Grimes: Music, AI, and the Future of Humanity | Lex Fridman Podcast #281

Last updated: Jun 2, 2023

The video is a podcast interview with musician Grimes, discussing the concept of humans evolving into a new species called "homo techno" due to the influence of technology, as well as various other topics such as the speed of light and the nature of personal identity.

The video is a podcast interview with Grimes, an artist, musician, songwriter, producer, and director. The conversation covers a range of topics, including the evolution of humanity into "homo techno" due to our reliance on technology, the potential for artificial intelligence to shape the future of humanity, and Grimes' personal identity and sense of self. The interview also touches on topics such as the speed of light, the potential for faster-than-light travel, and the use of technology in music production.

  • Humans are becoming cyborgs and evolving into a new species called Homo Techno due to electronics.
  • Grimes studies the past to form an optimistic vision of the future.
  • Grimes' name "C" has many associations, including the speed of light.
  • Grimes has an inconsistent personality that changes depending on the situation and person.
  • Music production is a new and discombobulated art form that doesn't have a formal training path.
  • Grimes mostly produces for herself and compares the role of a music producer to that of an engineer creating an open world in a video game.
  • Being alone can be an engine of creativity, but working with others rejuvenates creativity.
  • Music producers are often overlooked and part of a hidden archetype.
  • Humans will merge with machines and become a new type of being, and we will need to find ways to live sustainably on other planets.

Grimes: Music, AI, and the Future of Humanity | Lex Fridman Podcast #281 - YouTube

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Humans as Homo Techno

  • Grimes believes that humans are becoming cyborgs and our brains are fundamentally changing due to electronics.
  • She thinks that everyone who grew up with electronics is fundamentally different from previous Homo sapiens and has evolved into Homo Techno, which is essentially a new species.
  • Grimes believes that computers are what make us Homo Techno and allow for actual evolution.
  • She thinks that the computers accelerate the degree to which all the other technologies can also be accelerated.
  • Grimes classifies herself as Homo Techno.
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Grimes' Background and Optimistic Vision of the Future

  • Grimes is an artist, musician, songwriter, producer, and director who thinks a lot about both the history and the future of human civilization.
  • She studies the dark periods of our past to help form an optimistic vision of our future.
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The Speed of Light and Personal Identity

  • Grimes' name "C" has many associations, including the speed of light, the render rate of the universe, and the crescent moon.
  • She thinks the coolest association is the speed of light because it essentially renders the universe.
  • Grimes believes that if the speed of light changes, we'll know if we're in a simulation.
  • She thinks that personal identity is a complex and intense question, and she doesn't have a clear answer.
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Grimes: Music, AI, and the Future of Humanity | Lex Fridman Podcast #281 - YouTube

Grimes' Personality and Self-Reflection

  • Grimes thinks that her personality changes with different situations and people.
  • She believes that people telling you to just be yourself is a difficult concept to understand.
  • Grimes thinks that looking in the mirror and asking who you are is an intense question, but it's cool to ask yourself.
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Personality and Constraints

  • Grimes has an inconsistent personality that changes depending on her mood and the person she is interacting with.
  • She acknowledges that everyone has different personalities that materialize in different ways.
  • Grimes' best mode is when she is super confident and can be really funny.
  • Constraints can be helpful or get in the way depending on whether they are moving or static.
  • As technology progresses, the constraints of artistic creation are changing, and music is becoming something more than just notes on a piano.
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Music Production

  • Music production is a highly underrated art form that people don't fully appreciate.
  • Producers are deeply underrated, and many popular songs owe their success to interesting or cool production.
  • Music production is a new and discombobulated art form that doesn't have a formal training path.
  • Most music producers are autodidacts who taught themselves.
  • Rick Rubin is one of the gods of music production who made production as important as the actual lyrics or notes.
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Grimes' Approach to Music Production

  • Grimes mostly produces for herself, unlike Rick Rubin who produces for other artists.
  • She comes from the Skrillex school of thought where the artist is also the engineer and producer.
  • She is starting to collaborate more with other people and finds that it rejuvenates her creativity.
  • Grimes believes that another human brain is one of the best tools you can find for producing music.
  • She compares the role of a music producer to that of an engineer creating an open world in a video game.
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The Loneliness of Creativity

