could sit and adjust and in the same way when you approach somebody you're like, let me give them the benefit of the doubt or let me see how this can be used as an asset in the future. The person like if i if i relayed factually 2000 people just screamed fire. Yeah, in a theater. But without the context, which requires time and space to explain. At a time where arguably, people's attention spans are shorter, we spend less time getting nuance and details and things can very quickly, you know, flutter away and you know, lie travels halfway around the world before the truth has gone out of better, whatever the appropriate quote is, right? Is it a function of time? Is there a case where we could chastise people for no, no, you went too quick? Yeah. Is there something that shames people back into a civility of slow? Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:10:43 I'm glad you're asking the question. Let's play with it and see where it goes. To me. The real problem is that for almost 50 years, we sold people on the idea that they could get by with very simplistic curious And the thing that allowed that to happen was the fact that very few people had a seat on what I call the gated institutional narrative. It's like an exchange of ideas, but you need to have a seat on the exchange in order to participate. And so people were participating discussing these issues at home. But you know, it was Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather, you know, opining, or William F. Buckley, and nobody else could get in on it. Now, you've got a lot of skilled actors, you've got unskilled actors, all walls have broken down. And the main thing that we need to say is, you know, that situation where for 50 years, you could get by with like, just talking about free speech, or let's slow things down or Let's be kind to each other, or inclusion and diversity, right? None of those things are workable. And it's, it's the complexity level stupid. That's the issue. We we The reason that I have an audience At the moment, is in part due to the fact that these people have figured out, there's no workable solution with simplistic primitives. They're not to use another computer term. They're not expressive enough. I can't get these heuristics to work. And if you really want to know what you can and can't say and why somebody is offended and what we should be doing, there is no Christopher Hitchens, simple answer. Because the technology changed too much and revealed, it's a little bit like you were in a Newtonian realm and Newtonian physics worked. And then you get close to the speed of light or you get very, very small or something happens and you're in a quantum or relativistic picture. And you have to realize that you were in a simplification and the simplification worked in a regime and the regime is blown away. So go back to the,
Josh Wolfe 1:12:53 you know, the three anchors on three major networks, okay? And technology then, you know, blows that apart. Now you have thousands of people, and you don't know who to trust. And I actually contend that in this moment, it isn't a function that people are just gullible sheep, although many are. But it's that people have grown so cynical that they don't know who to trust. Right. And I mean, I've listened to you right that you know, whether it was the times or Washington Post or these institutions that were once beacons of trust that you say, I see games that they're playing on both sides, right. And so
Eric Weinstein 1:13:25 it's one of the reasons I run ads on my program, which is, this is a commercial enterprise, right? And I listened to a lot of my friends who refused to run ads. I'm very uncomfortable. I don't want to sell people. And I think that they're more honest than I am. Hmm. But I think I'm more meta honest, than they are interesting. In other words, the message is, Hey, I'm just some guy, and I'm a pining and, you know, I lie. And I misrepresent and I'm self kind. And I do all sorts of things to make myself look better or smarter. And I'd love to be open. About that, and no, I'm not going to stop doing those things because that's preposterous. What am I supposed to do self extinguish? Should I just find this out of my own pocket bankrupt myself, reveal all of my warts, all of my failings? make myself apps, you know, appealing to every No, but by
Josh Wolfe 1:14:18 the way that would open up a new audience and there would be a whole lot of people that would appreciate that raw honesty. Right? So you wouldn't you'd love one audience maybe a report portion of it again another,
Eric Weinstein 1:14:27 but people who can't see there's the Howard Stern sort of appeal, you know, or that there's a new thing called the dirtbag left, let's say and the idea there I think we are entitled to tell certain basic societal lies about ourselves like what Well, I mean,
Josh Wolfe 1:14:51 I this is a lie right that
Eric Weinstein 1:14:52 we're that way right by wearing clothes. We disguise whatever it is that we are, you know, or you know, should you be allowed to color your hair hair right.
Josh Wolfe 1:15:00 And that's a that's a shared reality, right? Where, which itself is interesting breaking through the ice again, we all know that we're naked under these
Unknown Speaker 1:15:07 clothes. No, we don't.
