George Dyson (The amazing history of technology)

In this episode of the Judgment Call Podcast George Dyson and I talk about:

  • 00:01:45 The Genesis story of George’s writing about the history of technology and science.
  • 00:07:10 The amazing story of the Orion spacecraft.
  • 00:14:50 Is the Big Stagnation real? Are we just measuring our success incorrectly?
  • 00:21:30 How much did von Neumann and his contemporaries know about ‘giving birth’ to intelligent machines at their time?
  • 00:26:40 Why is humanity so interested in technology? Are we already doomed?
  • 00:36:10 The case for ethical machines. Will machines adopt ethics and religion?
  • 00:43:45 How religions deal with limits to technology.
  • 00:47:33 Can we all just get along without being innovative? Will we run the risk of an innovative power to sweep us away? Are we in a post-conflict society?
  • 00:52:30 Is the hypothesis that we live in a simulation correct?
  • 01:11:10 How we are motivated by our fathers and how we emulate them.
  • 01:14:52 The history of the allied attacks on German cities of Hamburg and Dresden in WWII.

You may watch this episode on Youtube – The Judgment Call Podcast Episode #55 – George Dyson (The amazing history of technology).

George Dyson is an author and historian of technology. He is the author of five bestselling books. His newest book is called Analogia : The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control – it is now available on Amazon.


Welcome to the Judgment Call Podcast, a podcast where I bring together some of the most curious minds on the planet. Risk takers, adventurers, travelers, investors, entrepreneurs and simply mindbogglers. To find all episodes of this show, simply go to Spotify, iTunes or YouTube or go to our website If you like this show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes or subscribe to us on YouTube. This episode of the Judgment Call Podcast is sponsored by Mighty Travels Premium. Full disclosure, this is my business. We do at Mighty Travels Premium is to find the airfare deals that you really want. Thousands of subscribers have saved up to 95% in the airfare. Those include $150 round trip tickets to Hawaii for many cities in the US or $600 life let tickets in business class from the US to Asia or $100 business class life let tickets from Africa round trip all the way to Asia. In case you didn’t know, about half the world is open for business again and accepts travelers. Most of those countries are in South America, Africa and Eastern Europe. To try out Mighty Travels Premium, go to slash MTP or if that’s too many letters for you, simply go to MTP, the number four and the letter U dot com to sign up for your 30 day free trial. And we know you as a historian of science and technology, which is a very particular, very interesting field. So how did you decide this is for you? How did you make this your own? Really, like everything in my life just sort of happened by accident. I never had any plan. I just, I just sort of followed the path of least resistance and things happened to me. But in some ways becoming a historian of science was intentional in that early in my life, you know, somebody wrote a book about me when I was in my 20s. So when I was 25, effectively, my biography came out, which is way too young. And that’s, that’s extremely dangerous. So like, it’s like rock music or something, you become incredibly well known at, you know, the age of 21, what do you do? And so at 25, I, you know, I became widely known as this guy who lived in a tree house and built kayaks. And I kind of knew that, you know, I would be that guy for the rest of my life if I didn’t push, you know, something else. So that’s sort of what pushed me into, but, but the actual becoming historians, you become a historian or, you know, I had no credentials that dropped out of high school. And so, so all that happened by accident. I mean, the only way I became reputable was I wrote, I wrote a book and that, that book was called Darwin Among the Machines. It was actually written in this, I’m in the, what used to be the walk in cooler where they, I’m in an old tavern on the waterfront. And this is where they used to keep the kegs of beer. So I wrote this insanely sort of strange book, Darwin Among the Machines in, in this beer cooler before there was internet. So I had no, if I wanted to use the internet, I had to go up to the university and log in. But, but I wrote this book about the internet in this sort of dark, quiet beer cooler. And it somehow was the right book at the right time. And so it sort of instantly I changed from, you know, being that guy who lived in the treehouse to being that guy who wrote Darwin Among the Machines just sort of changed overnight. What inspired you to write that book, from what I understand, it details the history of technology, but it also makes predictions about it. It kind of extends certain arcs into the future. Yes, at that time, of course, I was still very naive and innocent and just and thought, you know, thought I had all the ideas and the answers and, and had been, you know, up till then just a kayak builder. So the way this happened was a very fancy culture magazine in Japan commissioned me to write an article about nature and technology. And the assumption was I would write about kayaks. That’s all I was supposed to know. And for some reason, out of that frustration of why do they always just want to know about my kayaks or my treehouse, I wrote an essay about computers taking over the world how, how when I had been a child growing up in Princeton, there was one computer and everybody, anybody in the world who, you know, had a problem that could run on a coded, coded, you know, von Neumann machine, they came there to use that one machine. And now this was 1980s, late 80s, we’re living in a world where, you know, computers swapped, starting to swap floppy disks and connect on networks. And so I sort of saw that coming and wrote this essay. And then, you know, a literary agent read the essay and called me up. I was actually in Alaska at that time because he didn’t have cell phones, but I, you know, checked my messages and there was a message from this book agent in New York. And he should, there was no deep book about sort of the history of computer networks and, you know, through a literary sense. At that time, you know, mainstream publishers weren’t publishing books about computers. It was really one publisher, Addison Wesley, and they bought that book, which was, was just complete risk on their part by a technical book on history computing, but from some kid who, you know, was living in a tavern building kayaks. But I think we need to, we need to disclose that you had amazing access to the future of technology through your dad, right, through Freeman Dyson, who’s very famous for the Dyson sphere that everyone in science fiction knows, had the harvest power from the star. And that’s, that’s still one of these big strokes of genius and knowledge from our perspective as readers and then followers of physics and what’s going on in technology. When you said earlier, people wrote a biography about you, that was because you were that kid, you were, you were the son of your father. Why were people interested in your, your biography in any personal life in the first place? Yes, my, my life was sort of set up. I mean, it was, it was sort of low hanging fruit for a biography because my father, who was a theoretical mathematician most of his life, he had one really great adventure in his life. I mean, it was the adventure of World War II, where he was kept on the ground, doing what we now call operations research for the Royal Air Force bomber command, but he didn’t get to fly. And then later, when he came to America, he got deeply involved in a project called Project Orion. This was started before NASA existed, was sort of an answer to the Russian Sputnik. And the plan was to build a really large spaceship, I mean, spaceship the size of an ocean liner, take off weight from the Nevada desert would have been 4,000 tons. And this was a serious project. It was funded, it was actually the first project that ARPA funded, who later became known for creating the internet. And that was the great adventure of my father’s life. And unfortunately, it didn’t happen. But I grew up, of course, started when I was five years old, just it was this fantastic dream. And then in my own life, I, in a way, repeated the same thing. I built this crazy, enormous 48 foot kayak was sort of the project Orion of kayaks. And a writer, Kenneth Brower, who’s actually was the older brother of my childhood friend, he just saw that. And so that’s a story, sort of the sort of mirroring of the big kayak in the oceans of earth and the giant spaceship in the oceans of space. It’s just he wrote a beautiful book about it. The book was very successful for, for kind of a good reason. It was his father’s son’s story that captured everybody’s still, it’s still in prints back and print now with a forward by Neil Stephenson, the science fiction writer who, who