Samo Burja Profile picture
14 Oct, 65 tweets, 26 min read
Super-Thread 📲

Far more people watch YouTube than like to admit. Not a bad thing! It has facilitated a revolution in the transfer of knowledge:…

Here is a thread of all my videos, organized as an overview on how I see the world and where it is going

Everyone has an implicit theory of history. Usually inconsistent and incoherent without explication and conscious work, it will nonetheless be the basis of much of your action in the world. With this concept in mind, what is yours?

Watch here:

What is the best methodology to learn something as vast and cross-disciplinary as history?

In this video, we try to bridge the gap from the overwhelming amount of historical facts to a coherent story of what actually happened. Watch here:

Choosing the right books makes the difference between deep understanding and misinformed superficiality, but this is not obvious or easy to do.

In this video, @benlandautaylor explains how to avoid pitfalls and find the right books. Watch here:

There exists knowledge developed and used by historical civilizations that we can infer has been lost to the ages, but nonetheless shaped the trajectory of future civilizations to come.

We call this “intellectual dark matter”. Watch here:

We've lost important knowledge to history, but we've also retained some. What makes knowledge survive, and how do we ensure that the important knowledge of our society survives?

In this clip, I try to answer these questions. Watch here:

From the destruction of the library at Alexandria to the recent decline in rocket technology, history is littered with examples of lost knowledge. How does this happen?

In this clip, I discuss this question with Peter Schwartz. Watch here:

The Lycurgus Cup is a technological artifact from the Ancient Romans whose properties couldn't be replicated until the 20th century. It is an excellent example of just how completely we can lose complex technology from past civilizations.

Watch here:

A new steel-making process promised to revolutionize manufacturing.

The only problem was that nobody could get it to work, except the inventor himself, revealing important facts about the nature of human knowledge. Watch here:

What is the cost to our society if theorists don't practice in their domains, and practitioners aren't openly allowed to explain the realities of their work?

In this video, I examine the nature of this split, and its consequences. Watch here:

Are master-apprentice relationships a relic of an outdated medieval education system?

Transferring the rich tacit knowledge of our best intellectuals and societal actors is not an easy task. We need facetime, and lots of it. Watch here:

YouTube is causing a revolution in the transfer of tacit knowledge.

Knowledge that could once only be gained by close in-person interaction with an expert is now available to nearly everyone.

The possibilities here are endless. Watch here:

History shows us we are not safe from institutional collapse. Agile institutions that make use of both social and technical knowledge not only mitigate such risks, but promise unprecedented human flourishing.

Watch here:

Exceptional institutions are rare.

Because of their functionality, they’re quickly imitated by other organizations in a given society.

But we shouldn’t underestimate the rarity of a brilliant founder and functional institution.

Watch here:

Behind every great founder, you find a great team. From Buddha’s disciples to Bezos’s senior executives, small, closely coordinated groups seem to be essential for grand achievements.

In this video, Zack Lerangis of Bismarck Analysis explains why:

Just as industries and governments are shaped by great founders, local social infrastructure is shaped by its own organizers.

@benlandautaylor explains how to use this to navigate your local communities and professional environment. Watch here:

Are all new government agencies created by congressional committees, or is another origin possible?

Private individuals have the capacity to intervene effectively in government, from Elon today to Wernher von Braun of the Space Age. Watch here:

When great founders are unable to produce successors who can match them in power and skill, they are facing the Succession Problem.

In this video, I examine how Roman emperors and Japanese businessmen solved this problem in the past. Watch here:

In this salon hosted by @palladiummag, I discussed great founders and what role they play in sustaining human civilization with @wolftivy and @miltonwrites, covering everything from ancient China to modern business management practice.

Watch here:

There are at least 12 identifiable Dark Ages in the recorded history of human civilization.

Although we are all fascinated with the idea of the collapse of civilization, have we considered why civilizations actually collapse? Watch here:

Societies don't always fail with a bang. Sometimes they fail invisibly.

In this clip, I compare and contrast the costs of civilizational collapse with intellectual dark ages. Watch here:

What are the signs and markers of civilizational collapse in the historical record? What does the process of collapse look like?

In this clip, I discuss these and related questions with Peter Schwartz. Watch here:

Where is our civilization headed? In this Q&A presented by the @longnow Foundation, I discuss the causes of collapse, the robustness of our society, and the benefits of crisis with Peter Schwartz.

Watch here:

Our economy depends on a vast international system of supply chains, but it is not the first.

The failed civilizations of the past show us what happens when these global supply chains break down. Watch here:

Over the centuries, some civilizations decay and fall, while others adapt and persist.

In this video, Zack Lerangis explains how the health of a civilization's “instrument of expansion” determines its fate. Watch here:

In this online talk moderated by @zslayback of @1517fund, I explain how to evaluate the health of a civilization's core institutions, what a slow collapse looks like from the inside, and how civilizational decline and collapse come about. Watch here

In this online talk at The Stoa, I examine how institutions and individuals can view and deal with living and working in a civilization or society that is in a state of decline or stagnation.

