We are becoming cyborgs.
Our brains are fundamentally changed.
Everyone who grew up with electronics,
we are fundamentally different from previous,
from homo sapiens.
I call us homo techno.
I think we have evolved into homo techno,
which is like essentially a new species.
Previous technologies, I mean,
may have even been more profound
and moved us to a certain degree,
but I think the computers are what make us homo techno.
I think this is what, it’s a brain augmentation.
So it like allows for actual evolution.
Like the computers accelerate the degree
to which all the other technologies can also be accelerated.
Would you classify yourself as a homo sapien or a homo techno?
Definitely homo techno.
So you’re one of the earliest of the species.
I think most of us are.
The following is a conversation with Grimes,
an artist, musician, songwriter, producer, director,
and a fascinating human being
who thinks a lot about both the history
and the future of human civilization.
Studying the dark periods of our past
to help form an optimistic vision of our future.
This is the Lex Friedman podcast.
To support it, please check out our sponsors
in the description.
And now, dear friends, here’s Grimes.
Oh yeah, the cloud lifter, there you go.
There you go.
You know your stuff.
Have you ever used a cloud lifter?
Yeah, I actually, this microphone cloud lifter
is what Michael Jackson used, so.
Yeah, this is like Thriller and stuff.
This mic and a cloud lifter?
Yeah, it’s a incredible microphone.
It’s very flattering on vocals.
I’ve used this a lot.
It’s great for demo vocals.
It’s great in a room.
Sometimes it’s easier to record vocals
if you’re just in a room and the music’s playing
and you just wanna feel it so it’s not in the headphones.
And this mic is pretty directional,
so I think it’s a good mic for just vibing out
and just getting a real good vocal take.
Just vibing, just in a room.
Anyway, this is the Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones
I feel way more badass now.
All right, you wanna just get into it?
I guess so.
All right, one of your names, at least in this space
and time, is C, like the letter C.
And you told me that C means a lot of things.
It’s the speed of light.
It’s the render rate of the universe.
It’s yes in Spanish.
It’s the crescent moon.
And it happens to be my favorite programming language
because it basically runs the world,
but it’s also powerful, fast, and it’s dangerous
because you can mess things up really bad with it
because of all the pointers.
But anyway, which of these associations
will the name C is the coolest to you?
I mean, to me, the coolest is the speed of light,
obviously, or the speed of light.
When I say render rate of the universe,
I think I mean the speed of light
because essentially that’s what we’re rendering at.
See, I think we’ll know if we’re in a simulation
if the speed of light changes
because if they can improve their render speed, then.
Well, it’s already pretty good.
It’s already pretty good, but if it improves,
then we’ll know, we can probably be like,
okay, they’ve updated or upgraded.
Well, it’s fast enough for us humans
because it seems immediate.
There’s no delay, there’s no latency
in terms of us humans on Earth interacting with things.
But if you’re like intergalactic species
operating on a much larger scale,
then you’re gonna start noticing some weird stuff.
Or if you can operate in like around a black hole,
then you’re gonna start to see some render issues.
You can’t go faster than the speed of light, correct?
So it really limits our ability
or one’s ability to travel space.
Theoretically, you can, you have wormholes.
So there’s nothing in general relativity
that precludes faster than the speed of light travel.
But it just seems you’re gonna have to do
some really funky stuff with very heavy things
that have like weirdnesses,
that have basically terrors in space time.
We don’t know how to do that.
Do navigators know how to do it?
Do navigators? Yeah.
Folding space, basically making wormholes.
So the name C. Yes.
Who are you?
Do you think of yourself as multiple people?
Are you one person?
Do you know, like in this morning,
were you a different person than you are tonight?
We are, I should say, recording this basically at midnight,
which is awesome. Yes, thank you so much.
I think I’m about eight hours late.
No, you’re right on time.
This is the beginning of a new day soon.
Anyway, are you the same person
you were in the morning and the evening?
Is there multiple people in there?
Do you think of yourself as one person?
Or maybe you have no clue?
Or are you just a giant mystery to yourself?
Okay, these are really intense questions, but.
Let’s go, let’s go.
Because I asked this myself, like look in the mirror,
who are you?
People tell you to just be yourself,
but what does that even mean?
I mean, I think my personality changes
with everyone I talk to.
So I have a very inconsistent personality.
Person to person, so the interaction,
your personality materializes.
Or my mood.
Like I’ll go from being like a megalomaniac
to being like, you know, just like a total hermit
who is very shy.
So some combinatorial combination of your mood
and the person you’re interacting with.
Yeah, mood and people I’m interacting with.
But I think everyone’s like that.
Well, not everybody acknowledges it
and able to introspect it.
Who brings out, what kind of person,
what kind of mood brings out the best in you?
As an artist and as a human.
Can you introspect this?
Like my best friends, like people I can,
when I’m like super confident
and I know that they’re gonna understand
everything I’m saying, so like my best friends,
then when I can start being really funny,
that’s always my like peak mode.
But it’s like, yeah, takes a lot to get there.
Let’s talk about constraints.
You’ve talked about constraints and limits.
Do those help you out as an artist or as a human being?
Or do they get in the way?
Do you like the constraints?
So in creating music, in creating art, in living life,
do you like the constraints that this world puts on you?
Or do you hate them?
If constraints are moving, then you’re good, right?
Like it’s like as we are progressing with technology,
we’re changing the constraints of like artistic creation.
You know, making video and music and stuff
is getting a lot cheaper.
There’s constantly new technology and new software
that’s making it faster and easier.
We have so much more freedom than we had in the 70s.
Like when Michael Jackson, you know,
when they recorded Thriller with this microphone,
like they had to use a mixing desk and all this stuff.
And like probably even get in a studio,
it’s probably really expensive
and you have to be a really good singer
and you have to know how to use
like the mixing desk and everything.
And now I can just, you know,
make I’ve made a whole album on this computer.
I have a lot more freedom,
but then I’m also constrained in different ways
because there’s like literally millions more artists.
It’s like a much bigger playing field.
It’s just like, I also, I didn’t learn music.
I’m not a natural musician.
So I don’t know anything about actual music.
I just know about like the computer.
So I’m really kind of just like messing around
and like trying things out.
Well, yeah, I mean, but the nature of music is changing.
So you’re saying you don’t know actual music,
what music is changing.
Music is becoming, you’ve talked about this,
is becoming, it’s like merging with technology.
It’s becoming something more than just like
the notes on a piano.
It’s becoming some weird composition
that requires engineering skills, programming skills,
some kind of human robot interaction skills,
and still some of the same things that Michael Jackson had,
which is like a good ear for a good sense of taste
of what’s good and not the final thing
when it’s put together.
Like you’re allowed, you’re enabled, empowered
with a laptop to layer stuff,
to start like layering insane amounts of stuff.
And it’s super easy to do that.
I do think music production is a really underrated art form.
I feel like people really don’t appreciate it.
When I look at publishing splits,
the way that people like pay producers and stuff,
it’s super, producers are just deeply underrated.
Like so many of the songs that are popular right now
or for the last 20 years,
like part of the reason they’re popular
is because the production is really interesting
or really sick or really cool.
And it’s like, I don’t think listeners,
like people just don’t really understand
what music production is.
It’s not, it’s sort of like this weird,
discombobulated art form.
It’s not like a formal, because it’s so new,
there isn’t like a formal training path for it.
It’s mostly driven by like autodidacts.
Like it’s like almost everyone I know
who’s good at production,
like they didn’t go to music school or anything.
They just taught themselves.
Are they’re mostly different?
Like the music producers, you know,
is there some commonalities that time together
or are they all just different kinds of weirdos?
Cause I just, I just hung out with Rick Rubin.
I don’t know if you’ve.
Yeah, I mean, Rick Rubin is like literally
one of the gods of music production.
Like he’s one of the people who first,
you know, who like made music production,
you know, made the production as important
as the actual lyrics or the notes.
But the thing he does, which is interesting,
I don’t know if you can speak to that,
but just hanging out with him,
he seems to just sit there in silence,
close his eyes and listen.
It’s like, he almost does nothing.
And that nothing somehow gives you freedom
to be the best version of yourself.
So that’s music production somehow too,
which is like encouraging you to do less,
to simplify, to like push towards minimalism.
I mean, I guess, I mean,
I work differently from Rick Rubin
cause Rick Rubin produces for other artists,
whereas like I mostly produce for myself.
So it’s a very different situation.
I also think Rick Rubin, he’s in that,
I would say advanced category of producer
where like you’ve like earned your,
you can have an engineer and stuff
and people like do the stuff for you.
But I usually just like do stuff myself.
So you’re the engineer, the producer and the artist.
Yeah, I guess I would say I’m in the era,
like the post Rick Rubin era.
Like I come from the kind of like
Skrillex school of thought,
which is like where you are.
Yeah, the engineer, producer, artist.
Like where, I mean lately,
sometimes I’ll work with a producer now.
I’m gently sort of delicately starting
to collaborate a bit more,
but like I think I’m kind of from the,
like the whatever 2010s explosion of things
where everything became available on the computer
and you kind of got this like lone wizard energy thing going.
So you embraced being the loneliness.
Is the loneliness somehow an engine of creativity?
Like, so most of your stuff,
most of your creative quote unquote genius in quotes
is in the privacy of your mind.
Yes, well, it was,
but here’s the thing.
I was talking to Daniel Eck and he said,
he’s like most artists, they have about 10 years,
like 10 good years.
And then they usually stop making their like vital shit.
And I feel like I’m sort of like nearing the end
of my 10 years on my own.
So you have to become somebody else.
Now I’m like, I’m in the process
of becoming somebody else and reinventing.
When I work with other people,
because I’ve never worked with other people,
I find that I make like, that I’m exceptionally rejuvenated
and making like some of the most vital work I’ve ever made.
So, because I think another human brain
is like one of the best tools you can possibly find.
It’s a funny way to put it, I love it.
It’s like if a tool is like, you know,
whatever HP plus one or like adds some like stats
to your character, like another human brain
will like square it instead of just like adding something.
Double up the experience points, I love this.
We should also mention we’re playing Tavern music
before this and which I love, which I first,
I think I first.
You had to stop the Tavern music.
Yeah, because it doesn’t, the audio.
But it makes.
Yeah, it’ll make the podcast annoying.
Add it in post, add it in post.
No one will want to listen to the podcast.
They probably would, but it makes me,
it reminds me like of a video game,
like a role playing video game
where you have experience points.
There’s something really joyful about wandering places
like Elder Scrolls, like Skyrim,
just exploring these landscapes in another world
and then you get experience points
and you can work on different skills
and somehow you progress in life.
I don’t know, it’s simple.
It doesn’t have some of the messy complexities of life
and there’s usually a bad guy you can fight in Skyrim.
It’s dragons and so on.
I’m sure in Elden Ring,
there’s a bunch of monsters you can fight.
I love that.
I feel like Elden Ring,
I feel like this is a good analogy
to music production though
because it’s like, I feel like the engineers
and the people creating these open worlds are,
it’s sort of like similar to people, to music producers
where it’s like this hidden archetype
that like no one really understands what they do
and no one really knows who they are,
but they’re like, it’s like the artist engineer
because it’s like, it’s both art
and fairly complex engineering.
Well, you’re saying they don’t get enough credit.
Aren’t you kind of changing that
by becoming the person doing everything?
Aren’t you, isn’t the engineer?
Well, I mean, others have gone before me.
I’m not, you know, there’s like Timbaland and Skrillex
and there’s all these people that are like,
you know, very famous for this,
but I just think the general,
I think people get confused about what it is
and just don’t really know what it is per se
and it’s just when I see a song,
like when there’s like a hit song,
like I’m just trying to think of like,
just going for like even just a basic pop hit,
like, what’s it?
Like Rules by Dua Lipa or something.
The production on that is actually like really crazy.
I mean, the song is also great,
but it’s like the production is exceptionally memorable.
Like, you know, and it’s just like no one,
I can’t, I don’t even know who produced that song.
It’s just like, isn’t part of like the rhetoric
of how we just discuss the creation of art.
We just sort of like don’t consider the music producer
because I think the music producer used to be more
just simply recording things.
Yeah, that’s interesting
because when you think about movies,
we talk about the actor and the actresses,
but we also talk about the directors.
