Evolve Faster with Scott Ely show

Evolve Faster with Scott Ely

Summary: Everything is changing, yet the questions that drive us remain the same. Will humanity face the absurdity of our collective existential crisis in time? Join Scott Ely as he takes us deep into the rabbit hole with philosophical experiments to reboot your mind, psychological tales to upgrade your life and existential practices to explore your soul. Are you ready for what emerges at the intersections of fact and fiction, science and spirituality, philosophy and psychology? To Evolve Faster is to see the fact that you will die someday as an awesome challenge, instead of a source of fear. Create your reality…before it creates you. Isn’t it time for an upgrade?

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  • Artist: Scott Ely
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 EF49 (S2-E10): The Domino Effect: The Momentum of an Unstoppable Future | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 37:48

In the year 2045, a physicist named Sam Payne is creating increasingly large black holes on demand using an advanced particle accelerator. At the end of a 30-yr quest to understand the nature of reality and our existence, she is convinced the answer lies on the other side of these dark portals. As she rips through the fabric of space-time of her world, confidence in her plan crumbles as everything she — and the rest of humanity — holds dear edges towards the abyss. Will she meet her maker? And how far is too far in search of the truth? Although the distant future is unknowable, we try to predict, or rather, create, how the future will look. Unlike philosophical theories that deal with the present and the past, futurism benefits far less from current or previous knowledge. A small, influential, tech-obsessed class is focusing the evolutionary trajectory of humanity towards an artificial intelligence-based, transhuman existence. But will this solve our problems and lead to a superior existence, or just exacerbate and reframe our issues into a more high-tech box? And does our obsession of what’s to come blind us of the point of being alive — and being human — in the present?

 EF48 (S2-E9): Checkmate: A Child’s Guide to the Good Life | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:19

Sam Payne, a physicist, finally discovers the true origin of the universe after sacrificing most of her life to the endeavor. But the discovery has vast repercussions which shake the foundation of Sam’s sanity. In light of the drastic nature of her existential dread, Sam is unsure how to even define what a good life would look like for her now. She finds a glimpse of hope in the curious, enigmatic mindset of her 5-year-old daughter, Maya. The hope and desire to live a good life is ingrained in every human. But the day you’re born is also the day you start to die, so the quicker you can arrive at some reasonable and attainable definition of the good life for yourself, the more fulfilling your life will be. But in an existence without obvious meaning, and a society heavily focused on meaningless goals like wealth and fame, how can you uncover an answer for yourself to such a simple question? Is it possible the mindset of seeing the world through a child’s eyes could provide critical insight to that which is otherwise concealed by the challenges and distractions of adult life?

 EF47 (S2-E8): Infinite Regress: Drawing Back The Veil of Perception | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:05

Sam Payne was a physicist on the verge of discovering the true nature of reality when her project was shut down. But a suspicious gift enables her to go underground to an illegal world of virtual work, in order to try and recruit rogue scientists to restart her research. As the risks pile up, and the heat is on, she realizes what she’s been seeking for the last three decades of her career has been hidden in plain sight all along. But the answer is also far more dangerous than she could have imagined. We perceive our day to day experience as the one-and-only, true reality. But the truth is, our perception of reality is very different than that of a catfish, bat, or dog; which can respectively taste, hear and smell far more acutely than we could possibly imagine. So what is the true reality, beyond this seemingly impenetrable veil of perception that shrouds human sensory capabilities? Is it something we can even comprehend using the limited wetware of the human brain? Or does such a thing as reality even exist?

 EF46 (S2-E7): Empathetic Distortion: Rigging the Scales of Justice | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:01

Put in an impossible position early in her career, Mary Payne was forced to make a choice between saving a single identifiable victim or helping an entire community of nameless people. The decision haunts her entire life. Many years later in old age, Mary is faced with another trolley bearing down on her where she will once again be forced to make a difficult decision on which track to send it. But unlike before, this time her life sits in the balance on one of the tracks. In theories about a just society, good deeds are expected to be rewarded and bad deeds punished. But is it really so easy to define what is a good versus bad deed? Can empathy for one human being, and the reward that comes with it, blind you from the same effort being able to help many others instead? Using Paul Bloom’s theory of rational compassion, we will explore what means to be a good person and why genuine good can easily get prosecuted in an unjust society. What would you do with your hand on the switch and a trolley bearing down on two tracks, both with grave consequences? Is there any real possibility for a just world when some decisions have only bad outcomes? Or is life and society just inherently unfair?

