Kelly & Zach Weinersmith: "SOONISH: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll [...]" | Talks at Google

Kelly & Zach Weinersmith:

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Hello. So. We're, Zack, and Kelly Wiener Smith and we wrote a book called soonish. Ten emerging technologies, that will improve and our ruin everything. I'm, a parasitologist. I, study parasites, that manipulate, the behavior of their hosts and, I work for Rice University, and I comics. And stuff. So. We decided to read a book on technology, and in 2011. A group of policy students at Hamilton College wrote, a book called. A. Paper sari called our Talking Heads blowing, hot air and essentially. They were looking at the predictive abilities of 26 really popular pundits that were on lots of TV, shows and these. Pundits ranged, from being mostly right to, mostly wrong but, importantly, they all still had their jobs and, so we were like we should write a book about tech, we're. Like, it doesn't matter if we're right or wrong because apparently, that doesn't impact, your ability to have a job but. Actually, we're, not really interested in this book in making predictions because, we think that what's, interesting isn't necessarily, figuring, out how many years out the technology, is so much is talking about what. The amazing challenges that people are working on right now are and so we talk a lot more about the. Technical hurdles, that still need to be overcome and then we talk a little bit about how these technologies could make everything awesome, but also maybe horrible, and so, we give you a little bit of a taste of one of the chapters in the book and a little bit on, one of the nota bene x'. What. Do you want to say okay. So, the ten topics we cover in the book let's see if I can remember them all are cheap, access to space asteroid, mining fusion. Brain computer interfaces bio, printing augmented, reality. Robotic. Construction programmable. Matter. Bi, brain, computer interfaces I thought I said that already and then bio printing and bio printing didn't I say bio printing. That's. Fine by, the book you'll see you'll find out the rest, that's. Our pitch. And. At the end of a lot of the chapters we like. We uncovered, all sorts of crazy stuff while we were doing the research for this book and that's like a ton, a big part of why this book was so much fun to write and so at the end of some of the chapters we talk about these weird things that we encountered, and, we include these in our nota bene z' and so we're going to discuss.

One Of the nota bene z' that we wrote, in the book as well it's not this one this is the whole thing this was really awesome and we got to talk to this but we have to talk to so many amazing people while doing this book but, anyway so we we've. Been told that talking. Instead of talking about cheap access to space programmable. Matter would probably go over best with, this audience so we're doing the programmable, matter chapter. So. How about you started oh well, started okay sure so I. Feel, like I needed not. Talk as much because it's Google so I don't need to explain like what are what are computers, I guess right y'all know about those, yeah. So the idea in general with programmable, matter is, that you, in the same way that a computer is universal you can make stuff that's universal, and, there. Are a lot of different approaches to how you might do that I think we go through a couple of them here the books a lot more extensive, but, when we say programmable, matter we're kind of condensing together a bunch of different. Fields like self reconfiguring. Matter, there's a there's a book called Morpho genetic, engineering and I wish that gone then with that that was really cool. But. Just stuff that can reconfigure, itself, in, different ways so we're gonna go through a few, ways. It's. A little wordy so. This is my. Drawing of Skylar Tibbits Skylar Tibbits a guy at MIT he does, what it calls for D printing which. Just means it's it's 3d printing but the stuff does more once it's printed so. They're. Bunch of examples of this but but one we thought was cute was. Was. He made this straw and it's just made so that the joints are printed so that when the intake water they, bend in a way that use quote unquote programming, to the material so he made one where you program, it or program. It so you drop the stick and water and spells, that MIT cuz he's at MIT but what's cute about that we thought is you could you could like really creep people out if they didn't know what it was.

