• In this episode, Gianluca and Jared discuss the neurobiology of predictive processing, the role of dopamine in reward signalling, satisfaction, and human desire. They also touch on the relation of reward to reinforcement learning and artificial intelligence.

    The podcast then shifts to discuss the clinical manifestations of the predictive brain, including the computational psychiatry of depression, autism-spectrum-disorder, and schizophrenia, and how top-down prediction, and precision-weighted prediction error explain central aspects of these conditions.




    Jared on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jnearestn

    Gianluca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/QVagabond

    Bit of a Tangent on Twitter (www.twitter.com/podtangent) and Instagram (instagram.com/podtangent/)

    Last episode: https://www.podtangent.com/e/029-predictive-processing-2-where-the-action-is/

  • This week’s episode of Bit of a Tangent is a continuation of our 3 part series on Predictive Processing - a fascinating neuroscientific account of the way our brains come to understand the world. If you haven’t already listened to part 1 (episode 028), check that out first!

    In this episode Gianluca and Jared discuss the importance of sensory precision, the circular causality of prediction and action, how action comes about in a counterintuitive way from high confidence predictions, the way in which prior expectations can bias sensory sampling, and how this could lead to self-fulfilling spirals that would make your life either much worse or much better!

    Find us on Twitter @podtangent

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  • It's here. It's finally here! The first in a series of three episodes diving into the predictive processing theory of brain function! Jared and Gianluca discuss top-down versus bottom-up perception, Bayesian Brain hypotheses, the logic of caring only about prediction error, and the phenomenology of visual illusions!

  • Gianluca and Jared have survived 2020 (so far) and are back for Season 3 of Bit of a Tangent. In this episode they bring you 7 new habits and techniques that can be used to iteratively upgrade yourself — even in lockdown. Forget everything else that’s going on in the world, and take a deep dive into personal optimisation. Or, as they’d put it, prepare to geek out on organisation hacks, bootstrapped learning, and motivation pumps.




    Jared on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jnearestn

    Gianluca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/QVagabond

    Bit of a Tangent on Twitter (www.twitter.com/podtangent) and Instagram (instagram.com/podtangent/)

    Last episode: https://www.podtangent.com/e/026-drink-and-be-rational/

    Matt D’Avella’s video on Checklists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n2vL2I__WY

    Alex Vermeer’s Tangibles: https://alexvermeer.com/tangibles/

    Roam research: https://roamresearch.com/

    Put iPhone in grayscale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNuziJOl61o

    FitNotes Android app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.github.jamesgay.fitnotes

    Matt D’Avella’s 30-day challenges: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXKuahfdkl6zkBULJhEMNy_RnErOYXwJk

    How Jerry Seinfeld writes jokes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itWxXyCfW5s

    Anki (flashcards tool): https://apps.ankiweb.net/

    Michael Nielsen’s essay on learning with Anki: http://augmentingcognition.com/ltm.html

    POLAR bookshelf software: https://getpolarized.io/

    How to wrap your headphones up: https://youtu.be/3_FueKBoRO0?t=171

  • [Epistemic status: slightly intoxicated]

    Jared and Gianluca exchange rapid-fire questions whilst becoming increasingly inebriated. Think of this episode as the Ferriss/Rose “Random Show,” but with more references to Bayesian inference. It’s pretty likely to entertain you, but hopefully you’ll find it interesting too. Topics include Email response times, VR projects, and the statistical approach to an ethical diet.




