EP 41: Stephen Wolfram talks AI, the universe, Richard Feynman and life advice.


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Stephen Wolfram is not who you expect him to be.

Mathematica. Wolfram Alpha. New Kind of Science. Wolfram Physics. Cellular Automata. Mathematician. Physicist. Computer Scientist.

Genius.

No other word fits or can feel right to describe Wolfram and his body of work. The man’s output is astounding. I remember first bringing in NKOS and rifling through the pages in disbelief. One person came up with all of this? Installing Mathematica and instantly feeling “I’ll never be smart enough to use this all”.

As I grew older, I searched for ways to be more productive like many of us do. I fell in love with Stephen’s systems: of organizing his life: his meticulous storage of everything he ever does (we talk about this!), his systems for answering email and managing his time. This was someone who had a singular vision of how to live. I obsessively read everything he wrote, tried to mimic his document capture systems (is productivity-porn a thing?) and watched his livestreams of internal company meetings.

So you can imagine our nervousness when we Stephen joined us for a chat. He didn’t disappoint. From AI (he has the best explanation of ChatGPT you might find), to why Rule 33 in cellular automata in special to special stories of working with the singular Richard Feynmann, he had us spellbound for over an hour (seriously, just look at our faces).

We expected all of that. What we *didn’t* expect was Stephen’s thoughts on how we should all think about leading our lives. I won’t spoil it for you but I highly recommend watching this till the end.

0:00 Intro
1:54 How Stephen Wolfram approaches productivity
6:12 Stephen’s day-in-life
7:45 Stephen’s outlook on artificial intelligence
13:05 The human brain-artificial intelligence analog
16:40 Wolfram’s unique approach to GPT
31:00 The Pi computatio
34:14 Risks of A
45:32 Stephen’s X facto
51:36 Are things as complex as they seem?
1:03:00 Do the simple things right

Thanks,
Aarthi and Sriram