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    • Leveraging specialized platforms for effective hiring and saving moneyIndeed.com helps employers find quality candidates faster, while Rocket Money saves users an average of $720 per year by finding and canceling unwanted subscriptions and monitoring spending.

      For effective hiring and saving money, leveraging specialized platforms can make a significant difference. During the discussion, we learned about Indeed.com, a matching and hiring platform with over 350 million monthly visitors, helping employers find quality candidates faster. On the other hand, Rocket Money is a personal finance app that assists in finding and canceling unwanted subscriptions, monitoring spending, and lowering bills, saving users an average of $720 per year. These platforms streamline processes and provide valuable solutions, allowing us to focus on what truly matters. Additionally, the holiday message from the Blindscape Podcast highlighted the importance of exploring unconventional topics, such as immortality, and the potential implications it holds for individuals, ideas, and society.

    • The reality of true immortalityWhile the universe may be eternal, human consciousness and identity aren't. We exist for a moment in time, not forever.

      True immortality, as we commonly understand it, may not be achievable based on our current understanding of the universe. While the universe itself may be eternal, human consciousness and identity as we know it are not. The information that makes up an individual persists in the universe, but we are constantly changing and evolving, making it more accurate to say that we exist for a moment in time rather than forever. This was a key topic of discussion during a workshop, encouraging participants to confront the concept of immortality and consider what it truly means. Ultimately, we must acknowledge that we live in the macroscopic world, and our identities are defined by the accessible information about us, which comes and goes throughout our lives.

    • Our finite lifespan and memory in the context of psychological continuity and identityThough we can't live forever in the many worlds interpretation, our focus on our present existence and fear of death comes from our awareness of the finite nature of our current life.

      From a macroscopic perspective, human beings have a finite lifespan and memory, despite the constant change we undergo. This concept of psychological continuity and identity over time is essential. Although the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics presents a quantum immortality thought experiment, the overwhelming majority of branches result in death, with only a tiny fraction potentially allowing for immortality. However, these branches count infinitesimally in the many worlds interpretation, making the prospect of immortality an insignificant concern in our everyday lives. The value we place on our current existence and the fear of death stems from the fact that we are aware of our present moment and the possibility of its imminent end.

    • Desire for immortality might not bring solaceInfinite versions of us exist in many worlds, but most don't last forever. Not everyone wants to live for thousands of years, focus on making the most of present time, find joy in learning.

      The desire for immortality, whether it's quantum immortality or living for thousands of years in the real world, might not bring the solace we seek. In the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, there are infinite versions of us, but most of them won't continue to exist forever. Even if we could live for thousands of years in the real world, not everyone wants to, and it's important to consider whether it would be good for us. During a poll at a workshop, a majority of people said they wouldn't want to live for 10,000 years. Instead of focusing on immortality, we might want to focus on making the most of the time we have and finding joy in learning new things, like a new language with Babbel.

    • The downside of immortality: boredom and lack of directionImmortality may lead to boredom and a lack of motivation, as individuals may run out of things to be interested in, contrasting our finite desires and imaginations with the infinite nature of time.

      While the concept of immortality may seem appealing, it could potentially lead to a lack of motivation and enjoyment in life due to the infinite amount of time available. As explored in stories like Jorge Luis Borges' "The Immortals" and Julian Barnes' "Dream," immortality can result in boredom and a lack of direction, as individuals may run out of things to be interested in. The Julian Barnes story also highlights the human condition's inherent finiteness, including our desires and imaginations, which can be contrasted with the infinite nature of time and possibility. Ultimately, even if given the option to live forever, individuals may still choose to end their existence, as demonstrated in both the story and the TV show "The Good Place." The length of time one would want to live remains an interesting question, with some preferring the idea of living for a very long time but not forever.

    • Should we strive for immortality?Society's progress and evolution depend on new generations, questioning the desirability of immortality for individuals and society as a whole.