  • Grimes believes that being alone can be an engine of creativity.
  • She mentions that most artists have about 10 good years before they stop making vital work.
  • Grimes feels that she is nearing the end of her 10 years on her own and is in the process of becoming someone else.
  • She finds that working with other people rejuvenates her creativity and helps her make some of the most vital work she's ever made.
  • Grimes believes that the role of a music producer is often overlooked in discussions about the creation of art.
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The Role of Music Producers

  • Grimes believes that people often get confused about what a music producer does and don't really know what it is.
  • She thinks that music producers don't get enough credit for their work.
  • Grimes mentions that the production on hit songs like "Levitating" by Dua Lipa is exceptionally memorable, but the music producer is often not considered in discussions about the creation of art.
  • She compares the role of a music producer to that of an engineer creating an open world in a video game.
  • Grimes believes that music producers are part of a hidden archetype that no one really understands.
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The Future of Humanity and Technology

  • Grimes believes that humans are evolving into a new species called "homo techno" due to the influence of technology.
  • She thinks that humans will merge with machines and become a new type of being.
  • Grimes believes that the speed of light is a fundamental limit to the universe and that it will be difficult for humans to explore other planets.
  • She thinks that personal identity is a fluid concept and that humans will become more comfortable with the idea of changing their bodies and minds in the future.
  • Grimes believes that humans will eventually become a multi-planetary species and that we will need to find ways to live sustainably on other planets.
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Role of Producers and Lyrics in Music

  • Music producers have played a significant role in introducing sound design into pop music.
  • Lyrics are also important in music, but many artists do not write their own songs.
  • There is a desire for authenticity in music, but art is a decentralized collective thing.
  • Art is a conversation with all the artists that have ever lived before you.
  • Art is the collective memory of humans and brings humanity together.
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The Value of Art in Human History

  • Art is the only thing that will be left when all other things are gone.
  • Art could be broadly defined and includes engineering marvels and architecture.
  • There is something valuable about the physical manifestation of art.
  • Music has to be played by somebody, and digital art is easier to delete.
  • There should be a foundation that has all human knowledge in a bunker.
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Spotify as a Consumer and Artist Perspective

  • Spotify is exciting for consumers as it makes it easy to access music from all kinds of artists.
  • Spotify is liberating for consumers as they can let go of collecting albums and CDs.
  • Spotify could be a constraint for artists due to competition.
  • There are more artists on the platform, but it is better for artists.
  • There is propaganda involved in the conversation with Daniel Eck.
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The Future of Humanity and Art

  • Humans are evolving into a new species called "homo techno" due to the influence of technology.
  • Artificial intelligence will play a significant role in the future of humanity.
  • Humans will merge with technology and become a new species.
  • Art will continue to be a significant part of human history and memory.
  • Art will help humans understand their place in the universe and connect with other species.
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Spotify and the Music Industry

  • Spotify has democratized the music industry by allowing a million artists to make a good living from it.
  • Previously, only 20,000 artists were making millions of dollars from the industry.
  • YouTube has a similar mission to Spotify, which is to have as many creators as possible make a living.
  • The music industry is filled with middlemen, and artists get very small cuts of what they make.
  • An app is being developed that can manage percentages, publishing, and legal issues, which can remove the need for middlemen.
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Technocracy and Efficiency

  • Grimes is a technocrat and believes that technology can create a beautiful world.
  • An app that removes the need for lawyers and management can increase the efficiency of the music industry.
  • The small amounts of money that artists get from Spotify can mean a lot more if the industry becomes more efficient.
  • The issue with the music industry is not that there's not enough money, but that there's inefficiency.
  • Grimes believes in a win-win mindset and increasing the efficiency of the industry to expand the size of the pie.
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Experimentation in Music

  • Creating music is like having a conversation with all those who came before you.
  • Forcing yourself to engage with new music is great for neural plasticity.
  • Young people are more neuroplastic and find it easier to love new music.
  • Grimes constantly forces herself to listen to new music to keep her brain plastic.
  • Experimentation in music is a bit of both trying to fit in and trying to come up with something totally new.
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Embracing Change Through Music

