IAS-director and Leon Levy professor Robbert Dijkgraaf interviews networks expert Jennifer Chayes on how the world of technology will shape our future (19-01-2017)

An influential computer scientist reflecting on how networks and the world of technology will impact our future lives.

More videos with Jennifer Chayes

 

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Where are we? (00:00:00)
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How did you end up here? (00:00:30)
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You have been in academia, now you're in the industry. How does the world look like from that point of view? (00:01:55)
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How do you feel about being so close to a technology driven force? (00:03:08)
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Is technology impacting your life right now? (00:05:39)
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Now knowledge is easily spread, does it change how our brain works? (00:07:22)
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To which extent are we able to reach everyone and spread knowledge across the globe? (00:09:07)
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Do you see it as a definition of good or otherwise? (00:10:32)
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Technology is our only resource to deal with these kind of adverse effects?  (00:12:20)
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Do you worry that technology becomes integrated in our lives without being very much aware of it? (00:14:46)
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How are we dealing with the paradox between the good and bad in technology? (00:16:03)
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You are also in competition? (00:18:22)
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How will our lives be impacted by technology? (00:23:00)
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Are you worried that decisions in future might be made by machines? (00:26:26)
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You see the evolution of technology as an elongation of earth's and human evolution? (00:28:45)
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Are humans smart enough to deal with technology in a responsible way?  (00:31:08)
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What is phase transition?  (00:32:15)
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The connectivity would be one of the role? (00:35:07)
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If you think of technology as a force, is it unstopable?  (00:37:51)
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The idea is to create a global mind, do you see that happening?  (00:39:27)
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What diversity in culture means, when everybody gets connected?  (00:41:00)
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Diversity only has benefits for research and development? (00:45:10)
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You seem to be very adventurous?  (00:46:27)
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Why you are attracted to things you don't know? (00:47:31)
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Do you imagine the future?  (00:49:32)
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How will life be in this new renaissance era? (00:50:57)
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Will you consider yourself as a serious person or do you play with science? (00:52:08)
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Do you encourage others to play and wander? (00:53:53)
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Are you surprised by how you have been? (00:54:46)
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Are you feeling part of something that's bigger that yourself?  (00:56:18)
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Do you feel that you are passing your knowledge to the future? (00:58:06)
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Talking about Virtual Reality, will we detach from each other? (00:59:49)
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Is there a risk that we will detach from each other? (01:02:21)
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Sheer computing power is available, what do you see happening? (01:03:37)
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Talking about sheer computational power, what will be the magnitude of the changes? (01:05:15)
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What will technological revolutions do to the poor half of the world? (01:08:10)
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Do you feel we have the right incentives to do right things for human development?  (01:10:57)
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Do you feel that we are in control of our destiny by doing the right things? (01:13:23)
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What did you study? (01:14:04)
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What do you dream of? (01:16:37)
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You think that everybody will be in contact with each other? (01:18:54)
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You feel that we first have to connect with ourselves? (01:21:15)
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Do you see that we will be spreading across the universe? (01:22:20)
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00:00:01 So Jennifer thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to have a wide ranging conversation so just perhaps to
00:00:08 begin with something very simple Where are we.
00:00:12 We are in the Microsoft New England research
00:00:17 and development center which is in Cambridge Massachusetts we're right next to MIT and down the road from Harvard
00:00:25 and how did you end up here. I took a strange path here just how did you end up here. Well I took a very strange path here.
00:00:38 I actually started out as an undergraduate in biology I wanted to be a doctor.
00:00:46 And then I fell in love with physics I had to take some physics to become a biologist
00:00:51 and a doctor to get into medical school and I fell in love with physics so then I did a physics major
00:00:59 and then I decided that I really didn't want to be a doctor I wanted to be a physicist so I went to physics grad school
00:01:05 and did mathematical physics and I was you know practicing mathematical physicists for I don't know fifteen years
00:01:13 or so when at the Institute for Advanced Study Nathan Myhrvold who founded Microsoft Research and.
00:01:22 Tried to convince me to go there and start a theory group there which would bring together math physics
00:01:30 and theoretical computer science and I knew nothing about theoretical computer science
00:01:35 but I went because there was an opportunity to start an interdisciplinary lab
00:01:42 and that was irresistible to me so you know here I am twenty years later having opened this lab about ten years ago
00:01:52 and that's that's how I got here and what was your experience kind of being on the other side. You have been in academia and now you're
00:02:00 You're in industry.
00:02:03 How does the world look like from that point of view well I it first of all we have a very academic industrial lab you
00:02:11 know I've had probably one hundred fifty or two hundred post docs over the years
00:02:16 and I would say that ninety to ninety five percent of them have landed up as professors so that tells you that we are
00:02:25 we are an academic enterprise
00:02:28 but one of the things that I find really exciting is that I hear about problems in a very early stage
00:02:36 when you know it's even it's difficult to formulate them mathematically and I love translating
00:02:45 and connecting the pieces so I will hear about a problem in the context of technology
00:02:52 and I will see that there are some way to view it through the lens of mathematics or the lens of physics
00:02:59 and then you know then bring in the academic community to start looking at the problem so for me this is very exciting
00:03:08 so I must also be exciting to be kind of so close to.
00:03:13 Kind of a force that shapes kind of technology
00:03:16 and actually a world you know it's if you look at it from your own personal perspective you know that that's
00:03:24 perhaps one of the big stories of our lives that we went through these enormous transition in technology particularly
00:03:31 information technology how do you relate to that yourself well I love being so close to it
00:03:38 and I think it's actually just begun I think that machine learning in artificial intelligence are going to transform
00:03:47 our individual lives.
00:03:49 Because we will start to interact right now we have our phones we have Siri and Cortana
00:03:57 and the you know different personal assistants.
00:04:00 But I think it's going to become so much deeper than that we will have beings that really understand us that relate
00:04:10 to us
00:04:11 and we will have companions for older people which is going to become a big problem in in the world we will have companions
00:04:21 for our children and then machine learning will also transform health care it will transform.
00:04:30 environmental science which is incredibly important
00:04:34 and it will also I I believe transform the more basic sciences
00:04:38 you know I believe that cosmology for example will get transformed by machine learning because of the data that
00:04:46 we're bringing in
00:04:48 and you know even how we collect this data radio astronomers work very hard to collect data far status so that they
00:05:00 don't have to orientate transform it I was just sitting in a board meeting
00:05:05 and I asked Well has anyone tried to use some of the new machine learning techniques so that we could actually measure
00:05:15 and for you transform
00:05:16 and see if we can get enough signal from that so I think you know in all aspects of this as we develop machine learning
00:05:27 we're going to be able to.
00:05:31 Really push ahead in the basic sciences the Applied Sciences
00:05:36 and the way in which we interact with the world this is already impacting your life right now if you just look at your
00:05:43 own personal life perhaps. Do you feel that you. technology is changing that Oh absolutely I mean technology is.
00:05:55 You know we we all have our phones we get very attached to our phones in fact you see withdrawal
00:06:00 if people My husband just lost his phone last week and he was that's what he was desperate he was desperate.