Josh Wolfe 1:15:10 We don't know we're naked under our clothes
Eric Weinstein 1:15:12 no as much. I can try to picture it, but it's actually quite shocking when somebody becomes naked. My brain actually doesn't even accept it. I can know it in some corner of my mind. But if I say we all know, I know I really don't. I fall for the illusion.
Josh Wolfe 1:15:27 So I have a crazy
Eric Weinstein 1:15:28 like we're just talking, for example, about this bizarre animal, the spider tailed Viper fins on
Unknown Speaker 1:15:35 insane.
Eric Weinstein 1:15:37 I didn't know that that tail of that snake is a fake spider because its movement of the spider in this kind of weird eight pattern is so realistic that I would fall for it even knowing that it's a lure so that if I was a bird, I will try to prey on the spider and I'm going to get eaten. So even knowing it, I still fall for
Josh Wolfe 1:15:59 Yep, That's true of illusions is true of cognitive biases that we educate ourselves on. Just because you know, it doesn't mean you won't fall for it, but you don't not know it. You know, again, I know you're naked under there. And if I sat down here in the chair, and you said, hey, let's, you know, do this, this episode of the portal, and you were sitting there naked when I walked in, that would be shocking. But it would confound my expectations. Right? I would have
Eric Weinstein 1:16:25 to do that when the show starts to fail. That's when we jump the shark man.
Josh Wolfe 1:16:30 You just have By the way, you should just do a whether or not you're going to get just a blurred thing. And people be like, Oh, my goddess, really?
Eric Weinstein 1:16:36 Yeah, well, but what I'm trying to say is that part of the problem is the lie isn't in the nakedness. It's in the multiplicity of self that somehow I'm stupidly calling Josh or Eric, right. Like, I both know this, and I don't know this. And this is again, the same thing. Most of the time, it's sufficient to say well, Josh says this or Josh feels this or Josh thinks this But there are lots of situations where I say, okay, we're now in the non Newtonian realm. Josh, thanks a bunch of different things. And they're completely
Josh Wolfe 1:17:07 different. I contain multitudes.
Eric Weinstein 1:17:09 Right. And you know, this is the thing with Sam Harris, Sam Harris is trying to be the unified mind. And I think it's beautiful. But I also think it's completely bizarre. I've never seen anything like it.
Josh Wolfe 1:17:20 Well, but that is interesting, too, because
we each have lots of different cells. Each one is different in context, I mean, the way that I am with you, or the way that I am with an entrepreneur in a board meeting might be very different. The way that I am with my children is very different. Each one of those things requires a different power dynamic, a different set of expectations, some of those don't even know about each other. Right? Right. So in a sense, yeah, we have these hidden hidden selves, but I don't know that it's a overtly hidden, right. I'm not I'm not, I'm not hiding from you, that I father or parent a certain way. It's just irrelevant for this particular context.
Eric Weinstein 1:18:00 But there are things that you could do that I would totally, totally change my concept of you and the point
Josh Wolfe 1:18:07 that which actually is true, because that's what's happening when going back to this art and the artist thing you find out about something in somebody's life could be their personal life or something else and they get cancelled.
Eric Weinstein 1:18:16 Well, but and this is the really scary part about this. Every single private life would be shocking if it were moved into the public.
Josh Wolfe 1:18:25 Eye. I've always thought that the greatest act of terrorism in the United States would not be an attack on a building, it would be the revelation of the last year's worth of emails and texts.
Eric Weinstein 1:18:36 Well, it's interesting, you know, the record producer Rick Rubin. Yeah. So he's very interested in the question of whether if all emails were revealed simultaneously, that would be a positive. It's the selective revelation that's terrifying.
Josh Wolfe 1:18:54 It would be a negative in that it would destroy individual relationships, the perception that people would have The things that they assumed about other people or things that they were led to believe about other people would be revealed to be untrue. In many cases, they would find out about infidelities, they would find out about betrayals, they would find out about all the things that make us these complex humans the dark side of biology that we spoke about earlier. And I think it would destroy that fundamental fabric of trust. So in that same way that we have this story layer, you know, with the ice, that's their stable. There is, I mean, that is a lie. You know, when I, I didn't write to you like this, but you know, dear Eric, you know, yours truly, Josh, like, that's a lie. Right? That's it. That's a lie of civility. Sure it is.
