Season One


(EF13) S1-E11: The Bloody Fingerprint of Creativity The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF13 (S1-E11): The Bloody Fingerprint of Creativity

Facing serious amnesia, Eric Clemens with the help of Dr. Eden Harper tries to recollect his lost memories. Dr. Harper takes an unconventional road not only to help Eric track his past, but to create a foundation for his future as well. As they dig deeper and deeper, Eric has to face demons he didn’t even know existed. This episode of the Evolve Faster Podcast will investigate what art is and how do we perceive the concept of creating art. Through psychological theories ranging from William James to Carl Jung with a neuroscientific backup, the goal is to demystify the long-living mystery as it turns out–what art is and what we believe it to be are two entirely different ideas. Even more important, people who are capable to create art might not just be a chosen few.

(EF12) S1-E10: Wired to Fail Leveling Up in the Game of Life The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF12 (S1-E10): Wired to Fail: Leveling Up in the Game of Life

Infuriated by the risk-averse approach of his company, Vihaan Raid decides to design his latest game on his own. A widely renowned game developer known to the gaming world as “Koji,” believes he can entirely change how humans see life with his radical new video game concept. He teams up with a respected psychologist to make sure his vision will manipulate the human psyche as he suspects it will—a critical factor to the game’s potential. As Koji slowly reveals secretive details of his mysterious concept, Isaac becomes more and more suspicious of the game’s true intentions. Fear is engrained in all of us, but as Erich Fromm described, there are two main types. First are sadomasochistic characters who kill the fear by being dependent on either controlling or being controlled. Second is the revolutionary character who embraces the fear of being a free human. Similarly, the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche thought there is little to no difference between success and failure when it comes to their functionality. Human mind is engraved with a false belief that success is heaven and failure is hell. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sigmund Freud believed our unconscious thoughts and desires define us. So maybe, heaven is a place where the unconscious desires define us, but not control us and hell… well, just look at the commercials.

(EF11) S1-E9: When the Lights Go Out The Blinding Light of an Artificial Future The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF11 (S1-E9): When the Lights Go Out: The Blinding Light of an Artificial Future

Aldford Herbert, a famous science fiction writer, is on the brink of finishing his latest novel about a realistic, dark future of artificial intelligence. A stroke of luck provides him with an opportunity to talk to Cynthia Butler, the mastermind behind the world’s most bleeding edge AI company. Aldford sees this as the perfect opportunity to secretly learn how precise his fictional predictions might be. What he doesn’t know is that Cynthia might just have a mysterious, and even more insidious agenda than his own. This episode of the Evolve Faster Podcast will investigate AI development from perspectives of deep learning to related neuroscience and several key technological advances in between. Technology and AI is rapidly evolving at a rate much faster than humanity ever did or could hope for. It’s not about if AI will achieve consciousness, but when will we be at least fooled into thinking it has? But does the rapid development automatically mean the end of humankind as we know it? Or is there an alternative route where co-existence is a brighter version of life as it is today?

(EF10) S1-E8: The Road to Happiness is Inked in Suffering The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF10 (S1-E8): The Road to Happiness is Inked in Suffering

Coming from a wealthy family, most others would only dream of the life Alex leads. Every moment is another silver platter where he is handed all the best education, can have his pick of expensive items and to experience seemingly infinite joys. Although grateful for everything, Alex can’t shake the reality he isn’t happy or fulfilled by any of this at all—nor could he really even define what happiness would look like for him. But why? What could possibly be missing when having everything you want? “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.” This trite expression is one of the modern favorites in a bin of overused cliches we tell ourselves when we start to lack that next hit of happiness. But is it really trite or just misunderstood? Being a cliche doesn’t necessarily make something wrong. Instead, that comes when we don’t actually change things in order to live by the message of such wise life lessons. From Ancient India and Greece, to modern Western Culture, we can find countless theories on what happiness is and how to attain it. So why is our ability to attain it no better today—and, by some measures, on the decline—even after thousands of years of intellectual progress?

(EF9) S1-E7: I Feel Therefore I am Capsized on the River Emotion The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF9 (S1-E7): I Feel, Therefore I am: Capsized on the River Emotion

Elliott made a terrible mistake that’s been haunting him ever since. As if rafting through Class V rapids without a paddle, Elliott’s sanity is inches away from crashing into sharp rocks of guilt, shame and sadness. Where do we turn when it feels like our emotions have us hurtling out of control in dangerous waters? And is there any hope for recovery even once you’ve faced the reality of your situation head-on, in light of the power of these emotional currents? We all have emotions, but what are they and do we need them? David Hume felt we are nothing more than slaves to our passions. And maybe so! Countless theories like the Hurrah/Boo Theory show that we’ll jump onto the emotional bandwagon of the masses almost instinctively. Why? To feel safe. But is there a way to break the secure chains of emotions? Is there a way to rationalize the irrational, reason the unreasonable and be ultimately be masters of our feelings?

