The Narrative Game with Ben Hunt Ep. 2 – The Three Phases Of Narrative

The Narrative Game with Ben Hunt Ep. 2 – The Three Phases Of Narrative

June 11, 2020

Ben and Grant discuss the media reaction to George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protest movement sweeping across the world. Ben explains the three phases of narrative control in a given situation and demonstrates how, even with an event as explosive as the murder of a citizen by those sworn to serve and protect, a golden opportunity for the public to be manipulated presents itself to those looking for leverage…

The Grant Williams Podcast
The Grant Williams Podcast
The Narrative Game with Ben Hunt Ep. 2 - The Three Phases Of Narrative
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Ben Hunt joins Grant for an exploration of The Three Phases Of Narrative with the tragic death of George Floyd as a prism.

How is narrative constructed? How are we, as its ultimate target, complicit in allowing it to be built around us? How do we actively avoid becoming swallowed up in the stories being created to explain the world to us and think independently.

Is it possible to override our innate, hard-wired responses to certain triggers and, if so, what tools do we need to employ to safeguard ourselves from nefarious actors?

 

Grant Williams:

Welcome everybody to the second edition of The Narrative Game. I’m joined again, I’m delighted to say by the tremendous Dr. Ben Hunt. Ben, are you there?.

Ben Hunt:

Hey Grant, great to be here.

Grant Williams:

Man, I’ll tell you what, when was it? It was about eight years ago, we did that last podcast. I think wasn’t it?

Ben Hunt:

It feels that way.

Grant Williams:

I mean, what was that old Lenin quote there are days where nothing happens and weeks when decades happened. I mean, it truly is remarkable. And the reason I was so keen to get on with you and chat is a piece that you guys put out on Epsilon Theory that your partner Rusty Guinn wrote. I guess it was a week or so ago called No Accident, which was talking about the narrative around the tragic events with George Floyd in Minnesota.

Grant Williams:

And the idea of this podcast was that you and I would see narratives and you would help people understand them. And not only did Rusty do a phenomenal job with that, but I just thought it would be such a powerful thing to talk about because we’re in the middle of it still in, it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. So this will give people a great chance to really understand it from the perspective of how you guys look at it, which I just think will be so useful for people.

Ben Hunt:

Well, thanks Grant. We formed our company two years ago because we wanted to get out of the asset management business, out from the belly of the beast so that we could apply our research to more than looking at narratives and markets. Because if you’ve been much less, forget being a professional investor, if you’ve just involved in markets at all for the last decade, you’re so well aware of how so much of what happens in the pricing of securities is driven by story, by narrative. And I mean, look, that’s what a multiple is. A multiple is the story around cashflow earnings. And what we think we’ve developed is this, we call it the narrative machine. It’s a methodology for both visualizing, but really measuring the structure of narratives.

Ben Hunt:

And the reason why we wanted to be an independent company is because we realized, look, this sort of analysis is very important for investing and for what’s going on in markets, for sure, but it’s a lot bigger than that. It’s so important for understanding what drives the political events in our world, what drives the social events in our world. And the media both reaction and then channeling of the anguish and the protests around the murder of George Floyd is just a great example I think of how using this technology to visualize and measure the media narratives that we’re exposed to. It really does open your eyes, right? And I mean, it really does show you the way you were being channeled and moved into certain directions that that can make you end up in a place that’s very different from A, where you started, but B, where you want to be. Because you’re being channeled in directions that end up in a very stable place, a place that’s very advantageous for either that media as an industry for politics as an industry, but it’s not where you as a citizen or as just as a human being where you want to be.

Ben Hunt:

And that’s what we were trying to describe in this note is applying the same technology that we’ve been applying to markets, but applying it to politics, applying it to our lives as citizens, as much as our lives as investors.

