The following is a conversation with Eric Weinstein the second time we've spoken on this podcast. He's a mathematician with a bold and piercing intelligence, unafraid to explore the biggest questions in the universe and shine a light on the darkest corners of our society. He's the host of the Portal podcast, a part of which he recently released his 2013 Oxford Lecture and his theory of Geometric Unity that is at the center of his lifelong efforts to arrive at a theory of everything that unifies the fundamental laws of physics.
This conversation was recorded recently in the time of the coronavirus pandemic for everyone feeling the medical, psychological and financial burden of this crisis. I'm sending love your way. Stay strong. We're in this together. Will beat this thing. This is the Artificial Intelligence podcast. If you enjoy, subscribe on YouTube, review it with five stars and our podcasts supported on Patrón or simply connect with me on Twitter. Allex Friedman spelled F.R. ID man. This show is presented by Kashyap, the number one finance app in the App Store.
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None of these abstractions work in a global crisis. And this is just a reminder that we didn't somehow put all that behind us.
When I hear stories about my grandfather who was in the army, and so the Soviet Union, where most people die, when you're in the army, there's a brotherhood that happens.
There's a love that happens. Do you think that's something we're going to see here since we're not there?
I mean, what the Soviet Union went through, I mean, the enormity of the war on the Russian doorstep, this is different.
What we're going through now is not we can't talk about Stalingrad and covered in the same breath yet we're not ready.
And the the sort of, you know, the just the sense of like the Great Patriotic War and the way in which I was very moved by the Soviet custom of newlyweds going and visiting war memorials on their wedding day. Like the happiest day of your life. You have to say thank you to the people who made it possible. We're not there. We're just restarting history. We you know, I've called this on the Russian program. I called it the Great Knap, the seventy five years with very little by historical standards in terms of really profound disruption.
And so when you call it the great not being lack of deep global tragedy, well, lack of realized global tragedy.
So I think that the development, for example, of the hydrogen bomb, you know, was something that happened during the great nap.
And that doesn't mean that people who lived during that time didn't feel fear, didn't know anxiety, but it was to say that most of the violent potential of the human species was not realized. It was in the form of potential energy. And this is the thing that I've sort of taken issue with, with the description of Steven Pinker's optimism, is that if you look at they realized kinetic variables, things have been getting much better for a long time, which is the great nap.
But it's not as if our fragility has not grown, our dependence on electronic systems, our vulnerability to disruption. And so all sorts of things have gotten much better, other things have gotten much worse, and the destructive potential has skyrocketed. It's a tragedy. The only way we wake up from the big nap.
Well, no know, you could also have, you know, jubilation about positive things, but it's harder to get people's attention. Can you give an example of a big global positive thing? Well, that could happen.
I think that when, for example, just historically speaking, HIV went from being a death sentence to something that people could live with for a very long period of time, it would be great if that had happened on a Wednesday.
Right. Like all at once. Like you knew that things had changed. And so the bleed in somewhat kills the sort of the Wednesday effect where it all happens on a particular day, at a particular moment.
I think if you look at the stock market here, you know, there's a very clear moment where you can see the market absorbs the idea of the coronavirus. I think that with respect to positives, the moon landing was the best example of a positive that happened at a particular time or recapitulating the Soviet American link-up in terms of Skylab and Soyuz. Right. Like that was a huge moment when you actually had these two nations connecting in orbit. And so, yeah, there are great moments where something beautiful and wonderful and amazing happens, you know, but it's just there are fewer.
That's why that's why as much as I can't imagine proposing to somebody at a sporting event when you have like 30000 people waiting and, you know, she says, yes, it's pretty exciting.
So I think that we shouldn't we shouldn't discount that.
So how bad do you think it's going to get in terms of the global suffering that we're going to experience with this with this crisis? I can't figure this one out. I'm just not smart enough.
Something is going weirdly wrong and they're almost like two separate storylines in one storyline. We aren't taking things nearly seriously enough. We see people using food packaging lids as masks who are doctors or nurses.
We hear horrible stories about people dying needlessly due to triage and. That's a very terrifying story, on the other hand, there's this other story which says there are tons of ventilator's someplace. We've got lots of masks, but they haven't been released. We've got hospital ships where none of the beds are being used. And it's very confusing to me that somehow these two stories give me the feeling that they both must be true simultaneously and they can't both be true in any kind of standard way and don't know whether it's just that I'm dumb, but I can't get one or the other story to quiet down.
So I think, weirdly, this is much more serious than we had understood it. And it's not nearly as serious as some people are making it out to be at the same time, and that we're not being given the tools to actually understand.
Here's how to interpret the data or here's the issue with the personal protective equipment is actually a jurisdictional battle or a question of who pays for it rather than a question of whether it's presence or absence. I don't understand the details of it, but something is wildly off in our ability to understand where we are. So that's policy. That's institutions. What about do you think about the suffering of millions of people that have lost their job?
Is this a temporary thing?
I mean, what I'm my ears not to the suffering of those people who have lost their job or the 50 percent possibly of small businesses that are going to go bankrupt.
Do you think about that Schweid suffering? Well, and how that might arise itself could be not quiet, too. I mean, that's the could be a depression. This could go from recession to depression and depression, could go to armed conflict and then to war.
So it's not a very abstract causal chain that gets us to the point where we can begin with quiet suffering and anxiety and all of these sorts of things and people losing their jobs and people dying from stress and all sorts of things. But look, anything powerful enough to put us all indoors in a I mean, think about this as an incredible experiment.
Imagine that you proposed hey, I want to do a bunch of research. Let's figure out what what changes in our emissions emissions profiles for our carbon footprints when we're all indoors or what happens to traffic patterns or what happens to the vulnerability of retail sales as Amazon gets stronger, you know, et cetera, et cetera.
I believe that in many of those situations, we're running an incredible experiment. Am I worried for us all? Yes, there are some bright spots, one of which is that when you're ordered to stay indoors, people are going to feel entitled. And the usual thing that people are going to hit when they hear that they've lost your job, you know, so there's this kind of tough, tough love attitude that you see, particularly in the United States, like, oh, you lost your job, poor baby.
Well, go retrain, get another one.
I think there's going to be a lot less appetite for that because we've been asked to sacrifice, to risk, to act collectively. And that's the interesting thing. What does that reawaken in us? Maybe the idea that we actually are nations and that, you know, your fellow countrymen may start to mean something to more people, certainly mean something to people in the military. But I wonder how many people who aren't in the military start to think about this is like, oh, yeah, we are kind of running separate experiments and we are not China.
So you think this is kind of a period that might be studied for years to come? From my perspective, we are a part of the experiment, but I don't feel like we have access to the full data, the full data of the experiment. We're just like little mice. Yeah. In a large.
Does this one make sense to you, like. I'm romanticizing it and I keep connecting it to World War Two, so I keep connecting to historical events and making sense of them through that way, or reading The Plague by Comeaux, like almost kind of telling narratives and stories. But my I'm not hearing. The suffering that people are going through. Because I think that's quiet, everybody is numb. Currently, they're not realizing what it means to have lost your job and to have lost your business.
There's kind of a I, I, I'm afraid how that fear will. Materialise itself once the numbness wears out. Especially if this lasts for many months and if it's connected to the incompetence of the CDC and the WHL and our government and perhaps the election process, you know, my biggest fear is that the know elections get delayed or something like that. So the basic mechanisms of our democracy get slowed or damaged in some way, that then mixes with the fear that people have, that turns to panic, that turns to anger.
That anger can just play with that for a little bit. What if, in fact, all of that structure that you grew up thinking about and again, you grew up in two places. Right. So when you were inside the US, we tend to look at all of these things as museum pieces, like how often do we amend the Constitution anymore? And in some sense, if you think about the Jewish tradition of simple Hatorah, you've got this beautiful scroll that has been lovingly hand drawn and calligraphy that's very valuable.
And it's very important that you not treat it as a relic to be revered.
And so we one day a year, we dance with the Torah and we hold this incredibly vulnerable document up and we treat it as if, you know, it was Ginger Rogers being led by Fred Astaire.
Well, that is how you become part of your country. In fact, maybe the maybe the election will be delayed, maybe extraordinary powers will be used. Maybe any one of a number of things will indicate that you're actually living through history. This isn't a museum piece that you were handed by your great great grandparents, but you're kind of suggesting that there might be a like a community thing that pops up like a like. As opposed to. An angry revolution, it might have a positive effect.
Well, for example, are you telling me that if the right person stood up and called for us to sacrifice PPY for our nurses and our air, our MDs who are on the front lines that like people wouldn't reach down deep in their own supply, that they've been like stalking and carefully destroying them, just say here, take it like right now, an actual leader would use this time.
To bring out the heroic character and I'm going to just go wildly patriotic, I friggin love this country, we've got this dormant population in the U.S. that loves.
Leadership and country and pride in our freedom and not being told what to do, and we still have this thing that binds us together and all of them, the merchants of division, just be gone.
I totally agree with you. There's a I think there is a deep hunger for that leadership. Why hasn't that? Why hasn't one? Because we don't have the right surgeon general. We have a guy saying, you know, come on, guys, don't buy masks, they don't really work for you, save them for our health care professionals. No, you can't do that.
You have to say, you know what, these masks actually do work. And they more work to protect other people from you. But they would work for you. They'll keep you somewhat safer if you wear them. Here's the deal. You've got somebody who's taking huge amounts of viral load all the time because the patients are shedding. Do you want to protect? That person has volunteered to be in the front line. Who's up sleepless nights. You just change the message.
You stop lying to people. You just you level with them. It's like it's bad. Absolutely. But that's that's a little bit specific. So you you have to be just honest about the facts of the situation. Yes. I think you referring to something bigger than just that. Yes. Inspiring.
Like, you know, rewriting the Constitution, sort of rethinking how we work as a nation.
Yeah. I think you should probably, you know, amend the Constitution once or twice in a lifetime so that you don't get this distance from the foundational documents. And, you know, part of the problem is that we've got two generations on top that feel very connected to the U.S. They feel bought in and we've got three generations below. It's a little bit like watching your parents riding the tricycle that they were supposed to pass on to you. And it's like you're now too old to ride a tricycle and they're still open it up, ringing the bell with the streamers coming off the handlebars.
And you're just thinking, do you guys never get bored? Do you never pass the torch? Do you really want it? We had five septuagenarians, all born in the 40s, running for president of the United States when cloture dropped out. The youngest was Warren. We had Warren, Biden, Sanders, Bloomberg and Trump from like 1949 to 1941, all who have been the the oldest president at inauguration.
And nobody nobody says grandma and grandpa, you're embarrassing us except Joe Rogan.
Let me put her on you.
You have a big platform. You're somewhat of an intelligent, eloquent guy. What what role do somewhat what role do you play? Why aren't you that leader or you're I mean, I would argue that you're in in ways becoming that leader. So I haven't taken enough risk.
Is that your idea? What should I do or say at the moment? No, you're a little bit now. You have taken quite big risks and we'll talk about it. All right. But you're also.
On the outside shooting in. Meaning you're dismantling the institution from the outside as opposed to becoming the institution.
Do you remember that thing you brought up when you were on The View? The view, I'm sorry, when you were on Oprah, I didn't make I didn't get the I'm sorry.
When you were on Bill Maher's program, what was that thing you were saying?
They don't know we're here. They may watch us. Yeah. They may quietly slip us a direct message, but they pretend that this Internet thing is some dangerous place where only lunatics play. Well, who has the bigger platform, the portal or Bill Moyers program or The View?
Bill Maher in The View in terms of viewership or in terms of what's the metric of size?
Well, first of all, the key thing is take it, take a newspaper and even imagine that it's completely fake, OK? And there's very little in the way of circulation yet. Imagine that it's a 100 year old paper and that it's still part of this game, this internal game of media.
The key point is, is that those sources that have that kind of mark of respectability to the institutional structures matter in a way that even if I say something in a very large platform, that makes a lot of sense. If it's outside of what I've called the gated institutional narrative or Ginne, it sort of doesn't matter to the institutions. So the game is if it happens outside of the club, we can pretend that it never happened.
How can you get the credibility and the authority from outside the gated institutional narrative?
Well, first of all. You and I both share institutional credibility coming from our associations, so we were both at MIT.
We were at Harvard at any point now.
OK, well and lived in Harvard Square, so did I. But, you know, at some level, the issue isn't whether you have credentials in that sense. The key question is, can you be trusted to file a flight plan and not deviate from that flight plan?
When you are in an interview situation, will you stick to the talking points?
I will not. And that's why you're not going to be allowed in the general conversation, which amplifies these sentiments, but I'm still trying to see your point. It would be that we're, let's say both. So you've done how many, Joergen? Four have done for two. Right. So both of us are somewhat frequent guests. The show is huge. You know, the power as well as I do. And people are going to watch this conversation.
A huge number. Watched our last one, by the way, that I want to thank you for that one. That was a terrific, terrific conversation. Really did change my life, Lexia, my life. You're brilliant. Interviewer So thank you. Thank you. For those that you changed my life to, that you gave me a chance. So I don't know. I'm so glad I did that one.
What I would say is, is that we keep mistaking how big the audience is for whether or not you have the kiss and the kiss is a different thing.
Yes. Yes. Well, doesn't it's not an acronym yet. OK, it's a thank you for asking. It's a question of are you part of the inter interoperable institution friendly discussion? And that's the discussion which we ultimately have to break into. But that's what I'm trying to get at, is how do we how do how does Erik Weinstein become the president of the United States? I mean, shouldn't become the president of the United States. Not interested.
Thank you very much for us.