      Immortality, while intriguing, may not be a desirable goal for society as a whole. Science fiction writer Ted Chiang argued that without the presence of new generations, society could stagnate and fall into a rut. He believed that the evolution of ideas and progress relies on the energy and fresh perspectives of young people. However, it's important to note that there are different forms of immortality - physical and legacy. While we may physically die, our impact on the world can continue long after we're gone. Ultimately, the question of whether we should strive for immortality is complex and requires careful consideration. The podcast discussed the possibility of achieving it, but before delving into that, it's essential to ponder whether we even want it.

    • Honoring the Past and Living in the PresentFocus on living fully and consciously in the present, honor past memories, and consider the implications of extended lifespans and interstellar travel.

      While the concept of immortality is intriguing, it may not be practically achievable for humans as biological organisms. Instead, it's essential to focus on living fully and consciously in the present. Neuroscientist Scott Small's idea of a "ceremony of forgetting" can help us honor the memories of those who have passed while moving forward with life. The extension of human lifespan is a realistic goal, but the extent of it remains uncertain. It's essential to consider the implications of potentially living much longer and recognize that interstellar travel might require lifespans of thousands or even millions of years. Ultimately, the most important thing is to live our lives to the fullest and appreciate the finite time we have on Earth.

    • The universe will eventually reach a state of maximum entropy and emptinessThe universe, including all its complex structures and forms of life, is temporary and will eventually return to a state of maximum entropy and emptiness

      The universe, as we know it, is not permanent. The arrow of time, which drives the development and complexity of living organisms, is a result of the early universe having very low entropy. However, as the universe expands and cools, it continues to approach thermal equilibrium, eventually leading to a high entropy state of empty space. Stars, black holes, galaxies, and all forms of complexity will eventually disappear, leaving nothing but emptiness. This is a natural process, but it serves as a reminder that everything in the universe is temporary. Our current universe, which is approximately 10 to the power of 10 years old, still has plenty of time for exploration and discovery, but eventually, all will come to an end. This concept was explored in a paper by Aidan Chatwin Davis and the speaker, using a definition of entropy that applies to both matter and gravity. The result showed that the universe, with a positive cosmological constant, will eventually empty out and become smooth and featureless, approaching an empty universe with exponentially growing expansion. This is the highest entropy state the universe can be in.

    • The universe's complexity and existence are not eternalThe universe, including life, uses up a finite resource of low entropy energy and is currently in a complex stage, but the rate of star formation and complexity increase is declining, suggesting a finite lifespan

      The universe, including life, uses up a finite resource of low entropy energy to exist and increase in complexity. We are currently in a complex stage of the universe's existence, but the rate of star formation and complexity increase is declining. The universe started simple, flourished, but its interesting life is finite. Physicist Freeman Dyson's 1979 paper "Time Without End" suggested the universe might be open and not last forever. We use energy to live, think, and metabolize, which is a finite resource. The universe's complexity and existence are not eternal, and we are part of this finite process.

    • The limit to infinite life in an expanding universeDespite the potential for infinite existence in an expanding universe, there's a finite limit to the amount of life due to the maximum entropy the universe can reach.

      According to Freeman Dyson's theory, in an expanding and infinite universe, one could potentially live forever by having thoughts that require less and less energy but take more and more time. However, there's a limit to the amount of life that can exist due to the finite entropy of the observable universe. This means that there's a limit to the amount of information that can be processed, and thus, a limit to the amount of life that can exist in the future of our universe. This is because every thought or computation increases the entropy of the universe, and the total entropy of the universe cannot exceed a certain limit. This limit, which is approximately 10 to the power of 122, is the maximum entropy that our observable universe can reach. Therefore, even in an infinite and expanding universe, there's a finite amount of life that can exist.

    • Projected potential for human existenceThe potential for human existence far exceeds the number of lives lived on Earth, with around 10 to the 34 possible human life equivalents if we consider life on Earth until the sun dies and colonize the stars.

      The total entropy production of a human being over a lifetime can be projected into the future, and if we limit ourselves to life on Earth, we have only experienced a small fraction of the potential for human existence. To be precise, the number of human life equivalents that have existed on Earth is around 10 to the 11, but if we consider the potential for life on Earth until the sun dies and if we colonize the stars, the number of human life equivalents that could be experienced is much larger - around 10 to the 34. However, it's important to note that the universe has an upper bound of total entropy, and given that it is moving toward thermal equilibrium, true immortality for human beings or even the human race is not a foreseeable prospect. The universe itself, however, could potentially last forever.

