The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Simon Winchester — How We Transfer Knowledge Through Time

Shermer and Winchester discuss: how to become a professional writer • ChatGPT, GPT-4, and AI • knowledge as justified true belief • What is truth? • Are we living in a post-truth world of fake news and alternative facts? • education, past and present • books and the printing press • the history and future of encyclopedias • museums: repatriating objects taken during colonialism • print and broadcast journalism • internet and knowledge.

Michio Kaku on How the Quantum Computer Revolution Will Change Everything

Shermer and Kaku discuss: AI, GPT, sentience/consciousness, the end of humanity • decoherence • Uncertainty Principle • multiverse, parallel universes, and Many Worlds hypothesis • Einstein • the evolution of the computer • the origin of life • climate change solutions • feeding 10 billion people • gene editing • curing cancer • immortality • simulating the universe • UAPs and UFOs • chaos theory and indeterminism • Are we living in a simulation? • Is there a God? •…

Kennon Sheldon – Free Will, Determinism, and Self-Determinism

Shermer and Sheldon discuss: definitions of free will, determinism, compatibilism, libertarian free will • dualism • reductionism, materialism, predetermination, and epiphenomenalism • Christian List’s three capacities for free will • AI, Star Trek’s Data, sentience and consciousness, ChatGPT, GPT-4 • how what people believe about free will and determinism influences their behaviors • the case for hard determinism • brain injuries, tumors, addictions, and other “determiners” of behavior • emergence • symbolic self • System 1 vs. System 2 thinking •  Experiencing Self vs.…

Valerie Fridland — Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English

Shermer and Fridland discuss: Okay, Boomer language • accents • ChatGPT • gender pronouns • gender differences in language use • forensic language analysis • evolution of language • why children learn language naturally but must be taught to read and write • literature, film, and TV’s influence on language use • cancel culture and taboo language • language and identity politics • y’all, contractions, and other language shortcuts • tracking human migrations by language, and vice versa • Fargo,…

AI SciFi — David Brin on ChatGPT and Whether AI Poses an Existential Threat

Shermer and physicist, science fiction author, and AI expert David Brin discuss: AI and AGI • are they existential threats? • the alignment problem • Large Language Models • ChatGPT, GPT-4, GPT-5, and beyond • the Future of Life Institute’s Open Letter calling for a pause on “giant AI experiments” • Asilomar AI principles • Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Time OpEd: “Shut it All Down” • laws and ethics.

Kevin Kelly — ChatGPT, OpenAI, and Excellent Advice for Living

Shermer and Kelly discuss: protopian progress • ChatGPT • artificial intelligence; an existential threat? • evolution • cultural progress • self-driving cars • innovation • social media • putting an end to war • compound interest and the long term effect of small changes • why you don’t want to be a billionaire • beliefs and reason • setting unreasonable goals • persistence as key to success • probabilities and statistics, not algebra and calculus • investing: buy and hold • how to fully become yourself.

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