The Jim Rutt Show
Summary: Crisp conversations with critical thinkers at the leading edge of science, technology, politics, and social systems.
Jim talks to Terrence Deacon about the ideas in his new book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter. They discuss the story of zero, integrating absence into physical theories, systems that generate entropy to stave off entropy, the history of emergence & the risk of mysterianism, reframing emergence as removal & constraint, orthograde vs contragrade processes, 3 layers of emergence, the special case of end-directed (teleodynamic) processes, a simple model of autogenesis, contrasting & integrating Shannon, Boltzmann, and Bateson, moving toward sentience, nested teleodynamic processes, feeling as primary to consciousness, rethinking the nervous system in non-computational terms, consciousness as a self-undoing process, inverting the hard problem, and much more.
Jim talks with James Poulos about the ideas in his new book Human Forever: The Spiritual Politics of Digital War. They discuss his decision to publish the book on the blockchain, going beginner's-mind on media & communications theory, the meaning of Gnosticism, responsibility as worship & its transfer to machines, returning worth to the human, a short introduction to Marshall McLuhan, raising the first fully digital generation, expert engineers vs ethereal ethicists, "peak woke" & the collapse of wokeness, religion as "the only permanent state of mankind," resisting the temptation to call down apocalypse, the hubris of messiah-hood, Hebraic British Protestant theology & its incongruence with American civilization, how queerness & transgender identity became culturally dominant, the left's abandonment of liberalism for a new post-human religion, differentiating transhumanism & human-maxing, and much more.
In this episode, Jim Rutt is a guest on his own show! He's interviewed by Stephanie Lepp about the ideas in his Quillette essay "Musk and Moderation." They discuss where things stand with Musk's recent purchase of Twitter, Jim's 41-year background in online community moderation, strengthening & clarifying Twitter's decorum moderation, loosening point-of-view moderation, the "green sprouts" issue & the importance of tolerating fringe ideas, an appeal protocol for rulebreakers & stepping through an imagined violation by Trump, the meaning & plausibility of Twitter as a "fair and effective marketplace of ideas," a crowd-sourced fact-checking system, defining the metrics of a thriving marketplace of ideas, whether stricter moderation is needed at the start, using theory-practice-theory loops in complex domains, Elon Musk as a potential bridge from GameA to GameB, a direct invitation to Musk, and much more.
Jim has a second talk with Iain McGilchrist about the ideas in his book The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. They discuss whether the continuity of time matters on the human scale, randomness as a real attribute of the universe, differentiating between unpredictability & randomness, deterministic chaos, the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, consciousness as an ontological primitive vs a biological process, separating consciousness from intelligence, animacy as a matter of degree, a non-reductionist view of purpose, finite vs infinite games & intrinsic vs extrinsic purpose, the purpose(s) of a white-tailed deer, the meaning of teleology, a drive toward increased complexity in life, the self-domestication of humans, relating the many-worlds idea to right-hemisphere damage, reasons to reject arguments from infinity, the odds of extraterrestrial intelligence, the lesson of paradoxes, and much more.
Jim talks with Nora Bateson about ecologies of communication and the value of earnestness. They discuss simple irony, dramatic irony, post-irony, & meta-irony; irony & the ecology of communication, the mistake of pitting earnestness directly against irony, questioning forms of cynicism vs despairing cynicism, the conditions for morale, full honesty as a starting point, rebuilding the meso-scale, the institutional systems of industrialization that developed around the 1870s, the invention of normalcy, building intersubjective consciousness of Game-A malware, free will as veto power, teaching individuals earnestness & making earnestness welcome, considering "aliveness" of information over qualitative-/quantitativeness, the seduction of optimality, the danger of systems holdback, the necessity of conceptual confusion in a time of transformation, and much more.