Like You can make programmable, spaghetti and it just says like find, help or something I don't know. But, yeah so that's sort of like oh there's, other ones it's theoretically, more functional, I don't I don't think the the the wood thing was his right that was right, yeah so there's one project where it's essentially wood that was designed to respond. To humidity, and so it's like you can give a building basically porridge so that they can open, out or close up depending on ambient conditions so, the couple projects working on that and in in addition to just kind of looking awesome you, have the potential for a zero. Or low energy, environmental. Regulation, mechanism. But. Mostly it looks really cool it looks like you're looking at like a giant dead alien so. That's neat. Also so, one, of the things that. That Skylar, Tibbits pointed, out was that the hard thing about this technology right now is that there isn't really good software written, that, programs, in information, about joints and how they respond to environmental conditions and, I know you guys have like 20% of time that you get to spend on anything else so FYI. Sure. So then the, next category, that we talked about our origami robots, and we got really excited about origami, and robots, and so we had this guy Jason ku, design. An origami. What. Does that robot. Robot, robot but. It but anyway so so, if you're interested in our origami robot, you can download the design here. And you can see our origami robot, so, origami. You. Know I'm sure you're all familiar with origami you have a sheet of paper and you follow like some rules for how you fold it and, you make it be this different shape well, if you also put actuators. In there you, can get the paper to fold itself so that you don't have to do it on your own right cuz why spend the time doing that it's, really frustrating I, know some people think it's beautiful, that's. Probably not me and. So anyway you can put these actuators in there and you, can get them with these actuators you can get the robots to like walk around and pick stuff up and, do all sorts of crazy stuff what were you gonna say yeah okay. So, one, of the cool things that they're working on getting these robots to do is uh is. Have, medical applications, so dr. daniela ruse at MIT, made. This origami, robot, out of sausage casing, and you, essentially, fold it up you, stick, it in ice the, person swallows, the ice, and then the origami bought when the ice dissolves, pops out and then you can control it with a magnet, and, apparently. This, number blew my mind apparently, 3,500, people every year swallow.

Those. Batteries, that you find in watches and having, a three and a half year old in a one year old I'm guessing, that they're all people, under I think it's mostly children but children. A couple people with certain, tastes sure, okay, and. So what this robot does is, like so some some percent of those 3500, people end up with the battery lodged in part of their stomach and they can't get it out and then you have problems if it passes you're fine but if it gets stuck you have problems, so, this robot goes in opens, up and then you control it with the magnet it connects to the battery it Yanks, it out to dislodge it and then it you know passes with everything else and leaves naturally, and. So we're hoping that that that little robot never really developed the ability to consider its life objectively, because it might, be a little depressed but again it's sausage casing, so it's gonna dissolve away and it's gonna go away so you don't have to worry about it however it feels about things. Anyway. Then, that's one use but Daniela. Is helping, it's hoping that first of all at some point you won't be able you won't have to like control it remotely it'll, work on its own and, then she's also working on other things like can. You get these BOTS to deliver medicine to very particular, areas and so she's thinking about the medical. Applications, but, you can also make these things big enough that it could be like a table, that if someone's disabled, the table you, know puts itself together and then walks over to you so you don't have to go to it or a chair that can just fold up together and go to where it needs to go and so you can see that there can imagine lots of cool applications, for that. What. Go ahead okay, so the sort of. The. Super. Advanced, paradigm. That may never happen is it's called the bucket of stuff paradigm. Which is something, like this perhaps. But. The basic idea is it's kind of like having a t-1000. But it like fixes stuff in your house or it. Instead. Of killing you or. You know but it's truly universal should be able to turn to anything it can be a wrench it could be a phone. It. Could even be you know you can command it. And it's you know on your side you. Know you can you can just, tell it to glob over and do something for you.

So. There, are a lot of problems with this paradigm and the privacy. Thing is one shouldn't it will probably get to in a little bit, but. We. Had a couple of people actually working on this the big problem is the I think the smallest one was like a cubic, centimeter you have to have these little quote-unquote atoms that. Can. Move can, sense a little bit can dock with each other that's important, and, then after that some of the stuff is like luxury you might want a battery on board each one so. Miniaturizing, this is a really tough problem. And. Then get into the math thing a little bit that's, right now that's right now oh god yeah. So that one, of the really interesting things we found out is that one of the difficulties, of building a t-1000. To serve you is the math because. I, think, the way we say it is if you imagine you have a. Marching. Band that's got a shape from say a star and do a like, the University, logo and so you only have a hundred people that's not that hard a problem plus each atom of that system as a human brains that helps, but. But yes it's not that hard a problem B you imagine each time you add another individual. The problem doesn't just get one person hard to write it scales so, if it's a thousand, that becomes a really hard problem people knowing where to go what to do if someone falls over, and. Then if you scale up to you know ten thousand or a million or I guess the t1000, won't have a billion and they're in three dimensions, and and. Presumably they're all sort of like physical constraints, at each point like you know along the equivalent, of a bone you have to all be docked with each other a certain way what, happens is calculating. What everybody needs to do to like make your hand into a giant knife to kill, that. One guy in the movie I shouldn't, be talking about that. You. Want to do that it's actually a pretty tough math problem right you. Have to expend just the right amount of atoms they all have to go to the right place and crucially, if you really want to kill a human they, have to go fast so. Like there's, a, version, a super preliminary version that's called kylo BOTS which if you want to visualize it's like a little almost the size of a watch battery canister, with three little legs it just kind of moves by jiggling, and, they're called Keela BOTS because the original system had a thousand twenty four of them and. Not. A thousand because it's nerd town. But. Yes. 1,024 of these and they. Being.

