Why are we heading hell-bent into a world that nobody wants?  Social philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger warns adding AI to our unsustainable system will speed disaster for humanity.  Daniel talks with UK science communicator & former pro poker player Olivia “Liv” Boeree.  Then Canadian fire expert Michael Flannigan explains why burning the great north Boreal forests could change world climate for all of us.

Listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (57 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)



“Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius!“

– That is from Alan Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” in 1955.

Moloch, the false God mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, is now employed to represent “the system” – the octIpus of goods and data stretching around the world, apparently controlled by no one.  Now experts fear artificial intelligence will take control – and that may not be good for any of us.  One of the best explanations of our quandary comes from Californian social philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger.  Founding Member at The Consilience Project.

We hear a powerful interview by Liv Boeree, science presenter and an extraordinary mind in her own right.  Thank you Liv for permission to rebroadcast.

You need to know that “AGI” stands for Artificial General Intelligence, which is AI for most of us.  But what will it do, in a system already heading toward extinction by climate and other means?  Listen to Daniel Schmachtenberger with Liv Boeree.

This condensed version of Liv Boeree with Daniel Schmachtenbergerwas posted on Vimeo.  It comes from a one hour plus YouTube version, posted March 30, 2023 (see below).  My thanks to Liv Boeree at livboeree.com for permission to broadcast, and to Daniel – for trying the hardest question there is.

Check out Daniel Schmachtenberger’s Linked-In post about this interview and Moloch frame here.




Misalignment, AI & Moloch | Daniel Schmachtenberger and Liv Boeree

162,881 views  Mar 30, 2023


Further viewing:

Meditations On Moloch
Posted On July 30, 2014 By Scott Alexander


Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius!“

“…Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!

They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!


Moloch is introduced as the answer to a question – C. S. Lewis’ question in Hierarchy Of Philosophers – what does it? Earth could be fair, and all men glad and wise. Instead we have prisons, smokestacks, asylums. What sphinx of cement and aluminum breaks open their skulls and eats up their imagination?

And Ginsberg answers: Moloch does it.

There’s a passage in the Principia Discordia where Malaclypse complains to the Goddess about the evils of human society. “Everyone is hurting each other, the planet is rampant with injustices, whole societies plunder groups of their own people, mothers imprison sons, children perish while brothers war.”

The Goddess answers: “What is the matter with that, if it’s what you want to do?”

Malaclypse: “But nobody wants it! Everybody hates it!”


Why we are heading toward multiple disasters that no one wants, due to misaligned incentives and a failure of coordination…  “Moloch” is a type of system dynamics leading to a game where no one wins…

There is no agent or person that want a hot planet and extinction, and that is still where we are going.  It is almost no one is in control of large corporations, just the responsibility of maximizing share holder profits, (including pension funds)…  Huge companies can run on human intelligence, with a capacity to do things no individual can do.  It uses computation.  Now we add AI to that.

A nation state is already a type of cybernetics which is misaligned.  AI will be used to make that worse.  Corporations are like a super agent, but also a kind of obligate sociopath, to do whatever it can to make profits.  Daniel speaks of the arms race, climate change, and general disaster…

Each of these super-intelligences interacts with each other to create the Moloch dynamic as a super-super intelligence.  We can think of it as a “God” having such great powers, driving climate zones, and species extinction, arms races – a misaligned super-intelligence that no one can stop – and THAT is who is building AI.  They have fiduciary responsibilities to win, no matter what the eventual costs.

We already have a misaligned super-intelligence running the world, employing all computational powers, and now developing AI to do more.  We have a mal-system and AI will speed that up.  We already have general intelligence in our world system, operating autonomously, so existing AI, even before it reaches it’s own autonomy, will hasten disaster, even without reaching totally independent AI.

At 17 minutes Daniel references other institutes studying AI – worth looking up.  AI gives us better nuclear weapons, bio-weapons, and all sorts of terrible things, along with good discoveries like new drugs.  Everything that AI can optimize it can also break.  An AI at Oakridge came up with bioweapons when asked.  Any development for good is a double-edged sword, which can create great good and great evil.

Once AI is developed, it takes a lot to develop, but far fewer resources to use after invention.


Pausing AI Developments Isn’t Enough. We Need to Shut it All Down

By Eliezer Yudkowsky March 29, 2023

Yudkowsky is a decision theorist from the U.S. and leads research at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. He’s been working on aligning Artificial General Intelligence since 2001 and is widely regarded as a founder of the field.