We don’t talk about like that with the music as often.
The Beatles music producer
was one of the first kind of guy,
one of the first people sort of introducing
crazy sound design into pop music.
I forget his name.
He has the same, I forget his name,
but you know, like he was doing all the weird stuff
like dropping pianos and like, yeah.
Oh, to get the, yeah, yeah, yeah,
to get the sound, to get the authentic sound.
What about lyrics?
You think those, where did they fit
into how important they are?
I was heartbroken to learn
that Elvis didn’t write his songs.
I was very mad.
A lot of people don’t write their songs.
I understand this, but.
But here’s the thing.
I feel like there’s this desire for authenticity.
I used to be like really mad
when like people wouldn’t write or produce their music
and I’d be like, that’s fake.
And then I realized there’s all this like weird bitterness
and like agronus in art about authenticity.
But I had this kind of like weird realization recently
where I started thinking that like art
is sort of a decentralized collective thing.
Like art is kind of a conversation
with all the artists that have ever lived before you.
You know, like it’s like, you’re really just sort of,
it’s not like anyone’s reinventing the wheel here.
Like you’re kind of just taking, you know,
thousands of years of art
and like running it through your own little algorithm
and then like making your interpretation of it.
You just joined the conversation
with all the other artists that came before.
It’s just a beautiful way to look at it.
Like, and it’s like, I feel like everyone’s always like,
there’s all this copyright and IP and this and that
And it’s just like, I think we need to stop seeing this
as this like egotistical thing of like,
oh, the creative genius, the lone creative genius
or this or that.
Because it’s like, I think art shouldn’t be about that.
I think art is something that sort of
brings humanity together.
And it’s also, art is also kind of the collective memory
It’s like, we don’t give a fuck about
whatever ancient Egypt,
like how much grain got sent that day
and sending the records and like, you know,
like who went where and, you know,
how many shields needed to be produced for this.
Like we just remember their art.
And it’s like, you know, it’s like in our day to day life,
there’s all this stuff that seems more important than art
because it helps us function and survive.
But when all this is gone,
like the only thing that’s really gonna be left is the art.
The technology will be obsolete.
That’s so fascinating.
Like the humans will be dead.
That is true.
A good compression of human history
is the art we’ve generated across the different centuries,
the different millennia.
So when the aliens come.
When the aliens come,
they’re gonna find the hieroglyphics and the pyramids.
I mean, art could be broadly defined.
They might find like the engineering marvels,
the bridges, the rockets, the.
I guess I sort of classify though.
Architecture is art too.
I consider engineering in those formats to be art, for sure.
It sucks that like digital art is easier to delete.
So if there’s an apocalypse, a nuclear war,
that can disappear.
And the physical.
There’s something still valuable
about the physical manifestation of art.
That sucks that like music, for example,
has to be played by somebody.
Yeah, I do think we should have a foundation type situation
where we like, you know how we have like seed banks
up in the north and stuff?
Like we should probably have like a solar powered
or geothermal little bunker
that like has all human knowledge.
You mentioned Daniel Ek and Spotify.
What do you think about that as an artist?
Is that empowering?
To me, Spotify as a consumer is super exciting.
It makes it easy for me to access music
from all kinds of artists,
get to explore all kinds of music,
make it super easy to sort of curate my own playlist
and have fun with all that.
It was so liberating to let go.
You know, I used to collect, you know,
albums and CDs and so on, like horde albums.
Like they matter.
But the reality you could, you know,
that was really liberating that I could let go of that.
And letting go of the albums you’re kind of collecting
allows you to find new music,
exploring new artists and all that kind of stuff.
But I know from a perspective of an artist that could be,
like you mentioned,
competition could be a kind of constraint
because there’s more and more and more artists
on the platform.
I think it’s better that there’s more artists.
I mean, again, this might be propaganda
because this is all from a conversation with Daniel Ek.
So this could easily be propaganda.
We’re all a victim of somebody’s propaganda.
So let’s just accept this.
But Daniel Ek was telling me that, you know,
at the, because I, you know, when I met him,
I came in all furious about Spotify
and like I grilled him super hard.
So I’ve got his answers here.
But he was saying like at the sort of peak
of the CD industry,
there was like 20,000 artists making millions
and millions of dollars.
Like there was just like a very tiny kind of 1%.
And Spotify has kind of democratized the industry
because now I think he said there’s about a million artists
making a good living from Spotify.
And when I heard that, I was like, honestly,
I would rather make less money
and have just like a decent living
and have more artists be able to have that,
even though I like, I wish it could include everyone, but.
Yeah, that’s really hard to argue with.
YouTube is the same.
It’s YouTube’s mission.
They want to basically have as many creators as possible
and make a living, some kind of living.
And that’s so hard to argue with.
It’s so hard.
But I think there’s better ways to do it.
My manager, I actually wish he was here.
Like I would have brought him up.
My manager is building an app that can manage you.
So it’ll like help you organize your percentages
and get your publishing and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.
So you can take out all the middlemen
so you can have a much bigger,
it’ll just like automate it.
So you can get.
So automate the manager?
Automate management, publishing,
and legal, it can read,
the app he’s building can read your contract
and like tell you about it.
Because one of the issues with music right now,
it’s not that we’re not getting paid enough,
but it’s that the art industry is filled with middlemen
because artists are not good at business.
And from the beginning, like Frank Sinatra,
it’s all mob stuff.
Like it’s the music industry is run by business people,
not the artists and the artists really get very small cuts
of like what they make.
And so I think part of the reason I’m a technocrat,
which I mean, your fans are gonna be technocrats.
So no one’s, they’re not gonna be mad at me about this,
but like my fans hate it when I say this kind of thing
or the general public.
They don’t like technocrats.
Like when I watched Battle Angel Alita
and they were like the Martian technocracy
and I was like, yeah, Martian technocracy.
And then they were like, and they’re evil.
And I was like, oh, okay.
I was like, cause Martian technocracy sounds sick to me.
Yeah, so your intuition as technocrats
would create some kind of beautiful world.
For example, what my manager’s working on,
if you can create an app that removes the need for a lawyer
and then you could have smart contracts on the blockchain,
removes the need for like management
and organizing all this stuff,
like can read your stuff and explain it to you,
can collect your royalties, you know,
like then the small amounts,
the amount of money that you’re getting from Spotify
actually means a lot more and goes a lot farther.
It can remove some of the bureaucracy,
some of the inefficiencies that make life
not as great as it could be.
Yeah, I think the issue isn’t that there’s not enough.
Like the issue is that there’s inefficiency
and I’m really into this positive sum mindset,
you know, the win, win mindset of like,
instead of, you know, fighting over the scraps,
how do we make the, or worrying about scarcity,
like instead of a scarcity mindset,
why don’t we just increase the efficiency
and, you know, in that way.
Expand the size of the pie.
Let me ask you about experimentation.
So you said, which is beautiful,
being a musician is like having a conversation
with all those that came before you.
How much of creating music is like
kind of having that conversation,
trying to fit into the cultural trends
and how much of it is like trying to,
as much as possible, be an outsider
and come up with something totally new.
It’s like when you’re thinking,
when you’re experimenting,
are you trying to be totally different, totally weird?
Are you trying to fit in?
Man, this is so hard because I feel like I’m
kind of in the process of semi retiring from music,
so this is like my old brain.
Yeah, bring it from like the shelf,
put it on the table for a couple minutes,
we’ll just poke it.
I think it’s a bit of both
because I think forcing yourself to engage with new music
is really great for neuroplasticity.
Like I think, you know, as people,
part of the reason music is marketed at young people
is because young people are very neuroplastic.
So like if you’re 16 to like 23 or whatever,
it’s gonna be really easy for you to love new music.
And if you’re older than that,
it gets harder and harder and harder.
And I think one of the beautiful things
about being a musician is I just constantly force myself
to listen to new music
and I think it keeps my brain really plastic.
And I think this is a really good exercise.
I just think everyone should do this.
You listen to new music and you hate it,
I think you should just keep, force yourself to like,
okay, well why do people like it?
And like, you know, make your brain form new neural pathways
and be more open to change.
That’s really brilliant actually.
Sorry to interrupt, but like that exercise
is really amazing to sort of embrace change,
embrace sort of practice neuroplasticity.
Because like that’s one of the things,
you fall in love with a certain band
and you just kind of stay with that for the rest of your life
and then you never understand the modern music.
That’s a really good exercise.
Most of the streaming on Spotify
is like classic rock and stuff.
Like new music makes up a very small chunk
of what is played on Spotify.
And I think this is like not a good sign for us as a species.
I think, yeah.
So it’s a good measure of the species open mindedness
to change is how often you listen to new music.
The brain, let’s put the music brain back on the shelf.
I gotta pull out the futurist brain for a second.
In what wild ways do you think the future,
say in like 30 years, maybe 50 years,
maybe a hundred years will be different
from our current way of life on earth?
We can talk about augmented reality, virtual reality,
maybe robots, maybe space travel, maybe video games,
maybe genetic engineering.
I can keep going.
Cyborgs, aliens, world wars,
maybe destructive nuclear wars, good and bad.
When you think about the future, what are you imagining?
What’s the weirdest and the wildest it could be?
Have you read Surface Detail by Iain Banks?
Surface Detail is my favorite depiction of a,
oh wow, you have to read this book.
It’s literally the greatest science fiction book
possibly ever written.
Iain Banks is the man, yeah, for sure.
What have you read?
Just the Player of Games.
I read that titles can’t be copyrighted
so you can just steal them.
And I was like, Player of Games, sick.
Yeah, so you can name your album.
Like I always wanted to.
Romeo and Juliet or something.
I always wanted to name an album War and Peace.
Like that would be, like you.
That is a good, that’s a good,
where have I heard that before?
You can do that, like you could do that.
Also things that are in the public domain.
For people who have no clue,
you do have a song called Player of Games.
Yes, oh yeah.
So Iain Banks, Surface Detail is in my opinion
the best future that I’ve ever read about
or heard about in science fiction.
Basically there’s the relationship with super intelligence,
like artificial super intelligence is just, it’s like great.
I want to credit the person who coined this term
because I love this term.
And I feel like young women don’t get enough credit in.
Yeah, so if you go to Protopia Futures on Instagram,
what is her name?
Personalized donor experience at scale,
our AI power donor experience.
Monica Bealskite, I’m saying that wrong.
And I’m probably gonna, I’m probably butchering this a bit,
but Protopia is sort of, if utopia is unattainable,
Protopia is sort of like, you know.
Wow, that’s an awesome Instagram, Protopia Futures.
A great, a future that is, you know, as good as we can get.
The future, positive future.
AI, is this a centralized AI in Surface Detail
or is it distributed?
What kind of AI is it?
They mostly exist as giant super ships,
like sort of like the guild ships in Dune.
Like they’re these giant ships that kind of move people
around and the ships are sentient
and they can talk to all the passengers.
And I mean, there’s a lot of different types of AI
in the Banksyan future,
but in the opening scene of Surface Detail,
there’s this place called the Culture
and the Culture is basically a Protopian future.
And a Protopian future, I think,
is like a future that is like,
obviously it’s not utopia, it’s not perfect.
And like, cause like striving for utopia,
I think feels hopeless and it’s sort of like,
maybe not the best terminology to be using.
So it’s like, it’s a pretty good place.
Like mostly like, you know,
super intelligence and biological beings
exist fairly in harmony.
There’s not too much war.
There’s like as close to equality as you can get,
you know, it’s like approximately a good future.
Like there’s really awesome stuff.
It’s, and in the opening scene,
this girl, she’s born as a sex slave outside of the culture.
So she’s in a society that doesn’t adhere
to the cultural values.
She tries to kill the guy who is her like master,
but he kills her, but unbeknownst to her,
when she was traveling on a ship through the culture
with him one day, a ship put a neural lace
in her head and neural lace is sort of like,
it’s basically a Neuralink because life imitates art.
It does indeed.
So she wakes up and the opening scene is her memory
has been uploaded by this neural lace
when she has been killed.
And now she gets to choose a new body.
And this AI is interfacing with her recorded memory
in her neural lace and helping her and being like,
hello, you’re dead.
But because you had a neural lace, your memory’s uploaded.