Aware This sort of they wanted to have a relatively, simple algorithm, that each of them we're using and so they did get it to where they, could shape, like a wrench like not one you could ever use like a 3 or a 2 D shape of a wrench and then changing to say a star or something the problem was I think it was like it took six hours to go from one to the other yeah. Today there really is sort of simple, perimeter crawling, algorithm. And, you. Know again if you want, to kill somebody or you know have, a phone instantly up here in your hand and. Then have a kill somebody. You're. Gonna have a problem unless you solve this math problem I don't know it might not even be solvable or at least not solvable in the sense of getting a way to do it quickly and properly. Yeah. But, this audience can some problem your, time to the robot. So. There, are a lot of reasons why a bucket, of stuff could be a problem so an ideal bucket of stuff would, be able to become like a camera, or a receiver, and it could transmit information and. If these get really tiny you could imagine that would be very easy to spy on someone you know you just put some of these in all the hotel rooms and then you can spy on everyone and transmit that information anywhere, and, then additionally, if you can get this bucket of stuff to look like anything you, could make it look like you're close and then you could bring it on a flight, and then you could turn it into something more dangerous and so, presumably you know the TSA would be trying to keep the bucket of stuff out but, it's hard to know how they would be able to do something like that. So then you talked about there's there's privacy concerns, and, then there's patenting, tent concerns, so if you have a bucket of stuff that can become anything then. Why buy anything else you can just tell your bucket of stuff to become that thing so. It's hard to know how that problem is going to be solved, although 3d printing is sort of starting to deal with those problems now. Kind. Of, like. There's this issue can you 3d print a gun and. That's that's a tough one because it's like more, importantly like it's like people can't make gun laws if you can always 3d print a gun but. If you have programmable, matter it's like you have a permanent anything. Device that includes all sorts of banned things. Mm-hmm. So yeah, well, then another problem is who, is, to blame when something goes wrong and, of course this is you know the self-driving car problem, if your self-driving car gets into an accident who do you blame and so there are proposals that you could use you know so there forty printing stuff that we were talking about so maybe you could use that to, change the whay airplane. Wings work depending on the speed that you're going at or, maybe you could use it to change your tires depending, on the conditions, but. What happens if one of those things goes wrong at the wrong moment and you die who's. To blame for that you know is it the person who designed it and so anyway these decisions, these sorts of problems need to get worked out. Any. Other negatives that I'm I think Scott Tibbits talked about a sort of general negative. Of offloading, our personal. Autonomy to like machines that just make decisions for us we've already done that okay. That's. Not a problem. No. I'm kidding but so. Anyway so then there's a number of different benefits if you had this kind of stuff so one presumably. We could really cut down on waste so, if you had a bucket that could become anything then you could own a lot less stuff because, that bucket could become your wrench and your plunger so you don't need a big tool kit you've got this thing that could become anything we, already talked a little bit about how if. You have stuff on your home that changes in response to ambient conditions, you, could maybe control internal conditions, with very low energy input which. We think is pretty exciting then, we talked about the programmable, matter like those little origami robots, which could help deliver medicine to very particular, locations, or dislodge batteries. Anything. Else any. More. Mostly. I want a toy or a gummy thing I don't know yeah. Yeah no a toy origami thing would be pretty awesome. Thanks. There's. This whole like so one version we don't really talk about there second I think is the swarm robots, version. How do I do this and we kind of it's kind of related to how, how. A t-1000. Would work I keep coming back to that but like you, know they're. Like practical utilities, to having like a large swarm of robots that can reconfigure with each other because if you want to say send a bunch of robots into a disaster, zone a swarm, might be preferable to just one because.

