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The Ralston College Podcast

Jul 5, 2024

Ralston College Humanities MA


Dr. Stephen Wolfram is a renowned computer scientist, physicist, and entrepreneur who earned his PhD in particle physics at 20 and became the youngest MacArthur Fellow at 21. As the founder of Wolfram Research, he has developed groundbreaking technologies widely used by university researchers in engineering, physics, mathematics, and computing.

How can computational thinking and philosophy together unlock the mysteries of human consciousness and the universe?


In this Q&A session, conducted in February 2024 with students enrolled in Ralston College’s MA in the Humanities program, the renowned physicist and computer scientist, Dr Stephen Wolfram, explains his own intellectual trajectory and explores the intersection of computational and philosophical inquiry, particularly in the age of AI. In the course of this wide-ranging conversation, Dr Wolfram discusses computational irreducibility, the nature of mind, the ethics of AI governance, and the growing value of a liberal arts education. 



00:00 Introduction: Dr. Stephen Wolfram's Genius and AI's Impact on Humanities

01:30 Welcoming Dr. Steven Wolfram

02:15 Steven Wolfram's Early Life and Achievements

05:10 The Power of Computational Thinking

07:20 The Ruliad, Philosophy, and Computational Language

15:15 Q: Exploring Computational Irreducibility and Emergence

21:25 The Ruliad and the Nature of Reality

32:30 Q: The Role of Computational Thinking in Education

41:05 AI Governance and Ethics

46:35 Q: Bridging STEM and Humanities for Better AI Ethics

48:40 Building Wolfram Alpha

50:35 Q: Plato and Balancing Innovation in AI

01:05:25 Q: Probability and Unpredictability: Insights from Nassim Taleb

01:09:35 Q: Human Consciousness and the Computational Soul

01:22:35 Conclusion: Reflections on Learning, Philosophy, and the Future of Education


Authors, Ideas, and Works Mentioned in this Episode: 


The ruliad 

Gestalt entities 

Computational irreducibility 

Computational equivalence 

The second law of thermodynamics

Plato, Republic 

AI Governance 


Arrival (film)


Nassem Talib, The Black Swan

Colin Maclaurin



Additional Resources 

Dr Stephen Blackwood 


Ralston College (including newsletter)


Support a New Beginning 


Ralston College Humanities MA


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Thank you for listening!