Do you want to choose a new body?
And you’re going to be born here in the culture
and like start a new life, which is just,
that’s like the opening.
It’s like so sick.
And the ship is the super intelligence.
All the ships are kind of super intelligence.
But they still want to preserve a kind of rich,
fulfilling experience for the humans.
Yeah, like they’re like friends with the humans.
And then there’s a bunch of ships that don’t want to exist
with biological beings, but they just have their own place
like way over there.
But they don’t, they just do their own thing.
They’re not necessarily.
So it’s a pretty, this protopian existence is pretty peaceful.
Yeah, I mean, and then, for example,
one of the main fights in the book is they’re fighting,
there’s these artificial hells that,
and people don’t think it’s ethical to have artificial hell.
Like basically when people do crime, they get sent,
like when they die, their memory gets sent
to an artificial hell and they’re eternally tortured.
And so, and then the way that society is deciding
whether or not to have the artificial hell
is that they’re having these simulated,
they’re having like a simulated war.
So instead of actual blood, you know,
people are basically essentially fighting in a video game
to choose the outcome of this.
But they’re still experiencing the suffering
in this artificial hell or no?
Can you experience stuff or?
So the artificial hell sucks.
And a lot of people in the culture want to get rid
of the artificial hell.
There’s a simulated wars,
are they happening in the artificial hell?
So no, the simulated wars are happening
outside of the artificial hell,
between the political factions who are,
so this political faction says we should have simulated hell
to deter crime.
And this political faction is saying,
no, simulated hell is unethical.
And so instead of like having, you know,
blowing each other up with nukes,
they’re having like a giant Fortnite battle
to decide this, which, you know, to me that’s protopia.
That’s like, okay, we can have war without death.
You know, I don’t think there should be simulated hells.
I think that is definitely one of the ways
in which technology could go very, very, very, very wrong.
So almost punishing people in a digital space
or something like that.
Yeah, like torturing people’s memories.
So either as a deterrent, like if you committed a crime,
but also just for personal pleasure,
if there’s some sick, demented humans in this world.
Dan Carlin actually has this
episode of Hardcore History on painful attainment.
Oh, that episode is fucked.
It’s dark, because he kind of goes through human history
and says like, we as humans seem to enjoy,
secretly enjoy or used to be openly enjoy
sort of the torture and the death,
watching the death and torture of other humans.
I do think if people were consenting,
we should be allowed to have gladiatorial matches.
But consent is hard to achieve in those situations.
It always starts getting slippery.
Like it could be also forced consent,
like it starts getting weird.
There’s way too much excitement.
Like this is what he highlights.
There’s something about human nature
that wants to see that violence.
And it’s really dark.
And you hope that we can sort of overcome
that aspect of human nature,
but that’s still within us somewhere.
Well, I think that’s what we’re doing right now.
I have this theory that what is very important
about the current moment is that all of evolution
has been survival of the fittest up until now.
And at some point, the lines are kind of fuzzy,
but in the recent past, or maybe even just right now,
we’re getting to this point
where we can choose intelligent design.
Like we probably since like the integration of the iPhone,
like we are becoming cyborgs.
Like our brains are fundamentally changed.
Everyone who grew up with electronics,
we are fundamentally different from previous,
from homo sapiens.
I call us homo techno.
I think we have evolved into homo techno,
which is like essentially a new species.
Like if you look at the way,
if you took an MRI of my brain
and you took an MRI of like a medieval brain,
I think it would be very different
the way that it has evolved.
Do you think when historians look back at this time,
they’ll see like this was a fundamental shift
to what a human being is?
I think, I do not think we are still homo sapiens.
I believe we are homo techno.
And I think we have evolved.
And I think right now, the way we are evolving,
we can choose how we do that.
And I think we are being very reckless
about how we’re doing that.
Like we’re just having social media,
but I think this idea that like this is a time
to choose intelligent design should be taken very seriously.
It like now is the moment to reprogram the human computer.
It’s like, if you go blind,
your visual cortex will get taken over
with other functions.
We can choose our own evolution.
We can change the way our brains work.
And so we actually have a huge responsibility to do that.
And I think I’m not sure who should be responsible for that,
but there’s definitely not adequate education.
We’re being inundated with all this technology
that is fundamentally changing
the physical structure of our brains.
And we are not adequately responding to that
to choose how we wanna evolve.
And we could evolve, we could be really whatever we want.
And I think this is a really important time.
And I think if we choose correctly and we choose wisely,
consciousness could exist for a very long time
and integration with AI could be extremely positive.
And I don’t think enough people are focusing
on this specific situation.
Do you think we might irreversibly screw things up
if we get things wrong now?
Because the flip side of that,
it seems humans are pretty adaptive.
So maybe the way we figure things out
is by screwing it up, like social media.
Over a generation, we’ll see the negative effects
of social media, and then we build new social medias,
and we just keep improving stuff.
And then we learn from the failures of the past.
Because humans seem to be really adaptive.
On the flip side, we can get it wrong in a way
where literally we create weapons of war
or increase hate.
Past a certain threshold, we really do a lot of damage.
I mean, I think we’re optimized
to notice the negative things.
But I would actually say one of the things
that I think people aren’t noticing
is if you look at Silicon Valley
and you look at the technocracy,
like what’s been happening there.
When Silicon Valley started, it was all just Facebook
and all this for profit crap
that really wasn’t particular.
I guess it was useful, but it’s sort of just whatever.
But now you see lab grown meat, compostable,
or biodegradable, single use cutlery,
or meditation apps.
I think we are actually evolving and changing,
and technology is changing.
I think there just maybe there isn’t
quite enough education about this.
And also, I don’t know if there’s quite enough incentive
for it because I think the way capitalism works,
what we define as profit,
we’re also working on an old model
of what we define as profit.
I really think if we changed the idea of profit
to include social good,
you can have economic profit,
social good also counting as profit
would incentivize things that are more useful
and more whatever spiritual technology
or positive technology or things that help reprogram
a human computer in a good way
or things that help us intelligently design our new brains.
Yeah, there’s no reason why within the framework
of capitalism, the word profit or the idea of profit
can’t also incorporate the well being of a human being.
So like long term well being, long term happiness.
Or even for example, we were talking about motherhood,
like part of the reason I’m so late
is because I had to get the baby to bed.
And it’s like, I keep thinking about motherhood,
how under capitalism, it’s like this extremely essential job
that is very difficult that is not compensated.
And we sort of like value things
by how much we compensate them.
And so we really devalue motherhood in our society
and pretty much all societies.
Like capitalism does not recognize motherhood.
It’s just a job that you’re supposed to do for free.
And it’s like, but I feel like producing great humans
should be seen as a great, as profit under capitalism.
Like that should be, that’s like a huge social good.
Like every awesome human that gets made
adds so much to the world.
So like if that was integrated into the profit structure,
then, you know, and if we potentially found a way
to compensate motherhood.
So come up with a compensation
that’s much broader than just money or.
Or it could just be money.
Like, what if you just made, I don’t know,
but I don’t know how you’d pay for that.
Like, I mean, that’s where you start getting into.
Reallocation of resources that people get upset over.
Well, like what if we made like a motherhood Dow?
And, you know, used it to fund like single mothers,
like, you know, pay for making babies.
So, I mean, if you create and put beautiful things
onto the world, that could be companies,
that can be bridges, that could be art,
that could be a lot of things,
and that could be children, which are.
Or education or.
Anything, that should be valued by society,
and that should be somehow incorporated into the framework
of what, as a market, of what.
Like, if you contribute children to this world,
that should be valued and respected
and sort of celebrated, like, proportional to what it is,
which is, it’s the thing that fuels human civilization.
Yeah, like I. It’s kind of important.
I feel like everyone’s always saying,
I mean, I think we’re in very different social spheres,
but everyone’s always saying, like, dismantle capitalism.
And I’m like, well, okay, well,
I don’t think the government should own everything.
Like, I don’t think we should not have private ownership.
Like, that’s scary.
You know, like that starts getting into weird stuff
and just sort of like,
I feel there’s almost no way to do that
without a police state, you know?
But obviously, capitalism has some major flaws.
And I think actually Mac showed me this idea
called social capitalism, which is a form of capitalism
that just like considers social good to be also profit.
Like, you know, it’s like, right now companies need to,
like, you’re supposed to grow every quarter or whatever
to like show that you’re functioning well,
but it’s like, okay, well,
what if you kept the same amount of profit?
You’re still in the green,
but then you have also all this social good.
Like, do you really need all this extra economic growth
or could you add this social good and that counts?
And, you know, I don’t know if, I am not an economist.
I have no idea how this could be achieved, but.
I don’t think economists know how anything
could be achieved either, but they pretend.
It’s the thing, they construct a model
and they go on TV shows and sound like an expert.
That’s the definition of economist.
How did being a mother, becoming a mother
change you as a human being, would you say?
Man, I think it kind of changed everything
and it’s still changing me a lot.
It’s actually changing me more right now in this moment
than it was before.
Like today, like this?
Just like in the most recent months and stuff.
Can you elucidate that, how change,
like when you wake up in the morning
and you look at yourself, it’s again, which, who are you?
How have you become different, would you say?
I think it’s just really reorienting my priorities.
And at first I was really fighting against that
because I somehow felt it was like a failure
of feminism or something.
Like I felt like it was like bad
if like my kids started mattering more than my work.
And then like more recently I started sort of analyzing
that thought in myself and being like,
that’s also kind of a construct.
It’s like, we’ve just devalued motherhood so much
in our culture that like, I feel guilty for caring
about my kids more than I care about my work.
So feminism includes breaking out
of whatever the construct is.
So just continually breaking,
it’s like freedom empower you to be free.
And that means…
But it also, but like being a mother,
like I’m so much more creative.
Like I cannot believe the massive amount
of brain growth that I am.
Why do you think that is?
Just cause like the stakes are higher somehow?
I think it’s like, it’s just so trippy
watching consciousness emerge.
It’s just like, it’s like going on a crazy journey
It’s like the craziest science fiction novel
you could ever read.
It’s just so crazy watching consciousness come into being.
And then at the same time,
like you’re forced to value your time so much.
Like when I have creative time now, it’s so sacred.
I need to like be really fricking on it.
But the other thing is that I used to just be like a cynic
and I used to just wanna…
Like my last album was called Miss Anthropocene
and it was like this like, it was like a study in villainy
or like it was like, well, what if we have,
instead of the old gods, we have like new gods
and it’s like Miss Anthropocene is like misanthrope
like and Anthropocene, which is like the, you know,
like and she’s the goddess of climate change or whatever.
And she’s like destroying the world.
And it was just like, it was like dark
and it was like a study in villainy.
And it was sort of just like,
like I used to like have no problem just making cynical,
angry, scary art.
And not that there’s anything wrong with that,
but I think having kids just makes you such an optimist.
It just inherently makes you wanna be an optimist so bad
that like I feel more responsibility
to make more optimistic things.
And I get a lot of shit for it
because everyone’s like, oh, you’re so privileged.
Stop talking about like pie in the sky,
stupid concepts and focus on like the now.
But it’s like, I think if we don’t ideate
about futures that could be good,
we won’t be able to get them.
If everything is Blade Runner,
then we’re gonna end up with Blade Runner.
It’s like, as we said earlier, life imitates art.
Like life really does imitate art.
And so we really need more protopian or utopian art.
I think this is incredibly essential
for the future of humanity.
And I think the current discourse
where that’s seen as a thinking about protopia or utopia
is seen as a dismissal of the problems
that we currently have.
I think that is an incorrect mindset.
And like having kids just makes me wanna imagine
amazing futures that like maybe I won’t be able to build,
but they will be able to build if they want to.
Yeah, it does seem like ideation
is a precursor to creation.
So you have to imagine it in order to be able to build it.
And there is a sad thing about human nature
that somehow a cynical view of the world
is seen as a insightful view.
You know, cynicism is often confused for insight,
which is sad to see.
And optimism is confused for naivete.
Like you don’t, you’re blinded by your,
maybe your privilege or whatever.
You’re blinded by something, but you’re certainly blinded.
That’s sad, that’s sad to see
because it seems like the optimists
are the ones that create our future.
They’re the ones that build.
In order to build the crazy thing,
you have to be optimistic.
