Talk Of Today



Podcast by Sam Barton


  • The Constructal Law with Prof. Adrian Bejan

    07/07/2020 Duração: 01h41min

    The constructal law is a law of physics that predicts natural design and its evolution in biology, geophysics, climate change, technology, social organization, evolutionary design and development, wealth and sustainability. The law states that for a finite-size flow system to persist in time (to live) it must evolve such that it provides greater and greater access to the currents that flow through it. If the second law of thermodynamics is seen as the irreversibility of energy flow, the constructal law describes just how these flows organise across time. The constructal says that as a flow system continues to evolve, its design will change to increase the rate of whatever is flowing through it. The applications of the law are vast, as I'm sure you can imagine. It explains why rivers form the way that they do, why the vasculature of our bodies and cities manifest in the branching ways that they do, why hierarchies manifest spontaneously, why birds fly in formation, even why wealth inequality arises. It's the p

  • Decentralised Organisations with Richard Bartlett

    26/06/2020 Duração: 01h20min

    In this episode of Talk of Today we're joined by Richard Bartlett. Richard is an expert in bringing people together and catalysing decentralised forms of organising. He's co founder of Loomio, a digital tool to help groups numbering just a few people to several hundred to make better decisions together. He's also co founder of The Hum, which is something like a management consultancy for non-hierarchical organisation. He's a director and member of Enspiral - a network of people supporting each other to grow up and to get paid for doing meaningful work. He's currently working on a project called Microsolidarity that's focused on building and sharing a collection of methodologies for community building, answering the questions of How can we build small scale, high trust, mutually developmental groups. I'm a huge fan of Richards work and the joy he seems to exhibit in living and interacting with people. I first came across his work on twitter — I highly recommend following him. For show notes and links to Richar

  • The Free Energy Principle with Dr. Maxwell Ramstead

    05/06/2020 Duração: 02h48min

    The Free Energy Principle is a formal description of how life resist entropy across scales by minimising surprise. Surprise here being an information-theoretic view of how unlikely a particular sensory state of an organism is, not the psychological phenomenon of surprise — though they are definitely linked. The free energy principle describes how organisms attempt to reduce the difference between their model of the world and their perception of it. Joining me to shed light on this topic is Maxwell Ramstead. Maxwell is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and at the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry at McGill University. He has coauthored several papers in leading journals, which exploring the applications of the free energy principle to the dynamics of cognition and the mind, phenomenology, ecology, and socio-cultural systems. In our conversation, we cover: - What is the Free Energy Principle - What is active inference - The 4 E A approach to cognition (embedded, e

  • Chaos, Order, and Emergent System Design with Matthew Pirkowski

    10/05/2020 Duração: 02h15min

    Matthew Pirkowski (@MattPirkoswki) is one of Twitter's most incisive thinkers, offering penetrating insights in things ranging from representations of value, the many problems of social media platforms and how we interact with them, the evolution of society, and designing emergent systems. In our conversation we cover: - The substance underlying Jordan Peterson's main body of work and its implications for ethics. - The role money plays in scaling social groups - Specialisation as epistemic speciation - Social media and our incoherent information environments - Emergent system design ‍ Support this podcast

  • America's Freedom Farce

    03/05/2020 Duração: 14min

    Through the lens of opportunity and freedom — what people can do and be in the world — most Americans are far less free than the rest of the Western world. A vast proportion of Americans are shackled by wage slavery, unable to pursue the American dream. To fulfill the principles laid down by its forefathers, America needs to provide more for its citizens and unleash its latent entrepreneurial potential and become what it once was. You can read the full essay at ( (Follow me on Twitter) (Become a Patron) Support this podcast

  • How to beat COVID-19 with Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam

    23/04/2020 Duração: 01h12min

    COVID-19 has caused titanic global shifts that are continuing to reverberate across the planet, thrusting our societies into territories unknown and crippling our economies. There have been few out there who have consistently contributed clear insights into the potential risks of a virus like COVID-19, how it can rapidly propagate across our interconnected world and wreak devastation, and most importantly, how to stop it, than Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam. Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam is president of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) where they study how interactions within a system lead to its behavioral patterns, and how the system interacts with its environment. His recent work recent quantitatively analyses the origins and impacts various complex phenomena, including pandemics. He's published over 200 research papers in professional journals, including Science and Nature, authored of two books: a textbook Dynamics of Complex Systems, and Making Things Work, which applies complex systems science