OK, get into a leadership position where I guess I don't know what that means, but where you can inspire millions of people to inspire the sense of community, inspire the. The kind of actions required to overcome hardship, the kind of hardship that we may be experiencing to inspire people to work hard and face the difficult, hard facts of the realities we're living through, all those kinds of things that you're talking about, that leader.
You know, can that leader emerge from the current institutions or alternatively, can it also emerge from the outside?
I guess that's what I was asking. So my belief is, is that this is the last hurrah for the elderly, centrist kleptocrats. Can you define each of those terms? OK, elderly people who were born at least a year before I was that's a joke.
You can laugh.
No, because I'm born on the cusp of the Gen X Boomer divide, centrist. They're pretending, you know, there are two parties, Democrat and Republican Party in the United States. I think it's easier to think of the mainstream of both of them as part of a an aggregate party that I sometimes call the looting party, which gets us to cleptocracy, which is ruled by thieves. And the great temptation has been to treat the US like a trough.
And you just have to get yours because it's not like we're doing anything productive. So everybody's sort of looting the family mansion and somebody stole the silver and somebody cutting the pictures out of the frames.
And, you know, roughly speaking, we're watching our elders live it up in a way that doesn't make sense to the rest of us. OK, so this is the last hurrah. This is the time for leaders to step up like, no, we're not ready yet, we're not ready. I call I call out, you know, the head of the CDC should resign. Should resign, that the surgeon general should resign, Trump should resign. Pelosi should resign.
De Blasio should resign. Not going to resign. I understand that. So that's why.
So we'll wait. But that is how revolutions work. You don't wait for people to resign. You step up and inspire the alternative.
Do you remember the Russian Revolution of 1987?
Before my time, but there wasn't a Russian revolution of 19 or seven years thinking were in 1987, and I'm saying we're two years too early, but we got, you know, Spanish flu came in 17, 18. So I would argue that there's a lot of parallels there or the one I think it's not time yet like John Prine, the.
The songwriter just died of covid is a pretty big really, yeah, by the way.
Yes, of course I am. Every time we do this, we discover our our mutual appreciation of obscure, brilliant, witty songwriting. He's really he's really quite good. Right. He's he's really good. Yeah. He died.
My understanding is that he passed recently due to complications of Corona.
So we haven't had large enough enough large, large enough shocking deaths yet. Picturesque deaths, deaths of a family that couldn't get treatment.
There are stories that will come and break our hearts and we have not had enough of the visuals haven't come in, but I think they're coming. Well, we'll find out. But that you've got to you have to be there have to be there when they come mean.
But we didn't get the visual, for example, of falling man from 9/11. Right. So the outside world did, but Americans were not. It was thought that we would be too delicate.
So just the way you remember Pulitzer Prize winning photographs from the Vietnam era, you don't easily remember the photographs from all sorts of things that have happened since because something changed in our media.
We are incensed that we cannot feel or experience our own lives and the tragedy that would animate us to action.
But I think there again, I think there's going to be that suffering that's going to build and build and build in terms of businesses. Mom and pop shops are closed. And I think for myself, I think often that. That I'm. Being weak and and I feel like I should be doing something, I should be becoming a leader on a small scale, you can't this is not World War two and this is not Soviet Russia.
Why not? Why not?
Because our internal programming, the malware that sits between our ears, is much different than the propagandised malware of the Soviet era.
I mean, people were both very indoctrinated and also knew that of it was B.S. They had a double mind.
I don't know.
There must be a great word in Russian for being able to think both of those things simultaneously. You don't think people are actually sick of the partisanship sic of incompetence?
Yeah, but I called for a revolt the other day on Joe Rogan and people found it quixotic.
Well, because I think you're not I think revolt is different. I think it's like, OK, I'm really angry. I'm furious. I cannot stand that this is my country at the moment. I am embarrassed. So let's build a better one.
Yeah, that's the I mean, ok, so well OK. Like something. So let's take over a few universities. Let's start running a different experiment at some of our better universities. Like when I did this experiment I said, look at this. If this were 40 years ago, the median age, I believe, of a university president was fifty one. That would have the person in Gen X and we'd have a bunch of millennial presidents, a bunch of, you know, more than half Gen X.
It's almost 100 percent baby boomer at this point. And how did that happen? We can get into how they changed retirement, but this generation above us does not feel.
Or even even the older generation, silent Jerry, I had Roger Penrose on my program. Excellent. And I think you really appreciate that. And I asked him a question that was very important to me.
And I said, look, you're in your late 80s. Is there anyone you could point to as a successor that we should be watching? We can get excited. You know, I said here's an opportunity to pass the baton. And he said, well, let me let me hold off on that.
Is it ever the right moment to point to somebody younger than you to keep your flame alive after you're gone? And also, like, I don't know whether I'm just going to admit to this. People treat me like I'm crazy for caring about the world after I'm dead.
Or wanting to be remembered after you're gone, like, well, what does it matter to you, you're gone.
It's this deeply sort of secular sematic perspective on everything where we don't, you know, that phrase in as time goes by, it says it's still the same old story of fight for love and glory, a case of to die.
Don't think people imagined then that there wouldn't be a story about fighting for love and glory. And like we are so out of practice about fighting, you know, rivals for love and and and and fighting for glory in something bigger than yourself.
But the hunger is there. Well, that was the point then, right? The whole idea is that Rick was, you know, as the consolo of his time is just like I stick my neck out for nobody.
You know, it's like, oh, come on, Rick, you're just pretending you actually have a big soul.
Right? And so at some level, that's the question. Do we have a big sollers? It's just all bullshit.
I think I think there's huge Manhattan Project style projects, whether you're talking about physical infrastructure or going to Mars, you know, the space X NASA efforts or huge, huge scientific effort. Well, we need to get back into the institutions and we need to remove the weak leadership that we have. Weak leaders and the weak leaders need to be removed and they need to seat people more dangerous than the people who are currently sitting in a lot of those chairs or build new institutions.
Good luck. Well, one of the nice things of from the Internet is, for example, somebody like you can have a bigger voice than almost anybody at the particular institutions we're talking about. That's true. But the thing is, I might say something. You can count on the fact that the, you know, provost at Princeton isn't going to say anything. What do you mean to afraid? Well, if that person were to give an interview, how are things going in in research at Princeton?
Well, I'm hesitant to say it, but they're perhaps as good as they've ever been, and I think they're going to get better. Oh, is that right?
All fields? Yep. I don't see a weak one. And it's just like, OK, great.
Who are you?
And what you even say we're just used to total nonsense 24/7. Yeah. What do you think might be a beautiful thing that comes out of this. Like what? Is there a hope? Like a little inkling, a little fire of hope you have about our time right now? Yeah.
I think one thing is coming to understand that the freaks, weirdos, mutants and other ne'er do wells sometimes referred to as grifters.
I like that one.
Grifters and gadflies were very often the earliest people on the coronavirus. That's a really interesting question. Why was that?
And it seems to be that they had already paid such a social price that they weren't going to be beaten up by being told that, oh, my God, you're xenophobic.
You just hate China, you know, or wow, you sound like a conspiracy theorist.
So if you'd already paid those prices, you're free to think about this. And everyone in an institutional framework was terrified that they didn't want to be seen as the alarmist, the Chicken Little.
And so that's why you have this confidence where, you know, de Blasio says, you know, get on with your lives, get back in there and celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown despite coronavirus. It's like, OK, really. So you just always thought everything would automatically be OK if you if you adapted, sorry if you adopted that posture.
So you think this time reveals the weakness of our institutions and reveals the strength of our gadflies and the weirdos and the no.
Not necessary the strength but the the the value of freedom, like a different way of saying it would be, wow, even your gadflies and your grifter's were able to beat your institutional folks because you're institutional folks were playing with a giant mental handicap.
So just imagine, like we were in the story of Harrison Bergeron by Vonnegut and our smartest people were all subjected. To distracting noises every seven seconds while they would be functionally much dumber because they couldn't continue a thought through all the disturbance. So in some sense, that's a little bit like what belonging to an institution is, is that if you have to make a public statement, of course, the surgeon general is going to be the worst because they're just playing with too much of a handicap.
There are too many institutional players really don't screw us up.
And so the person has to say something wrong.
We're going to back propagate a falsehood. And this is very interesting.
Some of my socially oriented friends say, Eric, I don't understand what you're on about. Of course, masks work, but you know what they're trying to do? They're trying to get us not to buy up the masks for the doctors.
And I think, OK, so you imagine that we can just create scientific fiction at will so that you can run whatever social program you want is what I. My point is, get out of my lab. Get out of the lab.
You don't belong in the lab. You're not meant for the lab. You're constitutionally incapable of being around a lab. You need to leave the lab.
You think this is all new, that masks work. And we're trying to sort of imagine that people are kind of stupid and they would buy masks in excess if they were told that masks work.
Is that like because this does seem to be a particularly clear example of mistakes made. You're asking me this question. No, you're not. What do you think, Lex? Well, I actually probably disagree with you a little bit. Great. Let's do it.
I think it's not so easy to be honest with the populace. When the danger of panic is always around the corner, so. I think the kind of honesty you exhibit. Appeals to a certain class of brave intellectual minds that appeals to me, but I don't know from the perspective of I don't know if it's so obvious that they should be honest 100 percent of the time. With people, I'm not saying you should be perfectly transparent and 100 percent honest, I'm saying that the quality of your lies has to be very high and it has to be public spirited.
There's a big difference between so I'm not I'm not a child about this. I'm not saying that when you're at war, for example, you turn over all of your plans to the enemy because it's important that you're transparent with 360 degree visibility.
Far from what I'm saying is something has been forgotten.
And I forgot who it was who told it to me.
It was a fellow graduate student in the Harvard Math Department. And he said, you know, I learned one thing being out in the workforce because he was one of the few people who had a work life in the department as a grad student.
He said, you can be friends with your boss, but if you're going to be friends with your boss, you have to be doing a good job at work.
And there's an analog here, which is if you're going to be reasonably honest with the population, you have to be doing a good job at work as the surgeon general or is the head of the CDC. So if you're doing a terrible job.
You're supposed to resign and then the next person supposed to say, look, I'm not going to lie to you. I inherited the situation. It was in a bit of disarray, but I had several requirements before I agreed to step in and take the job because I needed to know I could turn it around. I needed to know that I had clear lines of authority. I needed to know that I had the resources available in order to rectify the problem.
And I needed to know that I had the ability and the freedom to level with the American people directly as I saw fit. All of my wishes were granted. And that's why I'm happy here. On Monday morning, I've got my sleeves rolled up. Boy, do we got a lot to do. So please come back in two weeks and then ask me how I'm doing then. And I hope to have something to show you. That's how you do it.
So why is that excellence and basic competence missing?
The big net, you see, you come from multiple traditions where it was very important to remember things, the Soviet tradition made sure that you remembered the sacrifices that came in that war and the Jewish tradition.
We're doing this on Passover, right? OK, well, every year we tell one simple story. Well, why can't it be different every year?
Maybe we can have a rotating series of seven stories because it's the one story that you need.
It's like, you know, you work with the men in black group. Right. And that's the last suit that you'll ever need. This is the last story that you ever need. Don't think I fell for your naturalizer last time.
In any event, we tell one story because it's the get out of Dodge story. There's a time when you need to not wait for the the bread to rise.
And that's the thing, which is even if you live through a great nap, you deserve to know what it feels like to have to leave everything that has become comfortable and and unworkable.
It's sad that you need.
You need that tragedy, I imagine, to have the tradition of remembering. It's sad to to think that because things have been nice and comfortable means that we can't have great competent leaders. Which is kind of the implied statement, can we have great leaders who take big risks, who are who inspire hard work, who deal with difficult truths even though things have been comfortable? Well, we know what those people sound like, I mean, you know, if, for example, JoCo Willink suddenly threw his hat into the ring.
Everyone would say, OK. Right, party's over. It's time to get up at four, 30 and really work hard and we've got to get back into fighting shape and have JOCO is a very special I think that whole group of people by profession put themselves in the way of into hardship on a daily basis. And he's not I don't I don't know. But he's probably not going to be.
Well, could you be president? But it doesn't have to be Jack, right, like in other words, if it was Kaylani or if it was Alex Honnold from Rock-climbing.
But they're just serious people. They're serious people who can't afford your B.S..
Yeah, but why do we have serious people that do rock climbing and don't have serious people who lead the nation? That seems because that was a those skills needed in rock climbing are not good during the big nap and at the tail end of the big nap, they would get you fired. But I don't don't you think there's the fundamental part of human nature that desires to excel, to be exceptionally good at your job?
Yeah, but what is your job? I mean, in other words, my my point to you is, if you if you're a general in a peacetime army and your major activity is playing war games. What if the skills needed to win war games are very different than the skills needed to win wars, because you know how the war games are scored and you've you've done Moneyball, for example, with war games. You figured out how to win games on paper.
So then the advancement skill becomes divergent from the ultimate skill that it was proxy for.
Yeah, but you create this. We're good as human beings to I mean, at least me, I can't do a big nap. So at any one moment when I finish something, a new dream pops up. So like going to Mars go. What do you like to do? You like to do Brazilian jujitsu?
Well, first of all, I like to do everything you like to play guitar, guitar. You do this podcast, you do theory. You're always you're constantly taking risks and exposing yourself. Right. Why? Because you got one of those crazy, I'm sorry to say.
You've got an Eastern European Jewish personality, which I'm still tied to. And I'm a couple generations more distant than you are. And I've held on to that thing because it's valuable to me.