knew both of us wrote a very beautiful forward to the sort of 25 year, you know, reprinting of this book. Yeah, I saw that Neil Stephenson is a big fan of yours. Yes, he built one of my he built one of my kayaks. He not only built one of my kayaks, he also with Jeff Bezos created a company that builds rockets. So Neil, Neil is hands on, he doesn’t just write about things, he goes out, does. Well, at first, maybe he probably definitely not the first one who probably rediscovered that, but I read this book by Robert Subrin about this need for space at space. And he goes through a couple of different technologies, just to see how we can get to the outer limits of the solar system and maybe beyond. And the Orion came up and I was like, well, this is a good idea. Why, why, why didn’t we try that? Why didn’t we put this into operation at some point? And it seemed to be based on a relatively simple technology, so to speak, so nuclear explosions that would power this spacecraft. Why was it never, and I think it was, was planned for quite some time. Why was it never built? Why was it never tested in the end? That’s, that’s a complex story. The simple answer that, that the myth that people believe was that it ended because of the nuclear test ban treaty. And that’s really not true. The test ban treaty concerns testing weapons. Even after the test ban treaty, Ted Taylor, who really ran the project, he was pushing for, for still doing Orion as a, as a joint venture with the Soviet Union. And that, that would be completely allowable. So the, the more important reason is, is sort of American politics, that it was not a NASA project. And NASA didn’t invent it. NASA didn’t own it. And effectively NASA would not support it. The, in order for it to politically move forward, it, it had to, NASA had to support the mission. And because it, because it used weapons for propulsion, the Air Force had to, had to handle the propulsion. So the model that works is, is like science in Antarctica, where the Navy supplies the ships that take the scientists to Antarctica, but the National Science Foundation supplies the scientists and does the science. And that model could have worked for Orion. But, but NASA really didn’t want to support a project that, you know, would have to use Air Force spaceships. So, so it kind of, it’s sort of the Air Force, Air Force sort of kept it on life support for, for a number of years. And still maintain, you know, they still have the files, technical files on it. And it’s, it was practically quite realistic, because we, we know how to make nuclear explosions. We’re very good at it. It’s, it’s the only way we really know how to harness nuclear energy in a, in a very effective way. The problem is we just sort of haven’t grown up as a species yet, where we can, you know, where we want to have a lot of very small nuclear weapons to not run the risk of them being used as weapons. Is that a project that was very well known to the American or global public at the time? Or was it kind of quite hidden? Because I only heard about it like five years ago. That’s, that’s really the reason it couldn’t succeed, because it was kept secret because of the bombs. It had to be kept secret. I mean, there’s, I was, when I wrote a book about it, I, I worked very hard to get as much declassified. So fantastic papers like my father’s trips to satellites of the outer planets were classified all these years could finally be declassified. It really was nothing threatening in those papers other than that they, you could sort of reverse engineer from reading these papers, how, how small they were able to make these bombs, which, which is still a classified fact. But politically, because it, because it was secret, you could, you could never go to the public for support one time. Ted Taylor was on a flight back from Washington DC to California. And, and he must have had a couple martinis or something, but he got up and addressed everybody in the airplane and explained the project and said, you know, would you give a dollar a year to support this? Of course, everybody clapped and said yes, but they never had that chance. Yeah, that’s quite, quite amazing that we were so close to, at least at the already come model to go to the outer parts of the solar system. We, maybe there’s something else. I don’t know how this happened. And I’ve been talking about the big stagnation Peter fields team quite a bit that we have this low productivity growth since the seventies lower than what we thought it would be. Let’s put it this way in a lot of things that we thought would easily be available in 2020 or just not like the flying cocks, right, or like vehicles we can cheaply go to Mars or to outer space. Do you have a theory, and you’ve done so much research about history, why we kind of see this breakdown of productivity growth? Is it that we lowered expectations as humans? Is it maybe anthropology? Is it that we reached a limit of growth? A lot of people say that rare technologies and we just came to an end of their life cycle and we haven’t replaced them yet. But there seems to be nobody has a really good handle on why we have this a lower productivity growth and it seems like the things, the imaginations of humans, especially for me being a science fiction fan all over my life, it seems like we’ve really driven this back and said, you know, with the internet and a couple of Facebook posts, that’s enough what we aspire to. What did that happen since the seventies? Yes, I can sort of give you two very different approaches to answering that. One is, you know, is the sort of cynical answer that, well, we’re not being productive because the great minds of our generations are wasting their time on their iPhones and playing video games. But that’s not really true. I think that the more technical answer is a metric, it’s a measurement problem that we just, in terms of economics, we measure productivity in dollars, right? And that’s just the way it’s always been. The gross national product is the product of the country in dollars. If you measure productivity, if you choose a metric, a different metric, say, say, what if you choose a metric that’s transistors, not dollars? And of course, we’ve been insanely productive in producing transistors. They’re just getting so cheap. So when I was a child, it was a major investment for a family to have one color television. A color television was the center of the home. It was a big thing. Whereas now, of course, every kid has several color televisions. They haven’t got one in their pocket. So it’s a problem that we, I think it’s actually something we need to fix as a global economy, sort of this metric problem that we only measure productivity in dollars. But in the creativity sense, the third answer is yes, we’re not developing really new energy sources and things like that that drove the leaps in productivity into the industrial revolution the first time or the nuclear age or something. But maybe we don’t need to. And then the fourth problem is that we believe there’s too much propaganda and we believe it. We’re really being fed a lot of PR about going to Mars and things like that, that just technically are very, very, very hard to do with chemical energy. Yes, it’s like when we look at things that are important to spacefaring, like the simple, the cost of energy per kilowatt hour, right? Or the visibly the launch cost, we want to get one ton somewhere in some orbit. They haven’t really moved much since what the 50s, 40s, maybe there’s still like Nazi technology you could speak. Yeah, you can, but the paradigm hasn’t changed. And that seems to be something we as a species don’t really want anymore. We feel like this is interesting. We read about it in science fiction, but we are not really going towards that goal. Do you feel that’s natural? Just as a humanity, we have decided is not as important. Or is it something where we run against the wall? Yeah, we’re not being realistic about, you know, you can only do so much with hydrogen and oxygen, which are our two best chemical rocket fuels. And we got to that limit 50 years ago when we went to the moon. And all we can do is sort of repeat that unless we must we do something different. Father Freeman, before he died, he wrote a forward to it, it was going to be a new edition of the book about Project Orion. And in that he very directly addresses the question of this is something we should do now, should we do it again? And, you know, he says clearly no, there’s better ways to do space travel than exploding nuclear bombs. But that doesn’t mean the only way to do it is chemical rockets. Yeah. When you look back into all that research that you did about the history of technology and specific technologies, what kind of surprised you the most when you started out in your 20s and started doing that research and started learning more about it? What was the fact that you found that well, I never really expected that, but either as a prediction or as a paradigm or as an axiom that you didn’t expect? I was always surprised by the individual