291: TZ Discussion – No Brain Required

Justin and Jason discuss why they decided not to publish that last show, Jason’s Christmas debacle, how we’re living in the future, the documentary An Honest Liar, how Dean Kamen is solving the world’s drinking water problem, solving problems solution first, the First Robotics competition, Jason’s recent addiction to the mobil game Hex Fvr, Gone Girl, the Bastard Executioner, Homicide Hunter, the Nerdist Podcast interview with Joe Kenda and the Detective podcast, why Jason receives so many emails about his algorithmic trading blog post, Justin’s new project, Jason’s idea of aggregating a handful of trading strategies on Collective2 into a fund of funds, Wealthfront and Betterment, the man who had virtually no brain, Jason’s new math class, the progress with the Math Academy and the software that’s going to power it, the financial pluses and minuses of working for a startup, the stress of running Slack, why Justin thinks the engineers at Slack might snoop on conversations and why Jason is skeptical, treating human disease with the CRISPR technique, The Strain, Nick Bostrom, Super Intelligence, the Open AI initiative and whether true artificial intelligence would have to be imbued with a fear of death.

  1. Great to hear from you guys again. I’d love to hear more talk about AI. I know that Jason has discussed machine learning in the past and I’m starting to become increasingly interested in the concepts.

    Happy New Year! 🙂

  2. Adam Shimali says:

    Nice show. Liked ‘No brain required’. It’s good to hear you are back. I look forward to hearing from Phil again some time soon. In previous episodes I think some folks were a bit unkind about this attempt at an English accent. I thought it was actually pretty good considering. Phil was also a pretty good foil to both you guys, as he seemed to represent a middle ground if you guys got grumpy with each other 🙂

    On a contentious note, I think you guys were in violent agreement on the question of an advanced and powerful AI. Justin may have described it as a survival instinct, and in doing so gave it an anthropomorphic flavour. However Jason’s view that it is axiomatic that an intelligent system would seek to perpeptuate itself I think another way to describe a similar concept. It would mean that an AI would try to ensure it knew what it’s threats are and to take any steps necessary to combat those threats. We could I suppose call that a survival instinct/program.

    In any case good show and incidentally Jason’s x-mas sounded like a pretty good family friendly comedy. Maybe time to look up your old script writer pal Jason 🙂

  3. Vladimir Jankovic says:

    Great to hear you guys!
    Listened this episode in one day commute… Can’t believe I’ll have to wait at least a month for a new fix 😉

    Thanks for podcast and documentaries recommendation!

  4. Abe says:

    AI + Movie – Please go see Ex Machina. It’s on Netflix and is incredible!

  5. Doug Martin says:

    Good to hear another episode from you guys!

  6. David says:

    Thanks for the show. Glad you’re still here!

  7. Danilo Celic says:

    Another good conversation. I’m digging the investment idea about subscribing to multiple trading strategies and overlaying that applying risk tolerances to create a good mix of strategies.

    The last part of the conversation about AI awareness was quite interesting and would be fun over a few beverages. I can see how having a survival bias built into the programming could help it develop better fitness (as in survival of the fittest) but also push the evolution of the AI toward seeing threats to its existence as something to proactively prevent.

    As with a lot of things, if you bias towards something you can get more of it than you’d like. Optimistically, you get more of what you measure; viewed pessimistically, what you measure will eventually get gamed

  8. About 25 minutes into the podcast Jason starts talking about the idea of having a bunch of solutions and THEN finding problems that fit them. That reminded me of the ‘Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_sharpshooter_fallacy

  9. Stuart Hinson says:

    Great episode! Glad to hear you guys again. Also, +1 to Abe’s Ex Machina suggestion — ties in perfectly with the escaping AI discussion

  10. Justin you should add king of kong to your watch list. Great documentary about 2 guys battling it out to be the highest scorer in the arcade game – so Jason you should enjoy it too!

  11. Danilo Celic says:


    I took more from what Jason was discussing was that you have a solution and you see how that solution could be applied to a set of problems that you’re already aware of, or have even been cultivating as a set problems that are particularly interesting for some reason to you. Doing this would allow you to see if the new solution was a better fit for the problem than existing solutions.

  12. @Danilo

    I took the same and I find it a really interesting approach. (it just so happened to remind me of the Texas sharpshooter idea)

  13. chris lorenz says:

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10982340. Long time listener. Love your show. Keep on moving on.
    PS. Love Phil keep him coming.