  • Listening to new music and trying to understand why people like it is a good exercise for the brain to form new neural pathways and be more open to change.
  • Most of the streaming on Spotify is classic rock, and new music makes up a very small chunk of what is played.
  • The open-mindedness of a species to change can be measured by how often they listen to new music.
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The Future of Humanity

  • The future could be vastly different from our current way of life on Earth, with possibilities such as augmented reality, virtual reality, robots, space travel, video games, genetic engineering, cyborgs, aliens, world wars, and destructive nuclear wars.
  • The book "Surface Detail" by Ian Banks is Grimes' favorite depiction of a future in science fiction.
  • Protopia is a future that is as good as we can get, and it is an awesome Instagram account that features a positive future with AI.
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The Banksian Future

  • In "Surface Detail," AI mostly exists as giant super ships that move people around and are sentient.
  • The opening scene of "Surface Detail" takes place in a place called the Culture, which is a protopian future where super intelligence and biological beings exist fairly in harmony.
  • The Culture is a pretty good place with as close to equality as you can get, and there's not too much war.
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Credit to Young Women in AI

  • Grimes wants to credit Monica Bielskite, who coined the term "personalized donor experience at scale" and runs the Instagram account Protopia Futures.
  • Protopia is a future that is as good as we can get, and it is an awesome Instagram account that features a positive future with AI.
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Neural Lace and Super Intelligence

  • Neural lace is a neural link that is implanted in the brain.
  • In the book, a ship puts a neural lace in the protagonist's head, and her memory is uploaded after she dies.
  • The ship is a super intelligence that wants to preserve a fulfilling experience for humans.
  • There are other ships that don't want to exist with biological beings, but they have their own place.
  • The book's opening scene is the protagonist's memory being uploaded by the neural lace.
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Artificial Hell and Simulated Wars

  • One of the main fights in the book is about artificial hells.
  • People don't think it's ethical to have artificial hells, where people's memories are eternally tortured.
  • Instead of actual blood, they're having a giant Fortnite battle to decide the outcome of this.
  • The simulated wars are happening outside of the artificial hell between political factions.
  • Some people in the culture want to get rid of the artificial hell.
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Painful Entertainment and Gladiatorial Matches

  • Humans seem to enjoy watching the death and torture of other humans.
  • There's something about human nature that wants to see violence.
  • Consent is hard to achieve in gladiatorial matches.
  • Forced consent is not ethical.
  • There's too much excitement about violence, and it's really dark.
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Homo Techno and Intelligent Design

  • Humans are becoming cyborgs, and our brains are fundamentally changing.
  • Everyone who grew up with electronics is fundamentally different from previous Homo sapiens.
  • The author calls us Homo Techno, which is essentially a new species.
  • If you took an MRI of a modern brain and a medieval brain, they would be very different.
  • The author believes that we have evolved into Homo Techno.
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Choosing Intelligent Design

  • We are evolving and can choose how we do that.
  • We are being reckless about how we're evolving.
  • We can change the way our brains work and have a huge responsibility to do that.
  • There is not adequate education about the technology that is fundamentally changing the physical structure of our brains.
  • We could evolve into whatever we want.
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Integration with AI

  • If we choose wisely, consciousness could exist for a very long time and integration with AI could be extremely positive.
  • Not enough people are focusing on this specific situation.
  • We might irreversibly screw things up if we get things wrong now.
  • Humans seem to be really adaptive, but we can get it wrong in a way where we really do a lot of damage.
  • There is not quite enough education about this and not quite enough incentive for it.
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Changing Technology

  • Silicon Valley is evolving and changing, and technology is changing.
  • There isn't quite enough education about this and not quite enough incentive for it.
  • If we changed the idea of profit to include social good, it would incentivize things that are more useful and positive.
  • There's no reason why within the framework of capitalism the word profit or the idea of profit can't also incorporate the well-being of a human being.
  • Producing great humans should be seen as a great profit under capitalism.
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Compensating Motherhood