Watch here:

Many people think history follows cycles. Are they right? And if they are, does the popular story of a luxurious society prone to decadence hold any truth?

In this clip, I explain the problem with cyclical history:

In this clip, I explain that our institutions lack adaptability due to a lack of leadership from live players, why our society fails to produce enough leaders, and how this used to be different in the past. Watch here:

In this clip, I explain the relationship between technology and politics, why all material technologies are necessarily social technologies, and how people working in tech should think about politics. Watch here:

We are so used to continual tech innovation that we never ask the question: where does technological innovation actually come from?

In this video, I delve into history to explain the social factors necessary for tech innovation to occur. Watch here

America is the only place in the world today that produces breakthrough technologies. Why?

In this video, @benlandautaylor explains how innovation requires creative destruction, and why so few societies are able to allow it. Watch here:

While Roman society has shaped our own in many important ways, it produced remarkably little new technology for such a large civilization.

In this video, @benlandautaylor explains why Rome was poorly suited to technological innovation. Watch here:

Academic science is no longer capable of the immense progress it made in the early 20th century.

Scientific institutions were overwhelmed by their own success, and failed to scale with the influx of resources they brought in. Watch here:

In this online talk at The Stoa, I explain how to identify, work in, and advance a field of knowledge that has not yet crystallized into an established field, so that, one day, your name can be in the textbooks too. Watch here:

Superconnectors are a subset of what were once called socialites.

In this clip, I explain how socialites play a key role in generating new fields of knowledge, by connecting disparate intellectuals working at the frontiers of knowledge. Watch here:

For centuries, we have expected innovation to come from the West.

Now we are faced with a new situation: STEM innovation in America and Europe is slowing down, while it is rising in China.

Has China out-innovated the West already?

Watch here:

China's large industrial base is allowing it to out-innovate the United States. What strategy can America undertake in response?

In this clip, I explain my recommendation. Watch here:

The Chinese government, although totalitarian, is adaptive to changing circumstances and could prove to survive economic hardship and other potential crises.

Watch here:

Confucius studied the social technologies of the past in the hope of creating a new golden age of Chinese civilization.

Through this Confucian strategy, he influenced Chinese civilization for centuries to come. Watch here:

China is poised to become a global hegemon, but will it achieve this ambition? Xi Jinping, who stands at its helm, is planning on it.

In this video, I outline how Xi intends to make the 21st century a Chinese one. Watch here:

A nation's industrial capacity is both a cause and an effect of its political power.

In this video, @OberonDL explains how coordination from the state is necessary for a strong industrial base. Watch here:

Plundering for loot was common in much of history, but has become rare. Financial wealth cannot be carried off as easily as gold or jewels.

However, it remains possible to conquer territories and seize the factors of production. Watch here:

A true open society would have open discourse in pursuit of truth, rational actors acting out of economic self-interest, and scientific progress pursued and socially validated without persecution.

Does America pass this bar?

Watch here:

When the idea of the Internet first arose in hacker culture, it was going to be the decentralizing technology that changed the world. Instead, the internet has centralized power in our society more than ever. Silicon Valley was wrong:

Watch here:

Silicon Valley's origins can be traced to the American government's efforts to develop military technology during and after the Second World War.

This heritage is often overlooked today. Watch here:

Many scientists who helped create the atomic bomb tried to prevent nuclear proliferation.

They reached the highest levels of government with their message, but ultimately failed.

What can we learn from this today? Watch here:

From ancient Roman politics to modern academia, patronage has always been the currency of power. Without understanding it, we can't understand the institutions that surround us.

Watch here:

Political parties run on patronage, and this applies to their ideologies as well. Money and ideology shape each other.

In this video, Zack Lerangis describes how patronage shapes ideology. Watch here:

From communism to radical Islam, ideologies have tremendous power to mobilize people towards political goals. How do they do this?

In this video, I explain the core features that make for a potent ideology. Watch here:

As organizations grow larger, they often find it difficult to retain the energy and effectiveness of their early days.

In this video, Zack Lerangis explains the new challenges any organization must face during its rise. Watch here:

From the Han in Ancient China to the Bushes in America today, powerful dynasties are widespread.

Even outside the high reaches of politics, social position is often passed down in families for generations. Watch here:

Monasteries are some of the longest-lived institutions ever created. Why?

In this video, I describe the potent mixture of social technology that produces this remarkable longevity. Watch here:

Cities outlast both the institutions that compose them, and the nations or empires that contain them.

In this video, I explain how cities support and nurture human societies. Watch here:

What are the key factors that determine if a city will be a global hub? High quality of life? An active social scene?