If Something breaks down it would be okay. And also by being able to break, apart and come back together they can navigate a little more effectively so we looked at one group as, trying to design something like you'd have ten robots about this big and one of the tricks they could do is navigate through sit like like. A dip in the ground by latching onto each other and so they have this really cute algorithm, where one, robot realizes. There's a big dip and then it has I think I think that one is system, so it's signaled hey someone dock with me and then the other robots would get the signal they back up until they had a train of the appropriate size and then they could go over the gap there. All sorts of similar things you can program in like they could effectively. Tightrope, walk or at least cross a narrow passage by having two side-by-side going, the right way, we. Also can talk about the evolving, robots thing. We. Got a guitar. So. Any, maybe, at the end time we don't ask about that so. But. But in general if you have this swarm that can solve its own problems as, its as it goes you can send it into hazardous, areas like New Jersey and have it solve problems, and and, fix you know fix things but to be honest we were most excited about was like imagine, you go to Ikea and you, buy like that table and the table just unfolds, itself and you don't have to put it together that would save like a billion, human hours if, you didn't have to put together your IKEA stuff, so. We're. Gonna talk about the nota bene on how it will end for all of humanity, so, we were we, came across a lot of really awesome stories, about human robot interactions, that made us not particularly optimistic about. Humanity's. Ability to persist in the face of smart robots, so, do you want to talk about promo, BOTS first sure. Sure. So pro bot is just a and, I'm definitely pronouncing, it wrong it's, a robot, I'm, not gonna try a Russian. Roulette company, and. This is this is just a little service cute there's this robot and it's designed to be like a robot assistant, you can do things like remember. Human faces and learn things about its environment and. Apparently. Keeps trying to escape. Two. Incidents, were like got out and like ran down the street yeah, and, it ran out of batteries, in the middle of the road so instead of helping the elderly like, I think it was supposed to be doing and instead died in the middle of the street and stopped traffic so. We need our robots to stop trying to escape because, they're not very helpful there, but. Then our favorite robot, was named Gaia so there was a Harvard. Undergrad named Serena booth and she, wanted to know how much people trust, robots, and so she lived in the dorms and there, were there are a number of different reasons why if you live in Harvard dorms you shouldn't be letting anything or anyone into the dorms so first of all apparently, and this totally, creeps me out apparently. Harvard tourists. Like to take photos of dorms, young. Side of it the inside of dorms so they like come up to the dorm window you're shaking your head did that happen to you were you at Harvard. Okay. So anyway so they come up to the window and they put the camera up and they take a photo right so like people are trying to intrude on privacy all the time if you're in these dorms and. Then additionally, the Harvard dorms that had bomb threats somewhat, recently so everyone had been written recently, and told do, not let anyone into the dorms they didn't specify no robots but, they probably assumed, you shouldn't be letting anything in and then, finally, there, were a bunch of thefts so. The students knew you shouldn't be letting anyone into the dorms so, which what Serena, did is she created, a robot that she could operate. Remotely so she was sitting at a table pretending, to do her work but she was really operating, this robot and it would come up to people first by themselves, and say hey can.

You Let me into the dorm and I think something like twenty one percent of the time they'd say yes but usually they'd be like no you can't get in the dorms but, if the robot approached groups. Seventy. One percent of the time they let it in so notes, to any robots out there humans, are real dumb in groups and, then additionally. If she, gave the robot cookies. And. So that it was carrying a box from. Like a fancy local, cookie chain but, it actually only had grocery store crummy snickerdoodle, cookies and. So apparently yeah for the price of like dollar snickerdoodles. People, will put their entire dorm, at risk to, let the cookies in and. You want to talk about the emergency, robots thank you or the expert okay. So finally. There was a PhD student named, Paul, Robinette, and he was at Georgia Institute of Technology and, he, wanted to know how much people would trust robots in an emergency situation so. First he started off with sort of like low stakes there were some undergrads who thought they were doing a survey so, they came in and the robot brought them to the survey room and they, did the survey and then the experimenters. Released smoke and set off the fire alarms, and a. Lot of the, undergrads. Instead of going out the door that they just came in so like they knew how to get out of the building followed. The robot which liked it at, first we were like well that's weird and then we watched the video and it was really weird because that is a slow-moving, robot. It was just like crawling along and, so okay, but it gets but it gets worse okay so then, they, had a situation where the robot went to the wrong room and circled. The wrong room and then went to the survey room again, moving, and. Then, they did the thing again and still most of the undergrads, followed, that robot instead of going out the door that they knew and then, finally, there was a last treatment with a think only six students so it's a small sample size but, the robot, went into a corner, and started. Going like this like this. And. An experimenter, came out and said I'm sorry this robot is broken they used the words this robot, is broken and, then they went to a different room to do the survey and they set off the smoke alarm and some, students followed it and then I think I think Paul was like I'm just gonna see how far I can push this and so in one situation he had the robot go to a room that was blocked by a couch all. The lights were shut off and there, was no exit sign and the robot started pointing at the dark room and there, were students who had to be retrieved, eventually, by the experimenters. Because they would not leave the robot, and so, there's so, in an oak so anyway this.