00:06:10 You know your phone connects you in so many different ways it also connects me socially I am actually a user of
00:06:18 Facebook
00:06:18 and Twitter it took me a long time to adjust because I was not born into them like some younger people were for me it's
00:06:27 not my native tongue it's an acquired language for the kids who are growing up today it's their native tongue
00:06:34 but I have connected with so many people people from my past scientists so I hear about different kinds of science you
00:06:45 know from scientists who are on Facebook and you know
00:06:49 and talking about new discoveries so it's it's just it it connects us all in.
00:06:58 In a really exciting way
00:06:59 and for me especially because I love interdisciplinary work it allows me to tap into these different kinds of science
00:07:09 to think about how they might be ripe for the kinds of approaches so so for me it's really I could not imagine living
00:07:20 without information technology if you think about particularly this kind of knowledge element you know the fact that you know knowledge is
00:07:26 now so easy. You can easily connect to it. It's so easy to collaborate it's easy for knowledge to spread.
00:07:37 You think that changes just the way. You know our research and perhaps even you know our collective kind of brain works.
00:07:48 I personally do think it changes everything I mean I am someone who in my career I've you know started out in math
00:07:56 and physics and I ventured into computer science.
00:08:00 And then ventured into economics and some social sciences
00:08:05 and ventured into computational biology there's no way that I could have done this without.
00:08:13 You know the world of knowledge the universe of knowledge at my fingertips to learn about different things to connect
00:08:20 with different people and also you know I sometimes get my best ideas when I.
00:08:29 Am hearing about different disciplines
00:08:32 and I get an intuition that I might be able to connect them to the lenses through through which I see the world you
00:08:40 know through mathematics and physics and phase transitions in in particular
00:08:47 and so for me this knowledge we are we're really accelerating with information technology.
00:08:58 The building of this fabric of knowledge
00:09:02 and we're breaking down the silos which existed. if you push that at little bit further there are clearly
00:09:11 Silos within academia and research that are being broken but if you think a little bit broader in terms of the world so to which extent are we
00:09:19 able to kind of reach everyone.
00:09:23 And that connectivity is that something that's helping so to say also to spread knowledge truly across the globe Well I
00:09:32 think one of the really exciting things is that.
00:09:36 You know with online courses
00:09:40 and with you know articles available on the archives and this kind of thing you know you can be a scientist anywhere.
00:09:52 Even in the developing world where you don't have very much but you have enough connectivity for a cell phone
00:10:00 and you.
00:10:00 Can tap into this so I think it it has allowed us as scientists to help spur the scientific endeavor in the developing
00:10:11 world you know I don't know how we would have done it otherwise you you can't build up libraries in subsaharan africa
00:10:18 Now obviously if you're starving you're not going to be doing science
00:10:22 but if you were not starving you might still have been isolated from this kind of worldwide scientific endeavor
00:10:30 and now you're not. so it's just such a powerful force in there you're very close to the center these big drivers do you see
00:10:39 it almost by definition as a force for good or are there also aspects that you worry about so. I.
00:10:48 See a lot of wonderful aspects of it I see that.
00:10:54 You know people are able to learn so much I see that you know we we also are able to spread technologies that help in
00:11:06 really important ways in terms of clean water
00:11:08 and things like that so as we train people in the various countries they they can do this but I also.
00:11:15 Think especially recently you know we've seen this spread of fake news.
00:11:21 And
00:11:22 and so I think this was a great shock I think everyone expected the Internet or the World Wide Web to be the great equalizer
00:11:33 and to spread information
00:11:36 and we realize that of course it can also spread misinformation so one of the areas that's being developed now I have
00:11:47 a group in one of my two labs that calls itself the fate group: fairness accountability transparency.
00:11:56 And ethics and it brings together people from.
00:12:01 Ethics philosophy law with machine learning
00:12:05 and information retrieval to look at whether there are ways in which we can use these technologies to guard against you
00:12:17 know the dark side of the Web
00:12:20 but if you think about other technologies in fact industrial development by itself of course costs lots of issues that
00:12:28 often then technology is again is basically our only resource to.
00:12:35 Deal with these kind of adverse effects so you think for information technology it will be something similar in the end
00:12:41 It's the next. Iteration of technology that will help to. I think that.
00:12:48 A lot of people in machine learning and AI are now devoting efforts to trying to stop this spread of misinformation.
00:13:02 And also of bias you know we have the the problem with machine learning is
00:13:09 and artificial intelligence is that you have the algorithm but you also have the data Yes
00:13:15 and the algorithm takes in the data and out put something and the data is created by human beings
00:13:23 and so if the human beings have bias then the outcome has bias if you are looking for an engineer the Web is more
00:13:34 likely to return a male name than a female name
00:13:38 and this is because it has learned from all the interactions so I have some people in one of my labs who said how can
00:13:48 we use technology to solve this problem to rebalance to rebalance so there are there's something
00:13:57 called word vectors which are used to generalize and.
00:14:00 broaden searches by all search engines
00:14:03 and those word vectors have implicit biases in them they associate things in a gender biased way in a racially biased
00:14:13 way in an economically biased way and so some of my researchers took this the gender bias and they de-biased
00:14:24 the word vectors so that you could feed that into the search engine
00:14:29 and get outputs which were not gender biased anymore you know
00:14:34 and so this is using machine learning using algorithms using mathematics to.
00:14:42 To deal with some of the problems that are caused by the technology. do you worry sometimes that that knowledge becomes
00:14:50 kind of integrated in our lives that we aren't even aware of it's what is doing for us
00:14:56 or not doing for instance you just said that young children they don't know the world without the internet.
00:15:04 But I'm not worried about it I'm I believe that.
00:15:10 They pick it up just like any other language it's almost as if
00:15:14 when language didn't exist in that well language started to exist slowly
00:15:18 but if you know if I have one set of children who are raised with one language
00:15:24 and another set who were raised with three languages.
00:15:28 In fact they might start talking a little later but they are going to see the world in in a deeper way
00:15:36 and I believe that children and even we who learn this not as our native tongue.
00:15:44 Use it to connect things
00:15:47 and to do things that were not possible in the past I think it's actually part of our evolution that we now
00:15:57 Are beginning to adjust to the ways in which.
00:16:01 Technology can enhance our lives. So you talked about how knowledge and information spreads much more easily.
00:16:08 On the other hand knowledge always was power
00:16:12 and in some sense Microsoft you can say this is certainly one of the centers of power so can you say something about
00:16:20 how how do we deal with this paradox that on the one hand information is spreading
00:16:25 but on the other hand some of the most powerful companies.
00:16:30 Use that kind of knowledge. so I think that this is a real problem that.
00:16:37 That these networks
00:16:40 and I think study networks I study them mathematically I study their applications in social networks and biology in.
00:16:49 Economics. Networks actually centralize power.
00:16:57 For the network providers networks are incredibly powerful people go on them and interact
00:17:05 and the network providers have incredible power Jaron Lanier is a wonderful wonderful author and technologist
00:17:13 and he wrote a book I believe it was. Who owns the future.
00:17:21 And it was precisely this question these networks while generating so much value for the world then take that value
00:17:32 and centralize it among a few individuals or a few companies and so he had a view that some would call a utopian view.