stories, which is what I do. I mean, I find individual people talk to them or read. If they’re alive, I talk to them. If they’re dead, I read their papers. And people were so creative. And of course, facing such obstacles in the sense of having ideas that were not taken seriously or something. It just kept person and finally somebody has the idea and it moves forward. But technology is very much driven by individuals. Now there’s an argument. There’s always a debate in sort of the field of history. Is it driven by the generals or is it driven by the armies, by the soldiers? And it’s a mix of both. But for me, the interesting thing was finding the stories of how things actually happened and how it improvised so much. I mean, particularly the development of this first computer of von Neumann that’s now been the archetype for everything that followed. I mean, the guys who actually built it and women, they had to build their own workbenches, wire their own electrical outlets, and just start from zero. One of your books really goes into specifics. But the first computer, right, about touring and von Neumann, how much did these guys know what they were up to? How much did they know that they are creating intelligent machines at some point if this continues on a certain trajectory? They had a very clear idea of that. I mean, they knew exactly what they were doing and why they were doing it. They fully knew the world would never be the same. Now they could not foresee that these things they built would become so cheap. That’s what they failed to see. The entire computing power of Los Alamos would now cost half a cent or something. That was just unfathomable at the time. But they clearly knew that these digital codes were going to change everything. And what we’re scared of is we now extrapolate what comes out of Moore’s law. We talk about records for a lot in this podcast who has made those really famous, the age of the intelligent machines and his predictions of what happens when we keep doubling. And I think it’s an observation, right Moore’s law? Is there someone who predicted it way before it started? Was it fully in transparent in the early days of building semiconductors and transistors? Moore’s law started once you had integrated circuits. So before and Moore was very quick to see that, but not in advance. He explained Moore’s law of the world in the early 1960s. It had started earlier. The person who did sort of see it, and of course many people probably saw it but didn’t say anything about it, but the person who lectured about it was Richard Feynman. He gave a very clear, beautiful lecture in the late 1950s about how once you have machines that can build smaller machines, it’s sort of going to be game over because smaller machines will build smaller machines and will build smaller machines. If they’re smaller, what he knew as a physicist was if they’re smaller, they’re going to be cheaper and they’re going to be faster. That’s the key thing. Smaller computers are faster. So he saw that. That would definitely. Do you think if we are still on this trajectory, you say Richard Feynman knew what he was talking about at that early stage, do you think we will just keep going at the intelligent machines we really have not a lot of use for humanity, so to speak, and that we are in that there’s a lot of fear there that we reach this with AI or we reach the next generation of technology, whatever we want to call it, but there’s a moment with our thinking power doesn’t really make it that anymore because it’s so tiny compared to what machines are able to. Yes, that’s a big subject. That’s what this latest story I wrote analogies is kind of about that question of what’s the difference between human minds and computers and where are we seeing that wrong? We said earlier, we were talking about what we were talking about, that you can see that either way. You can say, oh, it’s sort of game over for people or you can say it’s just beginning. We’re going to have very new kinds of mind in the world. That’s nothing new to us. What’s interesting is that that’s sort of the world we grew up in as a species. We evolved over millions of years to become human beings and most of that time we lived in a world where we were surrounded by intelligence we didn’t understand. Everything was animated by spirits and things like that. So we’re actually, I think, quite comfortable with that. And if we end up back in that world where we’ve created things we don’t understand, I don’t think it’s going to make us that. The people who say, oh, that’s going to be end of the world and it’s going to be a terrible thing. I don’t think it’s necessarily that. It’s not provably bad. I mean, it may bring us back to a world we actually are quite comfortable. Do you think, and this is maybe related to another question. I know there’s a big questions, but we for some reason, this art of human development, we’re really interested in developing technology and especially for the last 2000 years, maybe you can extend it for the 10,000 years. It’s hard to pinpoint it, right? But there seems to be a long time in human civilization when the particular interest in technology wasn’t that high. We had decent lives or we had shorter lifespans, but it seems people were relatively happy from what we know. Obviously, we can get that wrong. Correct me if that is wrong. But for some reason, we’ve been getting so focused on technology. I feel this is a subset of human population. There’s still people in Papua Negini that live like 50,000 years ago and they’re happy, right? They probably don’t really want to become part of our society immediately, maybe after some convincing persuasion. But they live happy in their own way and so it is true for tribes in Africa like Angola. Why do you think we’ve become so obsessed with technology? What is the trade that has taken off? Well, in a very real sense, the technology has a life of its own. It drives itself. You build computers and build more computers or you build machine tools that build more tools that it’s going to take off. Of course, it’s driven by war and money. The fact that technology plays such a role. Now, we sort of take it for granted, but if you can invent a new technology, it will create a lot of wealth. Likewise, humans have always been in conflict and at a certain point, the conflicts became defined by the technology. You can have different kinds of bows and arrows, but they’re all bows and arrows. It’s not going to make that huge a difference, but then you invent gunpowder. It changes things completely. So when I’m pushing you for a particular point here, I’m not serious with this, but you’d say that conflict and the conflict would be individualized or between human tribes isn’t necessary precursor. This competition is a precursor for technology development, but we must have had that for a long time. Why did it suddenly take off? I’d say the Old Testament tribe, but it’s bigger than that by now, way bigger, that suddenly scaled up technology into something that seems to be there, just the wetware, the bootloader for intelligent machines. Before we had technology like fire, but we’re far from fire taking over as a conscious being, and now we’re pretty close to AI that seems to be able to do that. That’s a question we really don’t know the answer to. There is something very different that happened. Each culture sees it their own way. As I’m speaking, as American, Canadian, British, we see it as the Industrial Revolution, which happened in England in Asia. They would place it differently, but we had these similar almost phase changes where suddenly you had new levels of technology. The key thing is when machines start building other machines, that’s what sets the real chain reaction. Do you have a timeline for this moment where you feel like machine intelligence as a whole or maybe individual machines will be far beyond at least good at the level of the smartest human that we can master? Do you think it’s 100 years, 1,000 years away from that? You can make a good argument that it’s happened already, which is what, when I wrote that book, Darwin Among the Machines, that’s what I was arguing, was that the entire network of all the computers in the world was already, modern word for it would be super intelligent. I firmly don’t believe in discrete AI in the sense that we’re being marketed AI as a product. That, I think, is again, it’s just marketing. It’s not real. I’m much more interested in wild AI, artificial intelligence that evolves on its own in the wild, not something that is domesticated and kept in a box. I just don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I don’t think we are going to build. You can almost mathematically prove that you can’t build a computer in a box that has human intelligence. It’s just completely different things. The human brain is not a computer. It’s in no way like a computer. It can do things that appear intelligent, but that’s not being intelligent. David Orban gave me a timeline because he’s plugged in into the DL Foundation, but he uses