You don't think there's a huge percent of the populace even in the United States? That's that's that might be a little bit dormant, but didn't do you know, on a fashion from the Red Scare podcast, did you interview her? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
She was great. She was great. Right. She's fun. She's she's terrific. But she also has the same thing going on. And I made a joke in the liner notes for that episode, which is somewhere on the road from Stalingrad to Forever 21. Something was lost like how can Stalingrad in Forever 21 be in the same sentence? And, you know, in part, it's that weird thing. It's like trying to remember even words like I mean, Russian and Hebrew, things like it's like what Pommier and the score, you know, these words have much more potency about memory.
And I don't know. I do I think I think there's still a dormant populace that craves leaders on a small scale and large scale. And I hope to be that leader on a small scale. And I think you, sir, have a role to be a leader. You kids go ahead without me. I'm just going to I'm going to do a little bit weird podcasting this year.
You're putting on your Joe Rogan hat. He says I'm just a comedian. Oh, no, I'm not saying I'm just not that.
If I say I want to lead too much because of the big nap, there's like a group, a chorus of automated idiots.
And the first I was like, oh, I knew it was a power grab all along.
Why should you lead, you know, just like and so the idea is you're just trying to skirt around not stepping on all of the idiot landmines. It's like, OK, so now I'm going to hear that in my inbox for the next three days. OK, so lead by example, just live. No, I mean the platform. Look, we should take over the institutions. There are institutions. We've got bad leadership. We should mutiny and we should inject a, I don't know, 15 percent, 20 percent disagreeable dissident, very aggressive loner, individual mutant freaks.
All the people that you go to The Avengers movies about or the X-Men or whatever it is, and stop pretending that everything good comes out of some great giant, inclusive, communal 12 hour meeting. It's like, stop it.
That's not how shit happens. You recently published the video of a lecture you gave at Oxford presenting some aspects of a theory, a theory of everything called geometric unity. So this was a work of 30, 30 plus years.
This is his life's work. Let me ask the the silly old question, how do you feel as a human, excited, scared experience of posting it? You know, it's funny. One of the one of the things that you learn to feel as an academic is the great sins you can commit in academics is to show yourself to be a nonserious person, to show yourself to have delusions, to avoid the standard practices which everyone has signed up for. And.
You know, it's weird because, like, you know, that those people are going to be angry. He did what, you know, why would he do that?
And and what we're referring to, for example, the traditions of sort of publishing incrementally, certainly not trying to have a theory of everything, perhaps working within the academic departments that all those things. That's true. And so you're going outside of all of that? Well, I mean, I was going inside of all of that and we did not come to terms when I was inside.
And what they did was so outside to me was so weird, so freakish. Like the most senior respectable people at the most senior respectable places were functionally insane, as far as I could tell. And again, it's like being functionally stupid if you're the head of the CDC or something where, you know, you're giving recommendations out that aren't based on what you actually believe, they're based on what you think you have to be doing. Well, in some sense, I think that that's a lot of how I saw the math and physics world as.
The physics world was really crazy in the math world, was considerably less crazy, just very strict and kind of dogmatic, we'll psychoanalyze those folks, but I really want to. Maybe lingering in a little bit longer of how you feel, because, yeah, so it's such a such a special moment in your life. I really appreciate it's a great question.
So if we can pair off some of that other those other issues. It's new being able to say. What the observance is, which is my attempt to replace space time with something that is both closely related to space time and not space time. So I used to carry the number 14 as a closely guarded secret in my life and where 14 is really four dimensions of space and time, plus 10 extra dimensions of rulers and protractors, or for the cool kids out there, symmetric to Tensas.
She had a geometric, complicated, beautiful geometric view of the world that you carried with you for a long time. Yeah. Did you did you have friends that you colleagues essentially. No. Talked? No. In fact, part of this part of some of these stories are me coming out to my friends. And I use the phrase coming out because I think that gays have monopolized the concept of the closet. Many of us are in closets having nothing to do with their sexual orientation.
Yeah, I didn't really feel comfortable talking to almost anyone. So this was a closely guarded secret.
And I think that I let on in some ways that I was up to something and probably but it was a very weird life.
So I had to have a series of things that I pretended to care about so that I could use that as the stalking horse for what I really cared about.
And to your point, I never understood this whole thing about theories of everything, like if you were going to go into something like theoretical physics, isn't that what you would normally pursue?
Like, wouldn't it be crazy to do something that difficult in that poorly paid if you were going to try to do something other than figure out what this is all about? Now I have to reveal my cards, my sort of weaknesses, and lack an understanding of the music of physics and math departments. But there's an analogy here to artificial intelligence. And often folks come in and say, OK, so there's a giant department working on, quote unquote, artificial intelligence.
But why is nobody actually working on intelligence like you're all just building little toys, right? You're not actually trying to understand. And that breaks a lot of people. They it confuses them because, like, OK, so I'm at MIT, I'm at Stanford, I'm at Harvard.
I'm here. I dreamed of being what kind of artificial intelligence? Why is everybody not actually working in intelligence? And I have the same kind of sense that that's what working on the theory of everything is. That's strange that you somehow become an outcast for even. But we know why this is right. Why? Well, it's because let's take the artificial let's play with ajai, for example. I think that the idea starts off with nobody really knows how to work on that.
And so if we don't know how to work on it, we choose instead to work on a program that is tangentially related to it. So we do a component of a program that is related to that big question because it's felt like at least I can make progress there. And that wasn't where I was, where I was.
And it's funny, there was this book of called Freedon Ueland back, and it had this weird mysterious line in the beginning of it. And I tried to get clarification of this weird, mysterious line and everyone said wrong things. And then I said, OK, well, so I can tell that nobody's thinking properly because I just asked the entire department and nobody has a correct interpretation of this.
And so, you know, it's a little bit like you see a crime scene photo and you have a different idea, like there's a smoking gun and you figure that's actually a cigarette lighter. I don't really believe that. And then there's like a pack of cards and you think, oh, that looks like the blunt instrument that the person was beaten with. So you have a very different idea about how things go. And very quickly, you realize that there's no one thinking about that.
There's a few human sides to this and technical sides, both of which I'd love to try to get down to. So the human side, I can tell from my perspective, I think it was before April 1st and April Fools maybe the day before I forget, but I was laying in bed in the middle of the night and somehow it popped up.
You know, I my feed somewhere that your beautiful face is speaking live and I clicked and, you know, it's kind of weird how the universe just brings things together in this kind of way. And also then I realized that there's something big happening at this particular moment and strange, like any day on a day, like any day. And all of a sudden you were thinking of you had this somber tone like you were serious, like you were going through some difficult decision.
And. It seems strange, I almost thought you were maybe joking, but there a serious decision being made and it was a wonderful experience to go through with you. I really wish it was April 1st. Yeah, it is kind of fascinating.
I mean, just the whole experience and and and so I want to ask I mean, thank you for letting me be part of that kind of journey of decision making that took 30 years.
But why now? Why did you think why did you struggle so long not to release it and decide to release it now?
And while the whole world is on lockdown on April Fool's, is it just because you like the comedy of absurd ways that the universe comes together?
I don't think so. I think that the covid epidemic is the end of the big map. And I think that I actually tried this seven years earlier in Oxford. So and it was too early. Which part was to? Is it the platform, because your platform is quite different now. Actually, the Internet. I remember you, I read several your brilliant answer that people should read for the Edge questions. One of them was related to the Internet and it was the first one.
Was it the first one they called Go Virtual Young Man.
Yeah. Yeah. That's that's a forever ago now. Well, that was ten years ago and that's exactly what I did, is I decamped to the Internet, which is where the portal lives. The portal. The portal.
Yeah, well, that's sort of the theme. The ominous theme music is listened to forever.
I actually started recording tiny guitar licks for the audio portion, not for the video portion. You kind of inspired me with bringing your guitar into the studio, but keep going. So you thought that Oxford was like step one and you kind of you put your foot into the in the water to sample it, but it was too cold at the time, so you didn't want to step in. It's really disappointed. What was disappointing about that experience? Very it's a hard thing to talk about.
It has to do with the fact that and I can see, you know, is mirrors a disappointment within myself. There are two separate issues. One is the issue of making sure that the idea is actually heard and explored. And the other is the is the question about will I become disconnected from my work? Because it will be ridiculed.
It will it will be immediately improved. It will be found to be derivative of something that occurred in some paper in 1957 when the community does not want you to gain a voice.
It's a little bit like a policeman deciding to weirdly enforce all of these little known regulations against you and, you know, sometimes nobody else. And and I think that's kind of, you know, this weird thing where I just don't believe that we can reach the final theory necessarily within the political economy of academics. So if you think about how academics are tortured by each other and how they're paid and where they have freedom and where they don't, I actually weirdly think that that system of selective pressures is going to eliminate anybody who's going to make real progress.
So that's interesting.
So if you look at the story of Andrew Wiles, for example, with Fermat's Last Theorem, I mean, he as far as I understand, he pretty much isolated himself from the world of academics in terms of the big the bulk of the work he did and from my perspective is dramatic and fun to read about.
But it seemed exceptionally stressful. The first step he took, the first steps he took actually making the work public. That seemed to me it would be hell, but it's like so artificially dramatic, you know, he leads up to it at a series of lectures. He doesn't want to say it. And then he finally says that at the end, because obviously this comes out of a body of work where I mean, the funny part about Fermat's last theorem is that wasn't originally thought to be a deep and meaningful problem.
It was just an easy to state one that had gone unsolved. But if you think about it, it became attached to the body of regular theory.
So he built up this body of regular theory, gets all the way up to the end, announces. And then like there's this whole drama about somebody checking the proof. I don't understand what's going on in line. Thirty seven, you know, like, oh, is it serious? Seems a little bit more serious than we knew.
And I mean, do you see parallels? Do you share the concern that your experience might be something similar?
Well, in his case, I think that if I recall correctly, his original proof was unsalvageable.
He actually came up with a second proof with a colleague, Richard Taylor, and it was that second proof which carried the day. So it was a little bit that he got put under incredible pressure and then had to succeed in a new way, having failed the first time, which is like even a weirder and stranger story. That's an incredible story in some sense.
But I mean, I you I'm trying to get a sense of the kind of stress I think this is OK, but I'm rejecting what I don't think people understand with me is the scale of the critique.
Like, I don't know, people say, well, you must implicitly agree with this and implicitly agree it, it's like not try me ask before you you decide that I am mostly in agreement with the community about how these things should be handled or what these things mean.
Q Can you elaborate and also just why this criticism matter so much here? So you seem to dislike the burden of criticism that it will choke away all the different kinds of criticism.
There's constructive criticism and there's destructive criticism. And what I don't like is I don't like a community that can't. First of all, if you take the physics community just the way we screwed up on masks and PPE, just the way we screwed up in the financial crisis and mortgage backed securities, we screwed up on string theory. Can we just forget the string theory happened or.
Sure, but somebody should say that, right? Somebody should say, you know, it didn't work out.
Yeah, but OK. But you're asking this like, why do you guys get to keep the prestige after failing for thirty five years? That's an interesting point, you guys, because to me over the look, these things, if there is a theory of everything to be had right, it's going to be a relatively small group of people where this will be sorted out.
Absolutely. It's it's not tens of thousands. It's probably hundreds at the top.
But within that within that community, there is the assholes. Mm hmm.
There's the I mean, you have you always in this world have people who are kind of open minded.
And it's a question about, OK, let's imagine, for example, that you have a story where you believe that ulcers are definitely caused by stress and you've never questioned it.
Or maybe you felt like the Japanese came out of the blue and attacked us at Pearl Harbor.
Right, and now somebody introduces a new idea to you, which is like, what if it isn't stress at all or what if we actually tried to make resource starved Japan attack us somewhere in the Pacific so we could have casus belli to enter the Asian theater and person's original ideas?
Like what? What do you even say? You know, it's like too crazy. Well, when Deryk in 1963. Talked about the importance of beauty as a guiding principle in physics, and he wasn't talking about the scientific method, that was crazy talk, but he was actually making a great point and he was using Schrodinger.
And I think it was Schrodinger was standing in for him. And he said that if your equations don't agree with experiment, that's kind of a minor detail. If they have true beauty in them, you should explore them, because very often the agreement with experiment is that it's an issue of fine tuning, of your model of the instantiation.
And so it doesn't really tell you that your model is wrong. And of course, Heisenberg told Dirac that his model was wrong because that the proton and the electrons should be the same mass if they are each other's antiparticles.
And that was an irrelevant kind of silliness rather than a real threat to the Dirac theory. But OK, so amidst all this silliness, I'm hoping that we could talk about the journey that Geomagic community has taken and will take as an idea and an idea that will see the light. Yeah, that.
So first of all, let's I'm thinking of writing a book called Geometric Unity for Idiots, OK? And I need you here as a consultant. So can we.
First of all, I hope I have the trademark on geometric unit. You do. Good. Can you give a basic introduction of the goals of geometric unity, the basic tools of mathematics, use the viewpoints in general for idiots.
Sure. Like me. OK, great fun. So what's the goal of geometric unity?
The goal of geometric unity is to start with something so completely bland that you can simply say, well, that's something that begins. The game is as close to a mathematical nothing as possible. In other words, I can't answer the question why is there something rather than nothing?
But if there has to be something that we begin from, let it begin from something that's like a blank canvas that's even more basic. So what is something what are we trying to describe? OK, right now we have a model of our world and it's got two sectors. One of the sectors is called general relativity. The other is called the Standard Model. So we'll call it G.R. for general relativity. And same for Standard Model. What's the difference between the two?
What are the two describe? So general relativity gives pride of place to gravity. And everything else is acting as a sort of a backup backup singer, the star of the show.