    Jared on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jnearestn

    Gianluca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/QVagabond

    Bit of a Tangent on Twitter (www.twitter.com/podtangent) and Instagram (instagram.com/podtangent/)

    Last episode: https://www.podtangent.com/e/025-self-supervised-machine-learning-introduction-intuitions-and-use-cases/

    The Game Changers: www.imdb.com/title/tt7455754/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

    Joe Rogan Experience #1389 - Chris Kresser Debunks "The Gamechangers" Documentary: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq4Apc2Xk7Q

    Sam Altman on Conversations with Tyler: conversationswithtyler.com/episodes/sam-altman/

    Top 19 Ideas from 2019: www.podtangent.com/e/021-the-top-19-ideas-from-2019/

    Jared’s Twitter thread (19 ideas I couldn't stop thinking about in 2019): https://twitter.com/jnearestn/status/1211681767742156803

    Donald Knuth on Lex Fridman’s podcast: https://lexfridman.com/donald-knuth/

    Glen Weyl on the 80000 Hours podcast: https://soundcloud.com/80000-hours/glen-weyl-radically-reforming-capitalism-and-democracy

    Eric and Brett Weinstein talking about DISC and the failings of peer review on The Portal: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/19-bret-weinstein-the-prediction-and-the-disc/id1469999563?i=1000462975502

    Gianluca’s paper on arXiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.05363

    This equation will change how you see the world by Veritasium: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovJcsL7vyrk

  • On this episode of Bit of A Tangent, we discuss the emerging field of self-supervised machine learning. This is an immensely exciting area of active research in machine learning and AI - one which most people haven’t even heard about yet! We build up to the intuition for the topic by covering supervised and unsupervised learning; autoencoders and dimensionality reduction, and exploring how these techniques could be applied to Gianluca’s Quantified Self n=1 sleep quality dataset. We culminate in a detailed discussion of the state-of-the-art Contrastive Predictive Coding model, and how it allows us to learn about the structure of the world, without tonnes of labelled training data!




    Jared on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jnearestn

    Gianluca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/QVagabond

    Bit of a Tangent on Twitter (www.twitter.com/podtangent) and Instagram (instagram.com/podtangent/)

    Summer school on Computational Neuroscience: http://imbizo.africa/

    Control problem in AI: https://intelligence.org/stanford-talk/

    Coordination problem: https://conceptually.org/concepts/coordination-problems

    Deep learning overview: https://lilianweng.github.io/lil-log/2017/06/21/an-overview-of-deep-learning.html

    t-SNE explained: https://mlexplained.com/2018/09/14/paper-dissected-visualizing-data-using-t-sne-explained/

    Variational autoencoders explained: https://anotherdatum.com/vae.html

    Self-supervised learning by fast.ai: https://www.fast.ai/2020/01/13/self_supervised/

    CPC model papers on Arxiv: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1807.03748.pdf https://arxiv.org/pdf/1905.09272.pdf

    Blog posts explaining CPC: https://lilianweng.github.io/lil-log/2019/11/10/self-supervised-learning.html



  • Gianluca announces his latest project—the audio version of Nate Soares’ Replacing Guilt series—and Jared explains why it’s a notable contribution to the rationalist community. Together, they discuss how to gain the most from listening to the series and why it’s something you should strongly consider doing if you often find yourself binging Netflix until 3 AM.




    Replacing Guilt podcast: https://anchor.fm/guilt

    Rationality: From AI to Zombies podcast: www.from-ai-to-zombies.eu/

    SlateStarCodex podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/slate-star-codex-podcast/id1295289140

    Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (audio): http://www.hpmorpodcast.com/

    Jared on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jnearestn

    Gianluca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/QVagabond

    Bit of a Tangent on Twitter (twitter.com/podtangent) and Instagram (instagram.com/podtangent/)

  • Jared and Gianluca have an uncompromising exchange about computational neuroscience and its implications for life and AI research.




    Jared on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jnearestn

    Gianluca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/QVagabond

    Bit of a Tangent on Twitter (twitter.com/podtangent) and Instagram (instagram.com/podtangent/)

    Last episode: www.podtangent.com/e/022-6-books-you-need-to-read-in-2020/

    Ideas episode: www.podtangent.com/e/021-the-top-19-ideas-from-2019/

    The Portal podcast episode with Garrett Lisi: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/15-garrett-lisi-my-arch-nemesis-myself/id1469999563?i=1000458879827

    Don Hoffman on Sam Harris’ podcast: https://samharris.org/subscriber-extras/178-reality-illusion/

  • Gianluca presents his much-requested three non-fiction and three fiction recommendations for 2020. Jared recommends a book so long and gripping that you should probably avoid it if you have anything productive to do in the next six months.




