Podcast: solving consciousness and sabotaging the hedonic treadmill

Link to the epi­sode: http://​​bit.ly/​​2JWuVeh

Can also be found un­der the name the Most In­ter­est­ing Peo­ple I Know across all pod­cast apps.

An­drés Gómez Emils­son is a con­scious­ness re­searcher at the Qualia Re­search In­sti­tute (QRI). QRI aims to sys­tem­atize the study of con­scious­ness, to do to con­scious­ness what chem­istry did for alchemy. He holds a mas­ter’s de­gree in com­pu­ta­tional psy­chol­ogy and an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in sym­bolic sys­tems from Stan­ford Univer­sity, where he co-founded the Stan­ford Tran­shu­man­ist As­so­ci­a­tion.

This is a pretty wild epi­sode touch­ing on some of the most im­por­tant and mind-bend­ing ideas I’ve ever en­coun­tered, cen­tered around a sin­gle ques­tion: why can’t we be happy all the time?

We get into some pretty wacky ter­ri­tory but I think An­drés does a good job of mak­ing this ap­proach­able to some­body who has never en­coun­tered these ideas be­fore.

We use the term in­tu­ition pump a few times, this is a word coined by the philoso­pher Daniel Den­nett to de­scribe a thought ex­per­i­ment that helps the thinker use their in­tu­ition to de­velop an an­swer to a prob­lem.

We cover:

An­drés’s life pro­ject to over­come all the mechanisms that pre­vent us from be­ing happy all the time, the he­do­nic tread­mill, the promise of anti-tol­er­ance drugs, the in­fluence of ge­net­ics on our abil­ity to be happy, how elec­tric stim­u­la­tion of the brain doesn’t lead to tol­er­ance the way drugs do, wire­head­ing done right and wrong, three types of eu­pho­ria, the so­cial gulf be­tween Bay Area life-op­ti­miz­ers and ev­ery­one else, nega­tive util­i­tar­i­anism, the worst and best ex­pe­riences hu­mans have, the ther­a­peu­tic and sci­en­tific po­ten­tial for 5-meo-dmt, psychedelics as Effec­tive Altru­ism’s cause X, the best way to use ibo­gaine for treat­ing opi­ate ad­dic­tion, a bet­ter ap­proach to us­ing opi­ates for pain man­age­ment, and why peo­ple re­port wacky new be­liefs af­ter ego dis­solv­ing psychedelic experiences

Links:

Si­mon and Gar­funkel song: Richard Cory

An­drés’s ar­ti­cle: Wire­head­ing Done Right: Stay Pos­i­tive Without Go­ing Insane

Book ex­cerpt de­scribing elec­trodes placed in the brains of men­tal pa­tients in the 1950s: The Or­gas­mic Brain

84% of drug users who re­port a bad trip say they benefited from the experience

NYMag: Psychedelic Mush­rooms Cured My Cluster Headaches

NY Public Ra­dio in­ter­view on how Harry Anslinger started the war on drugs

The Qualia Re­search In­sti­tute (QRI)

QRI ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mike John­son’s blog: Openthe­ory.net