Gravity is the star of general relativity and in the Standard Model, the other three non gravitational forces of their four forces that we know about, three of the four non gravitational, that's where they get to shine.
Great. So tiny little particles and how they interact with each other.
So photons, gluons and so-called intermediate vector bosons, those are the things that the Standard Model showcases and general relativity showcases gravity. And then you have matter which is accommodated in both theories, but much more beautifully inside of the Standard Model. So what what does a theory of everything do so. So first of all, I think that that's that's that's the first place where we haven't talked enough. We assume that we know what it means, but we don't actually have any idea what it means.
And what I claim it is, is that it's a theory where the questions beyond that theory are no longer of a mathematical nature.
In other words, if I say let us take X to be a four dimensional manifold to a mathematician or a physicist, I've said very little. I've simply said there's some place for calculus in linear algebra to to dance together and to play.
And that's what manifolds are. They're the most natural place where where our two greatest math theories can really.
Intertwine, which are the two, all the calculus, the linear algebra. Right, OK, now the question is beyond that. So sort of like saying I'm an artist and I want to order a canvas. Now, the question is. Does the canvas paint itself? Does the count does the canvas come up with an artist? And paint and ink, which then paint the canvas like that's the that's the hard part about theories of everything, which I don't think people talk enough about, can we just you bring up Esher and the hand, the drawing itself, the the fire that lights itself or drawing hands.
The drawing hands. Yeah. And every time I start to think about that, my mind like shuts down. No, don't do that. If there's a spark and this is the most beautiful part, which is beautiful, but this robot's brain sparks fly.
So can we try to say the same thing over and over in different ways about what what you mean by that having to be a thing we have to contend with? Sure. Why why do you think that creating a theory of everything, as you call the source code, our understanding, our source code require a view like the hand that draws itself?
OK, well, here's what goes on in the regular physics picture. We've got these two main theories, general relativity and the standard model. Right.
Think of general relativity as more or less the theory of the canvas. OK, maybe you have the canvas in a particularly rigid shape, maybe you've measured it so it's got length and it's got an angle, but more or less it's just canvas in length and angle. And that's all that is really general relativity is. But it allows the canvas to warp a bit.
Then we have the second thing, which is this import of foreign libraries, which aren't.
Tied to space and time, so we've got this crazy set of symmetries called S03 Crustacea to cross you one, we've got this collection of 16 particles in a generation, which are these sort of twisted spinners, and we've got three copies of them. Then we've got this weird Higgs field that comes in. And like DCX, Makina solves all the problems that have been created in the play that can't be resolved otherwise.
So that's the standard model quantum field theory just plopped on top.
Yes, it's a problem of the double origin story. One origin story is about space and time. The other origin story is about what we would call internal quantum numbers and internal symmetries. And then there was an attempt to get one to follow from the other called Kaluza Klein theory, which didn't work out.
And this is sort of in that vein. So you said origin story, so in the hand that draws itself, what is it? So it's as if you had the canvas and then you ordered up. Also, give me paint, brushes, paints, pigments, pencils and artists. But you're saying that's like if you want to create a universe from scratch. The canvas should be generating the paint brushes in the paint brush and the art of the canvas.
Yeah, yeah, right. Like you, who's the artist in this analogy? Well, this is sorry. Then we're going to get to do a religious thing and don't want to do that.
OK, well, you know, my schtick, which is that we are the A.I. We have two great stories about the simulation and artificial general intelligence.
In one story, man fears that some program we've given birth to will become self-aware, smarter than us and will take over.
In another story, there are genius simulators and we live in their simulation and we haven't realized that those two stories are the same story. In one case, we are the simulator and another case we are the simulated. And if you buy those and you put them together, we are the Ajai and whether or not we have simulator's, we may be trying to wake up by learning our own source code. So this could be our Skynet moment, which is one of the reasons I have some issues around it.
I think we'll talk about that because I feel that's the issue of the emergent artist within the story.
Just to get back to the point. OK, so so now the key point is the standard way we tell the story is, is that Einstein sets the canvas and then we order all the stuff that we want. And then that paints the picture that is our universe, so you order the paint, you order the artist, you order the brushes and that then when you collide, the two gives you two separate origin stories. The canvas came from one place and everything else came from somewhere else.
So what are the mathematical tools required to to construct consistent geometric theory? You know, make this concrete well somehow. You need to get three copies, for example, of generations with 16 particles each. Right, and so the question would be like, well, there's a lot there's a lot of special personality in those cemeteries, where would they come from?
So, for example, you've got what would be called grand unified theories that sound like Sue five, the George Glasgow theory. There's something that should be called Spin 10, but physicists insist on calling it S10. There's something called the Petit Salom theory that tends to be called sue for cross you to cross as you to which should be called spin six Crespin for I can get into all of these. What are they all accomplishing? They're all taking the known forces that we see and packaging them up to say we can't get rid of the second origin story, but we can at least make that origin story more unified.
So they're trying grand unification of the attempt.
And that's a mistake in your in your a mistake that the problem is it was born lifeless when when George VI in Glasgow first came out with the 75th theory, it was very exciting because it could be tested in a South Dakota mine filled up with, like, I don't know, cleaning fluid or something like that.
And they looked for proton decay and didn't see it.
And then they gave up because in that day when your experiment didn't work, you gave up on the theory it didn't come to us. Born of a fusion between Einstein and and and bore.
You know, and that was kind of the problem is it had this weird parenting where it was just on the ball side, there was no Einsteinian contribution.
Lex, how can I help you most? I'm trying to hear what questions you want to ask so you get the most satisfying answers. There's a bunch there's a bunch of questions I want to ask. I mean, one and I'm trying to sneak up on you somehow to reveal.
In an accessible way then the nature of our universe, if I can just give you a guess, right.
OK, we have to be very careful that we're not claiming that this has been accepted. This is a speculation. But I will I will make the speculation that what I think what you would want to ask me is how can the canvas generate all the stuff that usually has to be ordered separately? Should we do that? Let's go there.
OK, so the first thing is, is that you have a concept in computers called technical debt.
You're coding and you cut corners and you know, you're going to have to do it right before the thing is safe for the world.
But you're piling up some series of IOUs to yourself in your project as you're going along.
So the first thing is we can't figure out if you have only four degrees of freedom and that's what your canvas is. How do you get at least Einstein's world? Einstein said, look, it's not just four degrees of freedom, but there need to be rulers and protractors to measure length and angle in the world. You can't just have flabby four degrees of freedom. So the first thing you do is you create 10 extra variables, which is like if we can't choose any particular set of rulers in protractors to measure length and angle, let's take the set of all possible rulers and protractors.
And that would be called symmetric non degenerate to Tensas on the tangent space of the four manyfold X four. Now, because there are four degrees of freedom, you start off with four dimensions, then you need four rulers for each of those different directions. That's for that gets us up to eight variables. And then between four original variables, there are six possible angles. So four plus four plus six is equal to 14. So now you've replaced X four with another space, which in the lecture I think I called you 14, but I'm now calling Y 14, is one of the big problems of working on something in private is every time you pull it out, you sort of can't remember it.
You name something, something new.
OK, so you've got a 14 dimensional world, which is the original four dimensional world. Plus, a lot of extra gadgetry for measurement. And because you're not in the four dimensional world, you don't have the technical debt, no, now you've got a lot of technical debt because now you have to explain away a 14 dimensional world, which is a big you're taking a huge advance on your paycheck.
Right. But aren't more dimensions allow you more freedom to I mean, maybe, but you have to get rid of them somehow because we don't perceive them so that you have to collapse it down to the thing that we perceive.
Or you have to sample a four dimensional filament within that 14 dimensional world known as the section of a bundle.
OK, so how do we get from the 14 dimensional world where I imagine a lot of folks say, wait, wait.
Yeah, you're cheating? The first question was, how do we get something from almost nothing like how do we get the if I've said that the who and the what in the newspaper story that is a theory of everything are bosons and fermions. So let's make the who the fermions and the what the bosun's think of as the players in the equipment for a game.
Are we supposed to be thinking of actual physical things with mass or energy? OK, so think about everything you see in this room. So from chemistry, you know, it's all protons, neutrons and electrons. But from a little bit of late 1960s physics, we know that the protons and neutrons are all made of up quarks and down quarks. So everything in this room is basically up. Quarks, down quarks and electrons stuck together with. With the the what?
The equipment. OK, now the way we see it currently is we see that there are space time indices, which we would call spinners that correspond to the WHO. That is the fermions, the matter, the stuff, the up quarks, the down quarks, the electrons. And there are also 16 degrees of freedom that come from this in this space of internal quantum numbers.
So in my theory, in 14 dimensions, there's no internal quantum no space that figures in.
It's all just Sponaugle. So spinners in 14 dimensions without any festooning, with extra linear algebraic information. There's a concept of a of of spinners, which is natural if you have a manifold with length angle and why 14 is almost a manifold with length and angle. It's it's so close, it's in other words, because you're looking at the space of all rulers and protractors, maybe it's not that surprising that a space of rulers and protractors might come very close to having rulers and protractors on it itself.
Like, can you measure the space of measurements? And you almost can. And in a space that has length and angle, if it doesn't have a topological obstruction, comes with these objects called spinners.
Now, spinners are the stuff of of our world, we are made of spinners. They're the most important, really deep object that I can tell you about.
They were very surprising. What is the spinner so famously? There are these weird things that require seven hundred and twenty degrees of rotation.
In order to come back to normal and that doesn't make sense, and the reason for this is that there's a not edness in our three dimensional world that people don't observe. And, you know, you can famously see it by this Durak string trick. So if you take a glass of water, imagine that this was a tumbler and I didn't want to spill any of it in.
The question is if I rotate the cup without losing my grip on the base. Three hundred and sixty degrees. And I can't go backwards. Is there any way I can take a sip and the answer is this weird motion, which is go over first and under second and that that's seven hundred and twenty degrees of rotation to come back to normal so that I can take a sip?
Well, that weird principle, which sometimes is known as the Philippine wine glass dance because waitresses in the Philippines apparently learned how to do this.
That that move defines, if you will, this hidden space that nobody knew was there of spinners, which Duroc figured out when he took the square root of something called the Clean Gorton Equation, which I think had earlier work incorporated from Khatun and killing in company in mathematics. So spinners are one of the most profound aspects of human existence.
I mean, forgive me for the perhaps dumb questions, but what is Spiner? B, the mathematical objects. That's the basic unit of our universe. When you.
When you start with the manifold. Which is just like something like a doughnut or a sphere circle or a Mobius band. A spinner is usually the first wildly surprising thing that you found was hidden in your original purchase.
So you order a Manteuffel and you didn't even realize it's like buying a house and finding a panic room inside that you hadn't counted on. It's very surprising when you understand that Spinner's are running around on your space's. Again, perhaps dumb question, but we're talking about 14 dimensions and four dimensions. What is the manifold or operating under?
In my case, it's Protus space time. It's before it's before Einstein can slap rulers and protractors on space time. When you mean by that.
Sorry to interrupt. Is space time is the 4D manifold.
Space time is a four dimensional manifold with extra structure.
What's the extra structure? It's called a semi Romanian or pseudo Romanian metric, and in essence, there is something akin to a four by four symmetric matrix from which is equivalent to length and angle. So when I talk about rulers and protractors or I talk about length and angle or I talk about Romanian or pseudo Romanian or semi Romanian manifold, I'm usually talking about the same thing. Can you measure how long something is and what the angle is between two different razor or vectors?
So that's what Einstein gave us as his arina, his place to play his.
His canvas, so there's a bunch of questions I can ask here, but like I said, I'm working on this book, Geometric Community for Idiots and.
And I think what would be really nice as your editor to have, like, beautiful, maybe even, um, visualizations that people could try to play with, try to try to reveal small little beauties about the way you're thinking about this.
Well, I usually use the Joe Rogan program for that. Sometimes I have him doing the Philippine wine glass dance.
I had the harp vibration. The part of the problem is that most people don't know this language about spinner's bundles, metrics, gauge fields, and they're very curious about the theory of everything. But they have no understanding of even what we know about our own world. Is it is it a hopeless. Pursuit, so, like even game theory, right? Just this I mean, it seems to be very inaccessible. Is there some aspect of it that could be made accessible?
I mean, I could go to the board right there and give you a five minute lecture on Gates theory. That would be better than the official lecture engage there.
You would know what Gates theory was. So it is possible to make it accessible. Yeah, but nobody does. Like in other words, you're going to watch over the next year lots of different discussions about quantum entanglement or, you know, the multiverse. Where are we now? Right. Or, you know, many worlds. Are they all equally real?
Yeah, right. I mean, yeah, but you're not going to hear anything about the Hopp vibration, except if it's from me and I hate that.
Why why can't you be the one. Well, because I'm going a different path. I think that we've made a huge mistake, which is we have things we can show people about the actual models. We can push out visualizations where they they're not listening by analogy. They're watching the same thing that we're seeing. And as I've said before, this is like choosing to perform sheet music that hasn't been performed in a long time or, you know, the experts can't afford orchestras, so they just trade Beethoven's symphonies as sheet music and oh, wow, that was beautiful.
But it's like nobody heard anything. They just looked at the score. Well, that's how mathematicians and physicists trade papers and ideas is that they they write down the things that represent stuff. I want to at least close out the thought line that you started. Yes. Which is how does the canvas.
Order. All of this other stuff into being so at least, let's say some incomprehensible things about that, and then we'll we'll have that much done.
And that just point, does it have to be incomprehensible? Do you know what the Schrodinger equation is? Yes. Do you know what the Dirac equation is?