Blows My mind so this robot looked, really. Like not not, human like it was a very dumb looking robot, I did, a great job but it looks like a trashcan, on wheels so the point is you don't need a t-1000. A trick humanity, to, their doom it just needs to be a trash can on wheels that's carrying cookies, and Humanities. In a lot of trouble and so, if the robots ever rise upward, we're, done for perhaps, but. So anyway that's just like a taste, of one of the chapters in the book and one of the no.2 Bennie's that we did we. Did ten chapters eight of which we've told you about. You. Asked us a question we, only spent two years on this asteroid mining I said. That. Synthetic. Biology, and precision medicine 10. Anyway. Right shouldn't have been so excited about this so uh so anyway that is the book and, we we, hope you enjoy it those of you who decide to read it and we would be happy to answer questions now, so that if you want to line up at the microphone, we, would love to hear what, you would like to ask us about. Or. We can tell you about cheap access to space. Hi. Thank. You. Yeah. But, he's dressed right now yeah. Which. I make yeah. So. I pre-ordered, the book and I finally, received yesterday, and accidentally received two book plates so. If you want one back to give it to you yeah. Actually. Was curious, I only got through the first chapter and I was a little disappointed to see that the the. Space elevators, were already in the first chapter because I was looking for with that top. Book. But do you talk about and, could. You talk about how, some of these things interact so. Like the the. Bucket of goo what the bucket of stuff could also be used in the space. Exploration. You wouldn't have to bring every possible tool that's, actually we, talked about that but that was one of the things brought up like actually the space comes up surprisingly, often in the book and we were trying to figure out why I think our general, realization, was that you know space is also. Part of the universe and well yeah so, it's like you you're, still gonna need most of the same stuff once you're in space but, yeah you'll need it much more efficiently so. I think we talked a little about there's, a little section in the book on 3d printed food which they care about for space kind of for the same reason it's like efficient, food, packing. Mechanism. We. Talked a little bit about recouping, where they're trying to figure out how to it's our you, species. And. Turn that back into food and 3d print. The. Project. Base. Project. About. Using human waste to, feed humans. It contains the phrase closing, the loop. It's. Like gives you an insight into food scientists, they're like we need to solve this, it's. Gone on too long. Yes. Sir did I answer your question I don't know, yeah. Thank you hey.

Better In a weird danger yeah yeah. This. Is a question, just for Zack are. You intentionally. Loki, cosplaying Shaggy oh my god. I've. I'm. Embarrassed, Oh. Shouldn't. Have another question, like I thought she was gonna say, there's. Bourbon assertions, in the crash there yeah I like. Your shirt by the way. So. What was the thing you wanted to talk about with. The. Room bots video, okay. So this is this Tamara. We talked about it like Heather's a one-centimeter, version, of the the bucket of stuff paradigm there's a there's, slightly more currently, plausible, version called room bots which. Is, totally worth looking up you, use the search engine call AltaVista. And. We're. Talking at the one guy at AltaVista, next that's our next stop. No. But these robots, you can kind of visualize, like a thing about this big that's really two hemispheres. They're they're not like it's not literally, spherical, it's kind of like between, us fear, and a cube but. They can with why they do that is so that an individual, one can kind of roll along and all they do that can detect things they, can transmit and receive signals, and they can dock and so. So. The. Idea with it is is you basically have these little things that can roll around stick to each other and they can turn into light it's called room BOTS because the idea is to make furniture so. For example you could have like 20 of these they make the legs of the table and then one literally would grip, a tabletop maybe and then just sort of carry it up because they can climb walls that have the appropriate gripper type and. Form a table and then best. Of all the table can walk over to you probably, would roll over to you but if you could get it to walk that'd be really cool, but. So the nice idea with this is is, you'd be good for like eldercare, for. People who who can't do for themselves as well as others but there's. This really cool project man I think no, this has been done in in, real, life has been done in simulations, but you know the way genetic algorithms work right is you you you would say to say a pile, of room BOTS configure. Somehow and go as fast as you can across the room and then you could once. Having done that you could you can mutate it and so people tried this and, so it's like what's really cool is you you, can create a system that's in real life made of these individual. Robots and you can tell them hey mutate, based on your last, couple couple. Versions that worked and maybe you you arrived at new design configurations, that you hadn't thought of which is just kind of neat because it's like it's, like genetic algorithms but they're actually having to interface with reality, instead of a simulation, which I know it's me that's really cool so now we have to talk about the swarm work video, so. There was another group that was doing genetic, algorithms, to try to get there, like similar, blocks to solve problems, and we. Did not think that this was necessary at all but someone directed us to a video where before they. Would try a new configuration they. Would come together and, then, they would like rub against, each other for a while as though they were mating, and we were and as this went on for like 25 seconds, that's. Right it, sounded like some like administration. Person had said make them mate and they just taken it too literally great, yeah. Just. Send directions, to a 3d printer so it was not at all necessary, it. Was not a necessary, component of the process but it still did anyway we took, great joy in watching that video yeah, yes anyway. Well. Never. Forget. Thank. You both for coming huge fan of the comic strip, fairly. Often there's, an extra. I guess bonus, comic, panel, that appears when you hover over the vote a button I assume, this has some historical import very. Much so and, actually. Fairly often in that pop up panel it shows, Kelley disapproving. Often, holding one of your children who's also disapproving. Of. The contents of the comic strip so I wonder if you could speak a little bit about the the collaborative aspect you know does she review. Every comic would there be even more offensive jokes if if she wasn't there back stopping you that's, a good question, well you know now and then so I always said Kelley my jokes and she makes notes on them and now no, no there's one I think is really good and that you like hate and. So I always, do those. Because. Because. If it does well it's just like such a like, winning the marriage. Single-use. Monocles, was the the, number one example of that I was like that projects, never gonna work not know what it is yeah and he, sold tons of them no we, saw them in 25 pegs. If. You don't know if you go to single-use monocles, com it's a real thing you can actually buy it it's like a wrapper with. One monocle, I still, don't get it I, don't, get it but I'm glad about the money it run, so.

