ToKCast podcast

Ep 91: David Deutsch‘s ”The Fabric of Reality” Chapter 3 “Problem Solving” Part 2

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In this podcast we cover a universal scheme for problem solving and then focus in on the special case of problem solving in science and compare this to outdated and refuted attempts to explain how knowledge was supposed to be "justified". Popper wrote that "all life is problem solving" - so I discuss that briefly and throughout we consider that if problems are indeed soluble (as they are) how it is that problems eventually get solved. It takes effort, it takes creativity, the process can be messy and there is no single method: but there are ways to be right about what's going on and ways to be wrong.


Credit to: David Deutsch for writing "The Fabric of Reality"

Naval Ravikant for his ongoing support of this project.

My other Patrons and supporters at Patreon.

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    Ep 105: David Deutsch’s “The Fabric of Reality” Chapter 4 “Criteria for Reality” Part 1


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    Ep 104: Are We Running Out Of Resources?


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    Ep 103: Ask Me Anything #2


    This is “Ask Me Anything” number 2: questions from Twitter (mainly) and elsewhere.   Here are the questions/timestamps:   00:00 Introduction 01:50 How do people learn false things? 06:32 Why does persuasion fail? 15:20 What’s wrong with physicalism? 18:30 How are mind and the laws of physics abstractions? 21:18 What are your favourite chapters from David’s books? 26:46 Are facts theory laden? 27:49 Is a fact “fallibly true”? 30:24 What are your thoughts on the mind-body problem? 34:50 How has Deutsch improved on Popper? 40:05 What is the most difficult idea to explain from David’s books? 44:58 Do the ideas in “BoI” trace back to Judeo-Christian values? 48:32 What is the plan for the future spreading of David Deutsch’s ideas? 51:38 How do we resolve the apparent conflict between “incremental change” and “rapid progress”? 54:27 What parts of David’s work do you disagree with? What did David Deutsch get wrong? 58:24 Why isn’t morality about suffering? 01:03:50 Are free will, consciousness and explanatory knowledge fundamentally tied? 01:06:10 Does Ayn Rand’s objectivism follow from Deutsch/Popper? 01:13:52 If a problem is a conflict between ideas, what is the conflict with the problem of the universe’s initial conditions? 01:15:52 How can we reconcile the subjectivity of problems with the objectivity of knowledge? 01:18:04 Can’t machines create new choices through abstraction? 01:20:58 Did Popper/Deutsch influence your libertarianism? 01:26:22 What is the beef between Popper/Deutsch and the formal education system? 01:27:02 Are there Popperian resources on child rearing? 01:31:59 Are there pre-requisites for understanding “The Beginning of Infinity”? 01:35:29 What other books can help with thinking? 01:36:10 If a person has struggled academically, what is to blame? 01:40:21 Do you have any (other!) book recommendations? 01:44:32 Doesn’t quantum mechanics and the multiverse violate common sense and logic?
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    Ep 101 Ask Me Anything 1


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    Ep 100: David Deutsch


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    Ep: 99 David Deutsch‘s ”The Beginning of Infinity” - a retrospective in 99 minutes


    This is episode 99 of ToKCast. More than any other work, the contents of "The Beginning of Infinity" (BoI) have informed the content of this podcast, so in celebration of Episode 99 I set myself the challenge of taking on each chapter in sequence, retelling the main points of it in my own words (no readings from the actual book itself this time) and construct an episode as close as possible to 99 minutes long. Obviously this required quite some editing - this episode now holds the record for time-taken-to-edit. As much was left on the virtual "cutting room floor" and extended "directors cut" is available for Patreons and other supporters of ToKCast. Become a Patreon at (per episode support) or (monthly donation).   Timestamps: 00:00:00 Introduction 00:10:10 Chapter 1 The Reach of Explanations 00:15:21 Chapter 2 Closer to Reality 00:19:50 Chapter 3 The Spark 00:24:14 Chapter 4 Creation 00:29:06 Chapter 5 The Reality of Abstractions 00:34:14 Chapter 6 The Jump to Universality  00:38:51 Chapter 7 Artificial Creativity 00:43:58 Chapter 8 A Window on Infinity 00:49:01 Chapter 9 Optimism 00:53:47 Chapter 10 A Dream of Socrates 00:58:20 Chapter 11 The Multiverse 01:03:26 Chapter 12 A Physicist's History of Bad Philosophy 01:08:36 Chapter 13 Choices 01:13:42 Chapter 14 Why are Flowers Beautiful? 01:18:00 Chapter 15 The Evolution of Culture 01:22:56 Chapter 16 The Evolution of Creativity 01:28:23 Chapter 17 Unsustainable 01:33:24 Chapter 18 The Beginning 01:37:43 Concluding Remarks
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    Ep 98: ”Knowledge” Chiara Marletto‘s ”The Science of Can and Can‘t” Ch 5 Readings and discussion.


    This is cutting edge physics and epistemology from Chiara Marletto, following David Deutsch and working from and upon to advance the discoveries of Karl Popper. Here I make some quite lengthy introductory remarks laying out the standard academic takes when it comes to epistemology in order to set the scene for the most modern interpretation in our quest to refine our understandings of what knowledge is. We leave behind ancient and modern subjective notions of knowledge (which still prevail in the academy, intellectual circles and even attempts to counter those trends in other traditions of counter-culture communities) and take seriously objective knowledge and then build on it. This is a unique and very modern take on knowledge which brings epistemology within the scope of physics for the very first time. Marletto leads the reader gently through this landscape of physics and philosophy and so it is unsurprising some reviewers have not understood the profundity of the points made in the book as a whole let alone this chapter. This is subtle and powerful stuff: a new unification which one might guess is going to direct the course of progress on many fronts. I hope this video serves as a useful companion to the book and to further investigations into "the land of counterfactuals" as some of the deep ideas are, I think, easy to miss for the casual reader.
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    Ep 97: David Deutsch answers a question about dark energy. A question for David number 10.


    Here I provide some background information on dark energy and then David answers a question about possible explanations for dark energy given what we already know about the big bang.
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    Ep 96: Computational Universality: Yaron Brook vs Sam Harris response


    This is a video in response to this video by Yaron Brook: I'm a fan of both Yaron and Sam. I turn to Yaron for all things economics and individual rights and have great respect for him: indeed so much respect I bothered to spend hours making and editing this video. In the video I refer to: 1. Michael Neilsen's article on the Church-Turing-Deutsch principle: 2. David Deutsch's speech from his Dirac Medal Award ceremony. Transcript here: 3. David Deutsch's seminal historic paper that laid the foundations for quantum computation and which brought computation into physics: 4. "The Nexus" - my video which goes into detail on the mystery of personhood and the science of what we know about this presently: Number 2 on that list above is "required extra reading" if my argument alone is not convincing. For more, see "The Fabric of Reality" chapters 5 and 6 especially. See also "The Beginning of Infinity" and consult the index for passages on computation and universality. Universality is poorly understood as being central to understanding computers and people. For more on that see my video here: Images used in the thumbnail and in this video are used under a "Creative Commons" license. Fair use for commentary is claimed for the clips of The Yaron Brook Show (which is one of my favourite podcasts).

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