with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 126: Is the universe a computer? (with Joscha Bach)

October 13, 2022

What is intelligence? What exactly does an IQ test measure? What are the similarities and differences between the structure of GPT-3 and the structure of the human brain (so far as we understand it)? Is suffering — as the Buddhists might say — just a consequence of the stories we tell about ourselves and the world? What's left (if anything) of the human mind if we strip away the "animal" parts of it? We've used our understanding of the human brain to inform the construction of AI models, but have AI models yielded new insights about the human brain? Is the universe is a computer? Where does AI go from here?

Joscha Bach was born in Eastern Germany, and he studied computer science and philosophy at Humboldt University in Berlin and computer science at Waikato University in New Zealand. He did his PhD at the Institute for Cognitive Science in Osnabrück by building a cognitive architecture called MicroPsi, which explored the interaction of motivation, emotion, and cognition. Joscha researched and lectured about the Future of AI at the MIT Media Lab and Harvard, and worked as VP for Research at a startup in San Francisco before joining Intel Labs as a principal researcher. Email him at, follow him on Twitter at @plinz, or subscribe to his YouTube channel.

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Host / Director
Spencer Greenberg

Josh Castle

Audio Engineer
Ryan Kessler

Uri Bram

Janaisa Baril

Lee Rosevere
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