  • Happiness and Society with Dr. Kostadin Kushlev

    18/04/2020 Duração: 01h55min

    What makes us happy? What affects do the decisions we make have on our subjective well-being? How does money, or parenthood affect our happiness? What are societies like when the people in them are happier? What affects do new technologies like smartphones, and constant connectivity, have on how happy we think we are? If happiness, subjective well-being, or flourishing is important (which i'm sure we'd all agree it is), answering these questions has profound consequences for how choose to organise our societies. Today we're talking to Kostadin Kushlev, an assistant professor in psychology at Georgetown University where he leads the The Digital Health and Happiness Lab, exploring questions of how digital technologies affect health and well-being. The general themes covered in the podcast Happiness helps health, productivity and being a good citizen Components of well being Using phones doesn’t make us feel worse, it just removes opportunities for potential happiness. Parenthood and well being Affects

  • The Scaling Laws of Life with Geoffrey West

    10/04/2020 Duração: 02h02min

    What are the universal scaling laws of life and what do they mean for how our societies today function and their survival in the future? The conversation I'm going to share with you today is one of the most important I've had to date. We live in a time characterised by extreme uncertainty, which is, in many ways, being driven by the impacts of insatiable hunger for growth. If we do not tame humanity's rapacious desire for more, it will spell disaster for all of us, and there's maths to prove it. In order to solve this problem, we first need to understand it. There is no better lens to view things of this nature through than that off energy and information and how these primordial entities flow across time, space — across the scale of life in all of its forms, and the artifacts It creates. Our guest today is Geoffrey West. Geoffrey is a theoretical physicist who turned his attention to biology, applying the mathematical rigour of one in his discipline to the complexities of life. He's spent decades exploring t

  • High-voltage living with Visakan Veerasamy

    31/03/2020 Duração: 01h49min

    Visakan Veerasamy is an eccentric Singaporean who weaves together of sparkling web of insight, wit, and positivity throughout the world of twitter. The community of people he's built around him is eclectic, and the common sentiment i see among them is an overwhelming appreciation for the content he puts out. Some would call him a marketing consultant — but that's underselling him substantially. Marketing could be seen as the best way to categorise and monetise what I think his gift is: understanding what makes people tick. These come in forms of long twitter threads, covering things like friendships and partnerships, procrastination, marketing, aesthetics, community, — there's too many to list. All of these seem to be interconnected in a massive visa-web of insight. I think about it as the twitterfication of his brain. He's also well on his way to writing 1 million words, which can be found on his blog, He's one of my favourite people to follow, because I have no idea what I'm going to read next, but I know

  • Insect Population Collapse with Dr Francisco Sanchez-Bayo

    19/03/2020 Duração: 01h05min

    The topic of today has an importance in our lives than most of us may be unaware of: global insect populations. While these creepy crawlies may inspire disgust in some of us, the value insects bring to the natural world, and of course, to our world cannot be understated — they are inextricable, vital components of our global ecosystem, and the existence of up to 40% of insect species is threatened. Joining me in this episode to talk about this ecological catastrophe is scientist Dr. Francicso Sanchez-Bayo. Francisco is an environmental scientist and ecologist at the University of Sydney. He focuses on the the risk assessment of pesticide contaminants on organisms, particularly their affects on birds and aquatic ecosystems, and the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment. He's been the author or co-author of over 80 articles and book chapters — one of which is the focus of today's discussion. Earlier this year he published a paper titled: Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its driv

  • 80,000 hours with Rob Wiblin

    22/02/2020 Duração: 43min

    This podcast has the potential to significantly change the way you spend your time and money. And i’m not being hyperbolic. In this episode I’m speaking with Rob Wiblin from 80,000 hours, an organisation that looks into how people can spend their most precious resource, their time, but more specifically, the time they spend working, to maximise for humanity’s well being. The number 80,000 hours is roughly how long someone spends working in their lifetime, hence the name. It’s an organisation with its foundation in effective altruism, which is a philosophy and social movement that aims to apply evidence and reason to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. If this is the first time you’ve been exposed to these ideas, i highly recommend you check out their websites and content. I’m sure it will change the way you think about how you navigate the world, and could realistically increase the positive impact you have on the world by orders of magnitude. This mode of thinking has really changed the way

  • Building a Second Brain with Tiago Forte

    20/02/2020 Duração: 01h25min

    Tiago Forte is the the man behind the 'building a second brain course'. Among many other things, Tiago helps people build their own trusted digital archive for their most valuable knowledge and ideas. We have a pretty wide-ranging discussion, covering where people go wrong when it comes to organising their information, general thoughts about twitter the social platform responsible for this conversation, his life philosophy servant hedonism, we talk a bit about trauma, and, why he thinks he's an arms-dealer for smart people. Find Tiago online: Twitter: Youtube: Website: Links discussed: Body keeps the score: Hyperion: Eric Chaisson -- Cosmic Evolution: Support this podcast

