March 10, 2021

Prof Robin Hanson | Are People Really Good? Hidden Motives In Everyday Life

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Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science, master's degrees in physics and philosophy, and nine years of experience as a research programmer in artificial intelligence and Bayesian statistics.

With over 3100 citations and sixty academic publications, he's recognized not only for his contributions to economics (especially, pioneering the theory and use of prediction markets), but also for the wide range of fields in which he's been published. He is the author of The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth.

Robin has strong and controversial views (backed by his research) regarding various institutions in society, and discusses how many routine activities we take for granted, carry hidden motives based on the evolution of ourselves and our society. Some of the points we touch on are items such as, how charities don’t really exist to help others, our schools don’t really exist to educate students, and our political expression isn’t actually about choosing wise policies.

Show Links

Book Links (Aff Links)

The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life -

The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life When Robots Rule the Earth -

The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate -

Show Sponsor (25% Off Code: SUCCESS)

Talking Points

00:00​ – Prof Robin Hanson | Are People Really Good? Hidden Motives In Everyday Life

09:33 - Our conscious mind, subliminal justification of our actions and our evolution from ancestors

13:32 - We are designed not to understand our true motives for our actions

16:15 - Why do people laugh?

26:45 - Status moves. How we dominate interaction with other people.

32:34 - A simple conversation, isn’t just a simple conversation

42:05 - Social violations & ‘faking it’

47:33 - Signalling & showing off

54:42 - Medicine doesn’t really make us healthier

01:09:43 - Why politics is never about adopting better policy