it as his own research, obviously. He said the timeline that people are looking at right now is 2038, relatively specific as singularity. What happens is that we have for $1,000 a million AI brains that have the same computing power. That doesn’t mean the same intelligence or the same consciousness, but the same computing power than the 1 million humans. If that’s true, that’s pretty crazy. We can put these narrow AIs into whatever problem solving we want to. You said if it’s true. Of course, I don’t believe it is true. I’m firmly of the side that it’s not. The computing power goes that way. I don’t know if we can compare the human brain. Computing power is not intelligence. It’s a different thing. Human brain works in a very different way. I heard Rick Kurzweil right at the beginning of 1980. I’m going to give a talk in Los Angeles. He said he was giving his standard talk at that time. If you give me a billion transistors, I will give you human level intelligence. A very quiet Hungarian voice came from the back of the room. Professor Kurzweil, you can have a billion transistors, but we’re going to use half a billion of them for the operating system. Your machine still won’t be intelligent. That’s the flaw. Billions and billions of billions are way more than Kurzweil wanted. I think it’s just a very flawed reasoning. The pioneers at the beginning felt the same way. They knew that that wasn’t the path to real intelligence. We’re getting there, but we’re doing it by accident, not deliberately. When you look at GPT3, that’s a very current example. It’s far from being intelligent, obviously. It’s a statistical analysis. It’s basically a word counting tool. But what was amazing, even to the people who worked on it, is it produced interesting results in very different areas. It’s far from being correct all the time. It makes a lot of mistakes, but not just was good at translating, which was where the original model came from, but it was also good at writing HTML code. It was really good at writing poems. It was writing good at essays, so something they never thought would happen with this particular model. They basically said, you know, what it really lacks is error correction and user. There needs to be an intelligence account to the model. You’re wrong at these points and you need to either change the model or you need to just make no predictions because you don’t know. But once you have this, you always use a feedback. So this combination, as you said earlier, we already have the super computing because we’re all connected. So all the humans and the internet would error correct what GPT3 puts out there. So run it through this filter. He said, you know, GPT5, if there’s a real chance it looks like a conscious being to someone on the other side because it knows so much from humanity. All statistical analysis, it doesn’t know the how and why, but it appears to everyone else on the other side like it is an intelligent machine. Yes. Yeah, that path is entirely productive. I mean, the path of just these very large networks that operate statistically. I mean, that’s the path to intelligence. That’s how we got there the first time. But the flaw is in believing that there’s some algorithm that’s going to make it work. It’s not going to be algorithmic. Do you think that machines at some point will require morality, some ethics code? Again, people have been thinking about that for a long time. Alan Turing’s sort of key colleague in World War II doing what we now would call Bayesian statistics on the German messages was Irving Jack Good, who lived, you know, Turing died tragically very young, but Irving Good came to America and lived a long life. So he’s sort of our link to what Turing was really thinking. And he wrote a beautiful paper in 1981 on ethical machines, on machine ethics, that was strangely, it was published, but the publisher took out all the interesting stuff. He published the uninteresting stuff and took out the, but he gave me the, you know, the uncorrected manuscript. And it’s just beautiful. I mean, because he makes a very strong case that, you know, machines are, you know, we worry so much about the immorality of machines, but they’re just as likely to be more ethical than people. So this argument that we got to be afraid of unethical machines, it’s not true. The machines could be more ethical. People have not, don’t have a very good track record for being ethical and moral. So machines could do better. But they, the problem really is, of course, the thing that we worry about is machines in the hands of unethical people. That’s the thing to be afraid of. Yeah, I have the same suspicion that if we, if we evolve with a sense of ethics and morality, and have refined that over many thousand years now, it seemed to be a tool to help us survive. It seemed to help us make better decisions, which is what I think living is all about. And if machines reach a similar level, they got to have the same problem. So they’re going to use our solutions first. Maybe they come up with better ones, but I think just murdering everything around you, because you’re a warlord, or you’re a crazy sociopath, it’s not something that scales at the end, because you need other people. So that we figured out that, you know, a healthy dose of competition, but mostly collaboration is what seems to create the best results in the end, right? And these huge hive societies that we live now, that I think even 100 years, nobody could forecast that we are that many people, and it seems to be so easy to sustain us most of the time at least. Yes. And that’s exactly where Jack Good ends up in this paper. He says that the machines will have to develop sort of ethics based on Bayesian statistics. And he’s right. I mean, I think that paper was hugely prophetic. And I don’t know why, you know, Parmesan was written before the internet, so it doesn’t exist in the machine. If you search for machine ethics, you won’t find it. But he was way, way ahead. And it sort of, it really is the voice of Turing. If Turing could speak to us, he’s speaking to us through Jack Good, because Turing felt strongly the same way. Of course, of course, he knew personally in a very deep sense how unethical people could be. He was so mistreated. So the idea that machines might be more ethical, I think, was attractive to him. Yeah, a lot of people say that we now elevate technology as this new religion. So it’s our new God. And when you, when you talk to a lot of scientists, when you talk about the Big Bang, there is something religious, but they don’t want to associate it with God. They’re really afraid of talking about anywhere about God, and God appears a religious symbol appears in a white paper, then they basically get laughed out of the room. What do you think has become so far away from, and I know a lot of researchers, a lot of those geniuses we just talked about, they were at the end of this phase where religion was enormously important for people in science, that were really motivated in the early 20th century, a lot of the best scientists we’ve had. And now it seems to be the anti thesis. What do you think that happened? Do you think that’s a good thing? No, I think it’s it’s extremely harmful. I mean, many of our greatest advances, the one that, again, people just fail to realize is that, you know, John Ambrose Fleming, who gave us the vacuum tube in its modern form, he was deeply religious. He actually founded an organization that still exists that was anti Darwinian. He thought Darwin was, you know, was an enemy of religion. And so many of our greatest technological advances were pushed by deeply religious. So this idea that you need to somehow be, you know, that religion and science are contradictory. I don’t see any evidence for it. Again, my father was religious, not in a, you know, he said so, he put it was not in a practicing way, but but he that bothered him. And I think we again, we may come around. You know, you don’t know where we’re going to end up. I mean, the jury is still out on on what the relationship between religion and science will end up being. Yeah. Well, definitely in a trend, we’re in a trend, I feel like it’s maybe coming to an end where we have this, this, you’re not allowed to talk about God at all. And now it kind of seems to shift away as a lot of younger people who are suddenly really interested in religion. They see the utility of religion and they see, I mean, one thing that I see in the daily basis of living here in San Francisco, as more you move away from being, and I had an interesting discussion with place about that, as further you move away from religion, as less likely you have children. So most people just don’t even consider having children, right? It’s not even something to say, no, unfortunately, I can’t have children. They just, they’re 100% know when they’re 19, they were going to have children. It’s never going to happen for me. I don’t want the worst parents. I’m not sure if this is the way to survive, right? So, I mean, there is something interesting about competition and collaboration, but