  • How Emotions are Made with Lisa Feldman Barrett

    17/07/2019 Duração: 58min

    Our understanding of the biology of emotions has changed dramatically in recent years. We don't experience our emotions, we construct them. Listen to Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of 'How emotions are made' talk about the science of emotions and the implications of our new understanding of them. Support this podcast

  • Design Thinking: The Scientific Method Applied to Business

    15/07/2019 Duração: 07min

    This is a reading of a blog post I wrote on Design Thinking and the scientific method. Show notes can be found at Blog post originally posted on Support this podcast

  • Sorry Trump. You're wrong about Sovereignty

    26/09/2017 Duração: 11min

    This is an audio essay on the issue of state sovereignty in an interconnected world, inspired by Trump's recent address to the UN General Assembly. The essay is available on and on medium -@shbarton. Links and sources can be found there as well. You can support the podcast at or at Support this podcast

  • Psychedelics with Chris Timmerman

    07/09/2017 Duração: 42min

    Chris Timmerman is a PhD student in the Psychedelic Research Group from Imperial College in London. He's currently conducting brain imaging experiments on people under the influence of the psychedelic drug DMT. In this episode, we talk about the psychedelics in general, ego dissolutionment and DMT. You can support this podcast at or at Support this podcast

  • Meditation and the Brain with Dr Sarah Lazar

    19/07/2017 Duração: 50min

    Meditation has exploded in popularity in recent years. Once thought of as a purely spiritual practice, the physical and mental benefits of it are now being recognised by science. Secular institutions like schools and corporations are jumping onto the Zen train to reap these benefits, which range from increases in productivity, improved sleep quality, increased creativity, as well as reduced stress and anxiety, just to name a few. On a side note, there’s also the fact that some people report of meditation inducing psychedelic experiences, which is a tantalizing prospect in of itself! My guest in this episode is Dr Sara Lazar from Harvard University. In our conversation, we cover: - The benefits of meditation and the effects it can have on your brain - Its effects on mental illnesses - Politics and neuroanatomy - Persona EEG devices that provide real-time neurofeedback - Whether or not meditation be widely prescribed, just like regular exercise, optimal nutrition, and sleep? - And, of course, some hel

  • The Inevitable Technologies that will Shape our Future with Kevin Kelly

    11/07/2017 Duração: 53min

    In this episode, we explore the technologies that will shape our future as outlined in the book 'The Inevitable' by Kevin Kelly. It takes the vast swathes of technological developments that we’ve seen over the past few decades, and paints a marvellous picture of what they could, and most likely will inevitably mean for the future. Topics covered in the podcast include: - Artificial intelligence and the cognifying of everything - The blockchain - Information abundance - Startup advice for would-be innovators - How these technologies will help us understand who we are. Enjoy! You can support the podcast at or at Support this podcast

  • The Plight of the Biafran People with Gosife Okekenta

    06/07/2017 Duração: 01h07min

    Today's episode is a bit different from the rest. Instead of talking about developments in science, tech and society, I'm chatting to a man called Gosife Okenta about the ongoing subjugation and suffering of his people in Nigeria. He would not call himself Nigerian, however. Gosife is from Biafra, a secessionist state in eastern Nigeria that existed in the late 1960s. Though is no longer exists, there are millions of people who identify as Biafrans today, and are treated as second class citizens in Nigeria. I wanted to share Gosife and Biafra's story to get you to ponder some things like: - What is a national identity? - When should the global community intervene in the affairs of a country? - Is sovereignty an outdated concept in our globalised world? You can support the podcast at or through, or by giving it a rating and sharing it with your friends! Support this podcast

  • The Death of Aging with Aubrey de Grey

    22/06/2017 Duração: 37min

    Aging could become a thing of the past. Not in 100 years, but within our lifetime (whatever that means) In this episode, I'm joined by Aubrey de Grey. Aubrey is a British biomedical gerontologist, chief scientist and founder of the SENS Research Foundation, an institution focused on using regenerative medicines to repair damage underlying the diseases of aging. In our conversation, we talk about some of the underlying causes of aging, where anti-aging research is at the moment, and what the near future might look like in the industry. Support the podcast at: talkoftoday/support Support this podcast

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