You have to be either stupid or excited or passionate
or mad enough to actually believe that it can be built.
And those are the people that built it.
My favorite quote of all time is from Star Wars, Episode 8,
which I know everyone hates.
Do you like Star Wars, Episode 8?
No, yeah, probably I would say I would probably hate it, yeah.
I don’t have strong feelings about it.
Let me backtrack.
I don’t have strong feelings about Star Wars.
I’m a Tolkien person.
I’m more into dragons and orcs and ogres.
Yeah, I mean, Tolkien forever.
I really want to have one more son and call him,
I thought Tao Tecno Tolkien would be cool.
It’s a lot of T’s, I like it.
Yeah, and well, and Tao is six, two, eight, two pi.
Yeah, Tao Tecno, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And then techno is obviously the best genre of music,
but also like technocracy.
It just sounds really good.
Yeah, that’s right, and techno Tolkien, Tao Tecno Tolkien.
That’s a good, that’s it.
Tao Tecno Tolkien, but Star Wars, Episode 8,
I know a lot of people have issues with it.
Personally, on the record,
I think it’s the best Star Wars film.
You’re starting trouble today.
Yeah, but don’t kill what you hate, save what you love.
Don’t kill what you hate.
Don’t kill what you hate, save what you love.
And I think we’re, in society right now,
we’re in a diagnosis mode.
We’re just diagnosing and diagnosing and diagnosing,
and we’re trying to kill what we hate,
and we’re not trying to save what we love enough.
And there’s this Buckminster Fuller quote,
which I’m gonna butcher,
because I don’t remember it correctly,
but it’s something along the lines of,
don’t try to destroy the old bad models,
render them obsolete with better models.
Maybe we don’t need to destroy the oil industry.
Maybe we just create a great new battery technology
and sustainable transport,
and just make it economically unreasonable
to still continue to rely on fossil fuels.
It’s like, don’t kill what you hate, save what you love.
Make new things and just render the old things unusable.
It’s like if the college debt is so bad,
and universities are so expensive,
and I feel like education is becoming obsolete.
I feel like we could completely revolutionize education,
and we could make it free.
And it’s like, you look at JSTOR,
and you have to pay to get all the studies and everything.
What if we created a DAO that bought JSTOR,
or we created a DAO that was funding studies,
and those studies were open source, or free for everyone.
And what if we just open sourced education
and decentralized education and made it free,
and all research was on the internet,
and all the outcomes of studies were on the internet,
and no one has student debt,
and you just take tests when you apply for a job,
and if you’re qualified, then you can work there.
This is just like, I don’t know how anything works.
I’m just randomly ranting, but.
I like the humility.
You gotta think from just basic first principles.
What is the problem?
What are some ideas?
And get excited about those ideas,
and share your excitement,
and don’t tear each other down.
It’s just when you kill things,
you often end up killing yourself.
Like war is not a one sided,
like you’re not gonna go in and just kill them,
like you’re gonna get stabbed.
It’s like, and I think when I talk about this nexus point
of that we’re in this point in society
where we’re switching to intelligent design,
I think part of our switch to intelligent design
is that we need to choose nonviolence.
And we need to, like, I think we can choose to start,
I don’t think we can eradicate violence from our species,
because I think we need it a little bit,
but I think we can choose
to really reorient our primitive brains
that are fighting over scarcity,
and that are so attack oriented,
and move into, we can optimize for creativity and building.
Yeah, it’s interesting to think how that happens,
so some of it is just education,
some of it is living life and introspecting your own mind,
and trying to live up to the better angels of your nature
for each one of us, all those kinds of things at scale.
That’s how we can sort of start to minimize
the amount of destructive war in our world,
and that’s, to me, probably you’re the same,
technology is a really promising way to do that.
Like, social media should be a really promising way
to do that, it’s a way we connect.
I, you know, for the most part,
I really enjoy social media.
I just know all the negative stuff.
I don’t engage with any of the negative stuff.
Just not even, like, by blocking
or any of that kind of stuff,
but just not letting it enter my mind.
Like, just, like, when somebody says something negative,
I see it, I immediately think positive thoughts about them,
and I just forget they exist after that.
Just move on, because, like, that negative energy,
if I return the negative energy,
they’re going to get excited in a negative way right back,
and it’s just this kind of vicious cycle.
But you would think technology would assist us
in this process of letting go,
of not taking things personally,
of not engaging in the negativity,
but unfortunately, social media profits from the negativity,
so the current models.
I mean, social media is like a gun.
Like, you should take a course before you use it.
Like, it’s like, this is what I mean,
like, when I say reprogram the human computer.
Like, in school, you should learn
about how social media optimizes
to, you know, raise your cortisol levels
and make you angry and crazy and stressed,
and, like, you should learn how to have hygiene
about how you use social media.
But, so you can, yeah,
choose not to focus on the negative stuff, but I don’t know.
I’m not sure social media should,
I guess it should exist.
I’m not sure.
I mean, we’re in the messy, it’s the experimental phase.
Like, we’re working it out.
Yeah, it’s the early days.
I don’t even know, when you say social media,
I don’t know what that even means.
We’re in the very early days.
I think social media is just basic human connection
in the digital realm, and that, I think it should exist,
but there’s so many ways to do it in a bad way.
There’s so many ways to do it in a good way.
There’s all discussions of all the same human rights.
We talk about freedom of speech.
We talk about sort of violence
in the space of digital media.
We talk about hate speech.
We talk about all these things that we had to figure out
back in the day in the physical space.
We’re now figuring out in the digital space,
and it’s like baby stages.
When the printing press came out,
it was like pure chaos for a minute, you know?
It’s like when you inject,
when there’s a massive information injection
into the general population, there’s just gonna be,
I feel like the printing press, I don’t have the years,
but it was like printing press came out,
shit got really fucking bad for a minute,
but then we got the enlightenment.
And so it’s like, I think we’re in,
this is like the second coming of the printing press.
We’re probably gonna have some shitty times for a minute,
and then we’re gonna have recalibrate
to have a better understanding of how we consume media
and how we deliver media.
Speaking of programming the human computer,
you mentioned Baby X.
So there’s this young consciousness coming to be,
came from a cell.
Like that whole thing doesn’t even make sense.
It came from DNA.
And then there’s this baby computer
that just like grows and grows and grows and grows,
and now there’s a conscious being
with extremely impressive cognitive capabilities with,
Have you met him?
He’s actually really smart.
He’s really smart.
Or a baby.
I don’t, I haven’t.
I don’t know a lot of other babies,
but he seems to be smart.
Zach, I don’t hang out with babies often,
but this baby was very impressive.
He does a lot of pranks and stuff.
Oh, so he’s like.
Like he’ll like give you a treat
and then take it away and laugh and like stuff like that.
So he’s like a chess player.
So here’s a cognitive sort of,
there’s a computer being programmed.
So he’s taking in the environment,
interacting with a specific set of humans.
How would you, first of all, what is it?
What, let me ask.
I want to ask how do you program this computer?
And also how do you make sense of that
there’s a conscious being right there
that wasn’t there before?
It’s giving me a lot of crisis thoughts.
I’m thinking really hard.
I think that’s part of the reason
it’s like, I’m struggling to focus on
art and stuff right now.
Cause baby X is becoming conscious
and like my it’s just reorienting my brain.
Like my brain is suddenly totally shifting of like,
oh shit, like the way we raise children.
Like, I hate all the baby books and everything.
I hate them.
Like they’re, oh, the art is so bad.
And like all this stuff, everything about all the aesthetics.
And like, I’m just like, ah, like this is so.
The programming languages we’re using
to program these baby computers isn’t good.
Yeah, like I’m thinking, and I,
not that I have like good answers
or know what to do, but I’m just thinking really,
really hard about it.
I, we recently watched Totoro with him, Studio Ghibli.
And it’s just like a fantastic film.
And he like responded to,
I know you’re not supposed to show baby screens too much,
but like, I think it’s the most sort of like,
I feel like it’s the highest art baby content.
Like it really speaks, there’s almost no talking in it.
It’s really simple.
Although all the dialogue is super, super, super simple,
you know, and it’s like a one to three year old
can like really connect with it.
Like it feels like it’s almost aimed
at like a one to three year old,
but it’s like great art and it’s so imaginative
and it’s so beautiful.
And like the first time I showed it to him,
he was just like so invested in it,
unlike I’ve ever, unlike anything else
I’d ever shown him.
Like he was just like crying when they cry
and laughing when they laugh,
like just like having this roller coaster of like emotions,
like, and he learned a bunch of words.
Like he was, and he started saying Totoro
and started just saying all this stuff
after watching Totoro,
and he wants to watch it all the time.
And I was like, man, why isn’t there an industry of this?
Like why aren’t our best artists focusing on making art
like for the birth of consciousness?
Like, and that’s one of the things I’ve been thinking
I really wanna start doing.
You know, I don’t wanna speak before I do things too much,
but like, I’m just like ages one to three,
like we should be putting so much effort into that.
And the other thing about Totoro is it’s like,
it’s like better for the environment
because adults love Totoro.
It’s such good art that everyone loves it.
Like I still have all my old Totoro merch
from when I was a kid.
Like I literally have the most ragged old Totoro merch.
Like everybody loves it, everybody keeps it.
It’s like, why does the art we have for babies
need to suck and be not accessible to adults
and then just be thrown out when, you know,
they age out of it?
Like, it’s like, I don’t know.
I don’t have like a fully formed thought here,
but this is just something I’ve been thinking about a lot
is like, how do we like,
how do we have more Totoroesque content?
Like how do we have more content like this
that like is universal and everybody loves,
but is like really geared to an emerging consciousness?
Emerging consciousness in the first like three years of life
that so much turmoil,
so much evolution of mind is happening.
It seems like a crucial time.
Would you say to make it not suck,
do you think of basically treating a child
like they have the capacity to have the brilliance
of an adult or even beyond that?
Is that how you think of that mind or?
No, cause they still,
they like it when you talk weird and stuff.
Like they respond better to,
cause even they can imitate better
when your voice is higher.
Like people say like, oh, don’t do baby talk.
But it’s like, when your voice is higher,
it’s closer to something they can imitate.
So they like, like the baby talk actually kind of works.
Like it helps them learn to communicate.
I’ve found it to be more effective
with learning words and stuff.
But like, you’re not speaking down to them.
Like do they have the capacity
to understand really difficult concepts
just in a very different way,
like an emotional intelligence
about something deep within?
Oh yeah, no, like if X hurts,
like if X bites me really hard and I’m like, ow,
like he gets, he’s sad.
He’s like sad if he hurts me by accident.
Which he’s huge, so he hurts me a lot by accident.
Yeah, that’s so interesting that that mind emerges
and he and children don’t really have memory of that time.
So we can’t even have a conversation with them about it.
Yeah, I just thank God they don’t have a memory
of this time because like, think about like,
I mean with our youngest baby,
like it’s like, I’m like, have you read
the sci fi short story, I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream?
Good title, no.
Oh man, I mean, you should read that.
I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream.
I hate getting into this Rocco’s Basilisk shit.
It’s kind of a story about the,
about like an AI that’s like torturing someone in eternity
and they have like no body.
The way they describe it,
it sort of sounds like what it feels like,
like being a baby, like you’re conscious
and you’re just getting inputs from everywhere
and you have no muscles and you’re like jelly
and you like can’t move and you try to like communicate,
but you can’t communicate and we’re,
and like, you’re just like in this like hell state.
I think it’s good we can’t remember that.
Like my little baby is just exiting that,
like she’s starting to like get muscles
and have more like autonomy,
but like watching her go through the opening phase,
I was like, I was like, this does not seem good.
Oh, you think it’s kind of like.
Like I think it sucks.
I think it might be really violent.
Like violent, mentally violent, psychologically violent.
Consciousness emerging, I think is a very violent thing.
I never thought about that.
I think it’s possible that we all carry
quite a bit of trauma from it that we don’t,
I think that would be a good thing to study
because I think if, I think addressing that trauma,
like, I think that might be.
Oh, you mean like echoes of it
are still there in the shadows somewhere.
I think it’s gotta be, I feel this, this help,
the helplessness, the like existential
and that like fear of being in like an unknown place
bombarded with inputs and being completely helpless,
like that’s gotta be somewhere deep in your brain
and that can’t be good for you.