Unknown Speaker 1:19:37 Why is that
Josh Wolfe 1:19:38 because it's not natural to speak with those kind of pleasantries. That is a confirmation to an expectation of civility, which maintains
a presentation of self that is, is
Eric Weinstein 1:19:53 I don't buy this at all. My belief is is that when you I mean When you brush your hair, or when you, you know, when you attend to your grooming,
Josh Wolfe 1:20:06 it's an act of dishonesty.
Eric Weinstein 1:20:08 No, it isn't sure it is. It's an act of signaling.
Unknown Speaker 1:20:11 Okay, fair,
Eric Weinstein 1:20:12 fair. Right? Or it's a it's or it's hybrid. It's primarily between signaling and dishonesty. It's
Josh Wolfe 1:20:17 I'm presenting yourself, I'm presenting something I want you to believe.
Eric Weinstein 1:20:21 Well, do you imagine that theater is untrue?
Josh Wolfe 1:20:25 Is theater untrue?
Eric Weinstein 1:20:27 Or is it hyper true? I mean, this is this old point that I make about Updike, where somebody said, why is it that you write fiction? He says opposed to what? He says Well, the truth he said, my good man, what is it you imagine fiction to be?
Josh Wolfe 1:20:43 So this is an area that I'm at the moment obsessed with, okay, because the the gap between reality and simulation, I think is shrinking. technologic technologically, I think that's true in our ability to measure and model the world around us with ever greater Resolution. The machines that we are inventing are relying on models not of reality but of models. When a robot or autonomous vehicle is going through the they're not relying on actually looking at the road, they're, they're looking at a model of the road that is
Unknown Speaker 1:21:15 coming through as we
Josh Wolfe 1:21:16 as we do. And so so, so So put that aside for a sec for a moment on technology. The machine does not know the difference between a game simulation that is teaching it how to drive on a road and actually driving on the road. And I would actually, to your point about the truth of fiction argue that the more movies you watch, the more books you read, the more simulated virtual reality experiences you have read literature. I don't know who's to say that, you know, that the certainly the emotional experience is as real. You know, the feeling of horror, of shock of all of sadness, of empathy, of introspection, all the things that fiction can invoke in you, is a very real, authentic reaction to something that is entirely fake. And so I'm sort of in very confused by this.
Eric Weinstein 1:22:13 See, Josh, you and I have never met. The thing that I am talking to now is the projection of you inside of my head, which I have never left, right. That comes from the stimulation. I mean, I believe that I have eyes. I don't want to get completely jiggy. But just assume that reality is the standard picture of reality. I see you as being across the room from me, but that's not the thing that that's really happening. What's really happening if if everything I know to be is correct, is that the thing across the room for me generated a model in my mind, which is the only thing I've ever interacted with that is Josh. And what is astounding if you know the phrase, the map is not the territory is the other part of that. Which is, but wow, what a goddamn map it is because it's so close to the territory that we were astounded when we find the discrepancies, the deltas between the map and the territory.
Josh Wolfe 1:23:11 So this is all these things to me are related the technological gap that shrinks between the simulacrum and reality, the expectation that we have that we're sitting across model to model right, the awareness which others might not have that I am actually looking at the you have, you know, a 10th of a second ago in the past and not you know, you
Eric Weinstein 1:23:36 to deal with us as we live 43 milliseconds on the path
Unknown Speaker 1:23:39 which is fascinating, right? But true.
Unknown Speaker 1:23:42 So being that there is a David Eagleman Right, exactly, and, but but
Josh Wolfe 1:23:51 the idea of, of the model itself,
and something you said about you know, confounding sort of expectations are surprised The most. We talked about consciousness for a second. Sure. The most persuasive argument that I've heard about consciousness goes back to Jeff Hawkins when he wrote on intelligence, and I think he took from the hierarchical structure of Santiago rimoni call and the idea of memory prediction. So if you see my shoes, and you say, okay, that's Josh and I have a lot you have model now, you see me again, maybe just see the elements of the shoe and you predict from the specific to the general and you say that that's gonna be Josh, but if it wasn't Josh, it was your brother Fred is sitting here, he's wearing my shoes up, you know, you have an emotional surprise. The surprise adjusts the weight of your model, yep, biologically, and said, Well, that wasn't a surprise and informational surprise, and it shocks you into updating your model. And, and and this phenomenon of memory prediction, in technology, in us thinking about ourselves in the gap between fiction In reality, in the work of philosophers that at the moment I find really interesting like Carl Friston and and Andy Clark. They're all thinking about how this model of reality that we hold then interacts with the real world. Assuming that exists, right. And, and. And then just, it's constantly feedback between the two. It's, it's, to me where technology is trending is is right at this nexus, where it's becoming harder and harder to know. We're modeling reality, that line is becoming thinner and thinner. And I think I think there's gonna be a whole suite of engineers and technologists that go mad because of it.