    Jared (twitter.com/jnearestn) and Gianluca (twitter.com/QVagabond) on Twitter

    Bit of a Tangent on Twitter (twitter.com/podtangent) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/podtangent/)

    Last week’s episode: www.podtangent.com/e/021-the-top-19-ideas-from-2019/

    Gianluca on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/user/show/56535709-gianluca

    Books Gianluca read in 2019: www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/14773941

    Algorithms to Live By, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths: www.goodreads.com/book/show/25666050-algorithms-to-live-by

    80000 Hours podcast with one of the authors of Algorithms to Live By: https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/brian-christian-algorithms-to-live-by/

    Inadequate Equilibria by Eliezer Yudkowsky: https://equilibriabook.com/

    Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Sequences: https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Sequences

    007 | Game Theory, Alignment, and Civilisational Inadequacy: https://www.podtangent.com/e/007-game-theory-alignment-and-civilisational-inadequacy/

    Meditations on Moloch: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

    The Replacing Guilt Series by Nate Soares: http://mindingourway.com/guilt/

    Half-assing it with everything you’ve got: http://mindingourway.com/half-assing-it-with-everything-youve-got/

    Discussions of Replacing Guilt on The Bayesian Conspiracy podcast: www.thebayesianconspiracy.com/2019/08/92-replacing-guilt/

    Surfing Uncertainty by Andy Clark: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25823558-surfing-uncertainty

    Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: www.goodreads.com/book/show/12067.Good_Omens

    Neil Gaiman on the Tim Ferriss show: https://tim.blog/2019/03/28/neil-gaiman/

    The Metropolitan Man by Alexander Wales: www.goodreads.com/book/show/22872436-the-metropolitan-man

    Alexander Wales on the Bayesian Conspiracy podcast: www.thebayesianconspiracy.com/2018/07/63-rational-fiction/

    The Metropolitan Man audiobook (free podcast): www.hpmorpodcast.com/?page_id=1705

    The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin: www.goodreads.com/book/show/20518872-the-three-body-problem

    The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu: www.goodreads.com/book/show/39803561-the-paper-menagerie

    Worm (the webseries you should probably never read): https://parahumans.wordpress.com/

  • Bit of a Tangent is back! In this episode, Jared shares the 19 ideas he couldn’t stop thinking about in 2019, whilst Gianluca does two B-grade Joe Rogan impressions. Together, they discuss everything from mechanism design to personal fitness hacks, and throw in some recommendations for supercharging your learning in the new year. Strap yourselves in for a taste of the fascinating conversations that lie ahead in 2020!




    Jared (twitter.com/jnearestn) and Gianluca (twitter.com/QVagabond) on Twitter

    Jared’s Twitter thread (19 ideas I couldn't stop thinking about in 2019): https://twitter.com/jnearestn/status/1211681767742156803

    Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Sequences: https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Sequences

    Meditations on Moloch: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

    Radical Markets: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36515770-radical-markets

    007 | Game Theory, Alignment, and Civilisational Inadequacy: https://www.podtangent.com/e/007-game-theory-alignment-and-civilisational-inadequacy/

    Glen Weyl on Twitter: https://twitter.com/glenweyl

    Mechanism design: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanism_design

    Tyler Cowen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tylercowen

    Surfing Uncertainty by Andy Clark: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25823558-surfing-uncertainty

    Fast.AI courses: https://www.fast.ai/

    When someone tries to “Euler” you: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/12/does-race-exist-does-culture/

    Body by Science, by Little and McGuff: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4642174-body-by-science

    FitNotes app for Android: https://www.fitnotesapp.com/

    All Debates are Bravery Debates on SlateStarCodex: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/06/09/all-debates-are-bravery-debates/

    Tim Ferriss on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tferriss

    Naval Ravikant on Twitter: https://twitter.com/naval

    011 | Slack, attention and focus: https://www.podtangent.com/e/slack-attention-and-focus-or-why-more-is-less/

