Transcript for Steven Kotler – Last Tango in Cyberspace

If you’re still with us I

sincerely apologize the power we just

had a power outage here we’re back we

were back Stephens with me Stephen I I I

just had a panic attack I didn’t know

what to do I mean but what was the last

thing that we were talking about because

we were right on this this great we’re

talking about will technology be make us

more lonely or more connected and I

think you know and especially with brain

interface connect technology

god I hate to say this stuff out loud

because there’s it sounds so strange but

there’s I mean it seems like we’re going

to be a you know they’ve linked people

already together who can play video

games telepathically we can now control

drones telepathically um you know with

the brain computer interfaces not

telepathically but we’re using EEG

signals and things along those lines but

we’re controlling drones were playing

video games over the internet we’re

sending words back and forth there was

an experiment a couple years ago where

they literally set thoughts from France

to India and back and forth over the

Internet using BCI technology that this

is a level of connectivity that and we

don’t even know what I mean that’s you

and me inside the same head together

that’s where the technology is moving

that’s where people are pushing it and

that’s where billions and billions of

dollars of investment is flowing in to

this stuff too right because a lot of

this technology is being developed so we

have a chance to compete with AI that’s

the thinking right we need this

technology because we need to

supercharge our brains because we’re

gonna be you know in a world with AI and

we need to keep up and that’s the

thinking and there are a lot of people

deeply committed to it and a lot of the

people who are deeply committed are

really really wealthy and really worried

about this problem and they’re spending

their money on it and so it’s science

fiction as all this sounds to me it’s

all moving and that you know I you know

even at a lesser level in stealing fire

I talked about

you know and I spent time at USC with

Ellie who is the first AI psychologist

that ever was ever developed and Ellie

was built by the Department of Defense

because they had a you know rising

problem of soldiers suicide and the best

way to kind of solve silver soldier

suicide is early Diagnostics right you

want to look for warning signs of PTSD

late on sent PTSD especially and a

depression and the best way to do that

is an interview with a psychologist a

sociologist and there was no way to

scale it up

they went holy crap we can’t scale it up

we’ve got to deal with this problem can

we build a diagnostic AI and they build

Ellie and Ellie literally can read 60 I

thought this is five years ago four

years ago and I sat down with Ellie and

then she was reading 60 different vocal

cues facial cues biometrics

physiological indicators you know back

then Ali knew me better than I knew

myself and the conversation right Ellie

I mean you look at the screen Ellie

looks like a like a 35 year old Hispanic

woman that’s like it’s an avatar but

that’s what she looks like

conservatively dressed and crazy stuff

one soldiers actually prefer talking to

Ellie than they do talking to regular

psychologists and to Ellie as a

diagnostic tool again five years ago

four years ago was it like 80% and

psychologists aren’t even that good and

it was getting better and better over

time and the same kind of technology is

being built into autonomous cars and

you’re like well why the hell would you

do that this is another thing I talked

about in the last tango but if you’re

you know uber is rolling out autonomous

taxis in major cities this year right

robot taxis no drivers found if you’re

not honest taxi you need to be able to

read human emotion at a distance so they

have programmed these the in the lidar

sensors on top of them one of the things

they’re scanning for is human facial

expressions and they’re scanning it

because if you’re angry and you’re a

hundred feet in front of an autonomous

car you’re much more likely to jump into

traffic than if you’re call right so the

autonomous cars have to be able to read

her facial expression so they don’t kill

people and we do this automatically our

cars have to do this so one it is

somebody’s job to program in you know

emotional reading capabilities into

these AIS which i think is fascinating

and amazing it’s probably gonna have all

kinds of audit edit consequences mm-hmm

yeah I mean it the we’ve spent so much

time on on AI and wow it’s it’s that

fascinating because it’s so emergents

right around the corner it seems like

it’s there’s more and more coming out

about it every day but something that I

wanted to bring up as well that you

mentioned the book was genetics gene

splicing you know you you talk about

sort of editing you know your your

children kids and and sort of it how do

you you know how do you see this how do

you view this as far as the future and

what’s coming technologically as far as

picking what we want as the traits of

our offspring so I don’t know I don’t I

don’t go you know I look at a couple

different things in genetics in the book

it’s not it’s not core to my thinking

but what I always talk about this I

think the fear all right the big fear is

Gattaca right the big fear is that we’re

gonna end up in some kind of Orwellian

super children world or something like

that where everybody is the same and you

