Episode 44: Naval Ravikant | End Games (part one) | Click to Listen


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After On Podcast #44: End Games (part one) with Naval Ravikant

Naval Ravikant is a serial entrepreneur, and one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific and successful angel investors. He started the agenda-setting investment platform AngelList (which we discussed in a special episode for Patreon backers earlier this month). And he’s deeply influential in the cryptocurrency world (which we discuss on Patreon today).

I’ve always found Naval to be a profoundly original thinker on many topics. Including the one we’re discussing today, which is existential risks. These are a set of dangers, which might – in a worst-case scenario – imperil the existence of human civilization.

 
Naval Ravikant

Naval Ravikant

 

Many of these dangers could be enabled by near-term scientific & technological developments. In this, my first two-part episode (Part Two is coming up on Thursday), Naval and I particularly on focus risks connected to synthetic biology. This is ironic, in that as regular listeners know, I view synbio as being an especially exciting & promising field. But things could really go wrong here. Naval and I also touch more briefly on some of the dangers that could be posed by superintelligence research.

Unusually, this episode is much more of a conversation than an interview. The backstory is, I wrote a series of four essays about existential risk for Medium.com in the fall. Naval and I swapped some email about that writing, and found we viewed many dangers through a remarkably similar lens. We decided discuss all this on the podcast.

Because I’d developed a fairly detailed set of arguments in my essays, Naval initially suggested the episode might be a bit more like him interviewing me. So, whereas I usually do maybe 10 to 15% of the talking in one of my interviews, maybe the ratio would invert in this case. But as we started recording, it was instantly clear that Naval also had a huge trove his original thoughts connected to existential risks. So the result is a very balanced conversation.

Incidentally, if you're interested in reading those four essays on Medium, they are behind the site’s pay wall, and will be at least until November. But the site has just implemented a policy of allowing in-bound traffic from Twitter to skip their pay wall. So I’ll be posting links to all four essays over the next couple of days from my Twitter account, at @Rob_Reid. Find them there, and you should be able to click right through.

Finally, the folks at Podcast Notes have written up a brilliant synopsis of this conversation. You can find it right here.

Rob Reid