it’s a society that really hates on kids, so to speak. I don’t know if this is a good chance of survival, and this is what happened in mostly the science community, right? Well, it’s something strange. It’s what happened to the shakers. I mean, the shakers were a reasonably viable American religion that didn’t believe in having children, and of course, the shakers survived, barely survived. I have to read about them. Yeah, there’s actually, actually a few miles north of where I live here in Bellingham, there actually is a shaker church on our Indian reserve. I mean, the shaker church has survived in certain pockets, but I don’t know much about it, but I know that the fact that they didn’t believe in having children was, of course, the Catholic church did very well. Yeah, well, it seems very counterintuitive, a lot of levels, but I feel like this, I bring some persuasion to the table, not that anyone listens to me, but I’m trying at least. I’m really, really amazed. I don’t know if you looked into this, how the Amish people handle this. They seem to be stuck in an 18th century, 19th century mindset, but they easily interact with the 21st century, but they kind of know where their borders are. This is amazing to me, like even the children, the young children, at some point, they maybe have Facebook, but they don’t have it when they are at home, right? So I don’t know how they handle this, their versions between, okay, there’s a new technology, but we don’t adopt the morals that this new technology seemingly gives us. I don’t know where they draw the line. I think this is quite amazing to see. Yeah, they’re very effective. I was interviewing someone on a completely unrelated subject, and it turned out they had some old equipment, and they needed 50 cycle power, and in America, everything is 60 cycle power. And they had to run, this was scientific equipment, they needed 50 cycle power. This was before the age, sort of now you could just solid state dial up your own 50 cycle power, I guess, but the programmable power supply. But anyway, their work around was they put this equipment in the back of a pickup truck and went out to Pennsylvania, where the Amish people still have, they use electricity for certain things, I’m not sure what it is, but they generate their own electricity, and it’s 50 cycle. So they just took this equipment out in the pickup truck and asked if they could have some 50 cycle power, Amish said fine. So that’s also sort of a Neil Stevenson novel where the people living in these pockets of sort of anti created technology are those are the people who in the end will probably save us because they’ve got the last working, whatever it is that we need. Yeah. Yeah, there seems to be a lot of talk that we end up being very vulnerable and this this amount of culture, right? So we’re all part of this high, when we see this now, people who are worried about the new virus who’s very worrisome. But on the other hand, do we have zero trust in our immune system, seemingly at least we have zero trust in, in a way to mitigate it, which we kind of did, we kind of not did that can be argued about. But there seems to be an error on the side of prevention. And like, we literally without any resistance or hesitation, everyone here in San Francisco cloudified themselves, right? So they gave up their real life in a heartbeat. It’s like it’s this does not has no worthwhile value to them. They were ready to give up their their real life and go fully cloud within the matter of month. And there was no, we didn’t want to talk about resistance. They felt like this, we would have to do this anyways, maybe in five or 10 years, we would become these great little aliens. But now we just do it a couple of years earlier, that seemed to be when I talk to people here, that seems to be the consensus, which was really shocking to me. Yeah, it’s quite amazing. I mean, this past year is just phenomenal what the the sort of shifts that people were freely willing to make, or in my case, happy to make. I love this new, you know, the way the world is now is fine with me. But, but we, yeah, we, it shows how adaptable we are. It’s a great example of how, which is always, you know, in the case of wars and stuff, you wonder, how did people adapt so quickly? How did London keep functioning while being bombed? People are very, very adaptable. Yeah, I was just reading about Vincent Churchill, and he was involved in both wars, both World War I and World War II. And I was always under this impression, idiotically, probably, that he was hammered down, that he he hungered out in a couple of places in London hiding from the bombs. But actually, he went on voyages to the US, I read a couple of months, and despite the U votes, it seemed to never be a problem. So there was a lot of normal life, despite the tragedy that was going on in Europe. So that was really surprising to me. Yeah, people were willing to take that risk, and it was sort of the best defense against, you know, against giving in was to just keep trying to live as normal as possible. Yeah. When you think back, that’s always a question I’ve been pondering here on the podcast, and you must have come across a lot of evidence for it or against it. For me, and I think we touched on that a little bit earlier, I always felt there is a sense of you got to innovate, you got to become more productive, or you eventually going to die. And there is this idea that, you know, people from Europe went everywhere to colonize the place, good or bad intentions, let’s assume for now, they were not all terrible intentions, certainly they were involved too. But they wanted to, you know, they were ready for an adventure, they were themselves, maybe oppressed in their home country. So they went out and started something new, they found people they thought were Indians. And what most of the time happened is that there were diseases spread, there was a lot of tragic events that evolved. What I tried to find out is when we think about these tragic, sometimes really tragic world events, this seems to be some element of innovation, of forward thinking involved. And without that, it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t bring this to life within your society, then you’re the kind of toast. I mean, you can maybe survive in a little jungle when you get lucky on an island, like Papua Negini. But generally, someone will come by and maybe unintentionally, because you don’t matter so much, you’re not being recognized as a real power, you’re in real trouble. Yes, that’s the story of North America. It’s the last, you know, very short time, completely changed. We had a very successful, effective civilization here. And, you know, and again, it’s usually questions, where we end up in the future, how much, how much of that survives. I wonder if, if we are like in a post conflict society, have we, do you think we’re wise enough when we are, we are advanced enough to, to call this post conflict? I mean, we didn’t have a ton of huge conflicts in the last 70 years, mockingly enough. Yes, that’s again, you have a big argument. I mean, you have the Stephen Pinker side that says, oh, things are really getting better. Yeah. Look at the curves, but but you just don’t know. I think it’s premature to, you know, we could have a lot of conflict in a very short time. It’s, you know, we still building enormous amounts of weapons. They tend to get used sooner or later. A lot of people say that the next conflict will be all robots. So I don’t know where I read this, but there was a forecast of where the default lines will be in the next conflict. And they seem to be pretty accurate. It was definitely China, there was Turkey, Iran, Russia, and they would be on one side and the other side would be the free world. But mostly the US, Europe, not so much, they kind of want to stay neutral. There was written in the late 80s, I think. And the forecast was that the war would be all robots in Poland or on these fault lines, usually Ukraine, you know, the old fault lines, but it wouldn’t be fought with you, a lot of human life loss, at least not what we’ve seen in the 1940s, for instance. Yes. I mean, definitely warfare is heading to robots, whether that means less life loss. I don’t know. That was the argument for guns. You know, all weapons are always argued that, well, they’re going to kill less people. But what’s interesting is that now it’s socially acceptable. I mean, you know, Edward Teller, the sort of the bad guy in the hydrogen bomb story, maybe a little unjustly, but he pushed very hard. I mean, we know Edward Teller is having pushed for the hydrogen bomb, but in the after the hydrogen bomb in the 60s and 70s, he was pushing very hard for drone warfare, for, you know, why do we put pilots and airplanes there unnecessary? And the Air Force was just absolutely resistant to that. I mean, the idea that you have an Air Force without pilots was unthinkable. And now here we are. I mean, now the Air Force is very accepting of keeping the pilots on the ground. And yes, we’re building, putting much