Increments

Increments

Vaden Masrani, a PhD alum in machine learning at UBC, and Ben Chugg, a PhD student in statistics at CMU, get into trouble arguing about everything except machine learning and statistics. Coherence is somewhere on the horizon. Bribes, suggestions, love-mail and hate-mail all welcome at incrementspodcast@gmail.com.

Episodes

February 14, 2024 66 mins
Close your eyes, and think of a bright and pristine, clean and immaculately run recycling center, green'r than a giant's thumb. Now think of a dirty, ugly, rotting landfill, stinking in the mid-day sun. Of these two scenarios, which, do you reckon, is worse for the environment? In this episode, Ben and Vaden attempt to reduce and refute a few reused canards about recycling and refuse, by rereading Rob Wiblin's excellent piece wh...
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Vaden has selfishly gone on vacation with his family, leaving beloved listeners to fend for themselves in the wide world of epistemological confusion. To repair some of the damage, we're releasing an episode of The Theory of Anything Podcast from last June in which Vaden contributed to a roundtable discussion on the principle of optimism. Featuring Bruce Nielson, Peter Johansen, Sam Kuypers, Hervé Eulacia, Micah Redding, Bill Rugol...
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While you're reading this you're having a thought. Something like "wow, I love the Increments podcast", or "those hosts are some handsome" or "I really wish people would stop talking about free will." Do you have a choice in the matter? Are you free to choose what you're thinking in any given moment, or is it determined by your genetics, environment, and existing ideas? Is the universe determined, are we all Frankenstein's monster?...
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Today we [finally] have on someone who actually knows what they're actually talking about: Mr. Bruce Nielson of the excellent Theory of Anything Podcast. We bring him on to straighten us out on the topics of creativity, machine intelligence, Turing machines, and computational universality - We build upon our previous conversation way back in Ask Us Anything I: Computation and Creativity (https://www.incrementspodcast.com/52), and s...
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Back to the C&R series baby! Feels goooooood. Need some bar-room explanations for why induction is impossible? We gotchu. Need some historical background on where your boy Isaac got his ideas? We gotchu. Need to know how to refute the irrefutable? Gotchu there too homie, because today we're diving into Conjectures and Refutations, Chapter 8: On the Status of Science and Metaphysics. Oh, and we also discuss, in admittedly frustrate...
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Alright people, we made it. Six months, a few breaks, some uncontrollable laughter, some philosophy, many unhinged takes, a little bit of diarrhea and we're here, the last Ask Us Anything. After this we're never answering another God D*** question. Ever. We discuss Do you wish you could change your own interests? Methods of information ingestion Taking books off their pedestal bit Intellectual influences Veganism (why Ben is, ...
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We we're looking for a nice light topic for our patron only episode, so Vaden naturally chosen to chat about the patriarchy. I guess he didn't get into enough trouble in his personal life talking about it so he wanted to make his support and admiration for the patriarchy public. This is a sneak preview into the land of patreon bonus episodes, so be sure to fork over some cold hard cash if you'd like a bit more mansplaining in your...
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Perhaps you thought, in your infinite ignorance, that the release of the previous episode marked the end of the age of the AMA! But nay my friends, the age of the AMA has just begun! We'll answer your questions until the cows come home; until Godot arrives; until all the world's babies are potty-trained. Or, at least, until we stop laughing. We discuss Potty training, taking babies seriously, and adult diapers Why Vaden never day...
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October 9, 2023 54 mins
Our argument at the end of last episode spilled over into discord, DMs, and world news, so we felt compelled to dedicate a full episode to addressing the question "Is all thought problem solving?" Some arguments make history, like whether atomic bombs were required in WWII, whether all philosophy is simply a language game, and whether the chicken did indeed come before the egg. Will this be one of them? We cover: - How Vaden list...
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Back again with AUA #3 - we're getting there people! Only, uhh, seven questions to go? Incremental progress baby. Plus, we see a good old Vaden and Ben fight in this one! Thank God, because things were getting a little stale with Vaden hammering on longtermism and Ben on cliodynamics. We cover: Is hypnosis a real thing? Types of universality contained within the genetic code Pressures associated with turning political/philosophic...