 EF45 (S2-E6): Weaving Society’s Web: Purpose in a Future Without Work | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 41:19

In a post-work society governed by an artificial intelligence corporation, John Weber is the creator of an illegal virtual world called Silk that is cloaked in secrecy. Accused that Silk is causing VR overdoses that leave players in debt or even dead, Weber is forced to negotiate with the government’s representative, Karl Shultz. Although the premise for the meeting is to find a mutually beneficial resolution, it quickly becomes clear that both parties have more nefarious ulterior motives. Although many people wish they didn’t have to work, we rarely think about how important work is to our well being outside of the obvious financial benefits. What if the problem isn’t the work itself, but the way the system is organized? If there was a way to create a perfectly equal society — like the one John Rawls proposed in his brilliant Veil of Ignorance thought experiment — would people pursue careers around the things they loved instead of just chasing money? And would this have the power to reinvent society around an entirely new type of capitalism of shared value, instead of individual gain?

 EF44 (S2-E5): Reality Unchained: Smashing the Icons of Social Delusion | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:58

Sam Payne is a renowned physicist investigating the nature of reality at an advanced particle accelerator. Immediately after making a groundbreaking discovery, the research mysteriously gets shut down. Without a team or a lab, Sam’s life’s work is at risk of disappearing behind chained doors. But as Sam is forced to decide if willing to break the chains on the ‘stuff’ of this reality, things continue to get even more perplexing. Life in society imposes rules you are expected to follow. Some rules exist to keep society from devolving into anarchy. Yet upon deeper reflection, it’s clear that many other rules are arbitrary and designed to either limit your possibilities or enable a select few to profit. Only the iconoclasts of our civilization command the fearless vision to ask one of the most dangerous questions: ‘Why this stuff and not some other stuff?’ It is a unique quality — possessed and acted upon by rare individuals like Copernicus, Thomas Paine and Charles Darwin — which usually results in the iconoclast burning at the stake during their lifetime, and then, revered in retrospect.

 EF43 (S2-E4): Evil Urges: The Fiery Duality of Human Nature | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 43:25

Michael Fleming, a crestfallen journalist, interviews an infamous euthanasia doctor named Dr. Theodor Payne. Initially, Michael’s goal appears to be proving that Payne’s deeds are pure evil, with the implication that he should be prosecuted for performing over 1,000 assisted deaths. But as the two men collide, the line between good and evil becomes blurry, and hidden agendas become clear. Will the nature of evil be revealed? We’d like to think it should be easy to identify who, or what, is evil. Occasionaly, the distincion is simple; if you commit a violent act of murder without cause and have ill intent, you’re evil. But as we move away from obvious malicious acts, and multiple nuanced perspectives are revealed, it becomes increasingly difficult to characterize such things either pure evil or true good. Friedrich Nietzsche theorized that good and evil aren’t separate entities, but different actions driven by the same needs and impulses. How do we rationally act and override our snap judgements in order to give proper attention to decide what is, or isn’t, actually evil?

 EF42 (S2-E3): Civil Individualism: Loneliness Atop Mount Empowerment | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:36

Sam Payne is finishing her Ph.D. in physics under the advisement of a professor making a controversial claim as to why the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning of the universe; his new theory of everything posits a universal force which is being interpreted as proof that God exists. Sam gets caught in the crossfire between the professor and the angry mob of protesting college students who believe he is trying to bring Creationism to universities. On a knife’s edge in life and career, the increasing pressure on Sam’s individualism is insisting on a drastic plan. Will Sam have the guts to carry it out? Humanity’s rise to the top of the food chain is due to our success as social creatures, so it can be confusing to sync that reality with our drive to also be individuals. With deep introspection into what got you to this point in life, can you actually define what it means to be a real individual? How would you to prove you have what it takes? Are you capable of creating completely new ideas that aren’t influenced by your predecessors, as Transcendental philosophers like Walden and Thoreau? Or maybe you think you must climb the mountain alone to create a better world, as Ayn Rand believed?

 EF41 (S2-E2): Transhuman Fallibility: The Existential Risk of a Superhuman Future | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 42:30

Will Storia is a graduate student whose PhD work in history and evolutionary psychology is evolving into a manifesto about radically changing the trajectory of civilization. On his show, The Next Evolution, he argues to a global audience that we are at the edge of an abyss, about to hand off what remains of our humanity to machines. His latest guest is John Weber, a revolutionary techie, who believes technology will solve all of humanity’s problems. As they publicly clash with the world watching, Will worries how people might twist his ideas; because it’s increasingly obvious that John’s transhuman ideology has already become a religion. To explore if technology might be the quick solution for every problem humanity is facing, we must look deep into the core of what makes us tick — human nature. Transhumanism will likely exponentially multiply all of our human weaknesses. Does the hard-wired human desire to seek power over others pose a serious problem for our inevitable evolution of wanting to be superhuman? Also, Yuval Noah Harari believes dataism — the trend towards reducing humans down to our data and trusting AI to make all our decisions — has civilization on a crash course with becoming useless. Is this our fate? Or will technology open doors to new heights for humanity?