Eric Weinstein 1:25:45 Well, at the moment, we're, you know, we're experimenting because Joe Rogan has left so much of his voice in the world. We can train deep fake
Unknown Speaker 1:25:53 Rogan's. Yeah. And deep fake Weinstein's.
Eric Weinstein 1:25:56 Well, increasingly, I'll leave a larger corpus and the machines will Better. So now you have deep fakes everywhere. And then there's going to be increasingly an issue about what is authenticity? What is its dependable signature. So we'll be able to manufacture a haystack around everything we wish to hide as a needle.
Unknown Speaker 1:26:17 So
Josh Wolfe 1:26:20 if you think about finding opportunity, between abundance and scarcity, yeah, in the late 90s, the thing that became really abundant was everybody producing blogs and information online, and the scarce thing was being able to find that needle in that haystack. And so air go search engines, Google, it wasn't maybe obvious amongst the 20 that preceded it. But post facto in hindsight, you save money, of course. Today, with the abundance of the tools we have, whether they're video editing, or photoshopping, or audio, or whatever comes next Yeah, we're the simulacrum. And that distance between reality and simulation keeps shrinking in what we're using to train our technologies and in our own perception of reality, news and information. the abundance of that means that there's something scarce and the scarce thing is being able to accurately detect veracity. And so I feel like there will be an increasing weight of value put on tools that can detect, is that photo real? Is there some aberration in that voice and it's still going to be somewhat perceptible and detectable if you watch these deep fakes of Obama or Zuckerberg, you know, the things that people post online to the native is very hard to detect. They're still it's past the uncanny valley. But there's still this weird
Eric Weinstein 1:27:30 habit that's gonna shrink, it will.
Josh Wolfe 1:27:32 This gap is absolutely shrinking. But But technology can still detect that it can
Eric Weinstein 1:27:35 still have an arms race, as we've always seen in nature. So we were talking before about Bateson and malaria and mimicry,
Josh Wolfe 1:27:41 yes. Or deception and detection.
Eric Weinstein 1:27:44 Yes. And the idea that if two things are different than there's almost always going to be something that can tell the two apart, but that becomes increasingly expensive and invasive. And I don't think that I mean, I don't think this game that we've been living in and calling life is long for this planet.
Unknown Speaker 1:28:07 Okay, that's provocative.
Eric Weinstein 1:28:09 But this is the portal we have to get out of here. Where are we going? Well, there's one phrase that constantly recurs in my mind. And I've decided to give it a nonzero weight value just to shut it up. But the phrases are home is in the stars or not at all.
Unknown Speaker 1:28:27 So, okay,
Eric Weinstein 1:28:28 and my belief is, is that we can talk about uploading, we can talk about an outbreak of wisdom that allows us to be good stewards of our planet. But more or less in the mid 20th century, around 1950 to 254. We had two discoveries, that almost certainly we should all be able to calculate, start at a clock. Where if we don't get out of here, and spread out and try a bunch of different experiments, and of course, that's probably impossible. And it's also probably impossible to diversify it enough. And where would we For all sorts of issues,
Josh Wolfe 1:29:01 but is your application a metaphor that
a literal that we're going to the stars, we're going to go to Mars or wherever it might be, we're going to outer space we're leaving this planet or, or is it a? Is it a metaphor? poetic metaphor of?
Unknown Speaker 1:29:14 I wish it was a metaphor.
Eric Weinstein 1:29:16 I wish I wish it wasn't what I'm actually saying. But if I if I say it straight
Unknown Speaker 1:29:21 to straight.
