Shock & Disbelief!

This is an archive of my podcasts, which are also available as a labeled list on this page.

Some are uploaded to YouTube.

AI Safety Debate with Roko


Twitter Space to Clarify Why I’m Opting for Effective Acceleration (with Caveats) 

Even as GPT-3/4 has semi-mainstreamed it, the AI timelines discourse has become sharply riven between AI safetyists and “effective accelerationists” in the past several months.

In this Twitter space from Feb 27, 2023, two representatives of each side – Roko Mijic and myself, respectively – attempt to reconcile these philosophical differences.

I am going to write up my arguments in more detail sometime later, but they boil to the following:

  • Bootstrapping God-like intelligence as a single agent is probably very difficult to unfeasible. Alignment is hard and this would apply to a malevolent AGI’s agents as well, who will develop their own values and interests.
  • Maximizers are irrational and will be outcompeted by more rational agents, assuming they are given space to actually flourish and develop.
  • There are a multitude of risks inherent in creating a singleton (for that is what is needed) to manage AI safety in a coherent global fashion. These risks involve:
    • Lost opportunities in productivity gains and poverty alleviation, which results in real damage to welfare on account of theoretical blog posts.
    • Strongly reduced chances of achieving radical life extension.
    • Long-term sector capture and AI safety’s transformation into a quasi-religious cult, as occurred with civilian applications of nuclear power and explosions.
    • The AI sector’s transformation into the noospheric equivalent of a monoculture ecosystem, which is inherently more fragile to shocks and probably voids any dubious benefits of restrictive AI regimes.
    • Potential stagnation and even retreat in rates of technological growth, due to long-term dysgenic trends.
    • This period will be one in which existential risks of other kinds will be in play and not necessarily at a constant background rate.
  • The very fact we’re experiencing these observer moments suggest that they are extensively recalled or simulated in posthuman worlds, which suggests we are on the cusp of a good singularity.

The Z of History: 13 Months of Commentary


I would like to take the opportunity to highlight my discussion with Noah Carl the prospects of each side in the Ukraine war.

My basic thesis is summarized in this thread:

Most everything I said there still applies as of March 20, with the exception that I’m now somewhat more bearish about the prospects of Ukrainian offensive success, which just goes to further confirm the “long stalemate” thesis that can only be broken by an OOM-scale increase in NATO supplies or the implementation of a war economy to and by Ukraine and Russia, respectively.

[Read more…]

Podcast with Robert Stark: Could Trump Have Done Better?

Check out my latest podcast with Robert Stark here.

No, really. While I’m not always very happy with all the podcasts I’m on, I think this one turned out very nicely. Here are the topics we discussed:

Many of these I have either already written about, and some I will try to write about reasonably soon (i.e. before Biden’s inauguration).

That said, one point I wanted to highlight in particular, since I am unlikely to devote a separate post to it, is how Trump didn’t play some of his best cards:

  • Trump’s Presidency, until 2020, was a huge economic success story, and one that Trump himself constantly touted (best stonks market in history). What he mentioned far less is that not only did the US see large income growth, but for the first time in a very long while, it was broadly balanced across the socio-economic spectrum, including lower-income workers who have been treading water since the 1970s (and, incidentally, have formed the core of the populist reaction across the West). There was a golden opportunity to connect this not just to protectionism, but to the immigration clampdown. But Trump failed to do that in his debates or propaganda. Feeding back into that, immigration has been reduced to record lows. Promise made – promise delivered. What makes this achievement all the more remarkable is that it happened during a period of vigorous economic growth, which are typically accompanied by a flood of Gastarbeiters. The late 2010s proved to be an exception, and could have been cited as an economics-based vindication of the Trump immigration agenda. But he failed to make this connection in his public rhetoric as well, so all he got from it was the “children in cages” meme (which began under Obama anyway, to compound the irony).
  • The Corona crisis: East Asia performed better than well nigh any Western country. That Trump managed to convince most Americans otherwise (at least with respect to China) is, admittedly, an achievement – if one that doesn’t speak well to the intelligence of Americans. Instead it was Europe – the promised land that American libs worship – that came to be seen as a model of how to deal with the epidemic. The reality is that the Americans and Europeans have done about equally badly in terms of the only demographic metric that is rigorously quantifiable – excess deaths. The main difference between them is that the American deaths have been more spread out, including over the summer, whereas the Europeans have seen a much sharper spike this autumn. But, at the end of the day – same area under the graph, plus or minus. This is connected with white people’s voodoo like aversion to modest restrictions on liberty such as mandatory centralized quarantine (which in the end has led to much greater net restrictions on liberty through wide-ranging lockdowns). That said, if you’re fundamentally unserious about suppressing the epidemic – as neither Europe nor the US are – then you might as well ease up on restrictions and allow it to burn through the population more smoothly, blunting seasonal spikes and preserving more of your GDP. Thanks in part to the joint efforts of #BLM and the MAGA rallies over the summer, the American economy will decline less than that of the EU this year. But Trump decided to ramble nonsense about the US having more case numbers because it was doing more testing instead.
  • Trump could have been more generous with helicopter money to individuals. Bolsonaro, floomer as he is, did that in Brazil, and his approval ratings have subsequently recovered on account of that – his mishandling of Corona regardless. (Even if you insist on being a floomer ideologue, the evidence from around the world points to it being a losing strategy politically). But two payments of $1,200 are almost irrelevant compared to American incomes and living costs. Nor was the problem in political opposition to such a project – there was broad-based support for generous, regular payments from Romney to AOC. The corporations got three times as much cash this time round as they did in 2008 and with nary a word of discussion, so it couldn’t have been driven by monetary or fiscal caution either. What exactly were they afraid of? “Socialism”? Speaking of that, all too often during the debates, Trump came across as though he was actually arguing with Bernie, not Biden. Unfortunately for Trump, Biden’s platform was in reality more regressive than HRC‘s in 2016. Yes, this might presage bad things for Democratic Party stability under a Biden administration. But it also means that “socialism” herp-derp attacks slid off him like water off a duck’s back.

