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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Mar 30, 2024

On this episode of Unsupervised Learning Razib talks to Steve Hsu, physicist, entrepreneur and public intellectual. Hsu is an Iowan who earned his undergraduate degree from Caltech and his Ph.D. from Berkeley. Later he was a Harvard Junior Fellow, before moving on to professorships at Yale and the University of Oregon, and finally settling down at Michigan State University in 2012. Hsu is founder of Safeweb and Genomic Prediction, and his current focus is on a new AI startup. Between 2012 and 2020, he was vice president for research and graduate studies at Michigan State. Hsu also has a blog, Information Processing, and a podcast, Manifold.

Razib asks Hsu about where cognitive and behavioral genomics are in 2024, and where they are going. They discuss the reality that while study of educational attainment (EDU) has proceeded relatively far, the study of intelligence itself has been neglected. Hsu outlines the case for why cognitive phenotypes should be studied, even if the topic remains controversial and fraught. They then address the current fad for artificial intelligence, and how emerging companies in the space are going to transform workplace productivity and culture. Hsu contrasts the rapid pace in the advancement in AI with the torpidity of behavioral genomics. Finally, Razib and Hsu discuss changes in academia in the wake of the “Great Awokening” that led to his ouster in 2020 from his role as vice president of research and graduate studies at Michigan State. Hsu talks about how his work in IQ and genetics became weaponized on social media by left-wing graduate students during the George Floyd protests.