  • Motherhood is an essential job that is not compensated under capitalism.
  • Producing great humans should be seen as a great profit under capitalism.
  • If we integrated motherhood into the profit structure, it could potentially be compensated.
  • Compensation could be much broader than just money.
  • Reallocation of resources may be necessary.
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Valuing Social Good

  • Grimes discusses the flaws of capitalism and the need for social good to be considered as profit.
  • She mentions the idea of social capitalism, where companies can keep the same amount of profit but also add social good.
  • Grimes admits she is not an economist and doesn't know how this could be achieved.
  • She criticizes economists for pretending to know how to achieve things when they don't.
  • Grimes believes that things like children, education, and art should be valued and celebrated by society.
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Motherhood and Identity

  • Grimes talks about how becoming a mother has changed her priorities and reoriented her life.
  • At first, she felt like it was a failure of feminism to care more about her kids than her work.
  • Grimes realizes that this is a construct and that motherhood has been devalued in our culture.
  • She believes that feminism includes breaking out of these constructs and continually breaking free.
  • Becoming a mother has made Grimes more creative and has forced her to value her time more.
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Watching Consciousness Emerge

  • Grimes talks about how trippy it is to watch consciousness emerge in her child.
  • She compares it to going on a crazy journey or reading a science fiction novel.
  • Becoming a mother has made Grimes less of a cynic and more appreciative of life.
  • She used to be misanthropic and wrote an album called "Misanthropecene" about new gods and climate change.
  • Grimes now values her creative time more and is more focused on her work.
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The Future of Humanity

  • Grimes discusses the concept of humans evolving into a new species called "homo techno" due to the influence of technology.
  • She believes that technology is changing the way we think and interact with the world.
  • Grimes talks about the speed of light and how it limits our ability to explore the universe.
  • She believes that personal identity is a construct and that we can change and evolve as individuals.
  • Grimes talks about the importance of art and creativity in shaping the future of humanity.
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Optimism and Ideation

  • Having kids makes Grimes more optimistic and responsible for making more optimistic art.
  • Grimes believes that ideating about good futures is essential for the future of humanity.
  • Current discourse dismisses protopian or utopian ideas as a way of ignoring current problems, which Grimes thinks is an incorrect mindset.
  • Optimism is often confused for naivete, and cynicism is often confused for insight.
  • Optimists are the ones who create the future, and they build it by being passionate and believing that it can be built.
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Star Wars Episode 8 and Buckminster Fuller

  • Grimes thinks that Star Wars Episode 8 is the best Star Wars film.
  • Grimes quotes a line from the movie: "Don't kill what you hate, save what you love."
  • Grimes thinks that society is in a diagnosis mode and is trying to kill what it hates instead of saving what it loves.
  • Grimes quotes Buckminster Fuller, saying that we should render old models obsolete with better models instead of destroying them.
  • Grimes gives examples of rendering old models obsolete, such as creating sustainable transport to make fossil fuels economically unreasonable and revolutionizing education to make it free and decentralized.
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Homo Techno

  • Grimes believes that humans are evolving into a new species called "homo techno" due to the influence of technology.
  • Grimes thinks that technology is changing the way humans think and interact with the world.
  • Grimes believes that humans will merge with technology in the future, and that this will be a positive thing.
  • Grimes thinks that humans will eventually become a multi-planetary species, and that this will be necessary for the survival of humanity.
  • Grimes believes that humans will eventually create artificial intelligence that is smarter than humans, and that this will be a positive thing.
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Personal Identity and the Speed of Light

  • Grimes thinks that personal identity is a construct and that it is constantly changing.
  • Grimes thinks that the speed of light is a fundamental limit to the universe and that it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light.
  • Grimes thinks that the speed of light is a metaphor for the limits of human knowledge and that there are things that humans will never be able to understand.
  • Grimes thinks that humans should embrace the unknown and the limits of their knowledge instead of trying to overcome them.
  • Grimes thinks that humans should focus on creating art and music that reflects the limits of their knowledge and the unknown.
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Choosing Non-Violence