This Is the nice thing when that when it's a project like this so I might lose but we make money and that's fine, so I kinda I'd rather win actually. There's. No price that I have that's as important as winning. But. It's alright. But. What's interesting is, that I have met people who have expected, me to be super, grumpy and, not a happy person and that is not me at all I'm actually very. I'm. Actually very upbeat and. Anyway, people expect me to be kind of grumpy and I don't think I'm that grumpy but maybe I, thank. You. Thank. You again both for coming just. Out of curiosity you, know I wonder, what the process was starting with a fan base that was formed from single-use. Monocles, there once was a man from Sherman area touch him on the penis style of jokes and, transitioning. Them it which I've loved and got me into your comic many many years ago and transition, them into much more science. And and. Theory and intelligence, did you find any friction there or what was the thought process going, from that side of humor to this yeah, yes, yeah. So part. Of it was just well. Part explained just maturing a bit but also just. I. Think. I mistakenly, thought on the internet if you've got nerdy people didn't like it too much like I tried to keep it a little like don't, want to send people to Wikipedia, and it just turns that totally, wrong. It. Seems like the dorky, or the comic got the more sizeable. The audience became so I kind of just kept going in that direction and, I don't know so I just I as. I got to do it full-time I just had more time to read and get, well up on things and that's been helpful so yeah I'm but what's nice is I've had a lot of people say like you know I start reading your comic in high school and it's sort of grown with me so. That's been very gratifying yeah. With. Everything that's about to ruin everything how do we prepare the next generation to survive. Prepare. Them to survive I think they're just doomed in use yeah, I. Do. Just teach them that privacy doesn't matter. Facebook. Yeah. It would be kind of topic dependent so that you know they're ten different topics in kind of each presents, issues so she mentions, privacy, which we. Talk about a bit more extensively, in a chapter on brain computer interfaces which are kind of like the final, end of privacy, right because now we can extract you. Know brain states from a computer but you got to go into more detail so I'm gonna go in more detail sure okay so the. Apparent so we brain computer interfaces or little machines that talk to your brain if they have you know they read your brainwaves and, they figure out what it is you're thinking and what you want to do and right, now they're, being used to like make prosthetics, that will like reach out and grab the thing you're thinking about reaching out and grabbing and we, thought that the end goal was to like make. It so that someone who is a quadriplegic, could, have all their, abilities back and you know just by thinking about it they could do they could do anything and so that's the answer I expected when, I asked girl in chalk what, is the end goal of brain computer interfaces and his answer was one, day all, over our brain all of our thoughts will be able to get uploaded to one cloud and will become one big super organism that shares all of our thoughts and, I was like that is horrible, I, know, our marriage works because that doesn't happen and, like and I think that's why society where yes in general and so he he he admitted but, there could be negatives to that he's like you know so if you're sitting on the couch and you think I want, to leave my wife she, would know that and that and he said and that wouldn't be so great and I was like that would absolutely not be so great and so so, anyway this, is like the ultimate end, of privacy, if that ever happens, and, I mean it is fascinating, to think about like humans, are a totally, different thing if all of our brains are connected, like that like it's.