00:17:44 Attempting to redistribute that value to the people who participated in the network and created the value
00:17:53 and I'm not sure that he has come up with the right way to do that yet but I think it's something that society
00:18:00 needs to consider social good has been created but then its value has been centralized
00:18:08 and how do we bring it back what economic systems
00:18:12 and social systems can we engineer to take some of the value back to those who helped create it by participating in the
00:18:22 network. what I find fascinating though which of course you never really have an academic setting
00:18:26 but if you talk to R&D being done at these large companies
00:18:31 some of it is secret it's knowledge that is very held very closely.
00:18:37 And you're also in competition with others so how does that feel well I think first of all How much is there that we don't know
00:18:45 there is proprietary information kind of business information most of the people in my labs publish everything
00:18:55 openly so
00:18:57 and I think that's a requirement we have brought in a lot of people from academia who's for whom being able to share
00:19:06 knowledge is incredibly important that's how science is is done now so there is some proprietary business information
00:19:16 and that of course does feed this centralization of value there is also personally identifiable information. P.-I I.
00:19:28 Which includes both things like your search history which can reveal so much about you it's unbelievable
00:19:35 and also for example your health information there is nothing more personally identifiable than your genome you know
00:19:43 and your clinical health records are incredibly personal So there's a big question about how do we extract value for
00:19:53 individuals and for society from this data without compromising people's privacy.
00:20:01 And people's integrity
00:20:02 and I think this is one of the great challenges of the age of big data you know there are again some technological
00:20:13 mathematical solutions there's homomorphic encryption which is.
00:20:19 A mathematical construct which allows you to extract information from the data
00:20:27 but return something which doesn't reveal that information however it slows the typical calculation down by about ten
00:20:37 to the thirteenth OK That's not what you want to do. but.
00:20:44 There are certain kinds of calculations which it only slows down by ten to the sixth which might still sound like a lot
00:20:52 to you but what if I said oh you know you've done twenty three and Me
00:20:57 or some other service which you know looks at parts of your genome
00:21:03 and tells you your odds of developing diabetes or Alzheimers.
00:21:08 You probably don't want that information to be public
00:21:12 but you might want that information used in some ways if I slow down those calculations by tend to the sixth I can do ten
00:21:22 thousand of them in one minute would you be willing to wait a minute to know this information about yourself in a
00:21:30 completely private way
00:21:32 and you probably would so that is a price you want to pay that's a price you want to pay so so the question is What are the
00:21:39 what's the price we're willing to pay in time in calculation for privacy and I think that is something that
00:21:50 and then there's other forms of this there's.
00:21:54 Secure multiparty computation and other things so we're going to have to as a society or as.
00:22:00 Different societies with different ethical norms
00:22:05 and different social norms decide what are the tradeoffs we're willing to make we you know I don't think we can run
00:22:12 away
00:22:13 and say we don't want any of this technology because I think we're harming ourselves more than the technology should
00:22:20 harm us or could harm us so you know how do different societies strike that balance
00:22:27 and this is a conversation that I believe society should be having and then eventually.
00:22:34 You know there are legislatures can legislate about it
00:22:38 but we have to talk it out on a philosophical first on a technological level what is it possible to do
00:22:45 and then on a philosophical and ethical level and the best thing would be to have the philosophical
00:22:52 and ethical conversations combined with the scientific conversations about what's possible.
00:23:00 You mentioned already few times.
00:23:03 this kind of end of artificial intelligence machine learning machines getting smarter and smarter.
00:23:11 Just take that thought and push it a little bit further so what are we how will our lives be impacted by that say first think about
00:23:20 the next five years
00:23:22 but then also take a longer view. so I I think there are certain you know certain things that are going to be really
00:23:31 really improved by this technology I recall you know talking to my husband
00:23:36 and saying oh I might want to you know get a house here or there
00:23:40 and he says I Well we have to be careful because you know if you want to have this house for thirty years you know
00:23:46 maybe you'll be too old to you know do you want to drive to the you know to the store to get your eggs to
00:23:54 and I said Oh you don't have to worry about that we won't we won't be driving ourselves in ten years.
00:24:01 None of us will drive ourselves our cars will drive us so we don't have to worry about that so there are you know
00:24:08 things on a shorter time scale also just I really think a lot about elder care my parents are getting older.
00:24:17 I think there will be robots that can actually help us help our parents which will impact me because I care deeply
00:24:28 about them and I want them to have a life in which they're more independent which this technology will allow us to do.
00:24:38 I think in the long run I the things that I get really excited about in you know out ten to twenty years is the effect
00:24:49 on personalized medicine it's going to be unbelievable I mean we we have so many layers of information to bring
00:24:58 together we have the genome but we also have.
00:25:04 You know devices that sit on our wrists that very soon these devices will be good enough to measure your blood sugar
00:25:13 just through your skin from whether you're you know hemoglobin is oxygenated or
00:25:20 or not they'll be able to tell how much glucose you you have.
00:25:27 You know they can tell your gait
00:25:28 and whether as a person ages whether there's something wrong with the way in which they're walking
00:25:34 and then you start to combine that with clinical information with diagnostic tests of various sorts you know each of us
00:25:43 has.
00:25:44 Thousands of codes of diagnostic codes associated with us over our lives if we could put that information together with
00:25:55 continuously collected information and genomic information then.
00:26:01 Information that a doctor records in his
00:26:04 or her notes which will be able to access via natural language processing we will be able to increase the quality of
00:26:13 life tremendously we will be able to prolong it
00:26:16 but for me I think the most important thing is increasing the quality of life so that really excites me on an
00:26:25 intermediate time scale. Are you worried that in the end the kind of decisions
00:26:29 and sense of the place where all this information will come together will not be the human mind right it will be in
00:26:37 it might be in a machine
00:26:38 or it might be some combination so I am not someone who is worried about the singularity which is who's worried
00:26:47 about the machines taking over I know a lot of very good technologists are worried about this so it's not I mean it's
00:26:56 not.
00:26:58 Something that can just be dismissed but I but are you not worried about in the sense it's fine with you
00:27:03 or are you not worried in the sense you don't see it happening I see that there will be.
00:27:12 An integration of human knowledge in the human mind with these what I view is enhancements of the human mind I I am
00:27:25 not particularly worried that these will turn on us and.
00:27:33 And you know
00:27:34 and take over because I think that they are really extensions of us you know you might have worried I don't know in the
00:27:43 in the time of the first printing presses that if the masses get this knowledge from books well first it was just the
00:27:50 wealthy people who got the knowledge and then over time the masses that there would be a restructuring of society
00:27:58 and indeed there was a restructuring of society.
00:28:00 but that was because there was so much more value that we could actually improve a lot of more of society
00:28:11 and I my hope is that as we.
00:28:16 Integrate humans with computers
00:28:20 and with technology as enhancements of ourselves that again there will be a lot of value you know we still have half
00:28:29 the population on this earth which.
00:28:33 does not live as well as the developed world
00:28:37 and so we could really use value creation in this world to improve the lot of those people if you take the long view
00:28:46 and you think of the billions of years of evolution of life you know even the hundreds of thousands of years of human
00:28:52 evolution and now we are in this phase where technology is some sense. Happening.