What is no mean?
Well, my point is you're going to have some feeling that, you know what, the Schrodinger equation. Yes. As soon as we get to the Dirac equation, your eyes are going to get a little bit glazed. Right. So now why is that?
Well, the answer to me this is that you you want to ask me about the theory of everything? But you haven't even digested the theory of everything as we've had it since nineteen twenty eight when Deryk came out with his equation. So for whatever reason and this isn't a hit on you.
Yeah. You haven't been motivated enough in all the time that you've been on Earth to at least get as far as the Dirac equation, and this was very interesting to me after I gave the talk in Oxford, New Scientist, who had done kind of a hatchet job on me to begin with, sent a reporter to come to the third version of the talk that I gave. And that person had never heard of the Dirac equation.
So you have a person who is completely professionally not qualified to ask these questions. Wanting to know, well, how does how does your theory solve new problems like, well, in the case of the Duroc? Well, tell me about that. I don't know what that is. So then the point is, OK, I got it.
You're not even caught up minimally to where we are now. And that's not a knock on you. Almost nobody is. Yeah, but how does it become my job to digest what has been available for like.
Over 90 years. Well, to me, the open question is whether what's been available for over 90 years can be. There could be a blueprint of a journey that one takes to understand it, not to I want to do that with you and I.
One of the things I think I've been relatively successful, for example, you know, when you ask other people what Gates theory is, you get these very confusing responses. And my response is much simpler. It's oh, it's a theory of differentiation where when you calculate the instantaneous rise over run, you measured the rise not from a flat horizontal, but from a custom endogenous reference level.
What do you mean by that? It's like, OK, and then I do this thing with Mount Everest, which is Mount Everest is how high. And they give the height. I say above what then they say sea level and I say, which sea is that in Nepal? Like, Oh, I guess there isn't a sea because it's landlocked. It's like, OK, well what do you mean by sea level? Oh, there's this thing called the joyed I'd never heard of.
Oh, that's the reference level. That's a custom reference level that we imported. So all sorts of people have remembered the exact height of Mount Everest without ever knowing what it's a height from.
Well, in this case, engage theory, there's a hidden reference level where you measure the rise in rise over run to give the slope of the line.
What if you have different concepts of what of where that rise should be measured from that very within the theory that are endogenous to the theory, that's what Gates theory is. OK, we have a video here, right? OK, I'm going to use my phone if I want to measure my hand and its slope. This is my attempt to measure it using standard calculus. In other words, the reference level is apparently flat and I measure the rise above that phone using my hand.
OK, if I want to use gauge theory, it means I can do this or I can do that, or I can do this or I can do this, or I could do what I did from the beginning.
OK, at some level that's what Gates theory is. Now, that is an act now.
I've never heard anyone describe it that way.
So while the community may say, well, who is this guy and why does he have the right to talk in public? I'm waiting for somebody to jump out of the woodwork and say, you know, Eric's whole schtick about rulers and protractors leading to a derivative derivatives are measured is rise over, run above reference level.
The reference levels don't fit together like I go through this whole schtick in order to make it accessible.
I've never heard anyone say it.
I'm trying to make Prometheus would like to discuss fire with everybody else. All right. I'm going to just say one thing to close out the earlier line, which is what I think we should have continued with.
When you take the naturally occurring spinners, the unadorned spinners, the naked spinners. Not on this 14 dimensional manifold, but on something very closely tied to it, which I've called the chimeric tangent bundle, that is the object which stands in for the thing that should have had length and angle on it, but just missed.
When you take that object and you form spinners on that and you don't adorn them, so you're still in the single origin story, you get very large Sponaugle objects upstairs on this 14 dimensional world, wife or team, which is part of the observer's when you pull that information back from wife 14 down to for.
It miraculously looks. Like the adorned spinners, the festoons spinners, the spinners that we play with in ordinary reality, in other words, the 14 dimensional world looks like a four dimensional world, plus a 10 dimensional compliment. So 10 plus four equals 14. That 10 dimensional compliment, which is called a normal bundle, generates spin properties, internal quantum numbers that look like the things that give our our particles personality that make, let's say, up quarks and down quarks charged by negative one third or plus two thirds, you know, that kind of stuff or whether or not.
You know, some hawks feel the weak force and other quirks do not, so the X Factor generates Y 14, y 14 generates something called the chimeric tangent bundle.
Chimeric tangent bundle generates unadorned spinner's. The unadorned spinners get pulled back from 14 down to four where they look like adorned spinners and we have the right number of them.
You thought you needed three, you only got two. But then something else that you'd never seen before broke apart on this journey. And it broke into another copy of the thing that you already have two copies of. One piece of that thing broke off. So now you have two generations plus an impostor, third generation, which is I don't know why we never talk about this possibility in regular physics. And then you've got a bunch of stuff that we haven't seen which has descriptions.
So people always say, does it make any falsifiable predictions? Yes, it does. It says that the matter that you should be seeing next has particular properties that can be read off.
Like like week ESPN week hypercharged, like the responsiveness to the strong force, the one I can't tell you is what energy scale it would happen at. So if you can't say if those characteristics can be detected with the current, it may be that somebody else can.
I'm not a physicist. I'm not a quantum field theorist. I can't I don't know how you would do that. The hope for me is that there's some simple. Explanations for all of it, like, should we have a drink? You're having fun? No, I'm trying to have fun with you. You know, I had a bunch of fun things which are very serious just to talk about here anyway.
That was how I got what I thought you wanted, which is.
If you think about the fermions as the artists in the bosun's, as the brushes and the paint, what I told you is that's how we get the artists. What are the open questions for you in this world, where are the challenges so you're not done? Well, the things that I would like to have in better order, so a lot of people will say the reason I hesitate is I just have a totally different view than the community.
So, for example, I believe that general relativity began in 1913 with Einstein and Grossman.
Now, that was the first of like four major papers. In this line of thinking, to most physicists, general relativity happened when Einstein produced a divergence free gradient, which turned out to be the gradient of the so-called Hilbert or Einstein Hilbert action. And from my perspective, that wasn't true is is that it began when Einstein said, look, this is about differential geometry. And it's the final answer is going to look like a curvature tensor on one side and matter and energy on the other side.
And that was enough. And then he published a wrong version of it where it was the Reekie Tensor, not the Einstein Tenzer. Then he corrected the three G. Tenzer to make it into the Einstein Tenzer. Then he corrected that to add a cosmological constant. I can't stand that the community thinks in those terms there's some things about which, like there's a question about which contraction do I use? There's an Einstein contraction, there's a RISI contraction. They both go between the same spaces.
I'm not sure what I should do. I'm not sure which contraction I should choose. This is called a Shehab operator for ship in a bottle in my stuff.
You have this big platform in many ways. That inspires people's curiosity about physics. Yeah, that's right. Now, and I'm one of those people and great. But then you start using a lot of words that I don't understand. And I might know them, but I don't understand. And what's unclear to me, if I'm supposed to be listening to those words or if it's just if this is one of those technical things that's intended for a very small community or if I'm supposed to actually take those words and start, you know, a multi-year study.
Not not a serious study, but the kind of study when you you're interested in learning about machine learning, for example, or any kind of discipline, that's where I'm a little bit confused.
So you you speak beautifully about ideas. You often reveal the beauty in math and geometry. And I'm unclear. And what are the steps I should be taking? I am curious. How can I explore? How can I play with something? How can I play with these ideas and enjoy the beauty of not necessarily understanding the depth of the theory that you're presenting, but start to share in the beauty as opposed to sharing and enjoying the beauty of just the way the passion with which you speak, which is in itself fun to listen to, but also starting to be able to understand some aspects of this theory that I can enjoy it to and start to build an intuition what the heck we're even talking about, because you're basically saying we need to throw a lot of our ideas.
Of of views of the universe out. And. I'm trying to find accessible ways and not in this conversation, no, I appreciate that.
So one of the things that I've done is I've picked on one paragraph from Edward with.
And I said, this is the paragraph, if I could only take one paragraph with me, this is the one I'd take. And it's almost all in prose, not in equations. And he says, look, this is this is our knowledge of the universe at its deepest level. And he was writing this during the 1980s. And he has three separate points that constitute our deepest knowledge.
And those three points refer to equations, one to the Einstein field equation, one to the Dirac equation and one of the Engdahl's Maxwell equation now.
One thing I would do is take a look at that paragraph and say, OK, what do these three lines mean? Like it's a finite amount of verbiage. You can write down every word that you don't know. You can say, what do I think done now, young man? Yes, there's a beautiful wall in Stony Brook, New York, built by someone who I know you will interview named Jim Simons. And Jim Simons, he's not the artist, but he's the guy who funded the world's greatest hedge fund manager.
And on that wall contain the three equations that Whitman refers to in that paragraph. And so that is the transmission from the paragraph or graph to the wall.
Now, that wall needs an owner's manual, which Roger Penrose has written, called The Road to Reality, let's call that the tome. Mm hmm. So this is the subject of the so-called graph wall tome project that is going on in our Dischord server and our general group around the portal community, which is how do you take something that purports in one paragraph to say what the deepest understanding man has of the universe in which he lives? It's memorialized on a wall which nobody knows about, which is an incredibly gorgeous piece of of art.
And that was written up in a book which is has been written for no man. Right. Maybe maybe it's for a woman. I don't know. But no, no one should be able to read this book because either you're a professional and you know a lot of this book, in which case it's kind of a refreshers to see how Roger thinks about these things, or you don't even know that this book is a self-contained invitation to understanding our deepest nature.
So I would say find yourself in the graph wall tome transmission sequence and join the graph wall tome project if that's of interest. OK, beautiful.
Now, just to linger a little longer, what kind of journey DC geometric entity taking?
I don't know. I mean, that's the thing is that first of all, the professional community has to get very angry and outraged and they have to work through their feeling that this is nonsense, this is bullshit. Or like, no, wait a minute, this is really cool. Actually, I need some clarification over here. So there's going to be some sort of weird coming back together process.
Are you already hearing murmurings of that was very funny.
Officially, I've seen very little. So it's perhaps happening quietly, yeah. You often talk about we need to get off this planet. Yep. Can I try to sneak up on that by asking what, in your view is the difference, the gap between the science of it, the theory and the actual engineering of building something that leverages the theory to do something? How big is that? We don't know gap. I mean, if you have 10 extra dimensions to play with.
That are the rulers in protractors of the world themselves, can you gain access to those dimensions? Do you have a hunch so I don't know, I don't want to get ahead of myself because you have to appreciate I can have hunches and I can I can jaw off. But one of the ways that I'm succeeding in this world is to not bow down to my professional communities, nor to ignore them like I'm actually interested in the criticism. I just want to denature it so that it's not mostly interpersonal and irrelevant.
I believe that they don't want me to speculate and I don't need to speculate about this, I can simply say I'm open to the idea that it may have engineering prospects and it may be a death sentence. We may find out that there's not enough new here, that even if it were right, that there would be nothing new to do. I can't tell you.
That's what you mean by death sentences. There would not be exciting breakthroughs.
The terrible if you couldn't like you can do new things in an Einsteinian world that you couldn't do in a Newtonian world.
You know, like you have twin paradoxes or Lorenz contraction of length or any one of a number of new cool things happen in relativity theory. That didn't happen for Newton. What if there wasn't new stuff to do at the next and final level?
So first, there will be quite sad, yeah, let me ask a silly question, but we'll say it with a straight face.
Impossible. So let me mention. Elon Musk, what are your thoughts about his more you're more on the physics theory side of things, he's more in the physics engineering side of things in terms of SpaceX efforts. What do you think of his efforts to get off this planet? Well, I think he's. The other guy who's semi serious about getting off this planet. I think there are two of us who are semi serious about getting off the plane. What do you think about his methodology and yours when you look at them?
Don't and I don't want to be against you because, like, I was so excited that, like, your top video was Ray Kurzweil. And then I did your podcast and we had some chemistry. So it zoomed up and I thought, OK, I'm going to beat Ray Kurzweil. So just as I'm coming up on Ray Kurzweil, you're like and now Alex Fridmann special Elon Musk. And he blew me out of the water. So I don't want to be petty about it.
I want to say that I don't. But I am. Yeah, OK. But here's the funny part. He's not taking enough risk. He's trying to get us to Mars. Imagine that he got us to Mars, the moon, and we'll throw in Titan. Yeah, and. Nowhere good enough, the diversification level is too low now there's a compatibility, first of all, I don't think Elon is serious about Mars. I think Elon is using Mars.
As a as a narrative, as a story, in order to make the moon jealous, to make them know, I think he's using it as a story to organize us, to reacquaint ourselves with our need for space, our need to get off this planet.
It's a concrete thing. He's shown that many people think that he's shown that he's the most brilliant and capable person on the planet. I don't think that's what he showed. I think he showed that the rest of us have forgotten our capabilities. And so he's like the only guy who has still kept the faith. And it's like, what's wrong with you people?
So I think the lesson we should draw from Elon Musk is there's a there's a capable person within within a lot of us.
Elon makes sense to me. In what way? He's doing what any sensible person should do, he's trying incredible things and he's partially succeeding, partially failing to try to solve the obvious problems before, you know, but he comes up with things like, you know, I got it, we'll come up with a battery company.
But batteries aren't sexy, so we'll make a car around it like great, you know, or any one of a number of things.
Elon is behaving like a sane person, and I view everyone else is insane, and my feeling is, is that we really have to get off this planet. We have to get out of this. We have to get out of the neighborhood to get a little bit. Do you think that's a physics problem or an engineering problem?
It's a cowardice problem. I think that we're afraid.