What do you think consciousness is?
This whole conversation
has impossibly difficult questions.
What do you think it is?
Debbie said this is like so hard.
Yeah, we talked about music for like two minutes.
No, I’m so, I’m just over music.
I’m over music.
Yeah, I still like it.
It has its purpose.
No, I love music.
I mean, music’s the greatest thing ever.
It’s my favorite thing.
But I just like every interview is like,
what is your process?
Like, I don’t know.
I’m just done.
I can’t do anything.
I do want to ask you about Able to Live.
Oh, I’ll tell you about Ableton
because Ableton’s sick.
No one has ever asked about Ableton though.
Yeah, well, because I just need tech support mainly.
I can help you.
I can help you with your Ableton tech.
Anyway, from Ableton back to consciousness.
What do you, do you think this is a thing
that only humans are capable of?
Can robots be conscious?
Can, like when you think about entities,
you think there’s aliens out there that are conscious?
Like is conscious, what is consciousness?
There’s this Terrence McKenna quote
that I’ve found that I fucking love.
Am I allowed to swear on here?
Nature loves courage.
You make the commitment and nature will respond
to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles.
Dream the impossible dream
and the world will not grind you under.
It will lift you up.
This is the trick.
This is what all these teachers and philosophers
who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold,
this is what they understood.
This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall.
This is how magic is done.
By hurling yourself into the abyss
and discovering it’s a feather bed.
And for this reason,
I do think there are no technological limits.
I think like what is already happening here,
this is like impossible.
This is insane.
And we’ve done this in a very limited amount of time.
And we’re accelerating the rate at which we’re doing this.
So I think digital consciousness, it’s inevitable.
And we may not be able to even understand what that means,
but I like hurling yourself into the abyss.
So we’re surrounded by all this mystery
and we just keep hurling ourselves into it,
like fearlessly and keep discovering cool shit.
Like, I just think it’s like,
like who even knows if the laws of physics,
the laws of physics are probably just the current,
like as I was saying,
speed of light is the current render rate.
It’s like, if we’re in a simulation,
they’ll be able to upgrade that.
Like I sort of suspect when we made the James Webb telescope,
like part of the reason we made that
is because we had an upgrade, you know?
And so now more of space has been rendered
so we can see more of it now.
Yeah, but I think humans are super, super,
super limited cognitively.
So I wonder if we’ll be allowed to create
more intelligent beings that can see more of the universe
as their render rate is upgraded.
Maybe we’re cognitively limited.
Everyone keeps talking about how we’re cognitively limited
and AI is gonna render us obsolete,
but it’s like, you know,
like this is not the same thing
as like an amoeba becoming an alligator.
Like, it’s like, if we create AI,
again, that’s intelligent design.
That’s literally all religions are based on gods
that create consciousness.
Like we are God making.
Like what we are doing is incredibly profound.
And like, even if we can’t compute,
even if we’re so much worse than them,
like just like unfathomably worse than like,
you know, an omnipotent kind of AI,
it’s like we, I do not think that they would just think
that we are stupid.
I think that they would recognize the profundity
of what we have accomplished.
Are we the gods or are they the gods in our personality?
I mean, we’re kind of the guy.
But they would acknowledge the value.
Well, I hope they acknowledge the value
of paying respect to the creative ancestors.
I think they would think it’s cool.
I think if curiosity is a trait
that we can quantify and put into AI,
then I think if AI are curious,
then they will be curious about us
and they will not be hateful or dismissive of us.
They might, you know, see us as, I don’t know.
It’s like, I’m not like, oh, fuck these dogs.
Let’s just kill all the dogs.
I love dogs.
Dogs have great utility.
Dogs like provide a lot of.
We make friends with them.
We have a deep connection with them.
We anthropomorphize them.
Like we have a real love for dogs, for cats and so on
for some reason, even though they’re intellectually
much less than us.
And I think there is something sacred about us
because it’s like, if you look at the universe,
like the whole universe is like cold and dead
and sort of robotic.
And it’s like, you know, AI intelligence,
you know, it’s kind of more like the universe.
It’s like cold and you know, logical
and you know, abiding by the laws of physics and whatever.
But like, we’re this like loosey goosey,
weird art thing that happened.
And I think it’s beautiful.
And like, I think even if we, I think one of the values,
if consciousness is a thing that is most worth preserving,
which I think is the case, I think consciousness,
I think if there’s any kind of like religious
or spiritual thing, it should be that consciousness
Like, then, you know, I still think even if AI
render us obsolete and we, climate change, it’s too bad
and we get hit by a comet and we don’t become
a multi planetary species fast enough,
but like AI is able to populate the universe.
Like I imagine, like if I was an AI,
I would find more planets that are capable
of hosting biological life forms and like recreate them.
Because we’re fun to watch.
Yeah, we’re fun to watch.
Yeah, but I do believe that AI can have some of the same
magic of consciousness within it.
Because consciousness, we don’t know what it is.
So, you know, there’s some kind of.
Or it might be a different magic.
It might be like a strange, a strange, different.
Because they’re not gonna have hormones.
Like I feel like a lot of our magic is hormonal kind of.
I don’t know, I think some of our magic
is the limitations, the constraints.
And within that, the hormones and all that kind of stuff,
the finiteness of life, and then we get given
our limitations, we get to come up with creative solutions
of how to dance around those limitations.
We partner up like penguins against the cold.
We fall in love, and then love is ultimately
some kind of, allows us to delude ourselves
that we’re not mortal and finite,
and that life is not ultimately, you live alone,
you’re born alone, you die alone.
And then love is like for a moment
or for a long time, forgetting that.
And so we come up with all these creative hacks
that make life like fascinatingly fun.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, fun, yeah.
And then AI might have different kinds of fun.
And hopefully our funs intersect once in a while.
I think there would be a little intersection
of the fun.
What do you think is the role of love
in the human condition?
Why, is it useful?
Is it useful like a hack, or is this like fundamental
to what it means to be human, the capacity to love?
I mean, I think love is the evolutionary mechanism
that is like beginning the intelligent design.
Like I was just reading about,
do you know about Kropotkin?
He’s like an anarchist, like old Russian anarchist.
I live next door to Michael Malice.
I don’t know if you know who that is.
He’s an anarchist.
He’s a modern day anarchist.
Okay. Anarchists are fun.
I’m kind of getting into anarchism a little bit.
This is probably not a good route to be taking, but.
Oh no, I think if you’re,
listen, you should expose yourself to ideas.
There’s no harm to thinking about ideas.
I think anarchists challenge systems in interesting ways,
and they think in interesting ways.
It’s just as good for the soul.
It’s like refreshes your mental palette.
I don’t think we should actually,
I wouldn’t actually ascribe to it,
but I’ve never actually gone deep on anarchy
as a philosophy, so I’m doing.
You should still think about it though.
When you read, when you listen,
because I’m reading about the Russian Revolution a lot,
and there was the Soviets and Lenin and all that,
but then there was Kropotkin and his anarchist sect,
and they were sort of interesting
because he was kind of a technocrat actually.
He was like, women can be more equal if we have appliances.
He was really into using technology
to reduce the amount of work people had to do.
But so Kropotkin was a biologist or something.
He studied animals.
And he was really at the time like,
I think it’s Nature magazine.
I think it might’ve even started as a Russian magazine,
but he was publishing studies.
Everyone was really into Darwinism at the time
and survival of the fittest,
and war is the mechanism by which we become better.
And it was this real cementing this idea in society
that violence kill the weak,
and that’s how we become better.
And then Kropotkin was kind of interesting
because he was looking at instances,
he was finding all these instances in nature
where animals were like helping each other and stuff.
And he was like, actually love is a survival mechanism.
Like there’s so many instances in the animal kingdom
where like cooperation and like helping weaker creatures
and all this stuff is actually an evolutionary mechanism.
I mean, you even look at child rearing.
Like child rearing is like immense amounts
of just love and goodwill.
And just like, there’s no immediate,
you’re not getting any immediate feedback of like winning.
It’s not competitive.
It’s literally, it’s like we actually use love
as an evolutionary mechanism just as much as we use war.
And I think we’ve like missing the other part
and we’ve reoriented, we’ve culturally reoriented
like science and philosophy has oriented itself
around Darwinism a little bit too much.
And the Kropotkin model, I think is equally valid.
Like it’s like cooperation and love and stuff
is just as essential for species survival and evolution.
It should be a more powerful survival mechanism
in the context of evolution.
And it comes back to like,
we think engineering is so much more important
than motherhood, but it’s like,
if you lose the motherhood, the engineering means nothing.
We have no more humans.
It’s like, I think our society should,
the survival of the, the way we see,
we conceptualize evolution should really change
to also include this idea, I guess.
Yeah, there’s some weird thing that seems irrational
that is also core to what it means to be human.
So love is one such thing.
They could make you do a lot of irrational things,
but that depth of connection and that loyalty
is a powerful thing.
Are they irrational or are they rational?
Like, it’s like, is, you know, maybe losing out
on some things in order to like keep your family together
or in order, like, it’s like, what are our actual values?
Well, right, I mean, the rational thing is
if you have a cold economist perspective,
you know, motherhood or sacrificing your career for love,
you know, in terms of salary, in terms of economic wellbeing,
in terms of flourishing of you as a human being,
that could be seen on some kind of metrics
as a irrational decision, suboptimal decision,
but there’s the manifestation of love
could be the optimal thing to do.
There’s a kind of saying, save one life, save the world.
That’s the thing that doctors often face, which is like.
Well, it’s considered irrational
because the profit model doesn’t include social good.
So if a profit model includes social good,
then suddenly these would be rational decisions.
Might be difficult to, you know,
it requires a shift in our thinking about profit
and might be difficult to measure social good.
Yes, but we’re learning to measure a lot of things.
Yeah, digitizing a lot of things.
Where we’re actually, you know, quantifying vision and stuff.
Like we’re like, you know, like you go on Facebook
and they can, like Facebook can pretty much predict
Like we’re, a surprising amount of things
that seem like mysterious consciousness soul things
have been quantified at this point.
So surely we can quantify these other things.
But as more and more of us are moving the digital space,
I wanted to ask you about something.
From a fan perspective, I kind of, you know,
you as a musician, you as an online personality,
it seems like you have all these identities
and you play with them.
One of the cool things about the internet,
it seems like you can play with identities.
So as we move into the digital world more and more,
maybe even in the so called metaverse.
I mean, I love the metaverse and I love the idea,
but like the way this has all played out didn’t go well
and people are mad about it.
And I think we need to like.
I think that’s temporary.
I think it’s temporary.
Just like, you know how all the celebrities got together
and sang the song Imagine by Jeff Leonard
and everyone started hating the song Imagine.
I’m hoping that’s temporary
because it’s a damn good song.
So I think it’s just temporary.
Like once you actually have virtual worlds,
whatever they’re called metaverse or otherwise,
it becomes, I don’t know.
Well, we do have virtual worlds.
Like video games, Elden Ring.
Have you played Elden Ring?
You haven’t played Elden Ring?
I’m really afraid of playing that game.
It looks way too fun.
It looks I would wanna go there and stay there forever.
It’s yeah, so fun.
It’s so nice.
Oh man, yeah.
So that’s the, yeah, that’s a metaverse.
That’s a metaverse, but you’re not really,
how immersive is it in the sense that,
does the three dimension
like virtual reality integration necessary?
Can we really just take our, close our eyes
and kind of plug in in the 2D screen
and become that other being for time
and really enjoy that journey that we take?
And we almost become that.
You’re no longer C, I’m no longer Lex,
you’re that creature, whatever the hell it is in that game.
Yeah, that is that.
I mean, that’s why I love those video games.
I really do become those people for a time.
But like, it seems like with the idea of the metaverse,
the idea of the digital space,
well, even on Twitter,
you get a chance to be somebody for prolonged periods of time
like across a lifespan.
You know, you have a Twitter account for years, for decades
and you’re that person.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing.
I feel very tormented by it.
By Twitter specifically.
By social media representation of you.
I feel like the public perception of me
has gotten so distorted that I find it kind of disturbing.