00:28:58 You see this as some kind of a continuation of what nature's doing but then
00:29:02 at a different level at a different speed I do see this as a continuation of what nature is is doing
00:29:11 and in fact you know if you look at all of.
00:29:16 All of human evolution so far you know we started out as hunters and gatherers
00:29:21 and then we began to farm and what did we do well we harnessed other you know.
00:29:29 Other organisms for our own good you know
00:29:32 and we we interfered with their genomes not by going in there on a cellular level
00:29:41 and interfering or on a molecular level but we bred certain plants for and animals and
00:29:50 and so I see this as a natural evolution I see it as a way in which we are harnessing other kinds.
00:30:01 Of power
00:30:01 and I honestly expect that there are probably others in this universe who have already done this So you say we are kind of domesticating
00:30:11 technology we're domesticating technology we're domesticating technology it's our creation
00:30:17 but it is also something that we domesticate you know we have we have created species honestly so and I think provided that.
00:30:31 Science as it develops and technology as it develops is. Is done in concert with ethics.
00:30:46 Then we will be fine OK So I think it's very very important that we have ethicists philosophers.
00:30:57 Legal scholars sociologists anthropologists participating in the creation of this science
00:31:07 and technology. is that a big if in the sense that you know we can kind of survive technology you know if you honestly
00:31:13 look at previous episodes not that long ago like nuclear arms etc there were some close calls very close calls so it's not
00:31:22 that it's not an obvious fact that humans are smart enough to control
00:31:28 and deal in a responsible way with technology I think it's definitely not an obvious fact
00:31:34 and I you know I don't know how much I would wager that we will be here ten thousand years from now we could destroy
00:31:43 ourselves with nuclear weapons I think we are laying the foundation to destroy ourselves with climate change so I am
00:31:53 hoping that we will wake up to some of this and we will be. Able to use technology to.
00:32:05 Help correct some of the things that we have already done
00:32:10 and help us to survive what we cannot correct. Jennifer we were talking about the kind of specific time in human evolution
00:32:20 that we are right now where kind of restarting this kind of symbiotic relationship with technology
00:32:26 and you're about to tell us this is something that reminds you of a phase transition What's a phase transition so a phase
00:32:34 transition is something that everybody experiences when water freezes going from liquid to solid
00:32:43 when water boils it's going from liquid to gas these are qualitative changes we have quantitative changes as you know
00:32:53 water goes from ninety seven to ninety eight to ninety nine degrees it hits one hundred degrees Celsius
00:33:02 and there's a qualitative change of state
00:33:06 and so phase transitions are those qualitative changes that occur at specific values of a parameter
00:33:16 and yet for me I mean I study phase transitions mathematically
00:33:21 but they're also one of the lenses through which I view the world sometimes that can be sometimes you know these lenses
00:33:29 can be made incredibly mathematically precise and other times they're only a metaphor and you know this case.
00:33:36 I see points in human behavior in in human evolution as phase transition points I see the shift from you know from
00:33:50 hunter gatherer to domestication as a qualitative shift in you know what homo sapiens.
00:34:00 Could do
00:34:01 and I do believe that we are very near another one of those cusps where we are going to be able to integrate the technology
00:34:15 and the knowledge with our own minds and with our own bodies and we're going to be able to.
00:34:24 Do things we were never able to do before
00:34:27 or that we were never able to do for the vast majority of people before and
00:34:34 and I think that you know if we're still around ten thousand years from now
00:34:39 and somebody looks at the different ages you know where we domesticated animals or the industrial revolution.
00:34:50 I think that this roughly around this time people will identify. Another.
00:34:58 Change another phase transition in which we interact with the world
00:35:05 and with each other in a different way. one of the pushing that metaphor a little bit one of the effects of phase transition
00:35:12 that certainly you get kind of connections correlations over very different kind of skills
00:35:18 and we were talking about this kind of connectivity is that would that be one of the kind of hallmarks of this kind of
00:35:24 new phase of human kind where it's no longer us as individuals but it's us together
00:35:32 and with machines do you see a role of that. I see.
00:35:36 A definite role I'm one of the so what I love about phase transitions is that local interactions create a global effect
00:35:46 yes local interactions between the water molecules lead to a change from liquid to gas as the water boils
00:35:56 and so I believe that we are and typically you see. The the. The onset or the disappearance of long range order.
00:36:09 You know when we learned to write things down.
00:36:14 We could do much more than before we were able to write things down right we couldn't have we could pass information to
00:36:22 other generations we could pass information to other generations we could have an economic system between us in which we didn't
00:36:31 just barter but you know I gave you grain today and you gave me some animal tomorrow because we could write it down
00:36:42 and our minds have the capacity to only deal with a certain number of people they say it's about one hundred fifty
00:36:50 or so deal with a certain amount of information some of us can remember more than others but there's a limit
00:36:58 and so writing things down qualitatively changed the size of the domains in which humans could interact
00:37:11 and I believe that we're at another transition now where we're going really to a global scale of interaction
00:37:21 and we've talked about global scales for years with planes
00:37:25 and economy and you know the stock market of one country connected to that of another
00:37:32 but I think this is the going to be the deep manifestation of it that our knowledge base is becoming universal is
00:37:42 becoming long range so we're seeing the onset of long range order in our knowledge. if you think about this as a force
00:37:54 is it kind of unstoppable is that somehow an autonomous development I think it is definitely unstoppable.
00:38:03 Actually there there are. There are.
00:38:09 Systems where there's kind of a driving force that then leads to a critical transition there's something in mathematics
00:38:18 that I
00:38:18 and physics that I worked on many years ago called self organized criticality So that was driving you towards a certain
00:38:24 kind of phase transition
00:38:26 but the driving force there was just you know the deposit of certain particles here there is a driving force I
00:38:36 believe in human beings to connect with each other
00:38:41 and that force is leading us towards this transition I don't think it's stoppable in any way.
00:38:50 You know no one you you know this no one is going to stop you from trying to learn more about particle physics
00:38:59 or for me trying to learn more and you know it just it's not going to happen
00:39:03 and on so many different levels on emotional levels on intellectual levels on levels of survival we are driven to
00:39:15 connect and I think
00:39:16 but these are local interactions Yes And I think that what's happening is that technology has facilitated.
00:39:24 The onset of long range order here so the title of the series is the mind of the universe.
00:39:33 And the idea is really that in some sense this connectivity is creating a mind that's going to
00:39:38 at least a global mind or something is I think you see that the kind of happening.
00:39:45 Our individual being becomes much more part of a global ensemble. I very much believe this is happening
00:39:53 and I find it so exciting Yes I believe that we are part of this global ensemble I see.
00:40:00 You know I start to work I come up with a you know theory of phase transitions for deep learning
00:40:06 and before I know it there are people in other parts of the world that I thought were disconnected I thought the their
00:40:14 research was on something different and they find they find the paper on the archives and they or they hear a talk
00:40:23 and all of a sudden we're connected we're connected we're connected
00:40:26 and it happens so much more rapidly over obviously you know world scale geographical distances
00:40:36 but also intellectual distances are shrinking you know we are we are able to connect across what previously were
00:40:46 intellectual divides so it's a world scale but also it's. Our.