That we had 400 hitters of the mind like Einstein and Dirac and that that era's done and now we're just sort of copyeditors.
So some of it money, like if we become brave enough to go outside the solar system, can we afford to? Financially. Well, I think that that's not really the issue. The issue is. Look what Elon did well, he amassed a lot of money. And then he you know, he plowed it back in and he spun spun the wheel and he made more money and now he's got a few money. Now, the problem is, is that.
A lot of the people who have few money are not people whose middle finger you ever want to see. I want to see Yealands middle finger. I want to see what you mean by that.
Or like when you say, fuck it, I'm going to do the biggest. Do whatever the fuck you want. Yeah, right. Fuck you. Fuck anything that gets in his way that he can afford to push out of his way.
And you're saying he's not actually even doing that enough? No.
I mean, he's not going. Please, I want to go. Ilan's doing fine with his money. I just want him to enjoy himself, have the most, you know, direness. But you're saying Mars is playing it safe. He doesn't know how to do anything else. He knows rockets, yeah, and he might know some physics at a. Fundamental level. Yeah, I guess. OK, just let me just go right back to how much physics do you really how much brilliant breakthrough ideas on the physics side you need to get off this planet.
I don't know and I don't know whether, like in my most optimistic dream, I don't know whether my stuff gets us off the planet, but it's hope it's hope that there's a more fundamental theory that we can access that we don't need.
You know, whose elegance and beauty will suggest that this is probably the way the universe goes. Like you have to say this weird thing, which is this, I believe and this I believe is a very dangerous statement. But this I believe I believe that my theory points the way. Now, Elon might or might not be able to access my theory. I don't know.
I don't know what he knows. But keep in mind. Why are we all so focused on you on this really weird it's kind of creepy to what he's just a person who's just asking the obvious questions and doing whatever he can, but he makes sense to me.
You said Craig Venter makes sense to me. Jim Watson makes sense to me.
But we're focusing on Elon because he's he somehow is rare. Well, that's the weird thing.
Like, we've come up with a system that eliminates all Elon from our pipeline.
Ellen somehow snuck through when they weren't quality, adjusting everything, you know, and this idea of. Of disk I distributed idea suppression complex. Yeah, is that what's bringing the ills of the world down?
You know, so far it's like he's asking Joe Rogan, is that a joint? You know, it's like, well, what will happen if I smoke it? What will happen to the stock price? What will happen if I scratch myself in public? What will happen if I say what I think about Thailand or covid or who knows what? And everybody's don't say that. Say this, go do this. Go do that.
Well, it's crazy making. It's absolutely crazy making, and if you think about what we put through people through. We need to get people who can use a few money, the few money they need to insulate themselves from all of the people who know better, because my nightmare is, is that why did we only get one, Ellen? What if we were supposed to have thousands and thousands of islands? And the weird thing is like this is all that remains.
You're looking at like Obi Wan and Yoda. And it's like this is the only this is all that's left after order 66 has been executed. And that's the thing that's really upsetting to me is we used we used to have Ilan's five deep and then we could talk about Ellen in the context of his cohort. But this is like if you were to see a giraffe in the Arctic with no trees around, you'd think, why the long neck? What a strange sight.
You know, how do we get Moylan's? How do we change things? So I think the U.S. So we know I might yeah. And Harvard. So maybe returning to our previous conversation, my sense is that the islands of the world are supposed to come from MIT and Harvard. Right. And how do you change?
Let's think of one that MIT sort of killed.
Have any names in mind? Aaron Schwartz leaps to my mind, yeah. OK. Are we, Amitay, supposed to shield the Aaron Schwarz's? From, I don't know, journal publishers or are we supposed to help the journal publishers so that we can throw thirty five year sentences in his face or whatever it is that we did that depressed him?
OK, so here's my point. Yeah.
I want Amitay to go back to being the home of Aaron Schwartz.
And if you want to send Aaron Schwartz to a state where he's looking at 35 years in prison or something like that, you are my sworn enemy.
You are not MIT. Yeah, you are the traitorous. Irresponsible middle brow, pencil pushing, green eyeshade fool that needs to not be in the seat at the presidency of mid-period period and get the fuck out of there and let one of our people sit in that chair and think that you've articulated is that the people in those chairs are not the way they are because they're evil or somehow morally compromised. Is that it's just that that's the distributed nature, is that there's some kind of aspect of the system that people who wed themselves to the system, they adapt.
Every instinct in the fact is, is that they're not going to be on Joe Rogan smoking a blunt.
Let me ask a silly question. Do you think institutions generally just tend to become that? No, we get some of the institutions, we get Kaltech, here's what we're supposed to have, we're supposed to have Kaltech, we're supposed to have read, we're supposed to have Deep Springs.
We're supposed to have Mitt, we're supposed to have a part of Harvard. And when the sharp elbow crowd comes after the shell sharp mind crowd, we're supposed to break those sharp elbows and say, don't come around here again.
So what are the weapons that the Charmides is supposed to use in our modern day? So to reclaim it, what is the what's the future?
Are you kidding me? First of all, I assume that this is being seen at MIT. Hey, everybody is OK.
Hey, everybody, try to remember who you are.
You're the guys who put the police car on top of the great dome. You guys came up with the great breast of knowledge. You created a Tetris game and the green building.
Now, what is your problem? They killed one of your own. You should make their life a living hell. You should be the ones who keep the memory of Aaron Schwartz alive and all of those hackers and all of those mutants. You know, it's like it's either our place or it isn't, and if we have to throw 12 more pianos off of the roof. Right, if Harold Eggerton was taking those photographs, you know, with slowmo back in the 40s.
If Noam Chomsky is on your faculty, what the hell is wrong with you kids? You are the most creative and insightful people and you can't figure out how to defend Aaron Schwartz. That's on you guys. So some of that is giving more power to the young.
Like you said, you know, it's a for taking power from the feeble and the middle brow. Yeah, but what is the mechanism to me?
I don't know. You have some nine volt batteries.
No copper wire I attended.
Do you have a capacitor? I tend to believe you have to create an alternative. And make the alternative so much better that it makes Mitt absolutely unless they change and that what forces change.
So as opposed to somehow use projection mapping, much projection mapping, where you take some complicated edifice and you map all of its planes and then you actually project some unbelievable graphics, skinning a building, let's say, at night.
Right. OK, so you want to do some graffiti art with you basically want to hack the system? No, I'm saying look, listen to me.
Yeah. We're smarter than they are. And they you know what they say? They say things like, I think we need some geeks. Get me two PhDs. Right, you treat FDs like that, that's a bad move, PhDs are capable and we act like our job is to peel grapes for our betters.
Yeah, that's a strange thing. And you speak about it very eloquently is how we treat basically the greatest minds in the world, which is like an enterprise in which decisions like that, we pay them nothing.
I'm done with it. Yeah, right. We got to take what's ours. So the take back might become ungovernable. Become ungovernable. And by the way, when you become ungovernable, don't do it by throwing food. Don't do it by pouring salt on the lawn like a jerk, do it through brilliance because what you Caltech and MIT can do and maybe Rensselaer Polytechnic or Worcester Polytech, I don't know, Lihi, God damn it, what's wrong with you technical people?
You act like you're a servant class.
It's unclear to me how you reclaim it, except with brilliance, like you said. But to me that the way you reclaim it was brilliant to go outside the system.
Aaron Schwartz came from the Elon Musk class. What are you guys going to do about it?
Right. The super capable people. Need to flex, need to be individual, they need to stop giving away all their power to, you know, a Gaist or a community or this or that, you're not you're not indoor cats.
You're outdoor cats. Go be outdoor cat. Do you think we're going to see this this one asking me before? Like, what about the World War two generation? And what I'm trying to say is that there's a technical revolt coming. Here's you want to talk about it?
I'm trying to lead it. I'm trying to see. You're not trying to. I'm trying to get a blueprint here. All right. Lex? Yeah.
How angry are you about our country pretending that you and I can't actually do technical subjects so that they need an army of kids coming in from four countries in Asia? It's not about the four countries in Asia. It's not about those kids.
It's about lying about us that we don't care enough about science and technology, that we're incapable of it as if we don't have Chinese and Russians and Koreans and Croatians like we've got everybody here.
The only reason you're looking outside is, is that you want to hire cheap people from the family business because you don't want to pass the family business on.
And you know what? You didn't really build the family business. It's not yours to decide you, the boomers and you, the silent generation, you did your bit, but you also found a lot of stuff up in your custodian's.
You are caretakers, you were supposed to hand something, what you did instead was to gorge yourself on cheap foreign labor, which you then held up as being much more brilliant than your own children, which was never true. But I'm trying to understand how we create a better system without anger, without revolution. No, not not by kissing and hugs and and but. By I mean, I don't understand within a minute what the mechanism of building a better amity is, we're not going to pay Elsevier.
Aaron Schwartz was right. Jay's story is an abomination. But why who within a minute who within institutions is going to do that when it's just like you said, the people who are running the show are more senior and Frank will check to speak out.
So Europe is basically individuals a step up. I mean, one of the surprising things about Ireland is that one person can inspire so much.
He's got academic freedom. It just comes from money. I don't agree with that. Do you think money OK, so yes, certainly. Sorry, intestinal UV. Yes, those are more important than money, right, or guts. I think I do agree with you. You speak about this a lot, that because the money in academic institutions has been so constrained that people are misbehaving and in horrible.
Yes, but I don't think that if we reverse that and give a huge amount of money, people often behave well. I think it also takes guts.
You need to give people security, security, like you need to know that you have a job. Yet on Monday when on Friday you say, I'm not so sure. I really love diversity and inclusion. And I'm just looking at what you didn't love diversity. We had a statement on diversity and you wouldn't sign. Are you against the inclusion part or are you against diversity? Do you just not like people like you like? Actually, that has nothing to do with anything.
You're making this into something that it isn't. I don't want to sign your goddamn stupid statement and get out of my lab. Right. Get out of my lab. It all begins from the middle finger. Get out of my lab. The administrators need to find other work.
Yeah, listen, I agree with you and I, I hope to seek your advice and wisdom as we change this, because I'd love to see I will visit you in prison, if that's what you're asking.
I have no I think prison is great. You get a lot of reading done and and good working out. Well, let me ask the something I brought up before is the Nietzsche quote of beware that when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster. For when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you.
Are you worried that your focus on the flaws in the system that we've just been talking about has damaged your mind or the part of the mind of your mind that's able to see the beauty in the world, in the system? That because you have so sharply been able to see the flaws in the system, you can no longer step back and appreciate its beauty. Look, I'm the one who's trying to get the institutions to save themselves by getting rid of their inhabitants, but leaving the institution like a neutron bomb that removes the unworkable leadership class but leaves the structures.
So I go to the leadership classes. Really the problem, the leadership classes, that individual like the professors, the individual scholars, the professors are going to have to go back into training to remember how to be professors.
Like people are cowards at the moment because if they're not cowards, they're unemployed.
Yeah, that's one of the disappointing things I've encountered is to me 10 year. They don't nobody has tenure now. Well, whether they do or not, they certainly don't have. Care, not the kind of character and fortitude that I was hoping to see to me, but they'd be gone.
But see, you're dreaming about the people who used to live. It amitay. You're dreaming about the previous inhabitants of your university, and if you looked at somebody like, you know, Izidor Singer is very old, I don't know what state he's in, but that guy was absolutely the real deal. And if you look at Noam Chomsky, tell me that Noam Chomsky has been muzzled, right?
Now, what I'm trying to get at is you're talking about younger, energetic people. But those people like when I say something like I'm against I'm for inclusion and I'm for diversity, but I'm against diversity and inclusion.
TM like the movement. Well, I couldn't say that if I was a professor.
Oh, my God, he's against our sacred document. OK, well, in that kind of a world, do you want to know how many things I don't agree with you on?
Like, we could go on for days and days and days, all the nonsense that you've parroted inside of the institution. Any sane person like has no need for it. They have no want or desire. Do you think you have to have some patience for nonsense when many people work together in a system, how long is string theory going on for and how long have I been patient?
OK, so you're talking there's a limit to patience. I'm talking about like thirty six years of modern nonsense and string theory. You can do like eight to ten years, but not more.
I can do 40 minutes. This is what you've done over two hours or so, but I appreciate the way it's been. Thirty six years of nonsense since the anomaly cancellation and in string theory, it's like, what are you talking about?
I mean, Lex, you're not even acting like yourself at what you're trying to stay in the system. I'm not sure I'm not. I'm trying to see if perhaps so. So my hope is that the system just has a few assholes in it, which you highlight, and the fundamentals of the system are broken because if the fundamentals of the systems are broken, then I just don't see a way for you to succeed. Like, I don't see how young people take over MIT.
I don't see how by inspiring us.
You know, the great part about being at MIT, like when you saw that the genius in these pranks, the heart, the irreverence. Yeah, it's like don't we were talking about Tom Lehrer the last time Tom Lehrer was as naughty as the day is long. Agreed. Agreed.
Was he also a genius? Was he well-spoken? Was he highly cultured? He was so talented, so intellectual that he could just make fart jokes morning, noon and night. Yeah, OK.
Well, in part, the right to make fart jokes, the right to, for example, put a functioning phone booth that was ringing on top of the great dome at MIT has to do with we are such bad asses that we can actually do this stuff. Well, don't tell me about it anymore. Go break the law.
Go break the law in a way that inspires us and makes us not want to prosecute, you may break the law in a way that lets us know that you're calling us out on our bullshit, that you're filled with love. And that our technical talent has not gone to sleep, it's not incapable, you know, and if the idea is that you're going to dig a moat around the university and fill it with tiger sharks, that's awesome, because I don't know how you're going to do it.