Anyway, It's it's crazy but we personally. Kind of hope that future never comes to past and then I asked other people in the brain computer interface world is this, actual it was is this just Gerwin or does everybody know that this is the end goal but like in interviews, you just talk about like. Being, able to move your arm if you could have before and they're like well yeah you know in the interviews we talk about the arm thing but like a reference we all know that we're gonna. We. Need to stop funding this field I'm. Very sorry for the amputees, but like. It's. Gonna get quoted somewhere. That would be very bad it's, funny I was, just tucking in Google Seattle and somebody brought up what if there's like instead, of one there's like three and now there's like the three roommate problem you know there's like three super brainz no-win, like two or more down with each other than the other super brain. God. Okay. Well so anyway uh, so. Private, they really need to not care about privacy if the future is gonna work yeah yeah, cuz we're all gonna be one big super brain. Hi. Hi. I've. Been reading an SMBC since I had, to load. It up on a dial-up modem. And. That. Was a big deal because black. And white comics loaded a lot faster. And. I. Just. Was curious why your favorite comic was my. Favorite of mine I don't know I kind of go through phases, probably. One of the long story ones or something but I don't I don't really have a favorite, I don't. Like xkcd, yeah, tonight. I'm. Not grumpy. Can. I ask about the giraffe. Hooker driver. Go for, those who don't know there's a, that's. A good start bit. This. Is in reference to I think there's an XK city where he made a joke, about I, don't actually remember what the context was but the clear implication was that I needed to draw a sexy giraffe as. A bonus panel, you know where this and I forgot yeah. So. If you want to see a sexy giraffe I'm, one, of your options. It's. Funny and so in grad school a lot of right, so I was a faculty, at race for a while and a lot of the people I'd encounter, I'd be like oh my husband's a cartoonist, and everyone, was like is it the X case you know, no no no the PhD comics guy no. Not, that either the, SMBC, guy then they just walk away. No. Question. Thank you thank you I. Find. It inspirational, that, you're you're. Able to have a, relationship, where the. Two of you can be so collaborative. And, creative. I, was, wondering if you had any, tips. When. I tried to collaborate, we always like. Tips to avoid ending up on each other's nerves or, avoid. Having one person taking ownership of the project. Well, ah so the the background is. That when we started dating our favorite thing to do was spend all day in the library and then go on walks and talk about what we had learned and so, our relationship and. So so our relationship started. As like we'd. Like to go on walks and talk about stuff and so this project essentially, the topic that we talked about on our walk there's always soonish, and so we were just anyway. It was kind of nice to know we, were talking about different papers we had read on the same topic in anyway so that worked well but, additionally, we got kind of lucky because our personalities. Are, such that we wanted to tackle different parts so, I did, all of the interviews. He. Did a lot of the background reading although some of the chapters that was me doing the background reading he. He's, the funny one and so he did the jokes in the comics and. Then I am the detail-oriented. One so I went through every single sentence, in this book and made sure we had a citation, for every single sentence this, was when we we, didn't actually think, that. We were gonna write a bibliography where, there was real dumb of us to not expect that was gonna happen, yeah and then Jenny who's here was like oh hey guys your bibliography.

So. I went through every sentence and made our bibliography but, and that was something that would have killed Zach yes. What do you would have cried and so so I guess to be honest we could we got lucky that we're interested in different different parts of it and that we. Rarely just like talking about nerdy stuff for a long time and sending, chapters back and forth it's really important to not get your feelings hurt mm-hmm. And, I mean I feel like in any collaboration, that's really important but it's particularly important, when it's your spouse who's like no no we have to trash the, synthetic biology chapter you wrote is junk we got to start over again and so you really need to like have, a thick skin, which. We both do neither one of us with the other one so, it's. Really important, it's really important. Do. You have another, answer just. A little thing to add to that yeah like I did you sent of collaborating, and sometimes. It goes well and sometimes it doesn't and the two things, that. Are really important, is one. You have separate, magisteria. As much as possible you have separate roles and in your domain you have like more veto power or if not absolute veto power and the, other thing and this is hard to know in advance like if the person you're working with communicates. Well that makes a big difference because people don't communicate well end up sort of storing, up their anger and then, releasing, on you at some point and I you know so so, if you have like relatively. Mature person who. Talks about when they're having a problem and doesn't just try to tough it out that can that can be really helpful yeah. One. Of the previous questions reminded, me that what my favorite SMBC comic, is the one about. How it takes seven, years to master a new skill and that leads to many lifetimes and, you. Could be an artist and a writer and. So. Can you talk about the life times you've had and where that idea came from and the actually, perhaps. Some of you have read there's a someone famous speech by Hamming. From I think 1986. That. Sort. Of talks about it's actually written for for programmers, about, like how you're going to have your career. And. So he talked about it kind of a related concept he talked about how he liked switching fields a lot and I think I mean he was pretty nerdy guy so I think he was talking about switching from software to hardware he wasn't talking about like becoming a poet. But. But I found that idea really interesting, and I you know, to keep, you from going stale so, this, project is kind of one of those. Another. One we started doing five. Years ago it's called baa Fest the. Festival bed ad hoc hypotheses, which, gives you a pretty good sense of how nerdy it is, which. We. That, was, and remains a pretty big challenge it's a live event, which. Is a sort of an improv game I guess I'd say it's like fake science talks that you have to defend against like actual scientists. Right. And. So. Yeah I kind of you. Know it's funny every time we do a project like this at some point I have the same thought which is why didn't I just keep writing comics. But. Yeah sorry I tried, to on. The regular do something that like makes me really uncomfortable like, I don't you know I, don't, quite have the luxury to completely switch careers at any moment because you know we have babies and babies like to eat and. But. But yeah I try to regularly, do a new experiment so another one I'm doing. Probably. In 2019, I have already, been announced so I can private. Info I'm doing a project with guy named Brian Kaplan who's an economist, about. So. I don't want to give away too much I guess but it's sort of like nonfiction. Pro-immigration. Graphic. Novel trying to explain some statistics, and stuff. So that it's been a totally different challenge because I'm just the illustrator on it I I, can, chat a little with them about stuff but mostly I'm just illustrating his words so that's been a completely, different challenge for me, so. Yeah I guess what. I try to say is you should do something makes you feel stupid at least like once every two years, yeah. Yeah it's very important it's very important yeah. Kind. Of just answer my question but I guess what I was gonna say is you know you're both really great communicators, on complex.