    010 | Flow states, optimal performance, and PhD hunter-gathering: https://www.podtangent.com/e/010-flow-states-optimal-performance-and-phd-hunter-gathering

    Michael Nielsen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/michael_nielsen

    Anki for spaced repetition: https://apps.ankiweb.net/

    013 | How To Learn Anything: https://www.podtangent.com/e/013-how-to-learn-anything/

    The 7 +-2 principle for memory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magical_Number_Seven,_Plus_or_Minus_Two

    Chunking: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chunking_(psychology)

    The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28820444-the-elephant-in-the-brain

    Inadequate Equilibria by Eliezer Yudkowsky: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36606376-inadequate-equilibria

    Robin Hanson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/robinhanson

    Awareness by Anthony de Mello: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/94318.Awareness

    The Cook and the Chef on WaitButWhy: https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/11/the-cook-and-the-chef-musks-secret-sauce.html

    Sam Harris on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamHarrisOrg

    Sam’s Waking Up app: https://wakingup.com/

  • This is part 3 of the series on Mental Models, in which Gianluca and Jared discuss the cognitive biases that often impede aspiring rationalists. They discuss the idea of “System 1 and 2” thinking as a framing for the entire discussion, before exploring 12 of the most deadly thinking traps and how to avoid them. This includes everything from the Planning Fallacy and Anchoring, to more esoteric pitfalls that are yet to be named. Finally, they describe meta-biases—like the Bias Blindspot and the Fallacy Fallacy—equipping your mental toolkit with everything you need to upgrade your thinking.




    System 1 and 2 thinking in Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11468377-thinking-fast-and-slow

    An awesome resource, the Cognitive Bias Codex: https://ritholtz.com/2016/09/cognitive-bias-codex/

    A superb introduction to biases by Rob Bensinger: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ptxnyfLWqRZ98wnYi/biases-an-introduction

    Yudkowsky on scope insensitivity: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/2ftJ38y9SRBCBsCzy/scope-insensitivity

    [Study] Scope insensitivity: The limits of intuitive valuation of human lives in public policy: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211368114000795

    Bayes’ Theorem in medical testing: https://plus.maths.org/content/maths-minute-bayes-theorem

    Bayes’ Theorem examples visualised: https://oscarbonilla.com/2009/05/visualizing-bayes-theorem/

    Hamburg’s philharmonic concert hall that ran 6 years and 1000% over budget: https://www.thelocal.de/20161101/700m-over-budget-hamburg-concert-hall-finally-finished-elbphilharmonie

    Fascinating studies on the planning fallacy in students’ academic predictions: https://web.mit.edu/curhan/www/docs/Articles/biases/67_J_Personality_and_Social_Psychology_366,_1994.pdf

    Reference class forecasting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_class_forecasting

    How to overcome the planning fallacy with “fudge ratios”: https://wpsmith.net/2015/improving-your-time-estimates-the-fudge-ratio/

    Spinning the wheel on the anchoring bias: https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/07/27/anchoring-effect/

    “Influence” by Robert Cialdini: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28815.Influence

    016 | Free Will, Compassion, and Reinforcement Learning: https://www.podtangent.com/e/016-free-will-compassion-and-reinforcement-learning/

    Inferential distances: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/HLqWn5LASfhhArZ7w/expecting-short-inferential-distances

    Findings in Hedonic adaptation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill#Empirical_findings

    Dan Harris’ “10% Happier” podcast: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast

    The Peak-End Rule: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak%E2%80%93end_rule

  • This is part 2 of our series on Mental Models. In it, we’re bringing you the most useful and applicable models we’ve encountered in everything we’ve read, heard or seen over the years! In part 2 we unpack models from Bayesian reasoning, calibration, and expected value. We also cover fat-tailed distributions, counterfactual reasoning, inversion, and red-teaming. Throughout, we build up each model with examples and motivations, and often found ourselves making previously unseen (by us) links to other models which gave us several new insights. We hope this conversation will do the same for you!