more creative thought into drone weapons than piloted weapons. And that, you know, it’s certainly a good thing for pilots, whether it’s good for everybody else, we don’t know. But it seems like if we can isolate ourselves from the misery we create, then we will create more misery, right? Because we don’t see the results. Yes, that’s that’s and you, you just make enemies that way. I mean, we’ve not been doing the drone warfare thing very, very intelligently. But but we’re certainly moving that way. Yeah. One thing that a lot of people find a lot of the thought experiment and maybe that’s all there is, is we see this world and we see the world is changing with technology and there seems to be something that that’s, as we talked about earlier, might be soon more intelligent than us. Maybe it won’t happen the way we envision, but there could be there’s a strong chance that it will happen. A lot of people think about if we live in the simulation, and then the question obviously is, is the simulation something that was created by someone by a creator or is it a simulation that’s completely random? So there’s a lot of sub questions, or how do you feel about these these questions or that particular question? And how did people that you study like Feynman and Neumann think about that? Well, I think the simulation hypothesis is far, I mean, I think the singularity hypothesis is silly. And the simulation in physics, there’s an expression, actually, someone who has a whole website, that’s the title, but not even wrong. Like in physics, people are always proposing wrong ideas. And then there’s ideas that are so out to lunch, they’re not even wrong. And I think that the simulation hypothesis is just, if you do the math in any kind of anyway, it just doesn’t work. And I think, but I don’t know, we don’t know what von Neumann or Turing would have thought, but I think they would have just done the arithmetic and said, no, that’s completely impossible. You can’t, you just, it just doesn’t, it doesn’t close. It’s not an argument that has any closure to it. It’s, and it’s, I mean, in a way, it’s religion, you know, sort of believe, believe in resurrection. We always want to believe in that. It’s another way of believing in that. But it’s, I think, provably fictitious. It’s based on these extremely flawed arguments that, that, you know, if you have a certain number of, that the brain can be simulated with a certain number of transistors, it just, it can’t. I mean, and then, again, von Neumann was very explicit about that. I call that von Neumann’s law. He didn’t call it that, but that sort of definition of an organism is that it constitutes its own simplest behavioral description. There’s, there is no way to, even a very, very, very simple organism, one living cell or something. There’s no way to describe its behavior that it is not vastly more complicated than the organism itself. And that’s why you can’t have, you can’t have a simulation that any, any, you know, whatever the simulation is running on will, will be just astronomically impossibly more complicated than the thing itself. So you, you can’t do it. It’s just not, it’s not possible in the, in the, you know, laws of the universe as we know it. Yeah. Well, when you, when you think about video game, I think a lot of people, it’s simply to say, well, we, we, we have a civilization. They make playstations. We make playstations, right? So when we use playstations for a certain purpose, it doesn’t have to be as exact as a real world, but it helps us create lots of different outcomes. It gives us skills. So it is a real utility to all kinds of simulations that we feel, right? Our brain basically abstract thinking is a simulation of real, of the real world experience. So we can simulate hunting that animal. We don’t get killed 100% or 99% of the time, but we actually get only killed in our mind. So, so is video games. And the, I think the argument is fascinating that any civilization will go to this high abstract abstraction level. So at some point you will basically just be simulated in earth or when we go to Mars, we will maybe simulate in earth. So we’ll find out how would earth society flourish there. And then we learn from it in computer games, right? And then we are not 100% right, but we get closer to the truth. And I think at some point, someone will come up to say, oh, let’s do a solar system. At some point someone will say, oh, let’s do a Milky Way. And then we are at the universe level. So someone must have done this. No, but you know, no, but I mean, you get all the computers in the world today, couldn’t even simulate an earthworm. I mean, it’s just, it just doesn’t add up. But that’s just just the exponent that we switch around, right? No, it’s not. It’s beyond that. I mean, that’s, that’s where the not even wrong comes in. It’s just, it’s just not, you know, a physicist or a mathematician would look at it and, you know, would just, just tell you that. No, you cannot. I mean, again, I’m not a mathematician, but I know enough mathematics to know that, you know, these questions, these are deep questions in logic. And, you know, foundations of mathematics is sort of what, what you get with the next level of abstraction. That’s actually what Turing was working on on before he died. He called it systems of logic, but you know, systems of logic that, that can create a level outside the system that can do that kind of thing. But you still, you don’t get to where you’re going to, you know, simulate even a mouse or a frog or an ant, let alone, you know, a group of people or your, your grandmother, you know, it’s just, it’s just not going to happen. I’d say maybe I, maybe I will be proven wrong, but I don’t know. I’m curious what people will say in 100 years from now, I’d even laugh about us, either way, right? So either we were too optimistic or we’re too pessimistic, one of these things will be wrong. So I think that’s, that’s the trouble with these predictions. It’s hard to get the time frame at the same time. Yeah, my daughter who lived with me here in this tavern for a few years used to sit in here. And I mean, right at this table where I’m sitting in an old, you know, an early Mac and she would play SimCity, which was a simulation game. You know, she was an eighth grade or whatever. And I absolutely loved it. But I mean, it was so primitive. It’s not about city planning. How much I know about city planning. Yeah, the strange thing was I used to go up to city council meetings, you know, planning council meetings, and they were using way more, my daughter was using more powerful tools than they were. They were planning our real city and spending our tax money with worse, much less information that you would get with SimCity. I think public administration has a lot to learn from simulation games. Yes. Finally, getting there, you know, the military has fully embraced it. But I think public administration will get that right. And that that’s where it is effective and valuable and useful, not for resurrecting your your dead ancestors. Yeah. In one of your books, you, you make the claim and I found that really interesting. Correct me if I got it wrong, is that basically modern AI or the ideal modern AI started with Leibniz back in Germany, working for Catherine de Great. Is that true? Yes, I mean, Leibniz was before Catherine de Great. So it was Peter de Great. Like Leibniz became, he just, he had this, you know, now we would call it a bromance. I mean, Leibniz, like, met Peter de Great and fell in love with him. He just loved this Russian prince who had all his power. And, you know, it was this great unrequited love affair where Leibniz, you know, fell in love with Peter de Great, but Peter de Great didn’t didn’t really go for Leibniz’s ideas, except the idea of going to North, sending an expedition to North America. Leibniz or Peter de Great went for that in a big way. And then Catherine de Great took that over. But, but no, Leibniz wanted to convince, tried to convince Peter de Great to sort of build a network of digital computers and take over the world. I mean, this is way, way prophetically ahead. So, yeah, I think in a way, you know, Leibniz believed that this somewhat like the simulation hypothesis, that if you sort of built enough logical machines, you could run the entire world, you know, human society could be operated in a completely logical way, and then then everything would work that, you know, which some people still dream of and believe in, China being the current example. Do you think that sounds kind of like the modern science, right? Which kind of seems to have a logical answer, like a Mr. Spock answer on pretty much any topic out there. But it doesn’t seem to wipe so well with, say, the 90% of America. This seems to be, and the question for the intelligentsia that seems to answer relatively easily, complicated questions about anything, so a logical algorithm. But the reality is often quite different. I think it’s something that the Greeks already discovered, right? They had it all worked out. The philosopher King knew what