Eric Weinstein 1:29:23 We are about to hack our own source code. And there's this very bizarre thing that has happened in technology, which is, we are very afraid that we are the ones who can simulate humans, let's say with Boston Dynamics. And we can simulate speech with deep learning and all of these sorts of things. Okay. We are afraid that our technology is about to become artificially generally intelligent and self aware, or begin to run out of control. went out with us. But we're also at the same exact moment wondering are we part of a simulation where there are programmers? Now, the obvious implication is almost never discussed, which is we are the emergent artificially general intelligence. And we are on the verge of learning our own source code. And is the simulator afraid that we are going to arise in the system with powers that the simulator does not possess? I don't know. Why are we worried about it in one direction after like we've we've become deeply nonsensical because if you look at the decision tree, and this is the really hard thing to grasp, and push the decision tree out 500 years there is no branch of the decision tree that does not look insane.
Unknown Speaker 1:30:53 That part I might agree with because I either we're going to upload
Eric Weinstein 1:30:57 or we're going to become wise and kind We're going to diversify into the three rocks that we can reach without violating the Einsteinian speed limit. And somehow that'll be enough, or we're gonna get around the Einsteinian speed limit. Or we're going to reboot from tardigrades. What, whatever it is, yeah. But those things need not be mutually exclusive. Right? There might be different camps that pursue each of those different strategies. There is no branch of that decision tree that looks like us continuing on, more or less as we are with a little bit of improvement.
Josh Wolfe 1:31:25 That's probably true. I, by the way, when you see the we, I realized there's a large subset of maybe a growing subset and even though growing specific in technology, but I am staunchly not in the Bostrom camp, and then I think even the Sam Harris camp about AGI, I am much more in the David Deutsch camp. And, you know, this is a subtle and maybe very long argument. But I actually posed this to David recently on the idea about simulation and, and we're talking about mathematical concepts. You just sort of say what those camps are because I generally don't follow these. Well. Makes a philosophical argument that I think is widely celebrated and has, in the same way that if you go back 20 years in nanotechnology, you had Eric Drexler that was pointing a sort of pseudo scientific but had elements of science. argue about nanobots, you know, run amok, and he had his credible and wealthy technology champion, which at the time was Bill Joy. And so Bill Joy was basically warning you know, nanobots are going amok and so on. Today, you have Bostrom and boardrooms equivalent of Bill Joy today is Ilan, Elon Musk and, and, and very smart people are very concerned about, you know, US becoming, you know, paperclip factories and being harvested by intelligent sentient machines that are going to run amok and, and David Deutsch his view is a little bit more and this was something that I posted recently, that, you know, are we a simulation that that a simulation can take all of the tools and principles that that we have, or sorry, inside of a simulation, it can have all the tools that we give But but didn't need not have or may not have and probably won't have all the tools that are outside the simulation. And so he makes to me a more logical argument that the more dangerous thing is not any gi run amok, but your average, you know, 15 to 17 year old teenager,
Eric Weinstein 1:33:19 the cost of everything coming down and what power is put within reach,
Josh Wolfe 1:33:22 yeah, but we get more processing power, we get more memory, we have better algorithms, but, but, and everything in fairness that everybody said was going to be a limit of some human ability has been eclipsed, you know, from checkers to chess to go to, you know, even artistic creation and now generative text and, you know, that's another area and technologically we are, we had maybe five years ago in image net moment where you had greater than 90 or 95% computer accuracy of what a human could do in detecting objects in a picture in which the lots of errors and comical ones that people poke fun of online. Surprisingly, images are less common. text and text. And today were approaching the sort of uttering like moment of Turing test like moment of being able to have greater than 95% accuracy in being able to construct text complex conversational text conversational text taken from you know, your library have words and phrases that you're apt to use and you know, sort of in your voice where, where it would it would fool. If you were texting with Peter or or with Joe Rogan. Or me, you you would be fooled.
Eric Weinstein 1:34:34 I don't think I don't think you could fool me about Peter Know why? The level of surprise.
Josh Wolfe 1:34:42 Okay, that's it. That's an interesting test because we have a company that's doing this maybe that's a
Eric Weinstein 1:34:45 I mean, I think I can run Peter as well and emulation as many people I know. And you still confound yourself. And I mean, his operating system is not built the way the rest of ours is. Okay.