know and I remember having this

conversation years ago with a brilliant

brilliant brilliant geneticist and

synthetic biologist named Andrew Hessel

and he was the head of bioinformatics at

singularity University for a while and a

good friend of mine and he pointed out

he’s like look there is no we’re not

heading into a Gattaca world because our

people are endlessly unique and

endlessly creative and if we do start

designing our babies everybody’s kind of

what their baby is to be unique just

like everyone’s an unique name for their

kids these days and blah blah blah and I

thought that wasn’t interesting I

thought the idea of our children

becoming sort of creative projects in

that way you know we would design

children and the way we would design

houses or something like that

was a really fascinating wild idea to me

so that was one of the things that kind

of put into the book but I always say

that like you know the stuff that’s

coming that’s really interesting to me

are like human animal hybrids and things

like that and I and I thing at the point

I make in the book is that I you know I

think that hybridization because you’ve

already got projects right now underway

to try to develop cat’s eyes for humans

um and you know ornamental and then

they’re you know there’s other stuff

like that already underway so we’re

gonna start seeing that and I see that

as kind of the next version of punk rock

it seems like every generation wants to

out repeal the previous generation so we

started out with hippies who had long

hair and funny clothes then we wanted

the punks who had really strange hair

and they’re starting to pierce their

bodies and tattoo their bodies so the

modifications are becoming permanent and

then we got it

you know much heavier bought of body

modification stuff and now you have

implants and biohackers implanting

technology into their bodies and that’s

sort of the cutting edge the most punk

rock thing going on and I you know I

think we’re gonna see human-animal

hybrids it’s kind of the next version of

punk rock or bail yet I think that’s the

next 10 to 15 years as well hmm Wow you

know I I’ve always loved your work Steve

and I really like to rise of Superman

this was definitely an interesting read

and and it’s clear you have this ability

to look at these different emerging

technologies and sort of combine them

into a really amazing story there’s a

question from the audience that I if I

don’t ask people are gonna get mad at me

Thomas wants to know ask Steven about

cannabis and where it is best used in

our modern culture what is what should

stoners be doing in his opinion playing

videos question mark okay so a couple of

things you should know about about

cannabis that it’s really important

cannabis produces state-dependent

learning which is to say like you’ve

heard about state-dependent learning

sure you know if you know if you study

for the SATs in purple sweats you should


purple sweats right that’s

state-dependent learning on a certain

level but a deeper version of it is

cannabis meaning people especially with

psychedelics and mind-altering

substances they think it’s automatic oh

I take this pill and it’s gonna do this

thing and the truth of the matter is

that most people when they when they

smoke pot they sort of want to sit on a

couch and eat Cheetos and laugh with

their friends and watch movies or

whatever right because that’s what they

did in high school so that’s what they

trained their brains to do with the

substance but you can just as easily

retrain your brain to use cannabis for

creativity for you know for work for any

of those things

it just takes trading and practice and I

and I say this is a guy who was never

really a cannabis user until I got live

disease and spent three years in bed

with Lyme disease and literally when I

was coming back from Lion disease my

biggest problem was I couldn’t focus I

couldn’t write and I couldn’t make any

money right because I literally I

couldn’t keep my head together and Rick

Doblin who runs maps multidisciplinary

Association precise and known Rick for

forever sure and we hadn’t talked for a

little while at that point and I got on

the phone with him he found out I had

Lyme he’s like well they’re using

medical marijuana and I was like well no

I mammy

crazy like my problem is I can’t focus

why would I whatever what he use

marijuana he started laughing it’s like

the Stephen you’re doing it wrong hmm

what are you talking about and he so he

literally designed a protocol and taught

me starting with very micro like half

hit a pot for 45 minutes kinda and train

yourself up and it took a while you know

what I mean for like the first two weeks

what I was writing was freaking gobbly

gook and I was like this is never gonna

work I mean I you know I feel better

than I was but this is never gonna work

and then like two or two to half weeks

in my brain went oh my god this is how

you do this stoned okay I got it

and suddenly my workday what from a half

hour 45 minute focus sessions when I was

really sick with Lyme – two hours four

hours eight hours a night like I owe my

career to this well so the idea that

like that to me cannabis is um is it

is is about you know creativity and work

it is you know I I don’t know if Thomas

was prompted by a there was an article

that came out at Forbes yesterday about


we at the flow Research collective have

teamed up with Ojai energetics which

cannabis company really great fantastic