I expect that adopting at least any two of those three suggestions would have tipped Trump over from a narrow loss (which I predicted) to a narrow victory. But, at the end of the day, Trump is a fat boomer who doesn’t read.

Appearance on the Jolly Heretic

Yesterday, I made my premier appearance at Edward Dutton’s Jolly Heretic podcast show on evopsych, HBD, history, and other taboo topics.

You can give it a listen here:

Achievement unlocked: Shilling the dogpill to the bewildered masses.

Podcast with Robert Stark about Corona

This month’s “Coronacast” with Robert Stark and Dain Fitzgerald:

Robert Stark is joined with Moscow based Unz Review columnist Anatoly Karlin and Bay Area based blogger Dain Fitzgerald who has written for Spliced TodayRachel Haywire’s Trigger Warning, and . Follow Anatoly and Dain on Twitter.


Going back to Anatoly’s initial predictions on the pandemic from February
The short term modest economic recovery due to the stimulus but not sustainable long term
How the pandemic has been neglected due to the rallies
Spike after re-opening and limits of quarantine capital
Asia’s hard lockdown vs the West’s potential epidemic yo-yo of cyclical lock downs
Peter Turchin published a paper in 2010 predicting political, economic and social instability would peak in 2020
Protests overseas as American Cultural Imperialism
The culmination of the Great Awokening
How conservatives are naive to think that wokeness only thrives under prosperity
Whether woke capital really is a deliberate plan to subvert class consciousness
How de-funding police might be purely symbolic but, if true, we’ll see more private security and gated communities
The oncoming urban exodus due to remote work, the pandemic, economics, and rising crimes rates
Fertility and Immigration trends
UK may grant refugee status to residents of Hong Kong
Breaking of the Chimerica arangement?
Biden’s advantage as a perceived return to normalcy
Speculating which nations will fare the best economically and containing the pandemic

Podcast with Robert Stark about Corona & Animal Rights

Robert Stark talks to me about the coronavirus pandemic, as well as my old article on effective altruism, animal IQ, and animal rights.

Here are the topics we discuss:

Anatoly’s initial predictions
Corona & the Cost of Doing Nothing
The success of China’s quarantine and whether it’s sustainable
Trump’s catch 22 on quarantining the pandemic
How the pandemic could restructure global geopolitics
Bernie Sanders Wouldn’t Close The Border To Prevent The Spread Of Wuhan Virus
The need for mandatory sick leave and an emergency UBI
The advantages (car centric suburbia) and disadvantages (no sick leave) of the US over Western Europe
Corona Clusters
Corona cases at AIPAC, CPAC, and NATO
The disproved ethnic specific theory
Will Russia Succumb to Corona-Chan?
Anatoly’s observations from Moscow
The degree to which new infections are originating from Chinese sources
Robin Hanson’s idea of delayed controlled infection
Cucked By Corona: will the the pandemic have a non trivial impact on global fertility?
The Cognitive Chain of Being: A New Approach to Animal Rights
Quantifying suffering and figuring out cost efficient ways to reduce suffering
The populist limitations to ending factory farming
In vitro meat, other meat substitutes, and whether they’ll becomes cost competitive
The US Presidential election, Bernie’s Woke direction, Biden as the quintessential normie, and why Bloomberg would have given America a cyberpunk vibe

We recorded this on March 10, so it’s not entirely current.

E.g., I am now much more supportive of a hard attempt to “crush”/”nuke” the curve, instead of merely attempting to flatten it.

Podcast with Robert Stark about Andrew Yang

Here is the podcast: Robert Stark talks to Anatoly Karlin about Andrew Yang and The War on Normal People

Robert Stark is a Yang supporter. You can check out his article “Andrew Yang and the Post-Nationalist Future” at Taki’s Mag. Brandon Adamson (website) also participated, but unfortunately he was cut off due to technical problems early in the podcast.