00:40:54 Our knowledge is is becoming integrated at an incredible rate. Can you speak also I mean there's knowledge in terms of different
00:41:02 fields or subjects
00:41:04 but I guess there's also something like the culture from which you approach this cultures has been developed in various
00:41:10 countries now it could be gender based or various ways to look at the World.
00:41:17 Talk about what this kind of diversity means once we start connecting these various points of view because not
00:41:24 everybody has the same point of view.
00:41:27 I actually love the fact that not everybody has the same point of view in you know my career what I've done is I have
00:41:37 brought together different disciplines because I believe that the most exciting things happen at the boundaries of
00:41:46 disciplines you know you bring the insights and the lens
00:41:50 and the specific techniques of one discipline to bear on another and it it just.
00:42:01 It's accellerates the the understanding of of a different subject so so much I believe also we should have different
00:42:12 cultural backgrounds.
00:42:13 Now in fact in the different fields we really do have different cultural backgrounds a physicist views the
00:42:19 world very differently from an anthropologist
00:42:22 and I I see these these different views coming together over time
00:42:28 but you know I also have people from many different countries in my lab they have different social norms.
00:42:39 I love this because then we step back and we consider the differences in social norms in information technology.
00:42:49 There are so many questions around privacy the social norms in Germany
00:42:55 and the Netherlands are so different than in the U.S. You know we always in the U.S.
00:43:00 Err on the side of free speech and I hope we continue to do so.
00:43:06 And you know and in Germany they err on the side of privacy and so when we bring Germans
00:43:14 and Americans together we have to deal with these differences and we have to stand back
00:43:20 and try to understand how those norms formed why they formed and what are the benefits of each
00:43:29 and under what circumstances we retain which norms which is you know almost a kind of international law.
00:43:37 And then finally you know I I think gender balance is incredibly important.
00:43:44 In my labs we happen to have a lot of women some people say to me how do you get so many women
00:43:52 and I said well I guess we just scare the men away.
00:43:56 Or certain men we scare the ones who are uncomfortable with gender. You know with gender diversity away.
00:44:05 You know and I I think also women when they see a woman leader they say OK there's a there's a place for me here.
00:44:13 But I think that. These are sweeping generalizations but I think that women.
00:44:21 Sometimes tend to be more into collaboration sometimes tend to be more into taking their mathematics for example
00:44:29 or their computer science and applying it to the real world and veer
00:44:34 and as I say it's sweeping generalisations because there are many men who really care about the social implications of
00:44:40 their work but I think it just it just as you want to bring different cultures from different countries
00:44:49 and from different disciplines together I think you want to bring different genders together and different racial
00:44:56 and religious backgrounds together because it just causes you to step back
00:45:03 and see the world more broadly which is I think the way to really push science forward so you would argue this
00:45:12 really just benefits research
00:45:14 and development by itself to have this greater diversity absolutely I feel that way I think that.
00:45:21 Just you know if you're always with the people who come from the same background.
00:45:29 You know if you just have this is they ask the kinds of questions that physicists ask which are wonderful I mean I was
00:45:37 you know raised a physicist but I love the fact that I talk to a biologist and I and I begin it
00:45:46 and it takes years actually to appreciate people think you have to learn the techniques of a different field
00:45:54 but I think you really have to learn the values of the different field and what are the kinds of questions they.
00:46:00 Ask what are the things they care about in a different field before you can have a deep
00:46:07 and incredibly impactful collaborations
00:46:11 and in the same way having gender balance having you know nationally cultural balance allows you to broaden your view
00:46:22 and which ultimately allows you to go into something more deeply. if you just look at your own personal life story
00:46:29 and you know your professional development you seem to be very adventurous you know going into new cultures
00:46:37 or something you know how did that feel was it something you had from the very beginning.
00:46:42 You know it's it's really funny because I. How were you as a child. I thought I would be scared of things.
00:46:51 I actually am scared of things sometimes but there is this other I Somebody once told me I was counter phobic.
00:47:00 Anything that scares me I rushed towards so sometimes my initial reaction is a little bit of fear I don't understand
00:47:07 that at all you know and I think but then if I don't understand it it has power over me so I'm just going to rush in
00:47:16 and I'm going to try to understand it
00:47:19 and try to absorb it because then I can absorb that power that way of looking at the world so I land up
00:47:29 and I just got excited about it. why are you so attracted to things you don't know what's.
00:47:35 I think you see each time I also as I get older come with things that I do know now so.
00:47:46 Now when you're when you're first a graduate student you actually come with very little you know
00:47:52 and so it's really hard because you're coming to these very difficult questions and you have very few bows
00:48:01 You know you have very few ways I mean I've you you have your own mind and your own creativity and that's wonderful
00:48:08 but you have very little perspective and now as I move into different fields there's the initial fear
00:48:16 and there's the activation barrier of having to learn not only the techniques but also the values
00:48:23 and the questions of that field but then I bring my probability theory distribution perspective to it
00:48:32 or I bring my phase transition perspective so I bring all these different perspectives you have all these different arrows now
00:48:37 and I have all these different arrows
00:48:40 and all of a sudden I'm so much of a better graduate student than I was the first time around you know.
00:48:47 You know
00:48:47 and hopefully I still retain some of my creativity I think it also really allows me to retain creativity because I
00:48:55 think when you enter a new field.
00:48:59 You have to create something yourself to understand that field and
00:49:05 when you stay in a field sometimes you just hone the details of what you know which can lead to remarkable
00:49:14 breakthroughs
00:49:15 but this excitement of Oh now I understand something I didn't understand before this rush you get mixed with the fear
00:49:24 that you get as a graduate student.
00:49:28 I guess must be addictive to me because I keep doing it again
00:49:31 and again. do you kind of imagine the future do you imagine somehow what's out there in the areas that you don't
00:49:38 know. Do I imagine the future Well you know my one great sadness is that I won't be able to you know I won't be
00:49:46 here to see all of this unless I'm wrong in my religious views
00:49:51 where you solved these pesky problems in biology. Although God forbid then for
00:49:57 all the people who are on the earth. But I.
00:50:00 I do I magine the barriers in science in the different sciences being broken down much as the you know we've seen it in
00:50:13 economics we have one economic system throughout much of the world
00:50:19 and I I believe that we are going to move towards a time
00:50:25 when science is more unified So for me this is really really exciting that we can kind of re-enter a renaissance you
00:50:34 know the Renaissance had all the sciences together and then we specialized and we went apart
00:50:40 and now I believe this new knowledge base which we all share
00:50:47 and this new ability to communicate will bring us back you know to a post modern Renaissance where the sciences are
00:50:56 more united. How will life be in this
00:51:02 New Renaissance era? well I'm not sure how I mean I I hope that some of the inconveniences of life will be removed
00:51:10 you know having to drive myself somewhere when I'm tired
00:51:15 or having you know We're now stuck in between epochs where we have to sit on the phone
00:51:22 and press buttons press one press two you know hopefully that will be removed to all these pesky little things that
00:51:29 interfere on the other hand I hope that. You know we will not remove our ability to.
