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Physical Attraction

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We are a physics podcast. But not just that - interviews with scientists, scholars, authors and reflections on the history and future of science and technology are all in the wheelhouse. Over the years, for over 200 episodes, we've had shows on the astrophysics of stars, a comprehensive history of nuclear fusion, thermodynamics, particle physics, climate change, economics, philosophy, the psychology of conspiracy theories, and even the lives of Louisiana Senator Huey Long, or scientists under Stalin in the Soviet Union. 

We are an independent show: everything you hear is created by one person out of passion and love. My aim in producing this show is never to talk down to people, but instead to discuss fascinating and vital subjects with scientific rigour, compassion, and an eye for narrative: to educate, inform, and entertain. I hope that you, the listener, will find something you like here. 

You can read about us here, which includes a comprehensive episode guide for new listeners covering all of the shows that we've done, as well as links to transcripts of many of the episodes.  

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We had a sister podcast, Autocracy Now, which deals with the lives of famous historical dictators. You can find some of their episodes on our feed, or the show itself at 

Dec 10, 2020

This week, taking a break from climate, we have a special guest on the show - Tim Hwang. Tim Hwang is a writer and researcher, and he's the author of Subprime Attention Crisis, a book about how online advertising may have become a bubble. He is currently a research fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) at Georgetown University.

He is the former director of the Harvard-MIT Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative, $26M philanthropic fund and research effort working to advance the development of machine learning in the public interest. He previously served as the global public policy lead for artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google.

We had a fascinating conversation that starts with a little word on deepfakes and misinformation, and then gets into the heart of the Subprime Attention Crisis thesis - is online advertising a bubble, and, if so, what does that mean for the internet that depends on it so much? I hope you enjoy.