Josh Wolfe 1:34:58 All right. So let's put him aside. escapable anomaly but but but all these things are still parametrically constrained in the system, they can do that particular thing extremely well, they can look at images extremely well, they can navigate a road extremely well, they can search query from Jeopardy extremely well, but they can suddenly come out of that system. So if you accept that premise of it's a simulation, and it has the tools that you've put inside of it, but it can't go and create other tools that are outside of it, if you heard my riff on the square root. Now, here the square root is the really dangerous mathematical operation. Why? Because it allows you to ask questions within a system that have to be answered within another.
Eric Weinstein 1:35:38 Okay, so for example, there is something called the determinant of a matrix. But the square root that might exist is called the phosphine. That really requires an extra leap. Same thing with vectors become spinners, the square root of the anti symmetric tensor system brings out this thing out of the vacuum that you sort of didn't know, was lurking around. You know, it's like square root of negative one, right? We there's no answer in the real numbers, you pose the question in the real number. So this is the question of finding the portal. I've said it's the psychedelic of mathematics. Now, if you allow me to train a machine, and I find it very surprising that nobody talks about this, but the square root is the most dangerous operation known to mathematics. And if you teach a computer all of the instances in which a square root allowed humans to find even humans don't think of this. Right? They don't think how many times have we taken the square root and found a new universe waiting for us? I've never thought that. Weirdly, nobody does. I mean,
Josh Wolfe 1:36:54 somebody's Baby, you're saying if you could train a computer, to what fit finish that thought
Eric Weinstein 1:36:58 in That includes phosphenes, spinners, spin groups, normed division algebra is all the best stuff in my life comes from the square root
Josh Wolfe 1:37:12 mathematical geometry. Complex.
Eric Weinstein 1:37:15 It's there's nothing like it, man. Square root is is heroin is there's no operation that is as cool as the square root. And we don't tell people this and it's because a flatland I was born into flatland. But I learned from the Masters I learned from the people who innovated and I noticed this pattern that many of them didn't notice, like, to this day, I'm not aware of anyone teaching this. I'm not doing this at scale. I think I did this on Joe Rogan. Mostly I don't talk about it. But you want to teach people to bust out of the cognitive prisons teach them the square root.
Josh Wolfe 1:37:55 So if you could program into a machine the ability to detect the square root of Have any of these asked
Eric Weinstein 1:38:01 a question? Like you, you could ask the question. Yeah, assume you're given a system Yes. Assume that you're given a an operation that is the square root that is functional and part of that system and returns nonsensical answers in some other part. Ask yourself the question What can I join to the original system so that the square root will become meaningful? It's like you want to find you want to find the panic room and a house Yeah, that's how you find the book in the in the shelves that when you pull it out, swings open the bookcase and shows you the magnificent Crystal Palace that was hidden in your history Walker.
Josh Wolfe 1:38:42 That is that's your book,
Unknown Speaker 1:38:44 the danger of the square root and your squared. Well
Eric Weinstein 1:38:52 now while we're headed, look, this program is trying. This is my distribution channel. Mine entire life, I have had my access to the world gated by people who I've come not to respect.
Josh Wolfe 1:39:09 And now that gate is open, you've created a gate.
Eric Weinstein 1:39:11 you've created your own port until they've noticed. Yeah. Right. And you know, then they're gonna say, Well, I think you're dangerous. Dan dresner columnist for The Washington Post Professor toughs said about me, that everything that I think that's true isn't new. And everything that I think that I say, is new isn't isn't true. Yeah. So I am miraculously incapable of generating anything of interest. And I'm really looking forward to having him on the podcast.
Unknown Speaker 1:39:40 Have you invited him? He's being invited right now for the first time. Awesome. I hope he accepts. Josh,
Eric Weinstein 1:39:47 I could talk to you forever. I hope you're going to come back to the portal. And I don't think we talked a lot about venture capital. But I think what we did do is we talked about the thing that you do That infuses venture capital with hope and wonder and transcendence. And I hope to have another conversation with you soon. Which doesn't necessarily talk venture capital either.
Unknown Speaker 1:40:14 I'd love to love what you're doing. It's been we've had justic Thanks, man. All right,
Eric Weinstein 1:40:18 you've been through the portal with Josh wolf of Lux capital. And I hope that you will subscribe on Apple Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts and then head over to YouTube. And subscribe to our channel there and remember to click the bell so that you'll be notified when our next episode drops. Well