00:51:38 Walk by the Charles River and you know and see the boats and see the birds and
00:51:45 and feel connected to the universe in other ways I hope that we can retain the physicality which brings us great joy and
00:51:54 peace and which I think is necessary for creativity of all kinds and yet. We can remove some of the.
00:52:04 Less enjoyable aspects of physicality. What about. You said there's this incredible force that drives technology and.
00:52:16 Another element in that is just the joy of finding things out, there's this playfulness to it. yes
00:52:25 technology and science and research are serious business
00:52:29 but do you consider yourself a serious person? I always play with science I always play.
00:52:38 You know it's interesting when I was a member at the I.A.S. for the first time.
00:52:45 Enrico Bombieri asked me how it was going and I'd been there for about a month
00:52:50 and I said well I'm not having ideas
00:52:53 and he said Are you worried that your ideas aren't great enough because this happens to people
00:53:00 when they spend a year at the Institute for the first time
00:53:03 and I said Yeah maybe I am. Maybe I should just go back to playing with mathematics to just you know I don't know
00:53:12 where I'm going I'm just wondering around and I just started doing that again
00:53:17 I started playing I started saying it doesn't matter I don't have to have a great idea today you know I'm just
00:53:24 playing and it was actually during that year that I made the connection between statistical physics
00:53:34 and theoretical computer science I played I talked to people I found all these connections so I think wandering
00:53:43 and playing.
00:53:46 Are really necessary for scientists. They're serious business. they are serious business. Is that something you encourage in others
00:53:55 I very much encourage wandering in others.
00:54:00 I have many postdocs in my labs at a given time ten or fifteen of them
00:54:06 and I very much encourage them to talk across disciplines to step back that you know to play because that forms their
00:54:21 worldviews for later you know
00:54:24 and the more they play the broader their worldview so I very very much encourage this I sometimes tell people you're
00:54:34 writing too many papers you know you're not you you should relax this is a time to really figure out what kind of a
00:54:44 scientist you're going to be.
00:54:47 If you think back. we started our conversation with you as a young girl you know having certain dreams.
00:54:56 Looking back. Everything you have experienced, that you have seen happening in your own life and in society.
00:55:04 Are you surprised by that? I'm completely surprised you know I'm I'm very driven in a way I'm playful and driven
00:55:11 and so I'm always driven toward something I always have some I mean right now I really want to understand cancer
00:55:18 immunotherapy because I'm starting a project with Arnie Levine at the I.A.S.
00:55:23 I'm always driven and so I am rushing towards some goal but then I take a turn.
00:55:32 And I start going towards another goal you know
00:55:35 and so all these turns have you know have taken me on a path I never would have imagined
00:55:43 and I also try to encourage the young scientists I mentor
00:55:47 and I work with to just not to to always have great goals because I think it's important.
00:55:55 But to always be open to the opportunities you know to to.
00:56:01 Grab that brass ring that you know that might just appear because you never know where that is going to take you
00:56:10 and it's not as if you're not bringing all of it along with you you know you're bringing all that you've
00:56:17 done. Are you feeling a part of something which is much bigger than yourself in that.
00:56:22 Absolutely I'm very much feeling a part of this as I said to you earlier I believe that the world that barriers are
00:56:32 being broken down in science and I'd like it to extend even further I'd like it to extend to ethics
00:56:41 and you know law and these other areas and that's why I get very excited every day
00:56:48 when I see some other little barrier falling you know.
00:56:55 Robert Frost said you know something there is that doesn't love a wall and I do not like walls
00:57:01 I do not like walls and so I see them break down on small scales
00:57:07 and then all of a sudden there's a phase transition because there is not a wall
00:57:12 and so then a lot of people are passing between two disciplines at first only the ones who are willing to climb over
00:57:20 the part of the wall that remains do that
00:57:24 but then it gets it gets broken down enough that you see unifications of different parts of science
00:57:31 I know it's difficult on a day to day basis but are you an optimist? Oh I'm very much an optimist I mean yes on day to day
00:57:38 you know oh my God I'll never be able to prove this or. But.
00:57:45 You know
00:57:45 on medium to long range scales I'm very much an optimist which is also why I love mentoring young people because I'm
00:57:56 optimistic about their futures as well and I feel that's a way in which. You know.
00:58:02 I can have a piece of this science that goes on. Because if you think about it
00:58:07 one of the great things is you said
00:58:09 when people start writing things down they were passing things to the next generation and then you know the knowledge that we
00:58:16 are enjoying right now is from many many generations before us
00:58:19 and do you feel you are also passing this along to the future? I feel I'm very much passing it along I mean my the grad
00:58:27 students with whom I work
00:58:28 and the post-docs are you know perhaps what I am proudest of I mean I'm proud of particular pieces of my own work but.
00:58:36 You know I probably have over a hundred well over a hundred of my ex students
00:58:44 and postdocs sitting at top universities around the world and
00:58:51 and I see an element of what they do they're approaching things in a slightly different way because of the
00:59:00 environment I helped to create for them
00:59:03 and the world view I helped to give them a little piece of so I mean that's you know.
00:59:09 That's definitely my greatest legacy. You talked about how we're forming this kind of great network.
00:59:16 This kind of global intelligence.
00:59:19 That's in space but do you also see this kind of extending in time? absolutely extending in time
00:59:26 and you know I won't be you know leading labs a hundred years from now certainly.
00:59:33 But they and their disciples will you know they are just
00:59:39 and they are going to do things that I cannot imagine which is very exciting to me
00:59:46 Undoubtly you tried so. OK Jennifer I want to go into some of the more specific technologies that are driving these
00:59:55 tremendous changes. The first thing I want to talk about is virtual reality.
01:00:02 You told us about how we're going to live in this kind of new world.
01:00:07 Probably a lot of what we will experience in that new world will not be direct experiences as we do right now
01:00:13 but probably in a virtual form so what do you see happening there. So I think that virtual reality
01:00:20 and actually augmented reality which is the projection of some virtual elements into your physical space.
01:00:33 Are just going to be wonderful I mean I think it you know it will have all kinds of applications from obviously
01:00:43 games and amusement to many people being able to travel to other countries to which they haven't been able to travel
01:00:50 while sitting in their chairs you know to travel in the universe you know fly through the universe
01:01:00 and see various stars to very concrete things like.
01:01:07 A doctor in the United States being able to guide operations in the developing world so it you know it it will have very
01:01:20 practical applications and it will also be magical in so many ways
01:01:28 and I feel like I I get to travel all the time for my work.
01:01:33 But I feel bad for people who can't travel so many of them will have a lot of these experiences
01:01:41 and in augmented reality and virtual reality these are essentially visceral experiences.
01:01:48 Perhaps in some sense our reality is already
01:01:51 augmented right because you know our brain is processing what we see, is adding stuff to it. Absolutely I definitely
01:01:58 think that my reality is.
01:02:00 Augmented because I project. What you know
01:02:04 I project what I know I project my views I you know I see networks I see phase transitions.
01:02:14 You know
01:02:14 and so I have kind of these parallel views going on. Is there a risk that we will kind of detach from the world
01:02:23 and detach from each other. I don't think we will detach from each other I think there is.