    Farnam Street Blog - https://fs.blog

    Calibration training app by 80 000 Hours - https://80000hours.org/calibration-training/

    Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23995360-superforecasting

    0 And 1 Are Not Probabilities - https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/QGkYCwyC7wTDyt3yT/0-and-1-are-not-probabilities

    Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35957157-thinking-in-bets

    The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/242472.The_Black_Swan

    CGP Grey on 7 Ways To Maximise Misery - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO1mTELoj6o

    Claude Shannon on Creative Thinking - https://jamesclear.com/great-speeches/creative-thinking-by-claude-shannon

    The Bottom Line - https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/34XxbRFe54FycoCDw/the-bottom-line

  • This is part 1 of a new series on Mental Models - tips, tricks, and tools to add to your mental toolbox. In this episode we introduce the concept of a mental model but then quickly dive in to explanations of the most powerful models we’ve encountered. Join us and learn how to make better decisions (or know when a decision is not worth making), how to have more original and impactful ideas (and how to find the most promising ideas to work on out of the thousands you’ll soon have), and when tidying up your messy desk is just plain wrong (sorry, Marie Kondo!)




    The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts by Shane Parrish - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44245196-the-great-mental-models

    Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41181911-super-thinking

    Feynman technique - https://fs.blog/2012/04/feynman-technique/

    More Dakka by The Zvi - https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/z8usYeKX7dtTWsEnk/more-dakka

    Least recently used idea: read the book Algorithms To Live By by Brian Christian - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25666050-algorithms-to-live-by

    Eisenhower matrix - https://jamesclear.com/eisenhower-box

    Josh Wolfe on Shane Parrish’s podcast - https://fs.blog/josh-wolfe/

    Eliezer Yudkowsky’s marvelous introduction to Bayes Theorem. Seriously, read this: http://yudkowsky.net/rational/bayes

    Tim Urban’s WaitButWhy post on thinking from first principles like Elon Musk: https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/11/the-cook-and-the-chef-musks-secret-sauce.html

    Deep Work by Cal Newport - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25744928-deep-work

    So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13525945-so-good-they-can-t-ignore-you

    Keep Your Identity Small by Paul Graham - http://www.paulgraham.com/identity.html

    Joscha Bach on the Singularity podcast: https://www.singularityweblog.com/joscha-bach/

  • This episode features the much-anticipated conversation with Bronwyn Williams on the topic of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Bronwyn is a futurist and trend analyst with a background in marketing and economics. Gianluca and Jared pick her brain about the economic viability of UBI, the influence of politics and big tech, and the trends in automation that will shape the future of humanity. Regardless of your fiscal intuitions or political leanings, this episode will equip you with the core arguments in the UBI debate and leave you with plenty of food for thought.




    Write to Bit of a Tangent at podtangent@gmail.com

    Tweet at Bit of a Tangent: https://twitter.com/podtangent

    Follow Bit of a Tangent (incl. behind the scenes) on Instagram: www.instagram.com/podtangent

    Bronwyn Williams on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bronwynwilliams

    Bronwyn’s website: https://whatthefuturenow.com

    Flux Trends: https://www.fluxtrends.com/

    Apollo 42: http://apollo42.com/

    Negative income tax: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_income_tax

    Alaskan oil dividend: nhttps://basicincometoday.com/the-complicated-politics-of-the-alaska-permanent-fund-dividend/5422

    Andrew Yang and the proposed “Freedom Dividend”: https://www.yang2020.com/policies/the-freedom-dividend/

    Andrew Yang’s discussions about UBI with Sam Harris: https://samharris.org/podcasts/130-universal-basic-income/

    Social credit system in China: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/china-social-credit-system-explained

    Elon Musk on automation and UBI: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/18/elon-musk-automated-jobs-could-make-ubi-cash-handouts-necessary.html

    Neuralink’s human-brain interface: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA77zsJ31nA