    • Infinite baby universes with temporary lifeThe universe lasts forever but renews itself with infinite baby universes, each with temporary complex systems including life, preventing the burden of an infinite past and maintaining freshness

      Our universe, according to a certain cosmological scenario, lasts forever but most of it is empty and dead. However, there will be infinite instances of baby universes where complex systems, including life, can temporarily exist before returning to their quiescent state. This scenario explains the low entropy of the early universe but also implies that no information is passed between universes, making it the ultimate form of forgetting. In this way, the universe renews itself and maintains freshness while preventing the burden of an infinite past or the ability to impose constraints on the infinite future.

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    276 | Gavin Schmidt on Measuring, Predicting, and Protecting Our Climate

    276 | Gavin Schmidt on Measuring, Predicting, and Protecting Our Climate

    The Earth's climate keeps changing, largely due to the effects of human activity, and we haven't been doing enough to slow things down. Indeed, over the past year, global temperatures have been higher than ever, and higher than most climate models have predicted. Many of you have probably seen plots like this. Today's guest, Gavin Schmidt, has been a leader in measuring the variations in Earth's climate, modeling its likely future trajectory, and working to get the word out. We talk about the current state of the art, and what to expect for the future.

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    Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/20/276-gavin-schmidt-on-measuring-predicting-and-protecting-our-climate/

    Gavin Schmidt received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from University College London. He is currently Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and an affiliate of the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. His research involves both measuring and modeling climate variability. Among his awards are the inaugural Climate Communications Prize of the American Geophysical Union. He is a cofounder of the RealClimate blog.


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    275 | Solo: Quantum Fields, Particles, Forces, and Symmetries

    275 | Solo: Quantum Fields, Particles, Forces, and Symmetries

    Publication week! Say hello to Quanta and Fields, the second volume of the planned three-volume series The Biggest Ideas in the Universe. This volume covers quantum physics generally, but focuses especially on the wonders of quantum field theory. To celebrate, this solo podcast talks about some of the big ideas that make QFT so compelling: how quantized fields produce particles, how gauge symmetries lead to forces of nature, and how those forces can manifest in different phases, including Higgs and confinement.

    Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/13/275-solo-quantum-fields-particles-forces-and-symmetries/

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    AMA | May 2024

    AMA | May 2024

    Welcome to the May 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy!

    Blog post with questions and transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/06/ama-may-2024/

    Support Mindscape on Patreon.

    Here is the memorial to Dan Dennett at Ars Technica.

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    274 | Gizem Gumuskaya on Building Robots from Human Cells

    274 | Gizem Gumuskaya on Building Robots from Human Cells

    Modern biology is advancing by leaps and bounds, not only in understanding how organisms work, but in learning how to modify them in interesting ways. One exciting frontier is the study of tiny "robots" created from living molecules and cells, rather than metal and plastic. Gizem Gumuskaya, who works with previous guest Michael Levin, has created anthrobots, a new kind of structure made from living human cells. We talk about how that works, what they can do, and what future developments might bring.

    Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/29/274-gizem-gumuskaya-on-building-robots-from-human-cells/

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    Gimez Gumuskaya received her Ph.D. from Tufts University and the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University. She previously received a dual master's degree in Architecture and Synthetic Biology from MIT.

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    273 | Stefanos Geroulanos on the Invention of Prehistory

    273 | Stefanos Geroulanos on the Invention of Prehistory

    Humanity itself might be the hardest thing for scientists to study fairly and accurately. Not only do we come to the subject with certain inevitable preconceptions, but it's hard to resist the temptation to find scientific justifications for the stories we'd like to tell about ourselves. In his new book, The Invention of Prehistory, Stefanos Geroulanos looks at the ways that we have used -- and continue to use -- supposedly-scientific tales of prehistoric humanity to bolster whatever cultural, social, and political purposes we have at the moment.

    Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/22/273-stefanos-geroulanos-on-the-invention-of-prehistory/

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    Stefanos Geroulanos received his Ph.D. in humanities from Johns Hopkins. He is currently director of the Remarque Institute and a professor of history at New York University. He is the author and editor of a number of books on European intellectual history. He serves as a Co-Executive Editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas.


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    272 | Leslie Valiant on Learning and Educability in Computers and People

    272 | Leslie Valiant on Learning and Educability in Computers and People

    Science is enabled by the fact that the natural world exhibits predictability and regularity, at least to some extent. Scientists collect data about what happens in the world, then try to suggest "laws" that capture many phenomena in simple rules. A small irony is that, while we are looking for nice compact rules, there aren't really nice compact rules about how to go about doing that. Today's guest, Leslie Valiant, has been a pioneer in understanding how computers can and do learn things about the world. And in his new book, The Importance of Being Educable, he pinpoints this ability to learn new things as the crucial feature that distinguishes us as human beings. We talk about where that capability came from and what its role is as artificial intelligence becomes ever more prevalent.

    Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/15/272-leslie-valiant-on-learning-and-educability-in-computers-and-people/

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    Leslie Valiant received his Ph.D. in computer science from Warwick University. He is currently the T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at Harvard University. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Knuth Prize, and the Turing Award, and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the pioneer of "Probably Approximately Correct" learning, which he wrote about in a book of the same name.

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    AMA | April 2024

    AMA | April 2024

    Welcome to the April 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy!

    Blog post with questions and transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/08/ama-april-2024/

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    271 | Claudia de Rham on Modifying General Relativity

    271 | Claudia de Rham on Modifying General Relativity

    Einstein's theory of general relativity has been our best understanding of gravity for over a century, withstanding a variety of experimental challenges of ever-increasing precision. But we have to be open to the possibility that general relativity -- even at the classical level, aside from any questions of quantum gravity -- isn't the right theory of gravity. Such speculation is motivated by cosmology, where we have a good model of the universe but one with a number of loose ends. Claudia de Rham has been a leader in exploring how gravity could be modified in cosmologically interesting ways, and we discuss the current state of the art as well as future prospects.

    Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/01/271-claudia-de-rham-on-modifying-general-relativity/

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    Claudia de Rham received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge. She is currently a professor of physics and deputy department head at Imperial College, London. She is a Simons Foundation Investigator, winner of the Blavatnik Award, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her new book is The Beauty of Falling: A Life in Pursuit of Gravity.


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    270 | Solo: The Coming Transition in How Humanity Lives

    270 | Solo: The Coming Transition in How Humanity Lives

    Technology is changing the world, in good and bad ways. Artificial intelligence, internet connectivity, biological engineering, and climate change are dramatically altering the parameters of human life. What can we say about how this will extend into the future? Will the pace of change level off, or smoothly continue, or hit a singularity in a finite time? In this informal solo episode, I think through what I believe will be some of the major forces shaping how human life will change over the decades to come, exploring the very real possibility that we will experience a dramatic phase transition into a new kind of equilibrium.

    Blog post with transcript and links to additional resources: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/25/270-solo-the-coming-transition-in-how-humanity-lives/

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    269 | Sahar Heydari Fard on Complexity, Justice, and Social Dynamics

    269 | Sahar Heydari Fard on Complexity, Justice, and Social Dynamics

    When it comes to social change, two questions immediately present themselves: What kind of change do we want to see happen? And, how do we bring it about? These questions are distinct but related; there's not much point in spending all of our time wanting change that won't possibly happen, or working for change that wouldn't actually be good. Addressing such issues lies at the intersection of philosophy, political science, and social dynamics. Sahar Heydari Fard looks at all of these issues through the lens of complex systems theory, to better understand how the world works and how it might be improved.

    Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/18/269-sahar-heydari-fard-on-complexity-justice-and-social-dynamics/

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    Sahar Heydari Fard received a Masters in applied economics and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Cincinnati. She is currently an assistant professor in philosophy at the Ohio State University. Her research lies at the intersection of social and behavioral sciences, social and political philosophy, and ethics, using tools from complex systems theory.