Thank My issues and complex topics and I was wondering if like you, thought you might move more in a direction of like public advocacy or public information. Which it kind of sounds like. Yeah. Yeah I'm also working on another comic, project I shouldn't say 2-inch we have but about sort of explaining, like. Political norms, which suddenly people are very interested in like what. Do things used to be like. But. Like a, little. Bit more although I really, do enjoy fiction, and, like storytelling sorry I don't want to get too far away from that but, but yeah I do it's. A part, of the nice thing about having a job explaining, stuff is you get to learn stuff all day long which is a pretty good deal nice, the time sometimes it gets a little a little thick but once. The time is pretty awesome so for us it's kind of a lifestyle choice I guess one, thing that was also nice about working, as a team is that one of us would start doing the background research would, write a draft and then we'd send it to the other one and so sometimes. When you get too thick into something it's, easy to write it and forget what you didn't know when you started but. So if the other person comes at it fresh they can tell you where you haven't explained something clearly and so we tried to work the chapters like that and so that's one way we. Tried to make everything clear which hopefully we did well yeah. Hi. Kelly. I'm curious about what, some of the other ideas, Zacks had that you thought were the worst ones. That. Made it in the book that I thought were particularly bad either ones that's it or didn't well, so one of the one, of the really interesting things about writing this book was that I went from thinking some technologies, were just awesome across the board, to thinking they were awesome but also kind of scary, so, asteroid, mining for example first. Of all that one we were totally wrong about what asteroid mining was we thought the idea was to like, go out get tungsten, bring it to earth and now, have a ton of tungsten that you can sell on earth but it turns out economically, that just doesn't work because you're gonna bring a ton of tungsten here.

You're Gonna crash the market and then, that was a waste of billions of billions of dollars and, so the point now is you go out there you get the tungsten you build a space-based and then you go and explore you. Know the world or you bring it the space station you get water from the asteroids, blah blah blah but anyway so we became really excited about cheap. Access to space and asteroid mining but the scary thing is once. You get the ability to wrangle, asteroids, and you can bring them anywhere you, can also fling, them at the earth which. Would could be worse than any nuclear, bomb, we've ever set off and so, like. When people get cheap access to space for. Example if the space elevator works, we suddenly will have tons and tons of people in space maybe we'll have colonies, on Mars and, you'll, suddenly have people with the ability to be. Able to move giant objects and fling them at earth potentially. And so it's. A great technology but, now you have to trust that human beings aren't horrible, and, I don't know if our history, totally. Warrants that and so, it's a little bit scary it's an awesome technology that now has something that could be really negative and a lot of these technologies, are like that so our book originally had advanced. Nuclear, reactors. Fission, reactors, and, that's. Another technology, where it's like well if you can trust everyone then that's great because we have this greenhouse gas problem that we want to get rid of we don't you know climate change is obviously. A bad thing we're all dealing with right now but can you trust people with it hard. To say does. That kind of answer your question yeah okay great thanks thanks. Anything. Else. Okay, thank, you very much for your time. You.

2017-11-23 19:13

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