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Idea Machines

Apr 20, 2020

In this episode I talk to Adam Marblestone about technology roadmapping, scientific gems hidden in plain sight, and systematically exploring complex systems. Adam is currently a research scientist at Google DeepMind and in the past has been the chief strategy officer at a brain-computer interface company and did research on brain mapping with Ed Boyden and did his PhD with George Church. He has a repeated pattern of pushing the frontiers in one discipline after another - physics, biology, neuroscience, and now artificial intelligence. I wanted to talk to Adam not just because it’s fascinating when people are able to push the frontier in multiple disciplines but because he does it through a system he calls technological roadmapping.

Most of our discussion is framed around two of Adam’s works - a presentation about roadmapping biology and his primer on climate technology. The conversation stands on its own, but taking a glance at them will definitely enhance the context. Links below.

Key Takeaways

  1. Technological roadmapping enables fields to escape local maxima
  2. It might be possible to systematically break down complex technical disciplines into basic constraints in order to construct these roadmaps
  3. Figuring out these constraints may also enable us to reboot stalled fields