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The Conversation #4 — Colin Camerer

We know very lit­tle about com­plex finan­cial sys­tems and how sys­temic risk, as it’s called, is com­put­ed and how you would man­age poli­cies. And if you look back at the finan­cial cri­sis, you can either say, as many econ­o­mists do, It all had to do with badly-designed rules,” which may be part of the sto­ry; it’s cer­tain­ly part of the sto­ry. Or it may have to do with the inter­ac­tion of those rules and human nature, like mort­gage bro­ker greed, opti­mism… And you see it not just in indi­vid­u­als who now have hous­es and fore­clo­sure, but at the high­est lev­els.

Realizing a Brain on a Chip

If we want to con­tin­ue increas­ing the per­for­mance of our com­put­ers, we need to rethink the way we com­pute. And our brains are won­der­ful proof that impres­sive com­pu­ta­tions can be car­ried out with a very low pow­er bud­get.

Applying Neuroscientific Findings to Enduring Social Problems

When low­er pri­mates form a hier­ar­chy, those at the bot­tom under­go a change in their dopamine sys­tem. This makes them more like­ly to con­sume drugs in an addic­tive fash­ion. Now, if this turns out to be true of our species, that would mean that human beings are par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble if they’re in some way dom­i­nat­ed or don’t have any pow­er.

Engineering Thoughts and Memories

In brain decod­ing, we take our mod­el that we’ve devel­oped of the brain (and this can be a mod­el for any­thing, vision or lan­guage) and we reverse it. And instead of going from the stim­u­lus to the brain activ­i­ty, we go from the brain activ­i­ty back to the stim­u­lus.

Manufacturing Dreams

We used to think that sleep is a pas­sive process caused by reduced sen­so­ry stim­u­la­tion so that our nor­mal men­tal and phys­i­cal activ­i­ties can shut down. We held this belief since the time of Aristotle, and per­haps even before that. But now we know that this idea is com­plete­ly wrong.

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