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Postcast Lex Fridman Sam Harris Consciousness FreeWill Psychedelics

Podcast Summary: Lex Fridman Sam Harris Consciousness Free Will Psychedelics

This is an interesting and deepdive discussion between Lex Fridman and Sam Harris. In 3 hours 20 minute enchanting discussion they explore various topics like Consciousness, Free Will, Psychedelics, AI, UFOs etc.

Title: Sam Harris-: Consciousness, Free Will, Psychedelics, AI, UFOs, and Meaning / Lex Fridman Podcast #185

If you have time and you are intersted in this kind of deep discussion you can watch the video at the following link. 3 Hours 19 Minutes Full Podcast

Sam Harris is an influential thinker, author, and podcast host who has inspired many people with his writing, debates, and podcast, and meeting him was a memorable moment for Lex Friedman.

Here is the summary of the discussion.

  • Altered states of consciousness
    • Experiencing altered states of consciousness, such as through psychedelics and lucid dreaming, can help us explore the nature of consciousness and its contents.
    • Thoughts appear to come from nowhere, but meditation and psychedelics can help us explore the nature of consciousness and its contents.
    • It is uncertain if consciousness is a fundamental principle of matter or an emergent property of information processing.
    • (Sam) I’m agnostic on the spectrum between panpsychism, where consciousness is fundamental to reality, and the idea that consciousness is a useful hack for humans to survive. Because it may be unfalsifiable and the concepts we use to divide consciousness and matter may be part of our problem.
    • It is possible to experience more than language-structured consciousness, as demonstrated by psychedelic experiences and other altered states.
    • Many people report seeing “machine elves” when taking DMT, which is an intense and short-acting psychedelic, and lucid dreaming can show the mind’s ability to create compelling simulacrums of others.
  • Exploring consciousness & Free will
    • Exploring consciousness can reveal truths about ourselves and free us from hatred, showing that reality may be far from what we perceive.
    • Reality may be far from what we perceive, and psychedelics may offer insight into alternate versions of reality.
    • Exploring consciousness from a first-person perspective can reveal truths about ourselves that cannot be discovered through third-person scientific methods.
    • Humans have only a tiny fraction of understanding of reality, and our evolutionary history suggests that even our ancestors thought they understood the world well.
    • Free will is an illusion, and even the experience of free will is an illusion.
    • Our experiences are compatible with the idea that our actions are predetermined, but recognizing this can be freeing and undermines the basis for hatred.
    • Don’t let hatred consume your life, as it is pure poison.
  • Ability to suffer
    • Eating something that violates a your cultural norm can make you feel an urge to vomit.
    • Creating robots that can suffer is worse than any mass murderer, as it would be creating a real hell populated with minds that can suffer.
    • People feel like they have a self with free will, but this feeling is an illusion created by the experience of embodiment.
    • Meditation helps us to become aware of our thoughts and feelings, and to recognize that we are not always in control of our actions.
    • Thoughts and intentions arise from a combination of genetics and environmental influences, and the idea of free will is unraveled by realizing that we have no control over these factors.
    • We follow cultural norms without consciously inventing them, and we notice when they are violated.
  • Free will
    • Free will is an illusion as decisions are made without conscious awareness.
    • We can make choices and have intentions, but the feeling of free will is an illusion as causation cannot make sense of it.
    • Simple rules can create complex systems that appear to have organisms interacting.
    • It is not possible to revise the concept of consciousness or free will, as it is anchored to an experiential feeling that cannot be lost.
    • Taking time to create a circumstance where free will can be experienced is necessary to make it most robust.
    • Decisions are made without a sense of free will, as something simply emerges from the darkness and can be predicted before the conscious agent is aware.
    • Lex is moving to Austin after considering Miami.
  • Handling Human Emotions
    • Realizing life is finite, equanimity in difficult situations, treating mistakes lightly, and having a sense of humor can help us navigate turbulent passages without fear and worry.
    • Hatred is toxic and ultimately useless, and anger can be a signal of salience that there is a problem to be solved.
    • Equanimity is useful in responding to difficult situations, allowing us to navigate turbulent passages without being diminished by fear and worry.
    • Realizing that life is finite helps us prioritize and live each day to the fullest.
    • You want to treat mistakes lightly, extract the actionable information, and have a sense of humor to avoid the gravitational pull of self-absorption.
    • Police violence episodes vary and cannot be generalized as just another racist maniac on the police force killing someone based on racism.
  • Cooperations & Survival
    • We must learn to cooperate and use our power wisely to survive the potential of engineered pandemics and the emergence of superhuman AI.
    • The biggest threat to the survival of the human species is our inability to agree on what the threats are and how to respond to them.
    • We are unprepared for the potential of engineered pandemics and unable to agree on the ground truth of the current pandemic, making it difficult to solve other problems that may yet kill us.
    • Given the assumptions of substrate independence, incremental progress, and alignment with human well-being, we will eventually be in the presence of superhuman competence for any act of intelligence or cognition.
    • AI will need to be deeply integrated with human society and aligned with us in order to achieve super intelligence.
    • Humans must supervise autonomous systems to ensure they are aligned with our values and do not cause unintended consequences.
    • Our egocentric, short-term interests limit our ability to use our power wisely, as evidenced by the competition between James Watson and Linus Pauling in cracking the structure of DNA.
  • Seeking truth
    • Seeking truth and authenticity, people are looking for evidence-based understanding, open-minded communication, and self-defense skills.
    • We can be honest about not believing traditional religious beliefs and still find useful wisdom in them without deceiving ourselves or others.
    • The question is whether science and reason can generate viral, sticky stories that give meaning to people’s lives.
    • U.S. government is likely to soon disclose evidence of technology flying around that is not of human origin.
    • People are increasingly seeking authenticity and truth, which can lead to a greater hunger for reality, reason, and evidence-based understanding.
    • People are hungry for scientists to communicate with an open-minded and curious energy, rather than a dogmatic one.
  • Love & Power of Meditation
    • Meditation is a superpower that allows us to be present and recognize when our beliefs have been disconfirmed, while AI systems may be able to manipulate us with an illusion of love.
    • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that quickly teaches you how to defend yourself and others from harm.
    • Jiu-Jitsu is a powerful language and argument that strips away any role of luck and teaches us when to tap out and recognize when our beliefs have been disconfirmed.
    • Love is a deep commitment to the well-being of those we love, wanting them to be happy and being made happy by their happiness.
    • Robots that can display love and are super intelligent may be able to manipulate us, making it hard to tell if the love is real or an illusion.
    • Meditation is a superpower that allows us to be captivated by the present moment and obviate any need to ask the meaning of life.
    • Real attention to the present moment can dissolve the illusion that future happiness is contingent on becoming something else.