Sunday, May 12, 2024

Information Processing (this blog) has moved to Substack!

Thanks to Google and Blogspot for many happy years hosting this blog. However, Google has gradually stopped supporting this platform.

The engineers at Substack were kind enough to import all of my old posts to a new blog there. From now on I will post only on Substack. See you there! :-)

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Glenn Luk: China’s economic evolution, GDP, and high speed rail — Manifold #58


Glenn Luk has worked as an investment banker, private equity investor, and startup founder. He has closely analyzed aspects of the Chinese economy, including its GDP and high speed rail system. 

Steve and Glenn discuss: 
(00:00) - Introduction 
(01:21) - Glenn Luk's Background: HK, Taiwan, China 
(07:59) - Evolution of Chinese Companies and Economy 
(14:58) - From Banking to Private Equity and Venture Capital 
(23:08) - Founding a Healthcare Startup and Entrepreneurial Ventures 
(26:35) - China's Development and Economic Policies 
(41:17) - Comparing US and China's Economies and Cultures 
(47:12) - Demographics and Consumer Behavior in China 
(49:09) - China's Economy: Beyond GDP 
(56:34) - High Speed Rail: huge success, or white elephant? 
(01:17:26) - Future of China's Economy 

Glenn Luk on Twitter: 

Glenn on High Speed Rail: 

Munger and Ricardo: 

Audio-only and transcript: 

Friday, April 05, 2024

Replica Wormholes and Quantum Hair

Replica Wormholes and Quantum Hair
Xavier Calmet, Stephen D.H. Hsu 
We discuss recent applications of Euclidean path integrals to the black hole information problem. In calculations with replica wormholes as the next-to-leading order correction to the Gibbons-Hawking saddlepoint, the radiation density matrix approaches a pure state at late times, following the Page curve. We compare unitary evaporation of black holes (in real time), mediated by calculable quantum hair effects, with the replica wormhole results. Both replica wormhole and quantum hair approaches imply that radiation states are macroscopic superpositions of spacetime backgrounds, invalidating firewall and monogamy of entanglement constructions. Importantly, identification of modes inside the horizon with radiation modes (i.e., large scale nonlocality across the horizon) is not required to provide a physical picture of unitary evaporation. Radiation modes can encode the interior information while still remaining independent degrees of freedom.

Wormholes dominate the Gibbons-Hawking saddlepoint of the Euclidean path integral after the Page time. This is because wormholes can connect the interiors of any two black holes i,j. At late times the number of such pairs grows as the dimensionality of the radiation Hilbert space squared. 

The wormholes connect BHs with macroscopically different recoil trajectories. This means the radiation approaches a pure state that is a macroscopic superposition - very similar to what our quantum hair expressions indicate.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Casey Handmer: Terraform Industries and a Carbon-Neutral Future — Manifold #57


Casey Handmer (PhD Caltech, general relativity) is the founder of Terraform Industries. He is one of the most capable and ambitious geo-engineers on planet Earth! 

Terraform Industries is scaling technology to produce cheap natural gas with sunlight and air. Using solar energy, they extract carbon from the air and synthesize natural gas, all at the same site. 

March 2024: "Terraform completes the end to end demo, successfully producing fossil carbon free pipeline grade natural gas from sunlight and air. We also achieved green hydrogen at <$2.50/kg-H2 and DAC CO2 at <$250/T-CO2, two incredible milestones." 


Casey Handmer’s website: 

Terraform Industries: 

Nerds on Patrol [Episode 3] - Terraform Industries: 

Steve and Casey discuss: 

0:00 Introduction 
00:31 Casey's early life and background, from Australia to Caltech 
07:55 The academic path and transition to tech entrepreneurship 10:40 Terraform Industries 
15:21 Solar costs, efficiency, and global Impact 
24:25 A world powered by Terraform methane 
31:27 The entrepreneurial journey: challenges and insights 
35:01 Investor dynamics and strategic decisions for Terraform 
41:28 The hard Reality of manufacturing and innovation 
44:11 Navigating intellectual property and strategic partnerships 
45:49 The moral and technical challenges of carbon neutrality 
55:48 Looking ahead: Terraform's next milestones and the solar revolution

Transcript and Audio-only version:

Friday, March 29, 2024

Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning podcast


Recent interview with Razib Khan. We've known each other IRL for about 20 years now, so this conversation has a slightly different character than other interviews I've done. 

