Tim Urban — Live on Twitter Spaces | Infinite Loops with Jim O’Shaughnessy

Check out the Infinite Loops episode page

Key Takeaways

  • The Thinking Ladder: Primitive mind vs Higher mind, Left vs Right
    • Tim Urban’s thesis around ideologies introduces nuance to the conversation, there is great value in not only identifying what you think (progressive, conservative) but also understanding how you think (scientific method)
    • “When society is stable, we develop etiquette”Tim Urban
      • Currently, tribalism and self-proclaimed moral hierarchy create a diversion from the search for truth, leading to further and further diminishment of collaborative, collective, and respectful communication
      • Primitive minds on the low end of the ladder often take advantage of situations where right and wrong isn’t clear (for example: pushing a narrative regardless of truth)
    • Every quadrant in the graph is valuable, diverse perspectives will shape the future for the better
  • Due to the exponential nature of technology, we don’t really know the implications that lie ahead. Utopia and dystopia are both potential options.
    • “We are not going to have an equal world, we are going to have one that is, either way, better or way worse” – Tim Urban
    • The Great Filter – similar to the Fermi Paradox, states that since there is no evidence of other intelligent civilizations, the potential that ours lasts is unlikely
  • Capitalism doesn’t require people to be rational
    • Current economic incentive systems don’t align with nuanced discussion and search for truth

Intro

  • Tim Urban (@waitbutwhy) is a writer/illustrator and co-founder of Wait But Why. In the first live episode of Infinite Loops hosted on Twitter Spaces, Jim and Tim discuss the dystopian and utopian future of society as it relates to exponential innovation and social/political agendas.
  • Host: Jim O’Shaughnessy (@jposhaughnessy)

Tim’s Upcoming Book: The Story of Us

  • Tim is always exploring what a potential new technological utopia will look like, communicating this through his popular Wait But Why blog, but the upcoming book, The Story of Us, focuses on the flipside
    • Human Colossus – the collective knowledge of the human species that is exponentially growing
      • With an exponential opportunity for power, comes an exponential opportunity for abuse of that power
      • Information and innovation are so powerful that we really should be able to solve all the world’s problems… or end up using them for a potentially horrific act
        • The bad stuff could be so bad that it makes everything else mute
    • “The only reason we end up with a good future is if we build it together” – Tim Urban
    • We need more clarity on if our technical innovations are truly beneficial in the long term and if/when the short term success will eventually spoil/corrupt

The Great Filter

  • The Great Filter – similar to the Fermi Paradox, states that since there is no evidence of other intelligent civilizations, the potential that ours lasts is unlikely
  • We are approaching a fork in the road of potential utopia and dystopia
    • According to the great filter, we are at step 8 of 9: “advancing toward the potential for a colonization explosion”
    • We have a hard time viewing the world differently than the one we’ve grown up in
    • Both a utopia and dystopia seem hard to imagine but we’ve never seen the exponential technological growth period we are about to enter
      • “We are not going to have an equal world, we are going to have one that is, either way, better or way worse” – Tim Urban

The Thinking Ladder & Left vs Right Ideologies

  • The Thinking Ladder: Primitive mind vs Higher mind
    • Adding dimensionality to decision making, not just right vs left
      • Primitive vs Higher lives on a vertical axis in the debate rather than just the left vs right horizontal axis
        • ‘how you think’ and ‘what you think’
      • Diversifies the conversation to allow for a nuanced search for unbiased truth
    • The spectrum of the thinking ladder gauges how strongly your morals influence your thinking process – allows nuance and empathy to enter the conversation
      • We have become too tribal about upholding our morals, usually ignoring facets of logic and reason
      • The human colossus and global intelligence networks work best at the top of the higher mind ladder (the scientific method)
    • Every quadrant in the graph is valuable, diverse perspectives will shape the future for the better
  • “When society is stable, we develop etiquette”Tim Urban
    • Primitive minds on the low end of the ladder often take advantage of situations where right and wrong isn’t clear (for example: pushing a narrative regardless of truth)
      • The lower left (graphically) often crusades against that bad guys rather than contributing to constructive progress
    • Social Media platform content is not always factual or contextual, creating instability around truth and causing proper communication etiquette to diminish
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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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