But if you actually managed to do that, I'm not going to prosecute prosecute you under reckless endangerment.
That's beautifully put. I hope those first of all, they'll listen, I hope young people and my team will take over in this in this kind of way. In the introduction to your podcast episode on Jeff Epstein. You give to me a really moving story, but unfortunately for me, too brief about your experience with a therapist and the lasting terror that permeated your mind, can you.
Can you go there, can you tell? I don't think so. I mean, I appreciate what you're saying. I said it obliquely. I said enough. There are bad people who cross our paths and the current vogue. Is to say, oh, I'm a survivor, I'm a victim, I can do anything I want. This is a broken person and I don't know why I was sent to a broken person as a kid. And to be honest with you, I also felt like in that story I say that I was able to say no, you know, and this was like the entire weight of authority and he was misusing his position.
And I was also able to say no, what I couldn't say no to was having him reinflated in my life. So you were sent back the second time I tried to complain about what had happened, I tried to do it in a way that did not immediately cause horrific consequences to both this person and myself, because I didn't we don't have the tools to deal with sexual misbehavior.
We have nuclear weapons. We don't have any way of saying this is probably not a good place or a role for you at this moment as an authority figure. And something needs to be worked on. So in general, when we see somebody who is misbehaving in that way, our our immediate instinct is to treat the person as, you know, Satan. And we understand why we don't want our children to be at risk. Now, I personally believe that I fell down on the job and did not call out the Jeffrey Epstein thing early enough because I was terrified of what Jeffrey Epstein represents and that's recapitulated the old terror, trying to tell the world this therapist is out of control.
And when I said that, the world responded by saying, well, you have two appointments booked and you have to go for the second one.
So I got reinflated into this office on this person who was now convinced that I was about to tear down his career and his reputation and might have been on the verge of suicide. For all I know, I don't know.
But he was very, very angry and he was furious with me that I had breached a sacred confidence of his office.
What kind of ripple effects does that have has ahead to the rest of your life? The absurdity and the cruelty of that? I mean, there's no sense to it.
Well, see, this is the thing people don't really grasp, I think. There's an academic who I got to know many years ago. Named Jennifer Fried, who has a theory of betrayal, which she calls institutional betrayal, and her gambit is that when you were betrayed by an institution that is sort of like a fiduciary or a parental obligation to take care of you, that you find yourself in a far different situation with respect to trauma than if you are betrayed by somebody who is a peer.
And so I think that my in my situation. I kind of repeat a particular dynamic with authority, I come in not following all the rules.
Trying to do some things, not trying to do others, blah, blah, blah, and then I get into a weird relationship with authority and so I have more experience with what I would call institutional betrayal.
Now, the funny part about it is that when you don't have masks or PPE in a influenza like pandemic and you missing ICU beds and ventilators, that is ubiquitous institutional betrayal.
So I believe that in a weird way, I was very early.
The idea of and this is like the the really hard concept, pervasive or otherwise universal institutional betrayal, where all of the institutions you can count on any hospital to not charge you properly for what their services are. You can count on no pharmaceutical company to produce the drug that will be maximally beneficial to the people who take it.
You know, your financial professionals are not simply working in your best interest. And that issue had to do with the way in which growth left our system.
So I think that the weird thing is, is that this first institutional betrayal by a therapist left me very open to the idea of, OK, well, maybe the schools are bad, maybe the hospitals are bad, maybe the drug companies are bad, maybe our food is off, maybe our journalists are not serving journalistic ends. And that was what allowed me to sort of go all the distance and say, huh, I wonder if our problem is that something is causing all of our sensemaking institutions to be off.
That was the big insight. And that tying that to a single ideology. What if it's just about growth? They were all built on growth. And now we've promoted people who are capable of keeping quiet that their institutions aren't working.
So we've the privileged, silent aristocracy, the people who can be counted upon, not to mention a fire when a raging fire is tearing through a building.
But nevertheless, it's how big of a psychological burden is that?
It's huge. It's terrible and crushing.
It's very it's very comforting to be the parental I mean, I don't know. I treasure what we're just talking about at MIT. We can I can intellectualize and agree with everything you're saying, but there's a comfort, a warm blanket of being with an institution. And up until Aaron Schwartz, let's say. In other words, now, if I look at the provost and the president as mommy and daddy, you did what to my big brother? You did what to our family, you sold us out in which way?
What secrets left for China you hired, which workforce you did what to my wages. You took this portion of my grant, for what purpose, you just stole my retirement through a fringe. What did you do?
But can you still I mean, the thing is about this view you have is it often turns out to be sadly correct. Well, this is the thing.
And but let me just in this silly, hopeful thing, do you still have hope in institutions? Can you psychologically? Yes, I'm afraid not intellectually, because you have to carry this burden. Can you still have a hope? Like within you, when you sit home alone and as opposed to seeing the darkness within these institutions seeing a hope, well, but this is the thing I want to confront, not for the purpose of a dust up.
I believe, for example, if you've heard Episode 19, that the best outcome is for Carol Greider to come forward, as we discussed in Episode 19 with your brother Brett and say, you know what?
I said, I screwed up.
He did call. He did suggest the experiment. I didn't understand that it was his theory that was producing it. Maybe I was slow to grasp it, but my bad. And I don't want to pay for this bad choice on my part, let's say for the rest of my career, I want to own up and I want to help make sure that we do what's right with what's left.
And that's one little case within the institution they would like to see made. I would like to see Mittie very clearly come out and say, you know, Margo O'Toole was right when she said David Baltimore's lab here. Produced some stuff that was not reproducible with Teresa Imanishi, his research. I want to see the courageous people. I would like to see a the Aaron Schwartz wing of the computer science department.
Yeah, I wouldn't know. Let's think about it. Yeah. Wouldn't that be great if he said, you know, an injustice was done and we're going to we're going to right that wrong. Just as if this was Alan Turing. Which I don't think they've righted that wrong. Well, then let's have the Turing Shwartz way the short.
They're starting a new college of computing. Wouldn't it be wonderful to call it the Turing?
I would like to have the madam wooing of the physics department, and I'd love to have the Emmy statue in front of the math department. I mean, like, you want to get excited about actual diversity and inclusion.
Yeah, well, let's go with our absolute best people who never got there because there is structural bigotry, you know, but if we don't actually start celebrating the beautiful stuff that we're capable of when we're handed heroes and we fumble them into the trash, what the hell?
I mean, Lex, this is such nonsense. We're just pulling our head. You know, on everyone's cecum should be tattooed, if you can read this, you're too close.
Beautifully put, and I'm a dreamer just like you. Uh, so I don't see as much of the darkness genetically or due to my life experience, but I do share the hope for a mighty institution that we care a lot about.
We both do. Yeah.
And a Harvard institution I don't give a damn about. But you do. So I love Harvard. I'm just kidding. I love Harvard. But to it and I have a very difficult relationship.
And part of what you know, when you love a family that isn't working. I don't want to trash I didn't bring up the name of the president of MIT during the Aaron Schwartz period. It's not vengeance. I want the rot cleared out. I don't need to go after human beings. Yeah.
Just like you said with the disc formulation, the individual human beings aren't don't necessarily carry the gifts, those chairs that are so powerful that in which they sit, it's the chairs, not the humans, not the humans, without naming names.
Can you tell the story of your struggle during your time at Harvard? Maybe in a way that tells the bigger story of the struggle of young, bright minds that are trying to come up with big, bold ideas within the institutions that we're talking about. You can start I mean, in part, it starts with coffee, with a couple of Croatians in the math department at MIT and we used to talk about music and dance and math and physics and love and all this kind of stuff, as is Eastern Europeans love to.
And I ate it up.
And my friend Gordon, who was an instructor in the MIT math department when I was a graduate student at Harvard, said to me, and probably to do a bad version of her accent.
There we go. Will I see you tomorrow at the secret seminar? And I said, what secret seminar? Don't joke. I said I'm not used to this style of humor, calling it the secret seminar that your adviser is running. I said, what are you talking about? Ha ha. You know, your adviser is running a secret seminar on this aspect. I think it was like the Chern Simons Invariant. Not sure what the topic was again, but she gave me the room number and the time and she was like not cracking a smile.
I've never known her to make this kind of a joke. And I thought this was crazy. And I was trying to have an adviser. I didn't want an adviser, but people said, you have to have one. So I took one and. I went to this room like 15 minutes early and there was not a soul inside it, it was outside of the math department and it was still in the same building, the science center at Harvard.
And I sat there and let five minutes go by, seven minutes go by, 10 minutes go by. There's nobody. I thought, OK, so this was all an elaborate joke. And then like three minutes to the hour. This graduate student walks in and like sees me and does a double take, and then I start to see the professors in geometry and topology start to file in and everybody's like very disconcerted that I'm in this room.
And finally, the person who is supposed to be my advisor walks in to the seminar and sees me and goes white as a ghost. And I realized that the secret seminar is true, that the department is conducting a secret seminar on the exact topic that I'm interested in not telling me about it, and that these are the reindeer games that the Rudolf's of the department are not invited to. And so then I realized, OK, I did not understand it, there's a parallel department.
That became the beginning of an incredible odyssey in which I came to understand that the game that I had been sold, about publication, about blind refereeing, about openness and scientific transmission of information was all a lie.
I came to understand that at the very top, there's a second system that's about closed, closed meetings and private communications and agreements about citation and publication that the rest of us don't understand, and that in large measure, that is the thing that I won't submit to. And so when you ask me questions like, well, why wouldn't you feel good about, you know, talking to your critics or why wouldn't you? The answer is, oh, you don't know.
Like if you stay in a nice hotel, you don't realize that there is an entire second structure inside of that hotel where, like, there's usually a worker's cafe in a resort complex that isn't available to the people who are staying in the hotel.
And then there are private hallways inside the same hotel that are parallel structures. So that's what I found, which was in essence, just the way you can stay hotels your whole life and not realize that inside of every hotel is the second structure that you're not supposed to see is the guest.
There is a second structure inside of academics that behaves totally differently with respect to how people get dinged, how people get their grants taken away, how this person comes to have that thing named after them. And by pretending that we're not running a parallel structure, I have no patience for that anymore. So I got a chance to see how the game, how Hardball is really played at Harvard.
And I'm now eager to play hardball. Back with the same people who played hardball with me, me ask two questions on this, so one, do you think it's possible?
So I call those people assholes. That's the technical term. Do you think it's possible that that's just not the entire system, but a part of the system sort of that there's you can navigate you can swim in the waters and find the groups of people who do aspire to.
The guy who rescued my PhD was one of the people who filed in to the secret seminar. Right, but are there I'm just trying to outside of this, right? Is he an asshole?
Yes, I was is a bad no, but I'm trying to make this point, which is this isn't my failure to correctly map these people. It's yours. You have a simplification that isn't going to work, I think.
OK, as far as long term, I would say lacking of character. And what would you have had these people do? Why did they do this, why have a secret seminar? I don't understand the exact dynamics of a severe summer, but I think the right thing to do is to I mean, to see individuals like you, there might be a reason to have a secret seminar, but they should detect that an individual like you. A brilliant mind who's thinking about certain ideas could be damaged by this.
I don't think that they see it that way. The idea is we're going to sneak food to the children we want to survive. Yes. So that that's highly problematic. And there should be people within that room that I'm trying to say this is the thing. The ball is thrown back won't be caught.
The problem is they know that most of their children won't survive. And they can't say that. I see, Sorry to interrupt, you mean that the fact that the whole system is underfunded, that they naturally have to pick favorites, they live in a world which reached a steady state of some level, let's say, you know, in the early 70s and in that world before that time, you have a professor like Norman Stein.
Right. And you'd have 20 children, that is graduate students. And all of them would go on to be professors and all of them would want to have 20 children. Right.
So you start, like, ticking higher and higher powers of 20 and you see that the system could not it's not just about money. The system couldn't survive. So the way it's supposed to work now is that we should shut down the vast majority of PhD programs and we should let the small number of truly top places populate. Mostly teaching and research departments that aren't PhD produce. We don't want to do that because we use PhD students as a labor force.
So the whole thing has to do with growth, resources, dishonesty. And in that world, you see all of these adaptations to a ruthless world. The key question is, where are we going to bury this huge number of bodies of people who don't work out? So my problem was I wasn't interested in dying.
So you clearly highlight that there's aspects of the system that are broken, but as an individual.
It's your role to exit the system or just acknowledged it's a game and win it. My role is to survive and thrive in the public eye.
In other words, when you have an escapee of the system like yourself, such as? And that person says, you know, I wasn't exactly finished, let me show you a bunch of stuff. Let me show you that theory of telomeres, we never got reported properly. Let me show you that all of marginal economics is supposed to be redone with a different version of the differential calculus. Let me show you that you didn't understand the Seftel Yang Mills' equations correctly in topology and physics because they're, in fact, much more broadly found.
And it's only the mutations that happen in special dimensions.
There are lots of things to say. But this particular group of people, like if you just take where are all the Gen X and Millennial University presidents? All right. OK, they're all they're all in a holding pattern now where why in this story, you know, was of telomeres, was that an older professor and a younger graduate student?
It's this issue of what would be called interference competition. So, for example, ORCA's, try to drown minke whales by covering their blowhole so that they suffocate because the needed resource air. OK, well, what are the universities?
Do they try to make sure that you can't be viable, that you need them, that you need the grants, you need to be zinged with overhead charges or fringe rates or all of the games that the locals love to play? Well, my point is, OK, what's the cost of this? How many people died as a result of these interference competition games? You know, when you take somebody like Douglas Prasher who did green fluorescent protein and he drives a shuttle bus.