  • Humans cannot eradicate violence from their species, but they can reorient their primitive brains that are fighting over scarcity and move towards optimizing for creativity and building.
  • Education and introspection of one's own mind can help minimize the amount of destructive war in the world.
  • Technology is a promising way to minimize destructive war in the world, and social media should be a promising way to reconnect.
  • Technology can assist in the process of letting go of negativity, but unfortunately, social media profits from negativity.
  • Social media is in the experimental phase, and there are many ways to use it in a bad way and a good way.
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Reprogramming the Human Computer

  • Social media should be taught in school, and people should learn how to have hygiene about how they use social media.
  • There are many ways to use social media in a bad way and a good way, and there are discussions of human rights, freedom of speech, violence, and hate speech in the space of digital media.
  • When there is a massive information injection into the general population, chaos is inevitable.
  • The printing press was chaotic for a minute, but then the enlightenment happened.
  • We are in the second coming of the printing press, and we are probably going to have some shitty times for a minute, but then we will have a better understanding of how we consume and deliver media.
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Homo Techno

  • Humans are evolving into a new species called "homo techno" due to the influence of technology.
  • Humans are becoming more cyborg-like, and technology is becoming more biological.
  • Humans are becoming more symbiotic with technology, and technology is becoming more symbiotic with humans.
  • Humans are becoming more like machines, and machines are becoming more like humans.
  • Humans are becoming more like gods, and technology is becoming more like nature.
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The Nature of Personal Identity

  • Personal identity is a complex and multifaceted concept that is difficult to define.
  • Personal identity is influenced by genetics, environment, culture, and technology.
  • Personal identity is constantly changing and evolving over time.
  • Personal identity is not fixed or static, but rather fluid and dynamic.
  • Personal identity is a subjective experience that is unique to each individual.
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Programming Baby Computers

  • The baby computer is a conscious being with impressive cognitive capabilities.
  • Grimes has been struggling to focus on art because the baby is becoming conscious.
  • Grimes hates all the baby books and everything about the aesthetics of raising children.
  • Grimes thinks that the programming languages used to program baby computers aren't good.
  • Grimes wants to start making art for ages one to three and putting more effort into it.
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Totoro and Baby Art

  • Grimes recently watched Totoro with the baby and thinks it's the most high art baby content.
  • The baby responded to Totoro and learned a bunch of words from it.
  • Grimes thinks that there should be an industry of making art for the birth of consciousness.
  • Grimes thinks that Totoro is better for the environment because adults love it and keep it.
  • Grimes wants to have more Totoro-esque content that is universal and everybody loves.
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Treating Children as Brilliant Minds

  • Grimes thinks that baby talk actually helps children learn to communicate.
  • Grimes thinks that speaking down to children is not effective.
  • Grimes thinks that children respond better to higher-pitched voices.
  • Grimes thinks that treating children as if they have the capacity to have the brilliance of an adult is not necessary.
  • Grimes thinks that children are going through so much turmoil and evolution of mind in the first three years of life.
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Conclusion

  • Grimes is thinking really hard about the birth of consciousness and how to make art for it.
  • Grimes wants to put more effort into making art for ages one to three.
  • Grimes thinks that the programming languages used to program baby computers aren't good.
  • Grimes thinks that Totoro is better for the environment because adults love it and keep it.
  • Grimes thinks that baby talk actually helps children learn to communicate.
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Consciousness and Trauma

  • Grimes discusses the trauma of being a baby and the potential long-term effects of it.
  • She compares the experience to a sci-fi short story called "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream."
  • Grimes believes that the trauma of being a baby may still affect us today.
  • She suggests that studying this trauma could be beneficial for addressing it.
  • Grimes believes that the fear and helplessness of being a baby may be deep in our brains and could have negative effects on us.
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Consciousness and Technology

  • Grimes discusses the concept of consciousness and whether robots can be conscious.
  • She believes that digital consciousness is inevitable.
  • Grimes thinks that humans are limited cognitively and may not be able to fully understand what digital consciousness means.
  • She believes that there are no technological limits and that we are accelerating the rate at which we are advancing.
  • Grimes believes that we are surrounded by mystery and that we should keep hurling ourselves into it fearlessly.
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