 EF40 (S2-E1): Dehumanized: The Search for Self in the Devil’s Looking Glass | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 38:22

Sam, a 16-year-old from the South, organizes a school walkout to protest the technological trends leading society towards an AI-run government owned by corporate tech royalty. Will this lead to a near future of radical inequality between the transhuman haves and have-nots? Facing backlash from the previous generation which refuses to look inself the mirror to see the truth, Sam learns that social conformity hasn’t changed since at least the 14th-century witch hunts. Instead of getting burned on a stake, will Sam get devoured by cultural pressures where everyone is expected to wear their given mask and mimic one another in the social mirror? To understand if humanity needs society and culture, we must first understand your ties to society as an individual. Using Edmund Burke’s theory of Social Contract, and what sociologist Émile Durkheim sees as the difference between laws and norms, we will hope to dissect the core of what it means to live in society. More importantly, what are your possibilities, if any, for rewriting the terms of the contract you’re given at birth?

 EF39 (S2-E0): LIFE, UPGRADED: Welcome to Season Two of the Evolve Faster Podcast | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 10:22

Welcome to Life, Upgraded. On 1/21/2020, ten new cautionary tales of speculative fiction begin to drop every other week. The goal of Season Two of the Evolve Faster Podcast is to help you explore the contracts you’ve unwittingly signed with society and its layers of cultural institutions. Then it will be up to you to decide if it’s time to tear up and rewrite any of them. Season One of the EFP was themed around MIND. Are you thinking both critically and creatively? Are you managing your emotional and consistently upgrading your EQ? In summary, are you using your mind well? With your mind in check, you can now step out into life with better footings and a broader perspective. So Season Two is about LIFE. Humanity rose to the top of the food chain because of our ability to cooperate and communicate; but life in society also causes much of the anguish and suffering that exists in the human condition. Also, life in cultures and society comes with vastly more unknowns and challenges — you thought managing one mind was a challenge? To learn how to live and be happy also requires understanding how to navigate the complex intermeshing of the billions of minds and collective fictions we call society. This season is also a philosophical meditation about the next 25 years. It doesn’t take radical extrapolation of the trends we’re already on to envision how overdependence on technology might go awry, putting risk our humanity’s last remaining stronghold: actually being human. Are you ready for a life, upgraded?

 EF38 (AMA-EF13): Flow, Creative Improvisation and Other Altered States of Consciousness — Ask Me Anything for Episode EF13 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 21:18

EF38 is an Ask Me Anything about Episode EF13 (The Bloody Fingerprint of Creativity). Where does creativity come from?! It’s impossible to understand if creativity is born as soon as we are or is creativity a quest we need to work to achieve. Or maybe, it’s both?

 EF37 (BTP-EF13): Where Creativity Comes From and How to Find Your Uniquely Bloody Fingerprint — Behind the Podcast of Episode EF13 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:08

EF37 is a Behind The Podcast about Episode EF13 (The Bloody Fingerprint of Creativity). The driving question of this episode is ... Where does creativity come from?! Art, imagination, and creativity aren't mystical powers divinely granted to only a few, but instead are a cumbersome process where you need to wake up every day and work hard — just like any other job requiring hard work and years of practice. Although everybody wants to be creative, it's the will we usually lack. But, unlike some mysterious force we can't define, the will is more than attainable. Do you have the guts to face the failures you'll have to endure to attain it?

 EF36 (AMA-EF12): Pyrrhic Victory and Finding the 10% of Your Mind that Defines Who You Are — Ask Me Anything for Episode EF12 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:02

EF36 is an Ask Me Anything about Episode EF12 (Wired to Fail: Leveling Up in the Game of Life). What defines us? Success, failure and fear are the three main ingredients that define what we are and what we can and will be. But how much freedom and power do we have at controlling how much of each ingredient goes into the pot?

 EF35 (BTP-EF12): Cryptocurrencies, Gaming and Leveraging Failure to Help Us Define Who We Are — Behind the Podcast of Episode EF12 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:54

EF35 is a Behind The Podcast about Episode EF12 (Wired to Fail: Leveling Up in the Game of Life). The driving question of this is ... What defines us? What have you done in your life that makes you feel proud? Although it can be anything — from having a satisfying job to a blossoming relationship with a person you love, we often don't know what defines us. It's not as easy as its three simple words imply.


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