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Ask us anything? Ask us everything! Back at it again with AUA Part 2/N. We wax poetic and wane dramatic on a number of subjects, including: - Ben's dark and despicable hidden historicist tendencies - Expounding upon (one of our many) critiques of Bayesian Epistemology - Ben's total abandonment of all of his principles - Similarities and differences between human and computer decision making - What can the critical rationalist commu...
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We debated calling this episode "An ode to Michael," because we set out to do an AMA but only get through his first two questions. But never fear, there are only 20 questions, so at this rate we should be done the AMA by the end of 2024. Who said we weren't fans of longtermism? Questions: Hey do you guys have a Patreon page or anyway to support you? (Michael) Not clear that humans are universal explainers. Standard argument for th...
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Vaden comes out swinging against David Chapman's work on meta-rationality. Is Chapman pointing out a fatal flaw, or has Popper solved these problems long ago? Do moose see cups? Does Ben see cups? What the f*** is a cup? We discuss - Chapman's concept of nebulosity - Whether this concept is covered by Popper - The relationship of nebulosity and the vagueness of language - The correspondence theory of truth - If the concept of...
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Fifty godd*** episodes! 'Tis been a ride full of debate, drinks, questionable arguments, Ben becoming both a dualist and a social media addict, and Vaden stalwartly not changing his mind about a single thing. To celebrate, we dive into a thesis which connects many strands of what we've discussed over the years: Brian Boyd's work on art and fiction. Boyd provides an evolutionary account of why we're heavily invested in both creatin...
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When big bearded men wearing fedoras begin yelling at you that the end is nigh (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA1sNLL6yg4&ab_channel=BanklessShows) and superintelligence is about to kill us all, what should you do? Vaden says don't panic, and Ben is simply awestruck by the ability to grow a beard in the first place. To help us think through the potential risks and rewards of ever more impressive machine learning models, we invit...
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February 24, 2023 60 mins
You may, perchance, have noticed that the sweeping utopian movements of the past did not end well. And most of them involved an horrific amount of violence. Is this connection just chance, or is there something inherent to utopian thinking which leads to violent ends? We turn to Chapter 18 of Conjectures and Refutations where Popper gives us his spicy take. We discuss - How do you "see" your early memories? - Vaden corrects the ...
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Second holiday season bonus episode! Vaden joins Chesto on The Declaration (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-declaration-podcast/id1433998370) podcast to talk about monism, dualism, the reality of abstractions, emergence, and reductionism. This convo was recorded in 2019, but much of the content is evergreen and we think it still makes for interestin' listenin'. Except the sound quality, which leaves much to be desired. Th...
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We make a guest appearance on Nick Anyos' podcast to talk about effective altruism, longtermism, and probability. Nick (very politely) pushes back on our anti-Bayesian credo, and we get deep into the weeds of probability and epistemology. You can find Nick's podcast on institutional design here (https://institutionaldesign.podbean.com/), and his substack here (https://institutionaldesign.substack.com/?utm_source=substack&utm_mediu...
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We were delighted to be joined by Davis Professor at the Sante Fe Insitute, Melanie Mitchell! We chat about our understanding of artificial intelligence, human intelligence, and whether it's reasonable to expect us to be able to build sophisticated human-like automated systems anytime soon. Follow Melanie on twitter @MelMitchell1 and check out her website: https://melaniemitchell.me/ We discuss: - AI hype through the ages - How ...
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Like moths to a flame, we come back to longtermism once again. But it's not our fault. Will MacAskill published a new book, What We Owe the Future, and billions (trillions!) of lives are at stake if we don't review it. Sisyphus had his task and we have ours. We're doing it for the (great great great ... great) grandchildren. We discuss: - Whether longtermism is actionable - Whether the book is a faithful representation of longte...
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