to do. There was no laws needed. He was basically godlike. The gods were slightly different, but what we would say today in an Old Testament way, he would be like a god. But then the circuiters went to, I think, was in Sicily, and he got rejected. And he actually became the slave there, because nobody wanted to hear what he had to say. And he was really surprised by this. I think he was really honest at that moment. He was like, well, if I go there, then I’m going to solve this. And then what the antagonist there said, well, for him, because he knows the real truth of the universe, so to speak, being a slave shouldn’t matter to his outcome and to his personal life. And that you can see how these two ideologies collide on one hand, that there is this algorithm that drives us, like the European Union who thinks the whole European Union and the laws of algorithm. And we shouldn’t even bother with people. We should basically abandon democracy and just do it right. And then there is a more American hardland approach where people come in and say, well, in the end, the final decision must be always a human decision. Otherwise, even if we’re wrong, we eventually always get it right. We’ll be ready to stand on that the way. But what do you think is right there? Oh, yeah, there I mean, the real world is so messy and complicated and illogical. That’s the problem that people, you can make the most logical arguments and people will behave in completely illogical ways. And somehow, personally, I think it’s kind of a good thing that the fact that everything is not going to run logically is what, but that’s my view as sort of as a lover of the unspoiled wilderness and so on. I think it’s what saves us as sort of as a human species that we’re not completely, completely illogical. I think it would be, it would be sort of a very dull world if everything were perfectly run. But that’s been the endless argument back and forth between the people who want to run things. You know, they want the school to run according to all the rules. And there’s the kids who just are going to break the rules. I’m on the side of the kids who break the rules. And you lived in the nature for a long time. You said you lived in a tree house for quite some time. There seems to be this impression that there is a real harmony in nature. It’s a complete picture. It doesn’t need much of an improvement. Logic doesn’t need to go around and fix the birds. It’s kind of all, it has self configured to a state of equilibrium that doesn’t need any improvement. But when we look at society, I don’t think anyone would ever say that. On either side of the divide, everyone thinks it’s completely broken. It needs to be fixed. And it’s the opposite of what the other side or if there’s more sides with what my political antagonist says right now. We never seem to have that issue with nature. We seem to be, it’s like the level where we all start a problem. Yes. I mean, the phrase is to be in a state of nature means a state of equilibrium. And that’s not entirely true. There was lots of disequilibrium in nature, but it is true that if you climb up the top of a tree, it’s a different world. And it’s very peaceful in its own way. But it’s not, it tends to be, I think, being over romanticized. And I didn’t live in a tree. Now, if you tell people you lived in a tree now, they think you were trying to save the rainforest or something like that. I just lived in a tree because it was a place to live for free without paying rent. It’s a great place to build a house, but it wasn’t trying to save the forest. People describe the time of your life as being as far away from your father as possible. I have no idea if that’s true, but they kind of, they keep into account that you had this massive amount of fame that your father enjoyed at some point. And then also his, it’s probably extremely hard to define yourself if you have such successful parents. You also said earlier your mother was very successful. That must be really hard to just get off a jumping board. Yes, you don’t want to be in their shadow. So I knew I didn’t, there was no way I could ever, even if I wanted to be a physicist, it would have been tragic. People would say, well, even if I was a good physicist, people would say, well, George is good, but he’s nothing like Freeman. So yeah, I became a boat builder just to avoid that question entirely. And so I was, you know, it’s partly true. I mean, I did, I did move to Vancouver, Canada, but that’s because I had an older sister who moved there and got married. And came there as a 17 year old and just loved it. The fact that it was such a fair and equitable country in a way that, you know, it was sort of lost in America at that time. So I felt very, very welcomed in Canada and part of the, you know, you just go to a beer parlor on some island and have deep philosophical conversations with people who, you know, made their living fishing and logging. I loved it. Absolutely. So to that sense, it was true. It was as far from academia as I could get. Yeah. I always ponder, we talk about privilege a lot, right? And that has become a, had gotten a political meaning. But if I think about privilege in the sense of you, your parents can, were able to show your world that is very difficult for others to get in at all, even after 30, 40 years of their career, but you basically, that was your starting point. So I would say there’s a lot of privilege in that sense. It was just an advantage to grow up there and have those connections and have this insight. But on the other hand, sometimes upon their, because it creates these issues in growing up and divorcing yourself from your parents and then growing up and creating something successful and you need to really redefine yourself and we see this with early success in life, that it makes things probably harder. Do you think it is more, maybe it’s easy to grow up in poverty and basically just discover a library and just huck it down your library and be good to go, right? Because you literally just reading a hundred books, you’re going to be way ahead of your family, so to speak, our stereotypes. Do you think it’s easy to grow up really poor and unfrivolished or is it the privilege, actually, what you need and you should wish for if you could choose? I, I mean, I just, I’m sort of a fatalist. I mean, just life deals you the cards you get and that’s what you’re stuck with. And I, you know, of course, I was completely unthankful. I didn’t realize, you know, I kind of threw it all away and dropped out of high school and never looked back. I just didn’t know what I was, didn’t care. You know, I just wanted to make my own, make my own living, whether it was, you know, working in the woods or working on boats. And that was kind of silly. My daughter, who’s much more sensible, you know, she’ll ask me, dad, why, why didn’t you stay in school? Why didn’t you, you know, you could have done, you could do anything. You know, so I just ran away from it. But in a, you know, strange way you can’t run away from, of course, you see, I ended up being sort of an intellectual anyway. It’s very strange role model. You know, my father spent his whole life at this place called the Institute for Advanced Study where you, you basically, you do whatever you want. You just, you just work on whatever, you know, and I got to go back there for a year, actually, and doing research. I mean, one of the, so everybody’s there, you’re either, you either go there for a year or you go there for life. There’s sort of nothing in between. One year assignments and lifetime appointments. And my father very young got a lifetime appointment. So I sort of grew up with, that was my role model. You know, he just worked on whatever interested him. And that’s kind of what I’ve done. I mean, even though I, I always have, you know, made my living with boats or something like that. But, but the other part of my life is just intellectually working on whatever subject I find puzzling or interesting. So, so in that sense, I kind of followed the, you know, the myth that I tried to get away from my dad. I didn’t, I kind of followed his path. Well, they say, and I struggle with what it really means beyond the certain basic meaning. They say you only a man, once you rescue your father from the belly of the beast, the belly of the whale, all the way down there in your subconscious. And there is this, you, this father complex near fried was, was really talking about that all the time. But there is this, this motivation in us to, to as sons, and I have, have big troubles with my family too. There is this way to identify ourselves and like, create that separation between this overarching father theme, but kind of, we still want to become like our father, but we don’t want to be there. Right. And we, we kind of don’t want to tell them that we don’t want them to know, because I would interfere. It’s kind of like quantum mechanics, as more they know what we are up to as less successful, it will be at least in my mind, it was like that. And then eventually, you get to that point and you feel really silly, or I feel really silly. It’s, it’s something, but it’s, it’s very emotional. It’s kind of ingrained deeply in my brain. And I didn’t choose that. Right. So it was either DNA driven or culture. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s definitely been there before I can consciously remember. Yeah. It’s very deep. Of course, in my case, it was almost, you know, very strange that that’s one of my earliest memories. As a child, you have very early memories that you can’t really place the year. But one of my earliest memories is, is my father. Usually it’s a child who has a nightmare at night. You know, you have a bad dream and you go to your parent’s bed and they tell you, it’s just a dream. It’s okay. But my earliest memories, I was asleep. I was happily asleep and my dad came into my room because he was having a nightmare. And he had a recurring nightmare because of course, in World War II, he had been part of the groups that led the firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg. And so he had recurring nightmares about, about this. And anyway, he came in when I was, I must have been four years old or something, you know, early enough to remember, but not, and just told me, you know, I can’t sleep. I have this recurring nightmare and the plane has crashed and it’s on fire and I, I’m frozen. I can’t get the people out. And they would say, you know, I’m just telling you this, when you, when you grow up, you better go get the people out of the burning, out of the fire. And I remember, you know, it was a very real thing. I remember, you know, when my dad is having these nightmares, it’s not me who’s having the nightmares. And I think that was very, very true. I mean, later. Yeah. So he completely supported me, you know, doing all the strange things I did, even though he didn’t say that, but later I kind of learned that. Yeah, I can, I can, I can very much relate to, to the Dresden story. My family grew up in Dresden, and they were all on that night. And they lost basically all their friends, right? So everyone who was not a neighbor, because that neighborhood where they were in wasn’t, wasn’t touched. But I’d say 67% of the city was within minutes was basically a place. So yeah, it was an event that was even going through the war in Dresden was a city that wasn’t hit much by bombers. It came kind of out of nowhere because it was too far before and then one night the whole city vanished. It was kind of like the atomic bomb. Just yeah, it was an enormous tragedy. There’s a really good Canadian national film word film. It’s more about Humbert, but it’s about the, it’s about the fire bombings with interviews with the surviving pilots who flew and then interviews with, with people on the ground in Germany, really, really beautifully done. Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it’s really interesting to, to see Vincent Churchill, which I read over the weekend. He was an early supporter of like going down to the start of the war, literally when the Blitz happened, which was like six months after the start of the Second World War. He was an early supporter of targeting human population, which was exactly what the Nazis were doing in London, right? But he basically was this, this eye to eye. We want to, we want to retaliate in the same way, which was, you know, much smaller scale in the 40s. And it was, it was, it wasn’t very Christian, so to speak. No, they were, they were, they were deliberately trying to kill children. I mean, that was, that was the whole point was to, to kill, kill children. And that, that needs to be, you know, my father was sued for libel in England, you know, he wrote about that. Because it still was against the, you know, the accepted history of what happened. That this, no, this was intentional. It wasn’t an accident. It was deliberate. Is something dark happened there? And it was more British than American. And the British were, were the ones who were doing all the intelligence from, as far as I know, and the details of these raids, but there were lots of American bombers obviously involved too. But the Americans seem to be, they didn’t really know what they were in for. I don’t know what the, how this actually went down in the particular events, but that seemed to be from, from what I read. That’s, that’s where this Canadian film is so good, because quite a surprising number of the airmen were young Canadians who were not told what they were doing. So this film kind of gets their stories. Anyway, it’s a, it’s a, yeah, that’s the importance of history is that we go back and kind of find the truth, because even if it’s uncomfortable, it’s important. Yeah. When you look at other events that you would like to cover that piqued your interest, I know you already have a very monstrous selection of really complicated things that you put into your box, that you outlined. What else would you like to look at? What are, what are the other events you maybe going to write a book about soon? I really, you know, maybe I’m wrong, but right now I really feel like I’m finished. I sort of, I wrote my wife. Yeah. I mean, I wrote five books on completely different subjects that I had a very strong passion about. And I, I think that’s enough. I don’t feel that way about I have smaller projects, but not, I don’t, I don’t have any sense of some big story I need to tell this sort of last book kind of is the, you know, the big story I wanted to put into words. I don’t think it’s necessarily good. I mean, there’s people who write 35 books. Why? If you’d asked me 20 years ago, I would have said five was too many, but it turns out, I think five is a good place to stop. Will you ever write some science fiction? I’d like to. The current book, the new book actually started as science fiction. It had an opening chapter and a closing chapter that were science fiction and they both, you know, when you write a book, stuff gets taken out and the science fiction got taken out. So, so that that might still be, but not, I don’t think a book, it’s very hard to write fiction. I mean, I struggled with it. Yeah. What would be the theme you were going to write about if you have the science fiction thing? Well, the chapters that were taken out of this book were an opening chapter and a closing chapter that were both set in the Aleutian Islands, but 10,000 years apart. So sort of in the Aleutian Islands of 10,000 years ago and in the Aleutian Islands in the, you know, reasonably near sort of post digital future and the point being that the sort of way the natural world works in that remote wilderness is, you know, a strange way is going to go back to the way it was. So I think that could be written in certain ways. I mean, the question is what happens once, you know, the way society and technology is going now or does it end up? Of course, that’s the, you know, that’s the subject of so much good science fiction. So sort of taking any kind of different take on that is, yeah, it’s very, I listened to your interview with Blaze who was doing the same thing. Everyone’s driven to that. You have to tell that story as science fiction. So we’re going to get some more Terminator movies based on that? I don’t know. I mean, I can’t understand why there isn’t just incredibly good mainstream, you know, Hollywood film about real AI. I mean, all the movies, they all come down to, you know, the guys build an AI who takes the form of a beautiful woman. That’s criminal going. Most of the films take that form and or it’s the Terminator kind of thing, but no, I mean, the real thing about what happens when you really get a fully evolved wild AI on the planet. And, you know, we’re heading that way. And then you make a very interesting film about how things would very subtly change. It won’t be some Terminator kind of thing. It just be our lives. We’ll slowly realize that, you know, we’re completely not in control. And something else is make a great film like that with real people and real actors. I think best will try it, but I think it was pretty ridiculous. Yeah, they’ve been so good before in the prior season, but the last season that really epitomized this AI, it was a joke, I felt. I mean, they had great story elements, but they never played on them and they just dropped them. I don’t know what happened to them. Yeah, no, it would take a real, you know, the director would have to come in who was a kind of Kubrick kind of genius to just force or 2001 was a good example. I mean, a film that really shifted the kind of level of what people thought. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that. I hope someone will figure it out and get the movie out of it. Well, George, thanks for doing this. Thanks for coming on the show. It was such an honor. I really appreciate that. Thank you. It was great to have a relaxed conversation. Same here. Same here. Hopefully we can do this again in the future, maybe when you publish another movie. No, never seen ever. George, thank you very much. Thank you very much.

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