This week’s conversation is about artificial intelligence and interplanetary travel. Its about content creation, thinking from first principles, and death progress units. Its about brain machine interfaces and why it is crucial that you be a chef and not a cook.
My guest is Tim Urban, along with his business partner Andrew Finn. Tim is the most entertaining writer I’ve come across in years, who explains complicated and interesting topics to his millions of dedicated readers on the website “Wait, But Why.” As an example, Tim’s last post on Elon Musk’s neuralink venture is 40,000 words long, roughly the length of a short book. It explains almost all of human progress and our potential future using drawings and cartoons. Its impossible to stop reading.
While this conversation is wildly entertaining, it is also chock full of metaphors and lessons that will be useful to anyone doing creative work or building a company. I hope this leaves you as energized as it left me. I called this episode Grand Theft Life because that is the name that Tim and Andrew give to their worldview, which I think will change the way you behave, too. Please enjoy my conversation with Tim Urban.
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1:50 – (First question) – Explaining his concept of planets 1, 2, 3 and 4 and understanding the human colossus
5:46 – Tim’s favorite idea of the human knowledge compounding
7:52 – Die Progress Units (DPU)
9:45 – Different stages of AI and the positives and negatives of each stage
14;04 – What happens when AI gains breadth and general intelligence
16:23 – The idea of a cook vs a chef and how Tim had the chance to interview Elon Musk
17:48 – Why you should reason from first principles instead of reasoning by analogies
25:19 – Why it’s possible to turn a cook into a chef
30:08 – Why being a chef is the safer route in a world with AI and what Tim has changed in himself as to why.
31:22 – Looking at the discovery process
40:01 – Being the person who creates the metaphor vs being the people who simply using them
44:54 – Most fun that Tim has had researching a topic
46:08 – Musk model for attaining your goals
53:43 – Why not caring what people think is one of the world’s best superpowers, grand theft life
56:50 – Neuralink – what is it and how did Tim come to research it
1:02:38 – Elon Musk’s concerns about AI
1:14:28 – What then if the Neuralink concept works out
1:18:02 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Tim