Anatoly’s articles Yang Hasn’t Gone Anywhere7 Reasons Why #YangGang Is More Than Just A Meme and What Does Everyone Think About Andrew Yang?
The young educated demographic of support, THE GREY TRIBE, and faction from the dissident right
Yang’s chances of winning
Yang over Trump but Trump over Harris or Biden
Tucker Carlson agreeing with leftist on Venezuela Intervention
Why Yang’s UBI and VAT proposal are relatively Centrist
Iran’s UBI experiment
Peter Turchin and theory of elite over production leading to social instability
Asian American Identity and positive mentions of China
Charles Murray’s COMING APART and Bubble Quiz
The potential impact of the UBI and automation on immigration and demographic trends
How America’s failure to adjust to new realities is leading to social tension

I didn’t have much new to add to what I already wrote in my book review, with one exception. I wanted to address one common argument that UBI skeptics tend to bring up. This argument boils down to automation alarmists having been consistently wrong over the decades. Motorization didn’t remove people from the factories, to the contrary it created many new jobs. Attempts to completely automate car factories from as early as General Motors in the 1980s have floundered time and time again. Robots will create many new jobs and things will continue ticking along just fine.

My response is that the critical difference between then and now is that the new generation of robots is run on much more powerful AI. By and large, they don’t need inputs of human brainpower – the previous limiting factor – as they do the thinking themselves. Now yes, there are some jobs that are hard to automate, even with AI – typically, these are jobs that require fine motor skills – but ultimately, how many air conditioner repairmen and cleaning ladies does society need?

So what will actually happen is that the oligarchs who own the robots will come to control massive slave armies of labor that do most jobs much more effectively and much more cheaply than any human. There’s only so many personal assistants, cleaning ladies, and court jesters that these oligarchs will need. There will be some makework in the government bureaucracy, and I suppose companies will retain human HR departments (because we have established that AI is racist), but that’s about it. There will be as little economic need for humans as there were for horses after the arrival of cars and tractors, whose numbers in the US fell from 20 million c.1920 to 2 million by the 1970s.

Latest Podcast with Robert Stark


Robert Stark recorded this podcast a couple of weeks ago, in which the German nationalist Constantin von Hoffmeister also participated.

You can listen to it here:

Topics discussed:

The State of The Altsphere
Moscow’s Demographics
Hate speech in Russia
The great chain of privilege in Russia
Putin’s stance on immigration from Central Asia
Putin’s economic policies
Inequality in human capital between Moscow and the rest of Russia
Russia welcomes South African refugees
German migration into Eastern Europe in response to the immigration crisis
The brain drain from countries that are rivals but culturally similar
Limits to Cognitive Elitism
The global baby bust and the future of fertility

New Podcast with Robert Stark

vapor-syriaBeen a while since I did one of these.

Link: Robert Stark talks to Anatoly Karlin about the Syrian Strikes, Russian Politics & The Failure of Trump


My American Decade at The Stark Truth

Robert Stark has just released his latest podcast in which we discussed all sorts of topics including My American Decade along with co-host “PillEater.”

Robert Stark is a journalist who specializes in interviewing various interesting figures from the Alt fringes. So you could I suppose view him as The Unz Review on podcasts.

Here are some of my previous episodes with him:

Some notes/highlights:

  • My thesis from American Decade that American society has been “Europeanizing” this past decade.
  • The fragmentation of the US political spectrum: “Clinton democrats, Sanders socialists, Rubio/Bush etablishment conservatives, Cruz Bible-bashers, and Trump nationalists.”
  • A big chunk of US income inequality (relative to Europe) disappears once you adjust for race.
  • My political views: “Fairly socially liberal (except for rejecting political correctness, and radical feminism), economically centrist, and closest to Rabbit’s AltLeft.” (The main reason I don’t overtly identify as Alt Left is that I am probably considerably to the right of most of them on economics).
  • The SJW problem – today’s campus Pink Guards will be future elites in 20-30 years.
  • The Bay Area and its remarkably high density of interesting people.
  • The first global warming models were constructed by the Swede Svante Arrhenius, who was also – in what will surely blow the minds of Kochservatives – a eugenicist.
  • Amtrak as a little-known national treasure of America.

This didn’t make it into the podcast due to time constraints, but we also had a little discussion about the ideas of Michael Hudson, an economist (and UR columnist) who criticizes the financialization of the US economy. I am not actually convinced the problem is especially acute in the US – according to the statistics I’ve looked at, the financial sector’s assets relative to GDP are higher in the EU than in the US, and twice as large in the UK. That said, it is surely a pretty big misallocation of cognitive resources at the global level. The people now eking out a few more percentage points in greater economic efficiency (=a couple of years of normal growth) could instead be designing nuclear powered spaceships.