01:02:33 That it is really inbred in us to want to connect with each other.
01:02:39 The World Wide Web started at first there was just information on the World Wide Web. What became the most popular
01:02:51 things on the World Wide Web It was social media it was connecting it was Facebook
01:02:57 and Twitter and Instagram it was not just passively interacting with some knowledge
01:03:06 or some entertainment it was interaction so I believe that we will always want to interact. We are just kind of a social animal
01:03:17 and this will be just enhancing that. yes
01:03:20 and it would take many many many millions of years for us to evolve into something other than a social
01:03:29 animal. So I believe that we will continue to remain fundamentally social.
01:03:38 One of the things that is driving all of this. We also talked about artificial intelligence and machine learning
01:03:43 and virtual reality is the sheer computing power that is.
01:03:51 Now available
01:03:53 and often this is kind of a semi secret how incredibly strong these resources are particularly in the private
01:04:00 industry.
01:04:01 But what do you see happening in computing in particular we are now in the phase where quantum computing
01:04:08 is getting closer
01:04:09 and I know Microsoft is heavily betting on that. So what will that do to us. Well you know for many years now people have
01:04:18 been worried about the end of Moore's Law You know the doubling every year and a half
01:04:24 and so we are going to need new computing paradigms I think quantum computing will be one there are different kinds of
01:04:33 quantum computers. Mike Freedman at Microsoft he's a wonderful topologist is you know looking at topological quantum
01:04:44 computing there are other kinds of chronic computing one could consider Adiabatic quantum computing which would
01:04:53 have different realizations.
01:04:57 I'm just starting to work with some people in Holland on this actually
01:05:00 on adiabatic quantum computing possibly to create hardware that learns So you know there are we need people
01:05:10 thinking about what are the next generations.
01:05:14 But try to kind of get us a feeling of the magnitude of these changes you know what will be possible what's not possible
01:05:21 right now just in terms of sheer power computational power. Well you know I think that.
01:05:29 We are going to be able to conjure up. One of the things that is really.
01:05:36 Computation intensive is image
01:05:39 and graphics OK And we spoke about virtual reality well virtual reality will not be possible without a great deal more
01:05:51 computing power so we really need many generations more of computing power for you to be.
01:06:00 Able to be in this room
01:06:03 and yet walk among the pyramids you know to interact with each other there will be things that you know where a
01:06:11 hologram of someone else is in the room with you a little bit like Star Trek.
01:06:18 I very much hope I think everybody who travels very much hopes that virtual meetings will get much much better so that
01:06:27 we don't have to keep hopping on planes and wasting our time
01:06:32 and destroying the environment so all of these things are going to be facilitated
01:06:38 and then also you know precision medicine we want to integrate so much.
01:06:45 Your genome right now we're only looking at certain parts of the genome we're going to be able to look at so much more
01:06:52 and we're going to be able to take in the genomes of so many more individuals right now
01:06:59 in many diseases we don't yet have enough signal to be able to say anything. So you say we just kind of miss the
01:07:08 computational power. We miss the computational power. To attack these kinds of issues right on. Absolutely there are so many
01:07:17 diseases where.
01:07:20 We don't have enough samples we don't have enough computational power on those samples to be able to get a good signal
01:07:28 and as we do that we are going to be able to .
01:07:34 To really allow people to live very productive lives with mental illness with many other conditions which we really
01:07:44 can't touch now. We are in a very primitive place our treatment of cancer is incredibly primitive we you know
01:07:52 poison the whole body most of the time in order to try to cure someone of cancer so really we're in the dark ages.
01:08:00 medically and in order to realize the promise we're going to need many more generations of computing power
01:08:10 Let's go back also to the theme of technological progress and inequality
01:08:16 or equality. So clearly in the beginning phase this is benefiting a small group
01:08:22 but you're indicating in the end you see this as kind of spreading So what will these kind of technological revolutions
01:08:28 do to the poor half of the world and also perhaps. In many countries there are.
01:08:37 Places that are so to say very close by but they're very far away in terms of the spreading of ideas
01:08:44 and technology so what what do you see changing there. so I think there are very many people in technology both you
01:08:54 know people who have made their fortunes in technology
01:08:58 and people who are currently doing technology creating technology who care deeply about inequality. I think we need to
01:09:08 get connectivity to all parts of the world and we need to get inexpensive devices to all parts of the world I think.
01:09:18 We need energy sources that will enable us to power those devices without destroying our climate so we need
01:09:29 renewable energy sources and we need nanotechnology in other areas that will really allow us to to do that.
01:09:39 We'll be able we will be able to.
01:09:45 Transmit knowledge so that to help people you know create clean sources of water to help in agriculture
01:09:54 and we can be applying machine learning to agricultural data.
01:10:01 And really improving the food sources for a lot of people in the developing world.
01:10:08 We can ultimately once we have gotten the medical and nutritional.
01:10:15 Requirements dealt with we can start to teach people in other parts of the world and hopefully.
01:10:24 Virtual meetings will be much better right now we do have online classes but I hope there will be a time
01:10:31 when you know someone from subsaharan Africa can really you know his
01:10:36 or her hologram can be in the classroom with someone at Cambridge University or Princeton University.
01:10:45 You know and we can really begin to deal with the fact that.
01:10:52 If people are not together it's hard to give them equal access. Do you feel we have the right incentives both in the
01:11:00 academic world, in government but also in the private industry to do these kinds of.
01:11:08 Right things for human development. So honestly I feel that some of the incentives are wrong OK.
01:11:17 And I think that's one of the big questions in society is you know.
01:11:24 How do we create incentives for social good or for what a game theorist would call social welfare.
01:11:33 And I think right now we have swung a little too far in the United States this is my own private view towards
01:11:44 centralization of power centralization of finances.
01:11:52 Wealth creation and you know we're hearing about it all the time and I think.
01:12:01 We're experiencing a lot of instability globally because of this so my hope is that.
01:12:11 The pendulum that seems to be swinging one way will swing back the other way towards.
01:12:18 Towards a little more regulation which would allow us to share the wealth more
01:12:25 but for this I believe it's also really important that we have social scientists interacting with scientists
01:12:33 and technologists on a fundamental level and figuring out Jaron Lanier had you know had suggested that maybe any.
01:12:46 Knowledge creation through following people in their movements on the web instead of all of the wealth of that going to a
01:12:53 centralized power some fraction of it should trickle back to the people who help to create the data that powers these
01:13:02 great advances so you know I'm not sure whether that's the answer but I believe that we will have technologists
01:13:10 and economists and anthropologists and ethicists looking at these questions
01:13:18 when the world becomes sufficiently unhappy with how far the pendulum has swung. So in some sense fundamentally you feel
01:13:25 that we kind of control our destiny in that respect by doing the right things. I think that we.
01:13:34 You know that that human beings learn and I don't think anybody is comfortable with the instability now
01:13:44 and so in learning to decrease the variance and to decrease the instability.
01:13:52 We're going to swing a little bit back towards equality
01:13:57 and then you know we'll probably swing back again because we are. We're a dynamical system.
