Sam Arbesman is a complexity scientist and the author of two award winning books, Technology at the Limits of Comprehension and The Half Life of Facts. He has a PhD in Computational Biology from Cornell University and is the current Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital.
Sam uses the ideas of complex systems to examine how science and technology change over time and what this means for society. In particular, he is obsessed with promoting generalist thinking in our age of specialization, seeing the most hopeful future in the unexpected collisions between disparate ideas. Sam works with companies and startup founders exploring about technological complexity, artificial intelligence, and infusing computation into everything from biology to manufacturing.
Our conversation starts with talking about science fiction, and specifically The Foundation Trilogy written by Isaac Asimov, and how it cultivated his imagination at a young age. We talk about the past, present and future of knowledge and draw ideas from The Half Life of Facts, which explores how knowledge changes over time. At the end, we explore the relationship between time and immortality before bringing the conversation back to finding meaning in life
At a young age, Sam’s dad shared a little motto with him every day before he went to school: "Think, have fun, and be a mench." The phrase echoes throughout this wonderful conversation.