Because it is Grant runs out and he has to give away all of his research and all of that research gets a Nobel Prize and he gets to drive a shuttle bus for thirty five thousand dollars a year.
What do you mean by died? You mean their career, their dreams, their goals, their as an academic. Doug, pressure was dead for a long period of time.
OK, so as a as a person who's escaped the system, yeah. Can't you at this because you also have in your mind a powerful theory that may turn out to be useful, maybe not.
Let's hope can't you also play the game enough, like with the children to, like, publish and but also if you told me that this would work, really what I want to do, you see, is I would love to revolutionize a field with an index of zero. Like, we have these proxies that count how many papers you've written, how sided of the papers you've written, all of this is nonsense, essentially.
So what do you mean by a field within? Each index is totally new. For each index is count somehow. How many papers have you gotten that get so many citations and let's say each index undefined? Like, for example, I don't have an adviser for my PhD. But I have to have an adviser as far as something called the math genealogy project that tracks who advised who, who advised whom down the line. So I am my own adviser, which sets up a loop.
Right. How many students do I have an infinite number or descendants? They don't want to have that story. So I have to be I have to have formal adviser Walbert. And my Wikipedia entry, for example, says that I was advised by Robock, which is not true.
So you get fit into a system that says, well, we have to know what your index is.
We have to know, you know, where are you, a professor?
If you want to apply for a grant, it makes all of these assumptions. What I'm trying to do is in part to show all of this is nonsense. This is proxy B.S. that came up in the institutional setting. And right now it's important for those of us who are still vital, like Elon, it would be great to have Elon as a professor of physics and engineering. Yeah, right. It seems ridiculous to say. But just as just as a shot in the arm.
Yeah. You know, like B great to have you on at Caltech. Even one day a week. Yeah, one day a month. OK, well, why can't we be in there? It's the same reason why can't you be on The View? Why can't you be on Bill Maher? We need to know what you're going to do before we take you on the show.
On the show? Well, I don't want to tell you what I'm going to do. Do you think you need to be able to dance the dance a little bit? I can dance the dance. Fun to be on The View. Oh, come on. So you can. Yeah, you do. You're not going to do that fun. Here's where the place that it goes south is. Like a set of questions that get you into this more adversarial stuff and you've, in fact, ask some of those more adversarial questions, the setting, and they're not things that are necessarily aggressive, but they're things that are making assumptions.
Right, right. So when you make I have a question like, you know, Lex, are you avoiding your critics? You know, it's just like, OK, well, why did you frame that that way? Or the next question would be like, do you think that you should have a special exemption and that you should have the right to break rules and everyone else should have to follow them? Like that question I find enervating.
Yeah, it doesn't really come out of anything meaningful. It's just like we feel we're supposed to ask that of the other person to show that we're not captured by their madness. That's not the real question you want to ask me. If you want to get really excited about this, you want to ask, do you think this thing is right?
Yeah, weirdly, I do. Do you think that it's going to be immediately seen to be right? I don't I think it's going to it's going to be an interesting fight and it's going to have an interesting evolution and. Well, what do you hope to do with it in non-physical terms? Gosh, I hope it revolutionizes our relationship of well with people outside of the institutional framework, and it inflicts us into the institutional framework where we can do the most good to bring the institutions back to health.
You know, it's like these are positive, uplifting questions. And if you had Frank will check, you wouldn't say, Frank, let's be honest. You have done very little with your life after the original huge show that you used to break under the physics. Like we weirdly ask people different questions based on how they sit down.
Yeah, that's very strange. Right. But you have to understand that. So here's the thing I get these days, a large number of emails from people with the equivalent of a theory of everything for a guy.
Yeah. And I use my own radar based radar to detect. On. Unfairly, perhaps, whether they're full of shit or not, right? Because I love what you're where you're going with this, by the way.
And, uh, my my concern I often think about is there is elements of brilliance in what people write to me and I and I am trying to right now, as you made it clear, the kind of judgments and assumptions we make, how am I supposed to deal with you who are not an outsider of the system and think about.
What you're doing, because my radar saying you're not full of shit. You know what, I'm also not completely outside of the system. That's right, you've danced beautifully. You've actually got all the credibility that you're supposed to get, all the nice little stamps of approval, not all, but a large enough amount you use. I mean, it's hard to put into words exactly why. You sound or whether your theory turns out to be good or not.
You sound like a special human being. I appreciate that and thank you in a good way. All right. So but what am I supposed to do with that flood of emails from Ajai?
Why do I sound different? I don't know. And I would like to systemize that. I don't know. Look, you know, when you're talking to people. You very quickly can surmise, like, am I claiming to be a physicist? No, I say at every turn, I'm not a physicist. Right, when I say when you say something about bundles, you say, well, can you explain it differently? You know, I'm pushing around and this this area, that lever over there, I'm trying to find something that we can play with and engage.
And, you know, another thing is, is that I'll say something at scale. So if I was saying completely wrong things about bundles on the Joe Rogan program, you don't think that we wouldn't hear a crushing chorus.
Yes. And you the same thing with geometric unity. So I put up this this video from this Oxford lecture.
I understand that's not a standard lecture, but you haven't heard, you know, the most brilliant people in the field say, well, this is obviously nonsense. They don't know what to make of it.
You're going to hide behind. Well, he hasn't said enough detail. Where's the paper and where's the paper?
I've seen the criticism.
I've gotten the same kind of criticism of publish a few things and like especially stuff related to Tesla that we did studies and test the vehicles and the kind of criticism I've gotten which show that they're completely.
Like the guy who had Elon Musk on his program twice is going to give us an accurate assessment. Exactly. Exactly. It's just very low level, like without actually ever addressing.
Yeah. The content.
You know, I think that in part you're trying to solve a puzzle that isn't really your puzzle. I think you know that I'm sincere. You don't know whether the theory is going to work or not. And you know that it's not coming out of somebody who's coming out of left field like the story makes sense. There's enough that's new and creative and different in other aspects where you can check me. That your real concern is, are you really telling me that when you start breaking the rules, you see the system for what it is and it's become really vicious and aggressive?
And the answer is yes. And I had to break the rules in part because of learning issues, because I came into this field, you know, with a totally different set of attributes. My profile just doesn't look like anybody else's remotely. But as a result, what that did is it showed me what is the system true to its own ideals or does it just follow these weird procedures? And then when when you take it off the rails, it behaves terribly.
And that's really what my story I think does is. It just says, well, he completely takes the system into new territory where it's not expecting to have to deal with somebody with these confusing sets of attributes. And I think what he's telling us is he believes it behaves terribly. Now, if you take somebody with perfect standardized tests and a winner of math competitions and you put them in a PhD program, they're probably going to be OK. I'm not saying that the system.
You know, breaks down for everybody under all circumstances.
I'm saying when you present the system with a novel situation at the moment, it will almost certainly break down with probability approaching 100 percent.
But to me, the painful and the tragic thing is it I'm sorry to bring up my motherly instinct, but it feels like it's too much. It could be too much of a burden to exist outside the system, maybe by psychologically. First of all, I've got a podcast that I kind of like. It's got amazing friends. I have a life which has more interesting people passing through it than I know what to do with. Yeah, and they haven't managed to kill me off yet.
So, so far, so good. Speaking of which, you host an amazing podcast we mentioned several times.
But I should mention over and over the portal where you somehow manage every single conversation is a surprise.
You go, I mean, not just the guests, but just the places you take them, the the kind of ways they become challenging and how you recover from that. I mean, it's there's just it's full of genuine human moments. So I really appreciate where you're the fun fun podcast I listen to. Let me ask some silly questions about it. What have you learned about conversation about human to human conversation?
Well, I have a problem that I haven't solved on the portal, which is that in general, when I ask people questions, they usually find they're deeply grooved answers. And I'm not so interested in all of the deeply grooved answers. And so there's a complaint, which I'm very sympathetic to actually, that I talk over people that I won't sit still for the answer. And I think that that's weirdly sort of correct. It's not that I'm not interested in hearing other voices, it's that I'm not interested in hearing the same voice on my program that I could have gotten in somebody else's.
And I haven't solved that one. So I've learned that I need a new conversational technique where I can keep somebody from finding their comfortable place and yet not be the voice talking over that person.
It's funny, I get a sense like your conversation with Brett, I can sense you detect that the line he's going down is, you know, how it's going to end. And, you know, I think it's a useless line. So you'll just stop right there and you take him into the direction that you think you should go. But that requires interruption. Well, and it does.
So far, I haven't found a better way. I'm looking for a better way.
It's not it's not like I don't hear the problem. I do hear the problem. I just I haven't solved the problem. And, you know, on the Brett episode, I was insufferable. It was very difficult to listen to it.
It was so overbearing. But on the other hand, I was right. You know, it's funny you keep saying that, but I didn't find it. Maybe because I heard brothers like I heard a big brother. Yeah. It was pretty bad, really.
I think so. I didn't think it was bad. Well, a lot of people found it interesting.
And I think it also has to do with the fact that this has become a frequent experience.
I have several shows where somebody who I very much admire and think of as courageous, you know, I'm talking with them maybe were friends and they sit down on their show and they immediately become this fake person. Like two seconds in there, sort of. They won't want to be too critical or too harsh and want to name any names on list, this is like, OK, I'm going to put my listeners through three hours of you being sweetness and light.
Yeah. Like, at least give me some reality and then we can decide to shelve the show and never let it hear, you know, the call of freedom in the bigger world.
But I've seen you break out of that a few times. I've seen you to be successful. I forgot the guest, but she was dressed with. Way, at the end of the episode, you had an argument about Brett Afghani's caller and this caller, the philosophers at the University of Chicago.
Yeah, you've continuously broken out of her. You guys went, you know, I mean, it seemed pretty genuine. I like her.
I'm completely ethically opposed to what she's ethically for, which she was great and she wasn't like that. You're both going hard as a grown up. Yeah. And she knows that I care about her.
So that was awesome. Yeah. But you're saying that some people are difficult to break out?
Well, it's just that, you know, she was bringing the courage of her conviction that she was sort of defending the system.
And I thought, wow, that's a pretty indefensible system.
But that's great that she's doing that, isn't it? I mean, it made for awesome.
I think it's very informative for the world. Yes. You just hated.
I just can't stand the idea that somebody says, well, we don't care who gets paid or who gets the credit as long as we get the goodies, because that seems like insane. Have you ever been afraid leading into a conversation? Garry Kasparov, really, by the way, I mean, I know I'm just a fan taking requests, but I started I started at the beginning in Russian and in fact, I used one word incorrectly. So terrible.
You know, it was pretty good. It's pretty good. Russian was terrible. I think he complimented you right now.
The company you use that me decoupling your new Russian, he said almost perfect Russian.
Yeah. Like he was full of shit.
That was not great Russian, but that was not great Russian. That was that was hard. You tried hard, which is what matters.
But it's so insulting. I hope so. But I do hope you continue. I felt like I don't know how long it went. It might have been linked to our conversation, but it felt I hope it continues. Like I feel like you have many conversation with Gary. I would love to hear this certain conversation. I would just love to hear, you know, he's coming from a very it's this issue about needing to overpower people in a very dangerous world.
And so Gary has that need. Now, he wasn't he was interrupting you.
It was it was an interesting dynamic to Weinstein's going out to what I mean, two powerhouse egos. Brilliant. No, don't say egos. Mind my experience. Why you don't have an ego. You're the most humble person I know that.
You know, that's a complete lie. Do you think about your own mortality?
Death? Sure. Are you afraid of death? I released a theory during something that can kill older people. Sure. I was there, of course, a little bit of a parallel there, of course, of course, I don't want it to die with me. What do you hope your legacy is? I hope my legacy is accurate. I'd like to write on my accomplishments rather than how my community decided to ding me while I was alive. That would be great autobiographers significantly exaggerated.
I don't want it. You want it to be accurate. I've got some pretty terrific stuff. And whether it works out or doesn't that I would like it to reflect what I actually was. I'll settle for. What would you say, what is the greatest element of her quite stunning accomplishment in life? Terms of being accurate, like what what are you most proud of? Trying. The idea that we were stalled out in the hardest field, at the most difficult juncture and then I didn't listen to that voice.
However, that said, stop, you're hurting yourself, you're hurting your family, hurting everybody, embarrassing yourself, you're screwing up, you can't do this. You're a failure. You're a fraud. Turn back. Save yourself that voice. I didn't ultimately listen to it, and it was going for thirty five, thirty seven years. Very hard. And I hope you never. Listen to that voice. Well, that's why you're an inspiration. Thank you.
I appreciate that you're the. I'm just infinitely honored that you spend time with me. You've been a mentor to me almost. A friend I can't imagine a better person to talk to in this world, so thank you so much for talking. I can't wait to we do it again. Lex, thanks for sticking with me and thanks for being the most singular guy in the podcasting space. In terms of all of my interviews, I would say that the last one I did with you, many people feel was my best and it was a nonconventional one.
So whatever it is that you're bringing to the game, I think everyone's noticing and keep at it.
Thank you. Thanks for listening to this conversation with Eric Weinstein and thank you to our presenting sponsor, Kashyap. Please consider supporting the podcast by downloading Kashef and using Code Luks podcast if you enjoy this podcast. Subscribe on YouTube, review five stars and have a podcast supporta on page one. Or simply connect with me on Twitter, Àlex Friedemann. And now let me leave you with some words of wisdom from Eric Weinstein's first appearance on this podcast. Everything is great about war except all the destruction.
Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.