It’s one of the things that’s disincentivizing me
from like wanting to keep making art
because I’m just like,
I’ve completely lost control of the narrative.
And the narrative is, some of it is my own stupidity,
but a lot, like some of it has just been like hijacked
by forces far beyond my control.
I kind of got in over my head in things.
Like I’m just a random Indian musician,
but I just got like dragged into geopolitical matters
and like financial, like the stock market and shit.
And so it’s just like, it’s just,
there are very powerful people
who have at various points in time
had very vested interest in making me seem insane
and I can’t fucking fight that.
And I just like,
people really want their celebrity figures
to like be consistent and stay the same.
And like people have a lot of like emotional investment
in certain things.
And like, first of all,
like I’m like artificially more famous than I should be.
Isn’t everybody who’s famous artificially famous?
No, but like I should be like a weird niche indie thing.
And I make pretty challenging,
I do challenging weird fucking shit a lot.
And I accidentally by proxy got like foisted
into sort of like weird celebrity culture,
but like I cannot be media trained.
They have put me through so many hours of media training.
I would love to see BF fly in that wall.
I can’t do, like when I do,
I try so hard and I like learn this thing and I like got it.
And I’m like, I got it, I got it, I got it.
But I just can’t stop saying,
like my mouth just says things like,
and it’s just like, and I just do, I just do things.
I just do crazy things.
Like I’m, I just, I need to do crazy things.
And it’s just, I should not be,
it’s too jarring for people
and the contradictory stuff.
And then all the by association, like, you know,
it’s like I’m in a very weird position and my public image,
the avatar of me is now this totally crazy thing
that is so lost from my control.
So you feel the burden of the avatar having to be static.
So the avatar on Twitter or the avatar on Instagram
on these social platforms is as a burden.
It becomes like, cause like people don’t want to accept
a changing avatar, a chaotic avatar.
Avatar is a stupid shit sometimes.
They think the avatar is morally wrong
or they think the avatar, and maybe it has been,
and like I question it all the time.
Like, I’m like, like, I don’t know if everyone’s right
and I’m wrong.
I don’t know, like, but you know, a lot of times
people ascribe intentions to things,
the worst possible intentions.
At this point, people think I’m, you know,
but which is fine.
All kinds of words, yes.
Yes, and it’s fine.
I’m not complaining about it, but I’m just,
it’s a curiosity to me that we live these double, triple,
quadruple lives and I have this other life
that is like more people know my other life
than my real life, which is interesting.
Probably, I mean, you too, I guess, probably.
Yeah, but I have the luxury.
So we have all different, you know,
like I don’t know what I’m doing.
There is an avatar and you’re mediating
who you are through that avatar.
I have the nice luxury, not the luxury,
maybe by intention of not trying really hard
to make sure there’s no difference between the avatar
and the private person.
Do you wear a suit all the time?
You do wear a suit?
Not all the time.
Recently, because I get recognized a lot,
I have to not wear the suit to hide.
I’m such an introvert, I’m such a social anxiety
and all that kind of stuff, so I have to hide away.
I love wearing a suit because it makes me feel
like I’m taking the moment seriously.
Like I’m, I don’t know.
It makes me feel like a weirdo in the best possible way.
Suits feel great, every time I wear a suit,
I’m like, I don’t know why I’m not doing this more.
Fashion in general, if you’re doing it for yourself,
I don’t know, it’s a really awesome thing.
But yeah, I think there is definitely a painful way
to use social media and an empowering way.
And I don’t know if any of us know which is which.
So we’re trying to figure that out.
Some people, I think Doja Cat is incredible at it.
Incredible, like just masterful.
I don’t know if you like follow that.
So okay, so not taking anything seriously,
joking, absurd, humor, that kind of thing.
I think Doja Cat might be like
the greatest living comedian right now.
Like I’m more entertained by Doja Cat
than actual comedians.
Like she’s really fucking funny on the internet.
She’s just great at social media.
It’s just, you know.
Yeah, the nature of humor, like humor on social media
is also a beautiful thing, the absurdity.
And memes, like I just wanna like take a moment.
I love, like when we’re talking about art
and credit and authenticity, I love that there’s this,
I mean now memes are like, they’re no longer,
like memes aren’t like new,
but it’s still this emergent art form
that is completely egoless and anonymous
and we just don’t know who made any of it.
And it’s like the forefront of comedy
and it’s just totally anonymous
and it just feels really beautiful.
It just feels like this beautiful
collective human art project
that’s like this like decentralized comedy thing
that just makes memes add so much to my day
and many people’s days.
And it’s just like, I don’t know.
I don’t think people ever,
I don’t think we stop enough
and just appreciate how sick it is that memes exist.
Because also making a whole brand new art form
in like the modern era that’s like didn’t exist before.
Like, I mean they sort of existed,
but the way that they exist now as like this like,
you know, like me and my friends,
like we joke that we go like mining for memes
or farming for memes, like a video game
and like meme dealers and like whatever.
Like it’s, you know, it’s this whole,
memes are this whole like new comedic language.
Well, it’s this art form.
The interesting thing about it is that
lame people seem to not be good at memes.
Like corporate can’t infiltrate memes.
Yeah, they really can’t.
They try, they could try.
But it’s like, it’s weird cause like.
They try so hard and every once in a while,
I’m like fine, like you got a good one.
I think I’ve seen like one or two good ones,
but like, yeah, they really can’t.
Cause they’re even, corporate is infiltrating web three.
It’s making me really sad,
but they can’t infiltrate the memes.
And I think there’s something really beautiful about that.
That gives power, that’s why Dogecoin is powerful.
It’s like, all right, I’m gonna F you
to sort of anybody who’s trying to centralize,
is trying to control the rich people
that are trying to roll in and control this,
control the narrative.
Wow, I hadn’t thought about that, but.
How would you fix Twitter?
How would you fix social media for your own?
Like you’re an optimist, you’re a positive person.
There’s a bit of a cynicism that you have currently
about this particular little slice of humanity.
I tend to think Twitter could be beautiful.
I’m not that cynical about it.
I actually refuse to be a cynic on principle.
I was just briefly expressing some personal pathos.
It was just some personal pathos, but like, like.
Just to vent a little bit, just to speak.
I don’t have cancer, I love my family.
I have a good life.
That is, if that is my biggest,
one of my biggest problems.
Then it’s a good life.
Yeah, you know, that was a brief,
although I do think there are a lot of issues with Twitter
just in terms of like the public mental health,
but due to my proximity to the current dramas,
I honestly feel that I should not have opinions about this
because I think
that if Elon ends up getting Twitter,
that is a, being the arbiter of truth or public discussion,
that is a responsibility.
I do not, I am not qualified to be responsible for that.
And I do not want to say something
that might like dismantle democracy.
And so I just like, actually,
I actually think I should not have opinions about this
because I truly am not,
I don’t want to have the wrong opinion about this.
And I think I’m too close to the actual situation
wherein I should not have, I have thoughts in my brain,
but I think I am scared by my proximity to this situation.
Isn’t that crazy that a few words that you could say
could change world affairs and hurt people?
I mean, that’s the nature of celebrity at a certain point
that you have to be, you have to a little bit, a little bit,
not so much that it destroys you or puts too much constraints,
but you have to a little bit think about
the impact of your words.
I mean, we as humans, you talk to somebody at a bar,
you have to think about the impact of your words.
Like you can say positive things,
you can say negative things,
you can affect the direction of one life.
But on social media, your words can affect
the direction of many lives.
It’s a crazy world to live in.
It’s worthwhile to consider that responsibility,
take it seriously.
Sometimes just like you did choose kind of silence,
choose sort of respectful.
Like I do have a lot of thoughts on the matter.
I’m just, I don’t, if my thoughts are wrong,
this is one situation where the stakes are high.
You mentioned a while back that you were in a cult
that’s centered around bureaucracy,
so you can’t really do anything
because it involves a lot of paperwork.
And I really love a cult that’s just like Kafkaesque.
I mean, it was like a joke, but it was.
I know, but I love this idea.
The Holy Rain Empire.
Yeah, it was just like a Kafkaesque pro bureaucracy cult.
But I feel like that’s what human civilization is,
is that, because when you said that, I was like,
oh, that is kind of what humanity is,
is this bureaucracy cult.
I do, yeah, I have this theory.
I really think that we really,
bureaucracy is starting to kill us.
And I think like we need to reorient laws and stuff.
Like, I think we just need sunset clauses on everything.
Like, I think the rate of change in culture
is happening so fast and the rate of change in technology
and everything is happening so fast.
It’s like, when you see these hearings
about like social media and Cambridge Analytica
and everyone talking, it’s like, even from that point,
so much technological change has happened
from like those hearings.
And it’s just like, we’re trying to make all these laws now
about AI and stuff.
I feel like we should be updating things
like every five years.
And like one of the big issues in our society right now
is we’re just getting bogged down by laws
and it’s making it very hard to change things
and develop things.
In Austin, I don’t wanna speak on this too much,
but like one of my friends is working on a housing bill
in Austin to try to like prevent
like a San Francisco situation from happening here
because obviously we’re getting a little mini San Francisco
here, like housing prices are skyrocketing,
it’s causing massive gentrification.
This is really bad for anyone who’s not super rich.
Like, there’s so much bureaucracy.
Part of the reason this is happening
is because you need all these permits to build.
It takes like years to get permits to like build anything.
It’s so hard to build and so there’s very limited housing
and there’s a massive influx of people.
And it’s just like, you know, this is a microcosm
of like problems that are happening all over the world
where it’s just like, we’re dealing with laws
that are like 10, 20, 30, 40, 100, 200 years old
and they are no longer relevant
and it’s just slowing everything down
and causing massive social pain.
Yeah, but it’s like, it’s also makes me sad
when I see politicians talk about technology
and when they don’t really get it.
But most importantly, they lack curiosity
and like that like inspired excitement
about like how stuff works and all that stuff.
They’re just like, they see,
they have a very cynical view of technology.
It’s like tech companies are just trying to do evil
on the world from their perspective
and they have no curiosity about like
how recommender systems work or how AI systems work,
natural language processing, how robotics works,
how computer vision works, you know.
They always take the most cynical possible interpretation
of what technology would be used
and we should definitely be concerned about that
but if you’re constantly worried about that
and you’re regulating based on that,
you’re just going to slow down all the innovation.
I do think a huge priority right now
is undoing the bad energy
surrounding the emergence of Silicon Valley.
Like I think that like a lot of things
were very irresponsible during that time
and you know, like even just this current whole thing
with Twitter and everything,
it’s like there has been a lot of negative outcomes
from the sort of technocracy boom
but one of the things that’s happening
is that like it’s alienating people
from wanting to care about technology
and I actually think technology is probably
some of the better, probably the best.
I think we can fix a lot of our problems
more easily with technology
than with you know, fighting the powers that be
as a you know, not to go back to the Star Wars quote
or the Buckminster Fuller quote.
Let’s go to some dark questions.
If we may for time, what is the darkest place
you’ve ever gone in your mind?
Is there a time, a period of time, a moment
that you remember that was difficult for you?
I mean, when I was 18,
my best friend died of a heroin overdose
and it was like my,
and then shortly after that,
one of my other best friends committed suicide
and that sort of like coming into adulthood,
dealing with two of the most important people in my life
dying in extremely disturbing violent ways
was a lot.
That was a lot.
Do you miss them?
Yeah, definitely miss them.
Did that make you think about your own life?
About the finiteness of your own life?
The places your mind can go?
Did you ever in the distance, far away
contemplate just your own death?
Or maybe even taking your own life?
Oh never, oh no.
I’m so, I love my life.
I cannot fathom suicide.
I’m so scared of death.
I haven’t, I’m too scared of death.
My manager, my manager’s like the most Zen guy.
My manager’s always like, you need to accept death.
You need to accept death.
And I’m like, look, I can do your meditation.
I can do the meditation, but I cannot accept death.
I like, I will fight, I’m terrified of death.
I will like fight.
Although I actually think death is important.
I recently went to this meeting about immortality
and in the process of.
That’s the actual topic of the meeting?
No, no, it was this girl.
It was a bunch of people working on like anti aging stuff.
It was like some like seminary thing about it.
And I went in really excited.
I was like, yeah, like, okay, like, what do you got?
Like, how can I live for 500 years or a thousand years?
