My guest today is Ken Stanley. Ken is a Professor in Computer Science and a pioneer in the field of neuroevolution. He is also the co-author of a book called, Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned, which details a provocative idea that setting big, audacious goals can reduce the odds of achieving something great. We discuss that revelation in detail and how to apply it in our day-to-day lives. Please enjoy this great discussion with Ken Stanley.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
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[00:02:36] - [First question] - The best way to change the world is to stop trying to change it
[00:06:26] - The kinds of goals his work addresses and the ones it doesn’t
[00:08:46] - Almost no prerequisite to any major invention was invented with that major invention in mind
[00:14:04] - Picbreeder
[00:17:21] - How looking for specific results often makes arriving at them a longer process
[00:24:00] - The importance of the individual in a web of invention and disruption
[00:28:30] - How generations progressed in Picbreeder when consensus mechanisms were inserted into the process
[00:31:24] - Examples of stepping stones that were invented that became something even greater
[00:36:02] - What his research means for how we should conduct ourselves writ large
[00:44:17] - Thoughts on necessity being the mother of all invention
[00:50:08] - The ways that society is arranged is psychologically toxic
[00:55:14] - The role that constraints play in creative output and outcomes in general; Brett Victor - Inventing on Principle
[01:01:10] - What the constraints are that he sets for himself in AI development
[01:04:44] - To know what’s new you need to know what’s not new
[01:06:47] - The kindest thing anyone has ever done for him
[01:08:28] - How he would allocate resources to create more innovation in the world