I highly recommend his substack and podcast, particularly if you are interested in ancient DNA, human evolution, deep history.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Russell Clark: Japan, China, and USD reserve status — Manifold #56


Russell Clark is a hedge fund investor who has lived and worked in both Japan and China. He writes the widely followed Substack Capital Flows and Asset Markets: 

Steve and Russell discuss: 

0:00 Introduction 
0:52 Russell's background and experiences in Japan 
13:25 Hong Kong and finance 
31:53 China property bubble 
48:54 Dollar status as global reserve currency 
56:09 Japan and China economies from a long run perspective 
1:05:07 Inflation, US economy, and macro observations 

Monday, March 11, 2024

Solving the Hallucination Problem - interview with AppliedAI


Recent podcast interview with AppliedAI. 

We discuss Enterprise GPT. 

Good intro to how customer-defined AI/LLM memory eliminates hallucinations.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Stephen Grugett: Predicting the Future with Manifold Markets — Manifold #55


Stephen Grugett is the co-founder of Manifold Markets, the world's largest prediction market platform where people bet on politics, tech, sports, and more. 

Steve and Stephen discuss: 

0:00 Introduction 
0:52 Stephen Grugett’s background 
5:20 The genesis and mission of Manifold Markets 
11:25 The play money advantage: Legalities and user engagement 
20:47 Manifold’s user base and the power of calibration 
23:35 Simplifying prediction markets for broader engagement 
27:31 Revenue streams and future business directions 
30:46 Legal challenges in prediction markets 
31:47 Dating markets 
32:53 The Art of PR 
38:32 Global reach and community engagement 
39:27 The future of Manifold Markets and user predictions 
43:38 Life in the Bay Area; Tech, culture, and crazy stuff 

Manifold Markets:

Elizabeth Carr (first US IVF baby) and Genomic Prediction in WSJ

Elizabeth Carr (first US IVF baby) and Genomic Prediction in the Wall Street Journal.
Elizabeth Carr has always been a living symbol of fertility technology’s possibilities. Now she is the face of its challenges. 
Carr, 42 years old, is the first baby born by in vitro fertilization in the U.S. Over the years she has told countless audiences how the technology made it possible for her mother to have a baby. 
In the weeks since Alabama’s Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos should be considered children, Carr has called for protections around IVF procedures—extracting eggs, fertilizing them in a lab and transferring an embryo into a uterus—that now account for some 2% of U.S. births annually. 
Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) said federal legislation backing IVF access would “enable the Elizabeth Carrs of the world to continue to be born.” Kaine invited Carr to accompany him on Thursday to President Biden’s State of the Union address. 
“My life gives people hope,” Carr said. 
The Alabama ruling is galvanizing Carr’s work in another way. Carr leads public relations and patient advocacy at Genomic Prediction, which sells genetic tests to screen embryos. Doctors can order tests for patients who want to screen for diseases and abnormalities or get an overall embryo health score. Patients and doctors can use the results to decide which embryos to transfer. Unused embryos can be stored for years. Some get discarded. ...

A conversation with Elizabeth

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Awakening Siddhartha (podcast interview)


Really fun conversation! 


00:00 Introduction 
02:21 Steve's Encounter with Richard Feynman 
03:31 Discussion on Genetics and Human Improvement 
11:08 The Role of Genetics in Disease Prediction 
18:10 Understanding the Influence of Genetics on Behaviour 
21:37 The Future of Genetic Selection in Embryos 
39:24 The Role of Genetics in Addiction 
41:53 The Importance of Individual Differences and Success 
46:36 The Value of STEM in Indian Culture 
48:02 The Importance of Non-Academic Skills for Success 
49:01 Exploring the World of Embryo Modification 
51:30 The Quest for Immortality: Brian Johnson's Story 
57:20 The Role of Genetics in Aging 
01:01:19 The Power and Potential of Gene Editing 
01:11:37 The Impact of Genetics on Society and Policy 
01:16:36 Understanding the Rise of China in the Global Stage 
01:53:14 The Future of AI and the Impact on Jobs 
01:58:46 The Future of Human and Machine Intelligence 
02:01:54 The Possibility of Living in a Simulation 

Short excerpts below :-)

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, 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: 

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 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. 

(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 office space.


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