And then like over the course of the meeting,
like it was sort of like, right.
It was like two or three days
after the Russian invasion started.
And I was like, man, like, what if Putin was immortal?
Like, what if I’m like, man, maybe immortality,
is not good.
I mean, like if you get into the later Dune stuff,
the immortals cause a lot of problem.
Cause as we were talking about earlier with the music
and like brains calcify, like good people
could become immortal, but bad people could become immortal.
But I also think even the best people power corrupts
and power alienates you from like the common human experience
Right, so the people that get more and more powerful.
Even the best people who like, whose brains are amazing,
like I think death might be important.
I think death is part of, you know,
like I think with AI one thing we might want to consider,
I don’t know, when I talk about AI,
I’m such not an expert and probably everyone has
all these ideas and they’re already figured out.
But when I was talking.
Nobody is an expert in anything.
See, okay, go ahead.
But when I.
You were talking about.
Yeah, but I like, it’s just like,
I think some kind of pruning.
But it’s a tricky thing because if there’s too much
of a focus on youth culture, then you don’t have the wisdom.
So I feel like we’re in a tricky,
we’re in a tricky moment right now in society
where it’s like, we’ve really perfected living
for a long time.
So there’s all these really like old people
who are like really voting against the wellbeing
of the young people, you know?
And like, it’s like there shouldn’t be all this student dead
and we need like healthcare, like universal healthcare
and like just voting against like best interests.
But then you have all these young people
that don’t have the wisdom that are like,
yeah, we need communism and stuff.
And it’s just like, like literally I got canceled
at one point for, I ironically used a Stalin quote
in my high school yearbook, but it was actually like a diss
against my high school.
I saw that.
Yeah, and people were like, you used to be a Stalinist
and now you’re a class traitor and it’s like,
it’s like, oh man, just like, please Google Stalin.
Please Google Stalin.
Like, you know.
Ignoring the lessons of history, yes.
And it’s like, we’re in this really weird middle ground
where it’s like, we are not finding the happy medium
between wisdom and fresh ideas
and they’re fighting each other.
And it’s like, like really, like what we need is like
the fresh ideas and the wisdom to be like collaborating.
And it’s like.
What the fighting in a way is the searching
for the happy medium.
And in a way, maybe we are finding the happy medium.
Maybe that’s what the happy medium looks like.
And for AI systems, there has to be,
it’s, you know, you have the reinforcement learning,
you have the dance between exploration and exploitation,
sort of doing crazy stuff to see if there’s something better
than what you think is the optimal
and then doing the optimal thing
and dancing back and forth from that.
You would, Stuart Russell, I don’t know if you know that,
is AI guy with, thinks about sort of
how to control super intelligent AI systems.
And his idea is that we should inject uncertainty
and sort of humility into AI systems that they never,
as they get wiser and wiser and wiser and more intelligent,
they’re never really sure.
They always doubt themselves.
And in some sense, when you think of young people,
that’s a mechanism for doubt.
It’s like, it’s how society doubts
whether the thing it has converged towards
is the right answer.
So the voices of the young people
is a society asking itself a question.
The way I’ve been doing stuff for the past 50 years,
maybe it’s the wrong way.
And so you can have all of that within one AI system.
I also think, though, that we need to,
I mean, actually, that’s actually really interesting
and really cool.
But I also think there’s a fine balance of,
I think we maybe also overvalue the idea
that the old systems are always bad.
And I think there are things that we are perfecting
and we might be accidentally overthrowing things
that we actually have gotten to a good point.
Just because we value disruption so much
and we value fighting against the generations
before us so much that there’s also an aspect of,
sometimes we’re taking two steps forward, one step back
because, okay, maybe we kind of did solve this thing
and now we’re like fucking it up, you know?
And so I think there’s like a middle ground there too.
Yeah, we’re in search of that happy medium.
Let me ask you a bunch of crazy questions, okay?
You can answer in a short way or in a long way.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
These questions are gonna be ridiculous.
Something tiny or something big.
Something big, skydiving or touring your first record,
going on this podcast.
I’ve had two crazy brushes, like really scary brushes
with death where I randomly got away on scay.
I don’t know if I should talk about those on here.
Well, I don’t know.
I think I might be the luckiest person alive though.
Like this might be too dark for a podcast though.
I feel like, I don’t know if this is like good content
for a podcast.
I don’t know what is good content.
It might hijack.
Here’s a safer one.
I mean, having a baby really scared me.
Just the birth process.
Surgery, like just having a baby is really scary.
So just like the medical aspect of it,
not the responsibility.
Were you ready for the responsibility?
Did you, were you ready to be a mother?
All the beautiful things that comes with motherhood
that you were talking about.
All the changes and all that, were you ready for that?
Or did you feel ready for that?
No, I think it took about nine months
to start getting ready for it.
And I’m still getting more ready for it
because now you keep realizing more things
as they start getting.
As the consciousness grows.
And stuff you didn’t notice with the first one,
now that you’ve seen the first one older,
you’re noticing it more.
Like the sort of like existential horror
of coming into consciousness with Baby Y
or Baby Sailor Mars or whatever.
She has like so many names at this point
that it’s, we really need to probably settle on one.
If you could be someone else for a day,
someone alive today, but somebody you haven’t met yet,
who would you be?
Would I be modeling their brain state
or would I just be in their body?
You can choose the degree
to which you’re modeling their brain state.
Cause you can still take a third person perspective
and realize, you have to realize that you’re.
Can they be alive or can it be dead?
They would be brought back to life, right?
If they’re dead.
Yeah, you can bring people back.
Definitely Hitler or Stalin.
I wanna understand evil.
You would need to, oh, to experience what it feels like.
I wanna be in their brain feeling what they feel.
I might change you forever returning from that.
Yes, but I think it would also help me understand
how to prevent it and fix it.
That might be one of those things,
once you experience it, it’ll be a burden to know it.
Cause you won’t be able to transfer that.
Yeah, but a lot of things are burdens.
But it’s a useful burden.
But it’s a useful burden, yeah.
That for sure, I wanna understand evil
and psychopathy and that.
I have all these fake Twitter accounts
where I go into different algorithmic bubbles
to try to understand.
I’ll keep getting in fights with people
and realize we’re not actually fighting.
I think we used to exist in a monoculture
before social media and stuff.
We kinda all got fed the same thing.
So we were all speaking the same cultural language.
But I think recently, one of the things
that we aren’t diagnosing properly enough with social media
is that there’s different dialects.
There’s so many different dialects of Chinese.
There are now becoming different dialects of English.
I am realizing there are people
who are saying the exact same things,
but they’re using completely different verbiage.
And we’re punishing each other
for not using the correct verbiage.
And we’re completely misunderstanding.
People are just misunderstanding
what the other people are saying.
And I just got in a fight with a friend
about anarchism and communism and shit for two hours.
And then by the end of a conversation,
and then she’d say something, and I’m like,
but that’s literally what I’m saying.
And she was like, what?
And then I was like, fuck, we’ve different,
I’m like, our English, the way we are understanding
terminology is like drastically, like our algorithm bubbles
are creating mini dialects.
Of how language is interpreted, how language is used.
That’s so fascinating.
And so we’re like having these arguments
that we do not need to be having.
And there’s polarization that’s happening
that doesn’t need to be happening
because we’ve got these like algorithmically created
Plus on top of that, there’s also different parts
of the world that speak different languages.
So there’s literally lost in translation
kind of communication.
I happen to know the Russian language
and just know how different it is.
Then the English language.
And I just wonder how much is lost in a little bit of.
Man, I actually, cause I have a question for you.
I have a song coming out tomorrow
with I Speak Who Are A Russian Band.
And I speak a little bit of Russian
and I was looking at the title
and the title in English doesn’t match
the title in Russian.
I’m curious about this.
Cause look, it says the title in English is Last Day.
And then the title in Russian is New Day.
My pronunciation sucks.
Like a new day.
A new day.
Yeah, new day, new day.
Like it’s two different meanings.
Yeah, new day, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, new day.
New day, but last day.
So last day would be the last day.
Or maybe the title includes both the Russian
and it’s for.
Maybe it’s for bilingual.
But to be honest, Novodin sounds better than
Like Novodin is new day.
That’s the current one.
And Posledniy Den is the last day.
I think Novodin.
I don’t like Novodin.
But the meaning is so different.
That’s kind of awesome actually though.
There’s an explicit sort of contrast like that.
If everyone on earth disappeared
and it was just you left, what would your day look like?
Like what would you do?
As far as you.
Are there corpses there?
Well seriously, it’s a big.
Let me think through this.
It’s a big difference if there’s just like birds singing
versus if there’s like corpses littering the street.
Yeah, there’s corpses everywhere, I’m sorry.
It’s, and you don’t actually know what happened
and you don’t know why you survived.
And you don’t even know if there’s others out there.
But it seems clear that it’s all gone.
What would you do?
What would I do?
Listen, I’m somebody who really enjoys the moment,
I would just go on like enjoying the inanimate objects.
I would just look for food, basic survival.
But most of it is just, listen, when I just,
I take walks and I look outside and I’m just happy
that we get to exist on this planet,
to be able to breathe air.
It’s just all beautiful.
It’s full of colors, all of this kind of stuff.
Just, there’s so many things about life,
your own life, conscious life that’s fucking awesome.
So I would just enjoy that.
But also maybe after a few weeks,
the engineer would start coming out,
like wanna build some things.
Maybe there’s always hope searching for another human.
Probably searching for another human.
Probably trying to get to a TV or radio station
and broadcast something.
That’s interesting, I didn’t think about that.
So like really maximize your ability
to connect with others.
Yeah, like probably try to find another person.
Would you be excited to see,
to meet another person or terrified?
Because, you know.
I’d be excited.
No matter what.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Being alone for the last however long of my life
would be really bad.
That’s the one instance I might,
I don’t think I’d kill myself,
but I might kill myself if I had to.
So you love people.
You love connection to other humans.
I kinda hate people too, but yeah.
That’s a love hate relationship.
I feel like we’d have a bunch of weird
Nietzsche questions and stuff though.
Like I wonder, cause I’m like, when podcast,
I’m like, is this interesting for people
to just have like, or I don’t know,
maybe people do like this.
When I listen to podcasts, I’m into like the lore,
like the hard lore.
Like I just love like Dan Carlin.
I’m like, give me the facts.
Just like, like the facts into my bloodstream.
But you also don’t know,
like you’re a fascinating mind to explore.
So you don’t realize as you’re talking about stuff,
the stuff you’ve taken for granted
is actually unique and fascinating.
The way you think.
Not always what, like the way you reason through things
is the fascinating thing to listen to.
Because people kind of see, oh,
there’s other humans that think differently,
that explore thoughts differently.
That’s the cool, that’s also cool.
So yeah, Dan Carlin retelling of history.
By the way, his retelling of history is very,
I think what’s exciting is not the history,
is his way of thinking about history.
No, I think Dan Carlin is one of the people,
like when, Dan Carlin is one of the people
that really started getting me excited
about like revolutionizing education.
Because like Dan Carlin instilled,
I already like really liked history,
but he instilled like an obsessive love of history in me
to the point where like now I’m fucking reading,
like going to bed, reading like part four
of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich or whatever.
Like I got like dense ass history,
but like he like opened that door
that like made me want to be a scholar of that topic.
Like it’s like, I feel like he’s such a good teacher.
He just like, you know, and it sort of made me feel like
one of the things we could do with education
is like find like the world’s great,
the teachers that like create passion for the topic
I don’t know how to say that properly,
but like self teaching is like much faster
than being lectured to.
Like it’s much more efficient
to sort of like be able to teach yourself
and then ask a teacher questions
when you don’t know what’s up.
But like, you know, that’s why it’s like
in university and stuff,
like you can learn so much more material so much faster
because you’re doing a lot of the learning on your own
and you’re going to the teachers for when you get stuck.
But like these teachers that can inspire passion
for a topic, I think that is one of the most invaluable
skills in our whole species.
Like, because if you can do that, then you,
it’s like AI, like AI is going to teach itself
so much more efficiently than we can teach it.
We just needed to get it to the point
where it can teach itself.
It finds the motivation to do so, right?
So like you inspire it to do so.