Many researchers steeped in these issues, including myself, expect that the most likely result of building a superhumanly smart AI, under anything remotely like the current circumstances, is that literally everyone on Earth will die. Not as in “maybe possibly some remote chance,” but as in “that is the obvious thing that would happen.” It’s not that you can’t, in principle, survive creating something much smarter than you; it’s that it would require precision and preparation and new scientific insights, and probably not having AI systems composed of giant inscrutable arrays of fractional numbers….”


Please support Radio Ecoshock if you can.  Listener contributions make this show possible.  There are no big grands or big investors.  Funding comes from you – and then we hand all this information out free to people all over the world, including via 106 radio stations weekly.  Please give what you can here.



I am a fourth generation Canadian, now getting old.  We never considered wildfires in May.  June was not fire month.  Real heat did not come until July or August.  Smoke covering most of North America just never happened.

For people not in the fire zone, the big story is smoke.  Weather-watcher Daniel Swain called this year’s Alberta smoke a “remarkable “smoke cyclone” [or]/ “smokestorm”” which floated across the border to the Central U.S.

Last week, the Canadian Province of Quebec went from about 20 wildfires, mostly small, to over 130, many larger than expected by far.  It produced “a tsunami of smoke, pouring down over major cities like Toronto, through the Mid-West, New England, and down to Virginia.  Over a hundred million people went under dangerous air, and the New York skyline disappeared from view.  It was a health emergency.

Bernie Sanders

Right now, 98 MILLION people on the East Coast are under air quality alerts from Canadian fires and, last night, NYC had the worst air quality in the world. Climate change makes wildfires more frequent and widespread. If we do nothing, this is our new reality. It’s time to act.

Canada wildfire smoke threatens health of millions  BBC News June 6, 2023

Very early Spring fires in Northern Alberta forced the evacuation of almost 30,000 people this year.  Two massive fires approached the Town of Fox Creek, with a population over 2,000 people.   According to one source, up to a million hectares burned in Alberta by May 21st, 2023, and almost another million hectares of wild land burned in Saskatchewan.

The Copernicus satellite monitoring also found very high carbon emissions from these recent fires in the Canadian West – the highest carbon emissions since 2019.  Wildfires are pumping a lot of new carbon into the atmosphere.  Even if those big dumps of carbon dioxide will be recaptured by new trees in a few years, I worry in the meantime the extra carbon could add enough warming to trigger other changes in the climate system.

Canada is on fire, from the West Coast to Nova Scotia on the Atlantic, thousands of miles.  This is not natural.  This is climate change.


Will wildfires push faster climate change?  Are wildfires increasing?  Is the vast Boreal forest around the world in trouble? Frightening fire news pours in, most recently from northern Alberta and nearby Canadian Provinces.

Nobody knows wildfire science better than Dr. Michael Flannigan.  He is the long-time Professor at the University of Alberta, now at Thompson Rivers University.  Mike held leading roles as BC Innovation Research Chair in Emergency Management and Fire Science.  Flannigan was Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Wildland Fire.  He is an internationally known wildfire expert.  This is a new interview.


Listen to or download this 29 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Mike Flannigan in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

OUR PREVIOUS RADIO ECOSHOCK INTERVIEW (rebroadcast recently – still good!)

Fire! In A Crowded World


Vancouver author John Vaillant just released his new book about the Fort Mac fire of 2016.  The title is “Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast”. He interviewed residents of that Alberta town that partly burned down.  They were still nervous and traumatized years later.  We had a big fire near my studio, and still have an emergency evacuation bag near the front door.


This Spring, it is Canada’s “turn in the barrel” for climate fire.  Who is next?  No doubt Siberia will burn as always, but more fiercely over the years.  The heat-tortured Mediterranean will burn again what is left.  With the developing El Nino predicted for November or December, it could be Australia again this year.  Wherever it comes, climate change will make the forests ready to burn.

Earth has crossed seven out of eight boundaries set out just a few years ago.  Next week I replay my interview about that with Johann Rockstrom.  The week following I hope to be ready with a major new update on boundaries – the lines once crossed setting Nature spinning on her own, beyond humanity, dragging all life into a new hot and unstable world.  We must also hear the other huge news about the Arctic Sea Ice.  That is a story destined to change the world, far beyond what the public knows – perhaps beyond what we are brave enough to imagine.

These are important times.  Thank you for tuning into what the rest of the world tries so hard to block out.  Thank you for caring about this living world.