In this video, I make predictions about American cities vs. Shanghai and explore the role of cities in the global elite. Watch here

Despite pandemic, lockdowns, remote work, and riots, it is unlikely that America’s cities will lose people and prominence, even in the medium-term.

In this clip, I explain why. Watch here:

In this interview hosted by @bigthink, I interview renowned philosopher Slavoj Žižek about what the recent #COVID19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests around the world, and more really mean for society and our future. Watch here:

Why did Slavoj Žižek run for office in the first free elections in Slovenia after the fall of Yugoslavia? And what did he learn from the experience?

Žižek explains and we discuss what it was like to be an intellectual in late Yugoslavia. Watch here:

Slavoj Žižek explains why protests swept the West in the wake of the first pandemic lockdowns, what populism can and cannot achieve, and why the way forward will require a lot of reading.

Watch here:

Slavoj Žižek talks about the economic implications of the #COVID19 pandemic, what it means for our conception of capitalism, and why market forces will be insufficient to combat the devastation caused by the virus. Watch here:

In this salon moderated by @allisonduettmann of @foresightinst, I explain how bureaucracies respond to crises, drawing examples from history that will help predict what will and won't change when the dust settles on the ongoing pandemic

Watch here

In this online talk at The Stoa, I explain how our present-day society can move forward into the future from the current moment of crisis and goes into detail on what this will mean for globalization and artificial intelligence. Watch here:

What practical strategy can we use in the short and medium terms to ensure that AI will benefit mankind, instead of harming us?

In this clip, I explain my recommendation. Watch here:

Vladimir Putin is widely recognized as one of the most important players on the global stage. But what exactly are his goals, and what is his strategy for achieving them?

In this video, I try to answer this question. Watch here:

Benjamin Franklin noticed that receiving a favor from someone often makes them more positively disposed towards you.

Psychologists call this “Franklin Effect” a cognitive bias, but @benlandautaylor argues otherwise. Watch here:


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More from @SamoBurja

12 Oct
Nearly 10,000 followers!

It is amazing nearly everyone that comments participates in good faith and an eagerness to learn. Grateful! Thank you! 😄

One of the best parts of orienting my thinking towards the public has been learning from those who write to me. Keep it up✊
Some of the things learned on road to 10k:

You don't have to fit into a neat box after all.

My interests are origin of science, industrial policy, political theory, history of civilization, long lived institutions... and our corner of twitter somehow gets this about me!

If you love discussing ideas in person, and they use twitter, tweets @ each other make for good bookmarks to follow up in person.

When you link something in email people skip, when you link it on Twitter they read.

Read 5 tweets
5 Sep
Thinking biological immortality makes things meaningless is cope, but a very human cope. We're stuck mortal so we make the most of these rationalizations.

To say old age isn't worth it because of frailty is evading the real argument. To equate immortality with being unable to die even if you wish is also evading the real argument.

A piece of evidence on underlying human preferences: At every opportunity to extend our health-span we do so. Healthy chosen very long, possibly infinite, life coincides very closely with people's revealed preferences.

Read 7 tweets
30 Aug
1 like = One contrarian evaluation of the relative advantages of the United States and China.
1. The United States has a more centralized government than China.

A governor of a Chinese province or mayor of major city has more autonomy than the governor or even state legislature of a US state.

The Party is heavy-handed because it contests real local opponents.
2. The average Chinese citizen is more effectively skeptical of the Chinese government than the typical American citizen is of the US government.

They understand the distinction between official positions and real evaluations.

See online comment sections.
Read 18 tweets
31 Mar
Grounding intellectual trust remains an unsolved problem.

As individuals we cannot perform all the experiments or check all the mathematical proofs ourselves. We neither have time nor is it economically or socially viable.

If we rely on institutions to preform experiments or check proofs for us, this scarcity of time is reduced to a problem to one of collaborative commons. But managing collaborative commons is an unsolved problem as well!

Read 10 tweets
18 Dec 19
One like = One Opinion on Wisdom and Madness of Crowds
@vgr 1. It's become well known Crowds can in some circumstances aggregate information stunningly accurately.

An illustrative anecode is Sir Francis Galton's surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged.
2. What is less well known is that the mechanism of aggregation matters.

You might aggregate the information through voting or perhaps a market.

It can be as simple as asking many people to cross a park, a clear convenient beaten path emerges from their individual behavior.
Read 25 tweets
17 Nov 19
In this piece I provide an intellectual justification for transmission of tacit skills through @YouTube. Once written people can use the piece to share their experience of learning without associated negative connotation...…

@YouTube Observing online culture, it should be rather easy to write such justifications for Facebook and Twitter.

The writing environment however seems saturated with negative takes. The insight in those seems pretty much mined out.

@YouTube A reason for this might be that social media greatly benefits the power users and the very casual users. The former create content, and the latter use it as a phone book. Both of them use it to engineer and recreate their physical in person social lives.

Read 5 tweets

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