Thursday, February 22, 2024

Ray McGovern: CIA, JFK, Deep State, and Ukraine Crisis — Manifold #54

 

Raymond McGovern is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, serving from 1963 to 1990. 

His CIA career began under President John F. Kennedy and lasted through the presidency of George H. W. Bush. McGovern advised Henry Kissinger during the Richard Nixon administration, and during the Ronald Reagan administration he chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President's Daily Brief. 

He received the Intelligence Commendation Medal at his retirement but returned it in 2006 to protest the CIA's involvement in torture. 

Steve and Ray discuss: 

0:00 Introduction 
01:25 Ray McGovern's assessment of the JFK assassination 
26:10 Hunter Biden's laptop 
30:50 Ukraine and the U.S. intelligence services' role in the deep state 
55:20 Strategic implications of the Ukraine war for the U.S. 
01:03:38 Are things worse today, versus 1963? 

Books referenced in this episode: 

JFK and the Unspeakable 

Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Lecture: Fermi Paradox, AI, Simulation Question — Manifold #53

 

This lecture covers DNA and the origin of life on Earth, the Fermi Paradox (is there alien life?), AI and its implications for the Simulation Question: Could our universe be a simulation? Are we machines, but don't know it? 


Further discussion of the Simulation Question in light of AGI, and a refinement from quantum mechanics: The Quantum Simulation Question
 
 
CORRECTION: 31:25 The size of our galaxy is not 100 million light years. I should have said ~100 THOUSAND = 100k light years instead!!!

Monday, February 05, 2024

Superhumans and the Race for AI Supremacy - Hidden Forces podcast Episode 351

 

I've been listening to Hidden Forces with Demetri Kofinas for years now. He's an excellent interviewer with interests in finance, geopolitics, technology and more.

Audio-only version.
 
In Episode 351 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Stephen Hsu, a Professor of Theoretical Physics and Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering at Michigan State University. Stephen is also the co-founder of multiple companies, including Genomic Prediction, which provides preimplantation genetic screening services for human embryos, and SuperFocus.ai, which builds large language models for narrow enterprise use cases. 
This is a conversation about some of the most important advancements and trends in genomic science and artificial intelligence, including the social and ethical dilemmas arising from implementing these technologies at scale. Stephen and I discuss the competitive landscapes in both industries, how America’s geostrategic competition with China is driving tradeoffs between innovation and safety, the risks and opportunities that these revolutionary technologies pose, and how the world’s largest companies, economies, and military powers can work together to reap the benefits of this revolution while averting some of their most disastrous potential consequences.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Utah AG Sean Reyes: “Sound of Freedom” and Human Trafficking — Manifold #52

 

Sean Reyes is Utah Attorney General and a producer for the movie “Sound of Freedom.” 

Steve and Sean discuss his personal story, human trafficking, and the role of technology in law enforcement. 


NOTE: Reyes has announced that he will not seek re-election as Utah AG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEEj4UgjDL4 

00:00 Sean Reyes’ early life and family history 
14:21 Sean's personal journey and career 
21:28 Political journey and decision to run for AG 
24:08 The movie Sound of Freedom 
28:45 The reality of human trafficking 
31:40 Technology and law enforcement 
44:00 The horror of human trafficking: victims, aftercare, and the media 
01:05:23 Future plans and aspirations

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

SuperFocus, AI, and Philippine Call Centers: Part 2



This is the sequel to the earlier conversation with Dominic Ligot, an AI expert who works with the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the trade association for call center and outsourcing companies. 

In this video we briefly demonstrate some of the voice capabilities of the SuperFocus AI. Progress in generative AI is faster than anything I've ever seen before - perhaps not surprising given the vast financial, technological, and human capital resources flowing to AI R&D. When we first looked at voice capabilities ~6 months ago they didn't seem ready for complex conversations like the ones discussed in the video. But when we looked again - prompted by strong interest from our customers - we found that the state of the art had advanced significantly in just a short time. This is true across many areas of generative AI.

I was in Manila in December to meet with BPO companies. Roughly 8% of Philippine GDP ($40B each year) results from BPO / call center work. This is a consequence of low labor costs and widespread English fluency.

We demonstrated narrow AIs built using LLMs, but in which the LLM is forced to "consult its internal memory" before answering any query. This memory can be built from training materials used to train human agents in call centers. The AI functions like a human that has perfect recall of all the material in the training manuals, at a fraction of the cost!

An analogy we used is that the AI earthquake in SF has created a Tsunami headed towards the Philippines -- is it a 6 foot wave, or a 600 ft wave? Closer to the latter, I think.





Some photos from Manila - scoping out potential SuperFocus.ai office space.

 


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Upstream podcast with Erik Torenberg: Steve Hsu on the Future of Everything

 


Great conversation with Erik, a well-known SV Founder and investor. 

TIMESTAMPS: 
(00:00) Intro 
(02:01) Political polarization in academia 
(05:27) The decline of meritocracy in academia 
(09:40) Why can't academia change? 
(13:07) Truth-seeking in startups 
(20:16) Sponsors | Shopify | Givewell 
(23:16) The fertility crisis 
(31:51) AI and labor 
(40:46) What industries are safe from AI automation? 
(43:45) AI Safety vs accelerationism 
(47:31) Understanding the rise of China 
(58:26) The future of the US/China relationship 
(01:00:21) How does Steve allocate his time? 
(01:04:21) Steve's suggestions for underexplored opportunities 

Audio-only version on Spotify: 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Military Technology and U.S.-China War in the Pacific — Manifold #51

 

TP Huang returns for the third time to discuss US-China strategic competition and military technology. 

Audio-Only version and Transcript: 

Previous episodes with TP include: 

China's EV Market Dominance and the Challenges Facing Tesla — #48:

Huawei and the US-China Chip War — #44: 


Steve and TP discuss: 

(00:00) - Introduction 
(02:23) - Hypersonic weapons and A2AD 
(08:15) - The evolution of China’s military technology 
(13:30) - Hypersonic missiles: targeting and interception 
(29:52) - Surprise attack on Hawaii or Seattle? 
(33:36) - Japan's role in a U.S.-China military conflict 
(36:15) - Chinese invasion of Taiwan 
(42:44) - Amphibious landing, boots on the ground 
(45:20) - Red lines and Taiwan independence 
(48:38) - PRC nuclear weapons buildup 
(51:17) - PRC-Russia alliance: natural resources, technology; Ukraine strategy disaster 
(59:37) - Future developments of military technology in China 
(01:11:44) - Predictions regarding US-PRC balance of power

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

SuperFocus, AI, and Philippine Call Centers

 

This is a conversation with Dominic Ligot, an AI expert who works with the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the trade association for call center and outsourcing companies. 

I was in Manila in December to meet with BPO companies. We demonstrated narrow AIs built using LLMs, but in which the LLM is forced to "consult its internal memory" before answering any query. This memory can be built from training materials used to train human agents in call centers. The AI functions like a human that has perfect recall of all the material in the training manuals, at a fraction of the cost!

An analogy we used is that the AI earthquake in SF has created a Tsunami headed towards the Philippines -- is it a 6 foot wave, or a 600 ft wave? Closer to the latter, I think.





Some photos from Manila - scoping out potential SuperFocus.ai office space.

 


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