    Humanity’s increasing prosperity (Steven Pinker): https://youtu.be/o5X2-i_poNU

    On having a “Venezuela moment”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_in_Venezuela

    Single-payer healthcare: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-payer_healthcare

    Cost of bringing a drug to market: https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2017/10/16/the-cost-of-developing-drugs-is-insane-a-paper-that-argued-otherwise-was-insanely-bad/#2c8eb48d2d45

    Swiss referendum on UBI: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36454060

    Bronwyn’s book reviews: https://whatthefuturenow.com/category/reading-right-now/

    The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/396931.The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism

    Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11468377-thinking-fast-and-slow

    The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26195941-the-age-of-surveillance-capitalism

    Death of the Gods by Carl Miller: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40504262-the-death-of-the-gods?ac=1&from_search=true

    Ben Hunt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/epsilontheory

    David Pearce on Twitter: https://twitter.com/webmasterdave

    Slate Star Codex breakdown of UBI: https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/08/01/squareallworthy-on-ubi-plans/

    Bayesian Conspiracy (with David Spearman) on the economics of UBI vs. NIT: http://www.thebayesianconspiracy.com/2019/07/88-ubi-and-other-forms-of-evil-taxes/

  • This is part 2 of our series on free will! In this episode we reconcile how it is that we can feel like we have free will (even when we don’t), give an evolutionary argument for why this might be the case and show how knowing this makes us more compassionate people who are (paradoxically) better at achieving our goals. Along the way, we explain what a Bayesian Network is (and why you should care about yours), and give an introduction to some of the key ideas and concepts in the field of Reinforcement Learning (a subfield of AI) and how we can use these concepts to clarify our view of ourselves and the world!




    Dan Dennett essay on Sam Harris’s argument: https://samharris.org/reflections-on-free-will/

    Sam Harris’s response to Dennett: https://samharris.org/free-will-and-free-will/

    Sam Harris’s “Free Will: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13259270-free-will

    Good primer on the Libet experiments that preempted decision making: https://youtu.be/OjCt-L0Ph5o

    The original Libet publication [paywalled]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6640273

    Details of more recent versions of the Libet experiments with 7 second preempting and some predictive capability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMDuakmEEV4

    A recent “debunking” of the Libet results: https://www.pnas.org/content/109/42/e2904

    A popular article on the Libet experiments in the light of the new model: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/09/free-will-bereitschaftspotential/597736/

    Radiolab Loops episode: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/radiolab-loops

    Litany of Gendlin on LessWrong: https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Litany_of_Gendlin

    Julia Galef on Bayes Nets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFv5DvrLDCg

    Learn Bayes Nets post on LessWrong: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/tp4rEtQqRshPavZsr/learn-bayes-nets

    Compatibilism: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

    A good introductory courses on reinforcement learning for those interested: https://www.theschool.ai/courses/move-37-course/

    Video of RL agent walking on the back of its legs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdTBqBnqhaQ

    Sean Carroll’s podcast: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/

    How to Win Friends and Influence Reality (episode 9 of Bit of a Tangent): https://podcasts.apple.com/za/podcast/009-how-to-win-friends-and-influence-reality/id1470855694?i=1000446168718

  • This is Part 1 of the series on Free Will. In this episode, Gianluca and Jared dispel the assumption that humans have Free Will by presenting the argument from Determinism—popularised by Sam Harris. They discuss the evidence from physics, neurology, and the famous Libet experiments; before laying the groundwork for later conversations about what this implies morally and societally. You have no choice but to listen.