Jim talks with Iain McGilchrist about his new book, The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. They discuss issues created by having one word for "know," the separation, asymmetry, & function of brain hemispheres, deprogramming pop-cultural right-brain/left-brain caricatures, the need for two kinds of attention, vigilance vs focus, ambiguity vs certainty, both/and vs either/or, pessimism vs optimism, arrogance vs humility, opponent processes & cross-inhibition between hemispheres, depth in space, time, and emotion, function of frontal cortices, lateralization of emotions, reductionism vs complexity, process philosophy, critiquing machine models of life, correspondence theory vs coherence theory, the error of truth as correctness, judgment & its replacement by bureaucracy, reclaiming imagination, the role of intuition in science, comparing the Renaissance & the Enlightenment, a complexity view on building a new social OS, appreciating C.S. Peirce, traditions as the currents of coherent innovation, differentiation within unity, relevance realization, discrete vs continuous time, Searle's analogy between digestion & consciousness, the problem of consciousness arising from non-consciousness, inanimacy as the limit case of animacy, Edelman's idea of primary consciousness, whether intelligence can exist without consciousness, integrative information theory, ontology of values, and much more.
Jim talks with Panos Siozos, CEO and co-founder of LearnWorlds, a platform for online education, about alternative routes in education delivery. They discuss how Panos transitioned from science to entrepreneurship, why adult lifetime learning is important right now, an increasing overlap between skills & hobbies, remote learning for brick-and-mortar schools, creating an online school as opposed to just courses, testing & assessment features, working with attention spans, increasing decomposition of degrees into certificates, nonlinear & social aspects of online education, the value of teacherly authority, the SCORM standard, and much more.
Continuing his series of expert interviews on the Russia-Ukraine War, Jim talks again with Samo Burja about the state of the Russian advance one month in. They discuss Putin's maximum acceptable atrocity level, the complex relationship between public opinion and intervention, Russia's need for a symbolic victory, meaning & impact of the West's surprisingly coherent network counterattack, importance of the white-collar bureaucratic class's Twitter addiction, conditions that might move the situation toward settlement, a never-ending ceasefire, the symmetry of Russian and Ukrainian forces, what might happen if Zelensky were killed, the Russian failure to engage in 5G warfare, whether the balance between offense and defense has shifted, whether collective network response might become an effective war deterrent, what China & other nations are taking away from the conflict so far, and much more.
Jim talks with Forrest Landry about his Small Group Method and the obstacles to scaling it up. They discuss why studying group processes is important, the difficulty of doing new things with old structures, 3 classes of decision-making structures (consensus, meritocracy, & democracy), advantages & disadvantages of each, how to use each model as a check against the other two, treating internal & external work as separate, votes of no confidence, democracy as a red button to suspend consensus, the uncanny valley between small- and large-scale governance process, a good governance architecture that emerges past 200 people, how to involve an entire community in choice-making, layered governance architecture as a complex organism, why new cryptocurrencies, voting reforms, & other incremental improvements misunderstand the problem, underestimating the value of the earth, moving beyond creating & exploiting niches, outlining the characteristics of a solution, proto-Bs as theory-practice-theory loops, and much more.
Continuing his series of expert interviews on the Russia-Ukraine War, Jim talks again with John Robb, this time about the likelihood of a settlement. They discuss the pressures currently pushing both sides against negotiating, why Russia is opposed to Ukraine joining the EU, the likelihood of an ongoing stalemate, why WWI is a better analogue for this war than WWII, the current balance of forces in Ukraine & absence of data on Ukrainian losses, Russia's failure to take advantage of drones and smart weapons, why Russia has underachieved compared with analyst predictions, the downside of closed societies & nepotism, transition points that could change willingness to settle, Putin's "maximum acceptable atrocity" restraint, the possibility of nuclear escalation, a new network mechanism for collective security, the overblown narrative of Russian disinformation capacity, why Russia hasn't destroyed Ukraine's communications infrastructure, strategic implications of global network warfare, coming rapid improvements in drone tech, and much more.
Continuing his series of expert interviews on the Russia-Ukraine War, Jim talks with Timothy Clancy about forecasting the conflict through mid-May. They discuss five likely mid-game scenarios, Ukraine as a Go board, how urban combat has changed in the 21st century, the "belt" strategy, Grozny Rules, creating feral cities, Putin's unknown "maximum acceptable atrocity" limit, the danger of extreme swings in analysis, a quicksand strategy for Ukraine & why it could be good for the West, Ukraine as a risk to Putin's control of Russia, how Putin has provided a common point of unification for Ukraine & NATO, simulation factors for Ukrainian insurgency, overwhelming violence's galvanizing effects, the Goode ratio, limited usefulness of the historical record & unpredictability of new tech, the right level of international friction to avoid going up the escalation ladder, and much more.