science and some researchers at UCLA and

we’re doing the first ever deep dive

into the relationship between flow and

cannabis there’s all kinds of anecdotal

evidence there’s a lot of overlap

between the you know the with the

endocannabinoid system and so we’re

gonna have were on the front end of

what’s probably gonna be I think we have

three years of funding but it’s probably

gonna be a five-year research project by

the time we get to where we want to go

but I you know I think this is I think

this is really cool and interesting work

and it’s gonna teach us a lot about

human consciousness I think Steve


man we’re over time I I really

appreciate these conversations with a

hat that we have together man and they

flow by they I mean it’s just perfect

and we we cover so much but I feel like

you know there’s so much that we could

have covered more is there anything you

know before we wrap this up is there

anything that you think that we should

have touched on that we didn’t oh I’ve

got to say nothing I’ve got no answer

probably tell you dirty jokes no I asked

a better final question okay well I mean

I don’t know what to do with the

open-ended question okay you know I’m

I’m not a guy who likes to give advice

or tell other people how to live or what

things mean or anything else so I don’t

have words of wisdom that way I’m not

good with an open-ended question I’m

better focused got it got it so okay

here’s a focus question where can people

find your work where can people go and

buy you can find whatever you want you

can find on Steven Kotler comm which is

ste V&K OTL er dot-com and two things to

know if you go to under the words to

have because I’m too freakin lazy to

create a separate video tab you will

find a video tab and under the video tab

you’ll find you know 10-12 hours of

videos about you know every little bit

of the conversation that you and I have

been having kind of expand it out and

there’s also the rabbit

so if I said something about exponential

technology that got you curious and you

want to know more there’s an exponential

technology rabbit-hole if i said

something about flow or consciousness

there’s a flower literally there’s a tab

on my website that says the rabbit hole

and there are just sections and here’s

for articles I’ve written for videos and

a little podcast or whatever is sort of

a fun way to go through the material so

that’s all free and that’s all there on

the website we’ll make sure that people

get ahold of that it you know I want to

respond to your question Stephen cuz I

felt like you gave me a chance I don’t

want to lose that you know I wanted to

ask you the last thing I wanted to ask

you about relationships love and virtual

reality because I mean it seems like

it’s it seems like culture has changed

so much with tinder swipe being left or

right do you think that you know having

an artificial intelligent girlfriend

would be something of a solution for

those people that are normally what do

you think about that well I mean there’s

got to be something to like program

mated let me back it up one I don’t I

don’t want to go quite that far I just

you know we’re talking one of the other

migrations I write about in the book is

the migration the virtual and I think

there are three big drivers that are

gonna drive us into the virtual and I

really do believe whether it’s through

VR or help them by the way the holodeck

Star Trek holodeck the most far-out few

to like it’s being built Holograms are

real and they figured out how to build a

holographic room projector and some of

the keenest minds and Hollywood are

currently building a holodeck and they

think we’re gonna have the first one one

by 2030

so look welcome to your future but

that’s besides the point I I think

haptics are getting really good and

there’s a whole I mean since the 80s

there has been a literally a field

called dill tonics which is exactly what

you think it is right I know what you

think it is okay surprise ed it’s better

it’s so you know sex haptics basically

have been

since the 80s and they’re getting really

good porn as a big driver of Technology

and we already know like avatars make

things really interesting and when you

start coupling avatars with haptics with

a slew of consciousness altering drugs I

don’t even think we’re getting to AI

relationships right I thought like I

think VR I mean yes somebody somebody’s

gonna build the perfect robot husband or

robot girlf you know those things are

going to happen over time of course but

I really think VR is going to shift that

stuff more more than I think AI or

robotics well and I could be totally


but that’s why thinking Steven I really

appreciate your presence so much man

guys the book is called last tango in

cyberspace my guest Steven Kotler is the

author you can find his work Steven

Kotler com that’s gonna do it for us for

this week we will certainly be back next

week if you’re not subscribed to us

already if you’re listening to this on

youtube click the subscribe button click

the bell button so you can be notified

when we go live if you’re listening to

this on the podcast version get to

iTunes and leave us a review it helps us

you know stay in the rankings one of the

best compliments that you can give us is

just recommending this show to your

friends and getting the word out there

for us but that’s gonna do it for us

here folks for this show and we’ll see

you next week thank you so much for


[Music] [Music]
Share Button