#87 – Richard Dawkins: Evolution, Intelligence, Simulation, and Memes

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, and author of The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The God Delusion, The Magic of Reality, The Greatest Show on Earth, and his latest Outgrowing God. He is the originator and popularizer of a lot of fascinating ideas in evolutionary biology and science in general, including funny enough the introduction of the word meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which in the context of a gene-centered view of evolution is an exceptionally powerful idea. He is outspoken, bold, and often fearless in his defense of science and reason, and in this way, is one of the most influential thinkers of our time.

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Richard’s Website: https://www.richarddawkins.net/
Richard’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins
Richard’s Books:
– Selfish Gene: https://amzn.to/34tpHQy
– The Magic of Reality: https://amzn.to/3c0aqZQ
– The Blind Watchmaker: https://amzn.to/2RqV5tH
– The God Delusion: https://amzn.to/2JPrxlc
– Outgrowing God: https://amzn.to/3ebFess
– The Greatest Show on Earth: https://amzn.to/2Rp2j1h

This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast. If you would like to get more information about this podcast go to https://lexfridman.com/ai or connect with @lexfridman on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium, or YouTube where you can watch the video versions of these conversations. If you enjoy the podcast, please rate it 5 stars on Apple Podcasts, follow on Spotify, or support it on Patreon.

Here’s the outline of the episode. On some podcast players you should be able to click the timestamp to jump to that time.

00:00 – Introduction
02:31 – Intelligent life in the universe
05:03 – Engineering intelligence (are there shortcuts?)
07:06 – Is the evolutionary process efficient?
10:39 – Human brain and AGI
15:31 – Memes
26:37 – Does society need religion?
33:10 – Conspiracy theories
39:10 – Where do morals come from in humans?
46:10 – AI began with the ancient wish to forge the gods
49:18 – Simulation
56:58 – Books that influenced you
1:02:53 – Meaning of life