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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Apr 6, 2024

Today on Unsupervised Learning, Razib talks to long-time podcast favorite Samo Burja. Burja is the founder of Bismarck Analysis and Bismarck Brief, a Research Fellow at the Long Now Foundation and The Foresight Institute. He is also now the chair of the editorial board of Palladium Magazine. Already a four-time guest on Unsupervised Learning (he has previously shared his views on China's future, Russia's present and archaeology's past, his role at Bismarck Analysis and geopolitical uncertainty, reflected on his piece in Palladium on Finding "lost civilizations" and covered his ideas on "social technology," China, and the foreign view of America), the Slovenian-born Burja is one of the most original and incisive public intellectuals writing in America today. His 2021 piece, Why Civilization is Older than We Thought, brings a level of depth and rigor to historical heterodoxy that you rarely find anymore. Burja has also forwarded the “great founder theory” of historical change and formulated the idea of “live players” in social analysis.

In this episode, Razib asks Burja for his sense of the world landscape in early 2024, revisiting conversations that delve into logistical details of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the future of Chinese power. Burja continues to be pessimistic about the long-term prospects of European and Ukrainian resistance to a Russian war-machine that is geared toward grinding its way through lengthy battles of attrition. He also asserts that the current bearish attitude toward Chinese power is short-sighted, arguing that Western media in particular understates the technological and economic achievements of the PRC over the last generation. Burja believes that even if the “China bulls” were overly optimistic, the “China bears” go to excess in the opposite direction. Finally, he touches upon his vision for Palladium Magazine, a publication he has long contributed to, and which he now helms.