01:14:04 Coming back to that. I don't dare to say the word phase transition because all the technology will collapse
01:14:09 but let's briefly go back to your own.
01:14:16 Earlier life where you were much more focused on your original I would say kind of academic love in mathematical
01:14:24 physics so can you just tell us a little bit how did you start out in science and what did you exactly study
01:14:31 and what did you do. so in my early career I studied phase transitions.
01:14:38 In what are called disordered systems systems with some noise in them there were realizations of this
01:14:47 in laboratories and some nice materials have special properties because of the noise.
01:14:57 What was interesting is that although this was certainly not the reason that I went to Microsoft I went to found
01:15:05 interdisciplinary groups because they were willing to support me on that but when the Internet started to take off
01:15:14 and the World Wide Web started to take off I saw many of the same structures in these self organized
01:15:23 but very noisy networks and so it really there was.
01:15:31 The mathematical models I could take
01:15:35 and I could look at these huge networks that we were creating So it was very much you know it was this lens through
01:15:46 which I viewed phase transitions I mean I found inequalities on critical exponents
01:15:53 and various various esoteric things in these systems I studied.
01:16:00 But then I could go over to these other systems and see the same structures I think as scientists
01:16:09 when we're young we learn that we put on certain lenses
01:16:14 and no matter how we try those are always the first eyes with which we view any new problem
01:16:22 and what got me so excited about technology is that occasionally they were very good eyes through which to view
01:16:30 You could see things that others couldn't see that others couldn't see yes.
01:16:35 That's terrific. perhaps you know just wrapping up a little bit I want just to circle back to kind of the
01:16:41 big picture and you know with all the lovely things we have seen happening in terms of technology
01:16:47 and just come back to looking to the future so if you kind of close your eyes
01:16:54 and you envision this world of tomorrow.
01:16:59 Tell us just what comes up
01:17:00 what bubbles up what do you see in this in this dream. so one of the things for me that would be very exciting I have
01:17:09 collaborators all over the world and I love to see them and I think they like to see me and.
01:17:17 It is just so frustrating because we have to carve time out of our schedules and we have to get on planes
01:17:25 and you know get jetlag.
01:17:29 And I really believe that at some point in the not too distant future I'm going to be able to be sitting in a room with
01:17:39 you but you're not going to be here Or I'm going to be able to be standing at a you know blackboard with you and writing
01:17:47 and we're both going to write and we're going to see each other's stuff
01:17:50 and we can have somebody from yet another place interacting with us so for me as a scientist
01:17:57 when I get an idea being able to connect with anyone in the. World at any time essentially.
01:18:04 Is something that I'm really looking forward to and you know for others who do their own thing who are artists
01:18:11 or who are musicians you know can they you know can you have a string quartet with four people in different countries
01:18:21 you know wouldn't that be lovely. So where where it's not a degraded a terribly degraded form of reality
01:18:32 so for me.
01:18:35 You know this technology moves towards greater connection for me
01:18:39 a scientific connection for others it will be artistic or you know your family is in Holland wouldn't you love to be
01:18:47 able to sit down and have a dinner with them when you're sitting in Princeton you know. So you see this.
01:18:58 If you then take the long view and you see human beings how they started probably living you know with just a handful.
01:19:05 of very small isolated groups and we grow and now we have this incredibly complicated world getting closer to each
01:19:14 other in some sense connecting more so we will have.
01:19:19 Some transition to a phase where basically everybody is in contact with everybody as much as you want
01:19:23 You think that will happen? I think it will be. It will be sparse in the sense OK so a sparse graph is one in which.
01:19:34 You're not connected to a positive fraction of everybody else in the graph I don't think I'm going to have a billion
01:19:41 people with whom I'm interacting
01:19:43 but they can be anywhere that distances are just going to shrink so physical distances are going to shrink intellectual
01:19:53 distances are going to shrink and so we will have. A much more
01:20:00 unified connected world
01:20:03 and I think you know all of us strive whether you're you know a particle physicist actually striving for what you call
01:20:10 grand unification or you know whether you are someone like me who wants to see certain aspects of physics and biology.
01:20:20 Connected to each other.
01:20:23 You know I think we all strive for that and that the technology will allow us to do that
01:20:30 and we're seeing some of the intellectual connections before the physical connections but virtual reality I think
01:20:38 when it's done right when you can really read someone else's emotions and you can. You can relate to them.
01:20:48 Will allow us to also break down those you know barriers of distance. I'm not sure about the rest of the universe I mean
01:20:58 I believe there are other I truly believe there are other sentient beings in the universe.
01:21:05 So Also it would be very nice I think if we could connect with them without having to travel long distances. You feel we
01:21:16 first have to connect with ourselves in order to make that next step? Yes I do actually
01:21:23 and you know I don't know we are probably limited by the speed of light but.
01:21:28 But you know I actually believe that within a distance that we can see there are other sentient beings you know that I
01:21:41 can see in my lifetime. Do you see us pursuing that exploring the universe in the end. I hope so. Will we do it
01:21:50 As physical beings or will we do it through our technology. I think we'll do it through our technology I think we have
01:21:58 inherent limitations as
01:22:00 Physical beings
01:22:01 and what this technology is going to do is free us from the physical limitations so that our almost unlimited drive to
01:22:16 understand
01:22:17 and to connect can truly be unleashed. If you then look at the timeline of human beings spending a few billion years
01:22:26 on Planet Earth Life as we know it.
01:22:30 But then at some point we'll be spreading across the universe is that what you see happening? I think we might especially
01:22:36 if we ruin the earth which is a distinct possibility.
01:22:42 But
01:22:43 but I also believe that maybe we'll connect with other parts of the universe without actually physically going there so
01:22:52 which might be easier I mean you know right now we're physically going just to the other side of the earth
01:22:57 and you know last month I went to Europe three times from the US and it just.
01:23:06 It's too much right it's too much and I certainly you know wouldn't want to try to leave our solar system.
01:23:14 One of the big frustrations in life is that you can't unify with
01:23:20 another person.
01:23:22 But somehow you are sketching a future where science and technology will allow us to do so. I believe so
01:23:30 you know in my own personal life I have tried to do that. you know my husband and I work together
01:23:37 and we write papers together we do research we run labs together so I do try to do this because I like to do many many
01:23:45 things
01:23:45 and I also like to be connected with people which means for my husband we must work together because we're going to
01:23:51 spend too much time working and you know wouldn't it be nice if not quite to that extent
01:23:57 but connection is possible because I believe.
01:24:01 That scientifically you know very very often the whole is greater than the sum of the parts
01:24:07 and so we need to break down both the intellectual barriers and the physical barriers
01:24:14 and the part that technology has not realized for us yet are the physical barriers you know it's still I mean I know we
01:24:23 can we can have a Skype call and it's wonderful relative to not having a Skype call
01:24:29 but we still fly to see each other if we really want to work together you know and I'm really hoping that we can.
01:24:39 Feel the other person's presence and.
01:24:43 Not be inhibited by this barrier and be able to work together
01:24:50 and you know do science together. I'm so happy I flew over here to have this conversation. Thank you very much.
01:24:59 Can you imagine having this all the time. Yes. that's terrific.
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