Jim has a talk with Julyan Davey inspired by Julyan's essay series "Weaving a Non-Dual Civilisation." They discuss the "sublimewe" modality as a means of shifting into a GameB mindset, incorporating the intersubjective world into our models, interweaving inner & outer work, initiation camps for the GameB paradigm, a non-Jungian application of the shadow, how GameA dynamics self-perpetuate, questioning the primacy of trauma, non-trauma reasons for taking on GameA value structures, methods for sharing value systems, an example case named Tim, cognitive defending, extractive intentionality, social influence & performativity, identifying with Instagram, violent infrastructure & Graeber's structural violence, 8 kinds of capital & how they get depleted, the inner engine of money-on-money return, transformative vs control culture, building sovereignty & coherence at the same time, admitting ignorance, the real possibility of GameB spaces, and much more.
Continuing his series of expert interviews on the unfolding situation in Ukraine, Jim talks with Paul Goble, a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious issues in Eurasia. They discuss Putin's view of Russia as neglected & ignored, Russians' difficulty making ethnic distinctions between Ukrainian & Russians, Putin's unintentional unification of Ukraine & NATO, what Putin & most analysts got wrong about the military balance, Putin's misplaced faith in superior firepower, the ethnic makeup of the Russian military, why the backlash from the West was stronger than Putin expected, the West's unprecedented non-kinetic response to the invasion, effects & non-effects of the Western sanction regime, Russia's infosphere & increasingly closed internet, why Russian anti-war sentiment will increase, challenging bets against a continued Ukrainian resistance, Ukrainian resistance to the Soviet Red Army in 1945-1955, high effectiveness of low-tech resistance, Putin's coming claim of victory & why it would be Pyrrhic, what Putin would do in reaction to violence against him, the likelihood that NATO's increased coherence will continue, why China will probably not move on Taiwan in the near term, and much more.
Jim has a timely talk with Samo Burja about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and what it might mean moving forward. They discuss the consequences of a (likely) Russian victory, Russia's bet on new arctic ports & liquid natural gas, a final decoupling of Russia from Europe, the stalemate scenario, Ukraine's dearth of young men, its remarkable job so far at maintaining morale, the likelihood of escalation of mass artillery & casualties, incompatibility between atomized individualism & willingness to resist, rational & less rational reasons why Russia hasn't taken out Ukraine's hospitals, power plants, and internet, a scenario in which Russia settles for Luhansk and Dinetzk, what a true Russian defeat would look like, significance of the Russian advance through Crimea, Samo's main critique of the Ukrainian government, the key fact that Russia has not yet used a third of their forces, the ineffectual negotations in Belarus, the always-looming risk of nuclear escalation & whether the nuclear taboo will hold, an unlikely escalation path via Polish involvement, why a strong German military would be bad for the EU, how a Russian victory would embolden China to invade Taiwan & China's tacit support of the Russian invasion, a bet between Jim & Samo on whether China invades Taiwan within the next 3 years, and much more.
Jim talks with Matthew Pirkowski about new frameworks in the study of emergence. They discuss the concept's roots in the work of J.S. Mill, 19th-century tensions between reductionism & vitalism, Terrence Deacon's ententional properties, ententionality as a result of constraints, giving reality status to relations, pruning rules as key to emergence, possibility space as unconstrained, chirality, spin glasses, viewing the Ukraine-Russia conflict in terms of preference regimes, communication speeds & emergence in the French Revolution, viscosity in political systems, Ilya Prigogine's dissipative structures, using waste as energy, emergence without emergencies, complexity catastrophe & viscosity, social media platforms as memetic reactors, race-to-the-bottom dynamics in social media, the possibility of non-trivial positivity within volatile online spaces, knowing communities by their fruits, grammars of differentiation vs grammars of integration, the project of synthesizing hyper-specialized languages, and much more.