    Sam Harris’s “Free Will: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13259270-free-will

    Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life (and some of his other fantastic shorts): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/223380.Stories_of_Your_Life_and_Others

    Arrival, the film adaptation of Story of Your Life: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2543164

    Principle of Least Action: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_least_action

    Chaos Theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

    Good primer on the Libet experiments that preempted decision making: https://youtu.be/OjCt-L0Ph5o

    The original Libet publication [paywalled]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6640273

    Details of more recent versions of the Libet experiments with 7 second preempting and some predictive capability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMDuakmEEV4

    A recent “debunking” of the Libet results: https://www.pnas.org/content/109/42/e2904

    A popular article on the Libet experiments in the light of the new model: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/09/free-will-bereitschaftspotential/597736/

    Great CGP Grey video on split brain experiments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfYbgdo8e-8

    Decent primer on Sperry’s split-brain experiments: https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/roger-sperrys-split-brain-experiments-1959-1968

    “Behave” by Robert Sopalsky: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31170723-behave

  • Jared and Gianluca try something new on this episode! We read passages from Robert Pirsig’s wonderful novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, reacting and discussing as we go! Along the way, we explored the limits of conceptual understanding (a.k.a. Shut up and taste the wine!), how the words we use to describe reality also end up defining it, limiting it or expanding it, and why cliches are so easy to dismiss and when they shouldn’t be (hint: your gran was right - there’s nothing a good night’s sleep won’t solve). We also discuss what it means to truly understand something, and how our intuitive sense of what is excellent can guide us to cook great food, write beautiful code, and be delightful people!

    As a bonus, we drop some hints about an exciting upcoming episode, and at the end we each share the advice we’ve heard that has the highest impact with the fewest words!

    Listener feedback can be recorded here: https://www.speakpipe.com/podtangent



    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/629.Zen_and_the_Art_of_Motorcycle_Maintenance

    The Stranger by Albert Camus: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49552.The_Stranger

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/662.Atlas_Shrugged

    Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2122.The_Fountainhead

    The Philosopher’s Toolkit by Julian Baggini: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/192414.The_Philosophers_Toolkit

    Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38412.Fermat_s_Enigma

    The Cook & The Chef - Elon Musk’s Secret Sauce by Tim Urban: https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/11/the-cook-and-the-chef-musks-secret-sauce.html

    How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4865.How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People

    Michael Nielsen’s personal blog: http://michaelnielsen.org/

    Venture Stories podcast with Michael Nielsen: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/what-michael-nielsen-thinks-about-basically-everything/id1316769266?i=1000436484320

    Tyler Cowen on The high-return activity of raising others’ aspirations: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/10/high-return-activity-raising-others-aspirations.html

  • We’ve all heard about the importance of learning. We’ve all heard about the importance of learning how to learn. Well, on this episode Gianluca and Jared dive into both of these topics. They discuss the philosophies of learning they’ve encountered on their own journeys, and share several key tricks that they’ve found most helpful over the years! Along the way they discovered a new way to think about how to keep your knowledge up to date in an ever changing world!

    Listener feedback can be recorded here: https://www.speakpipe.com/podtangent



    This essay by Michael Nielsen is what spurred me to say we might need a follow up. It’s definitely worth a read: http://augmentingcognition.com/ltm.html

    Cultural evolution primer by Scott Alexander: https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/04/book-review-the-secret-of-our-success/

    Tim Urban’s Elon Musk blog posts: https://waitbutwhy.com/2017/03/elon-musk-post-series.html - the last post in the series changed Jared’s life https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/11/the-cook-and-the-chef-musks-secret-sauce.html

    Poor Charlie’s Almanack: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/944652.Poor_Charlie_s_Almanack

    Shane Parrish on Chauffeur knowledge: https://fs.blog/2015/09/two-types-of-knowledge/

    The Sequences by Eliezer Yudkowski: https://www.lesswrong.com/rationality

    We’ve include some relevant essays from the sequences to today’s conversation below:

    Taboo Your Words: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/WBdvyyHLdxZSAMmoz/taboo-your-words

    Cached Thoughts: https://www.lesswrong.com/s/pmHZDpak4NeRLLLCw/p/2MD3NMLBPCqPfnfre

    Replace The Symbol with The Substance: https://www.lesswrong.com/s/SGB7Y5WERh4skwtnb/p/GKfPL6LQFgB49FEnv

    Truly Part of You: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/fg9fXrHpeaDD6pEPL/truly-part-of-you