(EF8) S1-E6: Without a Compass All Who Sail the Seas of Identity Are Not Lost The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF8 (S1-E6): Without a Compass: All Who Sail the Seas of Identity Are Not Lost

(EF8) You’re the sailor of the ship called you, and yet most people let their boats go into great disrepair and neglect. Feeling moored in the same spot for years with no clear understanding of the direction she needs to go, Lisa gets a unique opportunity to upgrade her identity boat with a chemical compass of sorts—a mysterious drug that will supposedly alter her complete identity—to supposedly better enable her to navigate through life’s rough waters. Could a change in your identity actually turn your entire life around for the better? Or are we destined to live with constant susceptibility to being lost in a sea of meaningless actions and emotions without any sort of compass to steer our ship? What defines our identity? John Locke thought it is our consciousness and the daily actions that shape who we are. Similarly, Erik and Joan Erickson created an entire step-by-step description of the phases each individual goes through. Finally, recent neuroscientific research manages to make a hard connection between various emotions we experience and our brain. Is there anything we can actually do to navigate the rough emotional waters of life any more effectively?

(EF7) S1-E5: Sleight of Mind The Black Magic of Rhetoric The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF7 (S1-E5): Sleight of Mind: The Black Magic of Rhetoric

Edward, a marketing master and spokesperson for the dark arts of rhetoric and propaganda, is hired to educate a controversial businessman running for an important public office. It’s Edward’s job to bestow the black magic of verbal and written manipulation on the businessman to win the election. Where the tongue is quicker than the mind—and the pen sharp enough to cut—are these skills a well-respected art? Or are they just cheap mental tricks wielded by insincere charlatans? Since perfected by the ancient Greeks, rhetoric has slowly devolved from a respected art into a manipulative tool used in marketing, politics and any other walk of life where mental and verbal coercion pays. Rhetoric, propaganda and the strategic use of logical fallacies are mental and verbal manipulations similar to the dark arts of black magic, in that they create smoke and mirrors to change minds to believe mistruths. And unlike a magician who deceives to entertain, these dark wizards act maliciously in pursuit of profit and power over others.

(EF6) S1-E4: Information Mainlining and the Folly of Modern Wisdom The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF6 (S1-E4): Information Mainlining and the Folly of Modern Wisdom

The big question driving Episode EF6 is … How do you acquire wisdom? Paul, a child prodigy who became a leading theoretical physicist in his early 30s, is facing a personal dilemma that is making him miserable—the realization that he might be woefully deficient in the one thing he most reveres. Although filled with endless knowledge, he isn’t wise. But how? Isn’t harnessing more and more information the key to becoming wise? In his attempt to figure it out, Paul might realize the obstacle he’s facing isn’t even close to being the final one. And can he feel like a complete person without it? The idea of wisdom goes back to Ancient Greece, from Socrates and Plato to modern day reinterpretations and research by sociologists like Monika Ardelt. In this episode’s exploration of wisdom and how it manifests, the real questions come forth. Even if we can define wisdom, is that enough to come by it? Can anyone become truly wise in this world of rapidly changing information? And what will happen to the world if wisdom is actually declining in reverse proportion to the volumes of information available every day?

(EF5) S1-E3: The Truth is Clay in the Hands of a Sculptor The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF5 (S1-E3): The Truth is Clay in the Hands of a Sculptor

The big question driving Episode EF5 is…What is the Truth? Truman, an ordinary man with a regular job, is caught lying in a country where lying is illegal. Thanks to his actions, he ends up facing a mandatory Truth Course to get him back on the track. Terrified, Truman slowly realizes the truth is not what we all grew accustomed to believe. Is it possible that facts are nothing more than a piece of clay molded by someone’s interests? Time is running out for Truman, and the sculptor of truth might hold the power to mold his future.

(EF4) S1-E2: The Decapitation of Reason A Skeptics Guide The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF4 (S1-E2): The Decapitation of Reason: A Skeptic’s Guide

At the height of his success, a controversial philosopher named Ian Ament reveals a dangerous plan to do a head transplant swap with his brother. Nobody knows why and both the scientific and medical communities at large are concerned. In a tense live interview with a potential surgeon named Ross Hunter, Ament methodically explains his reasoning to the world. Yet his reasons only bring more questions. Is there something more behind Ament’s plan? For the next 60 minutes of this interview, the historical arc of reason—and Ian’s head—are both on the chopping block as we wait to find out if the ax will fall.

(EF3) S1-E1: All Aboard the Experience Machine Destination Unknown The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

EF3 (S1-E1): All Aboard the Experience Machine: Destination…Unknown

The big question driving Episode EF3 is… What am I supposed to do? You can’t say we get to choose if we want to live this life or not. One day you’re born, and that’s it–your journey starts with zero preparation. Thus, it’s natural we don’t know what the hell we’re doing, and we get lost. Should I go to college? Should I leave everything behind and start fresh? Because really, what are you supposed to do?

In EF3, Jonathan finds himself forced between two paths: a meaningful life filled with risky choices, or a safe life full of regret. If only there were a way to make everything simple, like the life equivalent of an autopilot that steers the train through a secure, happy and perfect journey. He has just half a day, however, to find the solution to the puzzle we all face on a daily basis—What’s the right decision? 12 hours, millions of questions and no clear answer.