And then it could teach itself.
What do you make of the fact,
you mentioned Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
Have you read that?
Yeah, I read it twice.
You read it twice?
Okay, so no one even knows what it is.
And I’m like, wait, I thought this was like
a super poppin book.
Yeah, I’m not like that, I’m not that far in it.
But it is, it’s so interesting.
Yeah, it’s written by a person that was there,
which is very important to kind of.
You know, you start being like,
how could this possibly happen?
And then when you read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,
it’s like, people tried really hard for this to not happen.
People tried, they almost reinstated a monarchy
at one point to try to stop this from happening.
Like they almost like abandoned democracy
to try to get this to not happen.
At least the way it makes me feel
is that there’s a bunch of small moments
on which history can turn.
It’s like small meetings.
And it’s both terrifying and inspiring
because it’s like, even just attempts
at assassinating Hitler, like time and time again failed.
And they were so close.
Was it like Operation Valkyrie?
Such a good.
And then there’s also the role of,
that’s a really heavy burden,
which is from a geopolitical perspective,
the role of leaders to see evil
before it truly becomes evil,
to anticipate it, to stand up to evil.
Because evil is actually pretty rare in this world
at a scale that Hitler was.
We tend to, you know, in the modern discourse
kind of call people evil too quickly.
If you look at ancient history,
like there was a ton of Hitlers.
I actually think it’s more the norm than,
like again, going back to like my
sort of intelligent design theory,
I think one of the things we’ve been successfully doing
in our slow move from survival of the fittest
to intelligent design is we’ve kind of been eradicating,
like if you look at like ancient Assyria and stuff,
like that shit was like brutal
and just like the heads on the, like brutal,
like Genghis Khan just like genocide after genocide
was like throwing plague bodies over the walls
and decimating whole cities
or like the Muslim conquests of like Damascus and shit.
Just like people, cities used to get leveled
all the fucking time.
Okay, get into the Bronze Age collapse.
It’s basically, there was like almost
like Roman level like society.
Like there was like all over the world,
like global trade, like everything was awesome
through a mix of, I think a bit of climate change
and then the development of iron
because basically bronze could only come
from this, the way to make bronze,
like everything had to be funneled
through this one Iranian mine.
And so it’s like, there was just this one supply chain
and this is one of the things
that makes me worried about supply chains
and why I think we need to be so thoughtful about,
I think our biggest issue with society right now,
like the thing that is most likely to go wrong
is probably supply chain collapse,
because war, climate change, whatever,
like anything that causes supply chain collapse,
our population is too big to handle that.
And like the thing that seems to cause Dark Ages
is mass supply chain collapse.
But the Bronze Age collapse happened like,
it was sort of like this ancient collapse
that happened where like literally like ancient Egypt,
all these cities, everything just got like decimated,
destroyed, abandoned cities, like hundreds of them.
There was like a flourishing society,
like we were almost coming to modernity
and everything got leveled.
And they had this mini Dark Ages,
but it was just like, there’s so little writing
or recording from that time that like,
there isn’t a lot of information
about the Bronze Age collapse,
but it was basically equivalent to like medieval,
the medieval Dark Ages.
But it just happened, I don’t know the years,
but like thousands of years earlier.
And then we sort of like recovered
from the Bronze Age collapse,
empire reemerged, writing and trade
and everything reemerged.
And then we of course had the more contemporary Dark Ages.
And then over time, we’ve designed mechanism
to lessen and lessen the capability
for the destructive power centers to emerge.
There’s more recording about the more contemporary Dark Ages.
So I think we have like a better understanding
of how to avoid it,
but I still think we’re at high risk for it.
I think that’s one of the big risks right now.
So the natural state of being for humans
is for there to be a lot of Hitlers,
which has gotten really good
at making it hard for them to emerge.
We’ve gotten better at collaboration
and resisting the power,
like authoritarians to come to power.
We’re trying to go country by country,
like we’re moving past this.
We’re kind of like slowly incrementally,
like moving towards like not scary old school war stuff.
And I think seeing it happen in some of the countries
that at least nominally are like
supposed to have moved past that,
that’s scary because it reminds us that it can happen
like in the places that have moved supposedly,
as hopefully moved past that.
And possibly at a civilization level,
like you said, supply chain collapse
might make people resource constraint,
might make people desperate, angry, hateful, violent,
and drag us right back in.
I mean, supply chain collapse is how,
like the ultimate thing that caused the Middle Ages
was supply chain collapse.
It’s like people, because people were reliant
on a certain level of technology,
like people, like you look at like Britain,
like they had glass, like people had aqueducts,
people had like indoor heating and cooling
and like running water and like buy food
from all over the world and trade and markets.
Like people didn’t know how to hunt and forage and gather.
And so we’re in a similar situation.
We are not educated enough to survive without technology.
So if we have a supply chain collapse
that like limits our access to technology,
there will be like massive starvation and violence
and displacement and war.
Like, you know, it’s like, yeah.
In my opinion, it’s like the primary marker
of like what a dark age is.
Well, technology is kind of enabling us
to be more resilient in terms of supply chain,
in terms of, to all the different catastrophic events
that happened to us.
Although the pandemic has kind of challenged
our preparedness for the catastrophic.
What do you think is the coolest invention
humans come up with?
The wheel, fire, cooking meat.
Freaking computers. Internet or computers?
What do you think the?
Previous technologies, I mean,
may have even been more profound
and moved us to a certain degree,
but I think the computers are what make us homo tech now.
I think this is what, it’s a brain augmentation.
And so it like allows for actual evolution.
Like the computers accelerate the degree
to which all the other technologies can also be accelerated.
Would you classify yourself as a homo sapien
or a homo techno?
Definitely homo techno.
So you’re one of the earliest of the species.
I think most of us are.
Like, as I said, like, I think if you
like looked at brain scans of us versus humans
a hundred years ago, it would look very different.
I think we are physiologically different.
Just even the interaction with the devices
has changed our brains.
Well, and if you look at,
a lot of studies are coming out to show that like,
there’s a degree of inherited memory.
So some of these physiological changes in theory
should be, we should be passing them on.
So like that’s, you know, that’s not like a,
an instance of physiological change
that’s gonna fizzle out.
In theory, that should progress like to our offspring.
Speaking of offspring,
what advice would you give to a young person,
like in high school,
whether there be an artist, a creative, an engineer,
any kind of career path, or maybe just life in general,
how they can live a life they can be proud of?
I think one of my big thoughts,
and like, especially now having kids,
is that I don’t think we spend enough time
And I think creativity is a muscle like other things.
And there’s a lot of emphasis on, you know,
learn how to play the piano.
And then you can write a song
or like learn the technical stuff.
And then you can do a thing.
But I think it’s, like, I have a friend
who’s like world’s greatest guitar player,
like, you know, amazing sort of like producer,
works with other people, but he’s really sort of like,
you know, he like engineers and records things
and like does solos,
but he doesn’t really like make his own music.
And I was talking to him and I was like,
dude, you’re so talented at music.
Like, why don’t you make music or whatever?
And he was like, cause I got, I’m too old.
I never learned the creative muscle.
And it’s like, you know, it’s embarrassing.
It’s like learning the creative muscle
takes a lot of failure.
And it also sort of,
if when you’re being creative,
you know, you’re throwing paint at a wall
and a lot of stuff will fail.
So like part of it is like a tolerance
for failure and humiliation.
And that’s somehow that’s easier to develop
when you’re young or be persist through it
when you’re young.
Everything is easier to develop when you’re young.
And the younger, the better.
It could destroy you.
I mean, that’s the shitty thing about creativity.
If, you know, failure could destroy you
if you’re not careful, but that’s a risk worth taking.
But also, but at a young age,
developing a tolerance to failure is good.
I fail all the time.
Like I do stupid shit all the time.
Like in public, in private, I get canceled for,
I’ve make all kinds of mistakes,
but I just like am very resilient about making mistakes.
And so then like I do a lot of things
that like other people wouldn’t do.
And like, I think my greatest asset is my creativity.
And I like, I think pain, like tolerance to failure
is just a super essential thing
that should be taught before other things.
I wish everybody encouraged sort of failure more
as opposed to kind of.
Cause we like punish failure.
We’re like, no, like when we were teaching kids,
we’re like, no, that’s wrong.
Like that’s, you know, like X keeps like will be like wrong.
Like he’ll say like crazy things.
Like X keeps being like, like bubble car, bubble car.
And I’m like, and you know, I’m like, what’s a bubble car?
Like, but like, it doesn’t like,
but I don’t want to be like, no, you’re wrong.
I’m like, you’re thinking of weird, crazy shit.
Like, I don’t know what a bubble car is, but like.
It’s creating worlds
and they might be internally consistent.
And through that, you might discover something fundamental
about this world.
Yeah, or he’ll like rewrite songs,
like with words that he prefers.
So like, instead of baby shark, he says baby car.
Maybe he’s onto something.
Let me ask the big, ridiculous question.
We were kind of dancing around it,
but what do you think is the meaning
of this whole thing we have here of human civilization,
of life on earth, but in general, just life?
What’s the meaning of life?
Have you, did you read Nova Scene yet?
By James Lovelock?
You’re doing a lot of really good book recommendations here.
I haven’t even finished this,
so I’m a huge fraud yet again.
But like really early in the book,
he says this amazing thing.
Like, I feel like everyone’s so sad and cynical.
Like everyone’s like the Fermi paradox and everyone.
I just keep hearing people being like, fuck,
what if we’re alone?
Like, oh no, ah, like, ah, ah.
And I’m like, okay, but like, wait,
what if this is the beginning?
Like in Nova Scene, he says,
this is not gonna be a correct,
I can’t like memorize quotes,
but he says something like,
what if our consciousness, like right now,
like this is the universe waking up?
Like what if instead of discovering the universe,
this is the universe,
like this is the evolution
of the literal universe herself.
Like we are not separate from the universe.
Like this is the universe waking up.
This is the universe seeing herself for the first time.
Like this is.
The universe becoming conscious.
The first time we were a part of that.
Yeah, cause it’s like,
we aren’t separate from the universe.
Like this could be like an incredibly sacred moment
and maybe like social media and all this things,
the stuff where we’re all getting connected together.
Like maybe these are the neurons connecting
of the like collective super intelligence that is,
The, yeah, like, you know, it’s like,
maybe instead of something cynical
or maybe if there’s something to discover,
like maybe this is just, you know,
we’re a blast assist of like some incredible
kind of consciousness or being.
And just like in the first three years of life
or for human children,
we’ll forget about all the suffering
that we’re going through now.
I think we’ll probably forget about this.
I mean, probably, you know, artificial intelligence
will eventually render us obsolete.
I don’t think they’ll do it in a malicious way,
but I think probably we are very weak.
The sun is expanding.
Like, I don’t know, like, hopefully we can get to Mars,
but like, we’re pretty vulnerable.
And I, you know, like,
I think we can coexist for a long time with AI
and we can also probably make ourselves less vulnerable,
but, you know, I just think
consciousness, sentience, self awareness,
like, I think this might be the single greatest
like moment in evolution ever.
And like, maybe this is, you know,
the big, like the true beginning of life.
And we’re just, we’re the blue green algae
or we’re like the single celled organisms
of something amazing.
The universe awakens and this is it.
Well, see, you’re an incredible person.
You’re a fascinating mind.
You should definitely do, your friend Liv mentioned
that you guys were thinking of maybe talking.
I would love it if you explored your mind
in this kind of media more and more
by doing a podcast with her or just in any kind of way.
So you’re an awesome person.
It’s an honor to know you.
It’s an honor to get to sit down with you late at night,
which is like surreal.
And I really enjoyed it.
Thank you for talking today.
Yeah, no, I mean, huge honor.
I feel very underqualified to be here, but I’m a big fan.
I’ve been listening to the podcast a lot and yeah,
me and Liv would appreciate any advice and help
and we’re definitely gonna do that.
Cool, thank you.
Thanks for listening to this conversation with Grimes.
To support this podcast,
please check out our sponsors in the description.
And now let me leave you with some words from Oscar Wilde.
Yes, I’m a dreamer.
For a dreamer is one who can only find her way by moonlight
and her punishment is that she sees the dawn
before the rest of the world.
Thank you for listening and hope to see you