    Living By Your Own Strength: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/dKGfNvjGjq4rqffyF/living-by-your-own-strength

    Learning How to Learn course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn/

    Anki: https://apps.ankiweb.net/

    r/medicalschoolanki decks: https://www.reddit.com/r/medicalschoolanki/

    Jared used https://www.brosencephalon.com/flashcards/ in his earlier years of medschool

    Testing effect: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Testing_effect

    Deliberate practice: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Practice_(learning_method)

    Desirable difficulty: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Desirable_difficulty

    Method of Loci: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Method_of_loci

    Expecting Short Inferential Distances by Eliezer Yudkowski: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/HLqWn5LASfhhArZ7w/expecting-short-inferential-distances

    Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24113.G_del_Escher_Bach

    Conversations with Tyler podcast: https://conversationswithtyler.com/

  • This is a discussion about why deep neural nets are unreasonably effective. Gianluca and Jared examine the relationships between neural architectures and the laws of physics that govern our Universe—exploring brains, human language, and linear functions. Nothing could have prepared them for the territories this episode expanded to, so strap yourself in!



    AlphaGo beating Lee Sedol at Go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlphaGo_versus_Lee_Sedol

    OpenAI Five: https://openai.com/blog/openai-five/

    Taylor series/expansions video from 3Blue1Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d6DsjIBzJ4

    Physicist Max Tegmark: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Tegmark

    Tegmark’s great talk on connections between physics and deep learning (which formed much of the inspiration for this conversation): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MdSE-N0bxs

    Universal Approximation Theorem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_approximation_theorem

    A refresher on “Map vs. Territory”: https://fs.blog/2015/11/map-and-territory/

    Ada Lovelace (who worked on Babbage’s Analytical Engine): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_Lovelace

    Manifolds and their topology: http://colah.github.io/posts/2014-03-NN-Manifolds-Topology/

    Binary trees: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_tree

    Markov process: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/MarkovProcess.html

    OpenAIs GPT-2: https://openai.com/blog/better-language-models/

    Play with GPT-2 in your browser here: https://talktotransformer.com/

    Lex Fridman’s MIT Artificial Intelligence podcast: https://lexfridman.com/ai/

    The Scientific Odyssey podcast: https://thescientificodyssey.libsyn.com/

  • This week on Bit of A Tangent we discuss the little known but unbelievably important concept of ‘slack’ - what it is, why having too little of it can be deadly and how to get more of it!

    We also discuss the difference between attention and awareness and how can help you live a more engaged life, a simple rule of thumb to know when you’re using your time on earth well, and a quick trick to train your mind to dive straight into deep focus when you need to!

    Lastly, we discuss how we’ve set up our personal devices to get the most out of them while minimising distractions and as a bonus this episode we mention two other podcasts we’re loving at the moment!



    Slack and the Sabbath sequence by Zvi on Lesswrong: https://www.lesswrong.com/s/HXkpm9b8o964jbQ89

    Main Lesswrong post on ‘slack’: https://www.lesswrong.com/s/HXkpm9b8o964jbQ89/p/yLLkWMDbC9ZNKbjDG

    Farnam Street Mental models: https://fs.blog/mental-models/

    Lying by Sam Harris: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18869177-lying

    Jared’s essay on Algorithms: https://jaredtumiel.github.io/2019-08-11-use-algorithms/

    Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40672036-digital-minimalism?ac=1&from_search=true

    The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25942786-the-mind-illuminated?ac=1&from_search=true

    Naval Ravikant’s tweetstorm (some ideas mentioned definitely came from here): https://twitter.com/naval/status/1002103360646823936

    Deep work by Cal Newport:: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25744928-deep-work?ac=1&from_search=true

    Stayfocused (android app): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stayfocused&hl=en_US

    StayFocusd - chrome website blocker: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji

    David Epstein – Wide or Deep? - [Invest Like the Best, EP.133]https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/david-epstein-wide-or-deep-invest-like-the-best-ep-133/id1154105909?i=1000439925357

    Good One: A Podcast About Jokes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/id1203393721