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    Related Episodes

    43 | Matthew Luczy on the Pleasures of Wine

    43 | Matthew Luczy on the Pleasures of Wine
    Some people never drink wine; for others, it’s an indispensable part of an enjoyable meal. Whatever your personal feelings might be, wine seems to exhibit a degree of complexity and nuance that can be intimidating to the non-expert. Where does that complexity come from, and how can we best approach wine? To answer these questions, we talk to Matthew Luczy, sommelier and wine director at Mélisse, one of the top fine-dining restaurants in the Los Angeles area. Matthew insisted that we actually drink wine rather than just talking about it, so drink we do. Therefore, in a Mindscape first, I recruited a third party to join us and add her own impressions of the tasting: science writer Jennifer Ouellette, who I knew would be available because we’re married to each other. We talk about what makes different wines distinct, the effects of aging, and what’s the right bottle to have with pizza. You are free to drink along at home, with exactly these wines or some other choices, but I think the podcast will be enjoyable whether you do or not. Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Mattew Luczy is a Certified Sommelier as judged by the Court of Master Sommeliers. He currently works as the Wine Director at Mélisse in Santa Monica, California. He is also active in photography and music. Mélisse home page Personal/photography page Instagram Ask a Somm: When Should I Decant Wine? See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    25 | David Chalmers on Consciousness, the Hard Problem, and Living in a Simulation

    25 | David Chalmers on Consciousness, the Hard Problem, and Living in a Simulation
    The "Easy Problems" of consciousness have to do with how the brain takes in information, thinks about it, and turns it into action. The "Hard Problem," on the other hand, is the task of explaining our individual, subjective, first-person experiences of the world. What is it like to be me, rather than someone else? Everyone agrees that the Easy Problems are hard; some people think the Hard Problem is almost impossible, while others think it's pretty easy. Today's guest, David Chalmers, is arguably the leading philosopher of consciousness working today, and the one who coined the phrase "the Hard Problem," as well as proposing the philosophical zombie thought experiment. Recently he has been taking seriously the notion of panpsychism. We talk about these knotty issues (about which we deeply disagree), but also spend some time on the possibility that we live in a computer simulation. Would simulated lives be "real"? (There we agree -- yes they would.) David Chalmers got his Ph.D. from Indiana University working under Douglas Hoftstadter. He is currently University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at New York University and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his books are The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, The Character of Consciousness, and Constructing the World. He and David Bourget founded the PhilPapers project. Web site NYU Faculty page Wikipedia page PhilPapers page Amazon author page NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness TED talk: How do you explain consciousness? See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    18 | Clifford Johnson on What's So Great About Superstring Theory

    18 | Clifford Johnson on What's So Great About Superstring Theory
    String theory is a speculative and highly technical proposal for uniting the known forces of nature, including gravity, under a single quantum-mechanical framework. This doesn't seem like a recipe for creating a lightning rod of controversy, but somehow string theory has become just that. To get to the bottom of why anyone (indeed, a substantial majority of experts in the field) would think that replacing particles with little loops of string was a promising way forward for theoretical physics, I spoke with expert string theorist Clifford Johnson. We talk about the road string theory has taken from a tentative proposal dealing with the strong interactions, through a number of revolutions, to the point it's at today. Also, where all those extra dimensions might have gone. At the end we touch on Clifford's latest project, a graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated about how science is done. Clifford Johnson is a Professor of Physics at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics and physics from the University of Southampton. His research area is theoretical physics, focusing on string theory and quantum field theory. He was awarded the Maxwell Medal from the Institute of Physics. Johnson is the author of the technical monograph D-Branes, as well as the graphic novel The Dialogues. Home page Wikipedia page Publications A talk on The Dialogues Asymptotia blog Twitter See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    AMA | November 2021

    AMA | November 2021

    Welcome to the November 2021 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (who are also the ones asking the questions). I take the large number of questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable size — based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good — and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy!

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    AMA | March 2024

    AMA | March 2024

    Welcome to the March 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic.

    Big congrats this month to Ryan Funakoshi, winner of this year's Mindscape Big Picture Scholarship! And enormous, heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed. We're going to keep doing this in years to come.

    Blog post with questions and transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/11/ama-march-2024/

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