Grant Williams:

It’s fascinating when we spoke about this in the first episode of the show, we talked about, how people can avoid being played by the narrative. And what I’ve found tremendously powerful as I was reading this, and what you just said there is that, we’re at a point in time where everybody holds strong conviction strongly about everything. We’re pre polarized to everything if you’d like. And everybody believes that, well, no, one’s going to move me. I know exactly what I think, and I know what I feel, and I’m not taking the other side. I’m where I am. And that’s why when I read this, it was so incredibly insightful in terms of how this whole thing works, and how people are getting moved gently around the chess board. And all the time, the beauty of the con is that they are absolutely convinced that that’s precisely what isn’t happening, which is beautiful [crosstalk 00:05:37].

Ben Hunt:

It’s the other guy, other girl that’s being a tool or a stooge of some message and…

Grant Williams:

And the way you guys wrote this about, saying that you’d struggled to write something about the matter of George Floyd, I empathize with that, because you think, well, what can I add? I mean, it’s a heinous event, but then you watch this thing snowball out of control. And if you’d have told me the day this happened that six weeks later, they’d be spraying racist on a statue of Winston Churchill in London, I’m not capable of connecting those dots. But they’re clearly, now they’ve happened, you can trace them and it’s not much of a line at all. So, perhaps you can kind of, let’s go back to the beginning and perhaps you can walk people through how this has unfolded in narrative terms, because it’s fascinating to me.

Ben Hunt:

Sure. And what we mean by narrative terms is we … I mean, really anyone can do this with the technology that’s so easily available today, but we take as a, call it big data, all of the English language news articles that are published over a certain period of time. And then you can do a search or a query on those articles to identify the ones that in this case are about, have anything to do with George Floyd, with the protest, or the like. But then it’s what you can do with those are once you’ve searched for them, once you’ve collected them, then this is just an issue of just raw computing processing power. You can compare all the words and all the articles to all the words and all the other articles.

Ben Hunt:

And it’s an enormously large number of comparisons you’re making. I mean, if you’ve only got a thousand articles with a thousand words in them to compare all the words to each other, that’s half a trillion calculations. Which is a truly unfathomable number for a human brain, but to dial into Amazon, AWS or Microsoft Azure, it’s trivial to do that in a matter of a few seconds. And so once you can tap into that processing power to innocence, read all the articles that are published in the world, or at least in our case, in the English language on a certain topic, then what you can do with that is you can see what are the connections, what are the patterns in the use of words and language?

Ben Hunt:

And so when you make that sort of analysis on the English language news publications around Floyd’s murder, and the immediate reaction to that, what you find is that really in the first day, really the first couple of days after the event, what we call attention, and this is a structural measure, you can measure the centrality of the language, the language that was just talking about facts and circumstances was absolutely at the top of the narrative pile.

Ben Hunt:

Immediately below that was police brutality, immediately below that was protest. At the very bottom, there was essentially no mention of Antifa or left-wing extremism. There was no mention of white supremacy or nationalism, those topics, if you will. That was not in the media, there was no narrative around that. The narrative was purely around facts and circumstances of the case, what does it say about police brutality? But what you did see is that, almost immediately, within two days after that, you see the words and the grammatical structures changing dramatically.

Ben Hunt:

And there are two ways to think about the change. The first is what we call cohesion. Cohesion is exactly what you think that word means. How scattered are the different, I’ll call it sub topics within a given narrative topic. If the conversation is about George Floyd, his death, and the reaction to it, the subtopics that I’m talking about are things like facts and circumstances, police brutality, protest, riots, Antifa, et cetera. What you see, and this is pretty typical, the cohesion of these different subtopics was very low, meaning that the media publications were all over the map in what they would be talking about. But even though it being all over the map, the real attention, the real centrality of each of these little clusters and topics was about facts and circumstances and police brutality.

Ben Hunt:

Within two days, you start to see a shift. The first shift is in a coalescing of the narrative of the argument, the cohesion increases dramatically. Meaning, we’re not talking about in media articles, lots of different arguments is starting to coalesce around a couple of arguments. And so what you see just within two days of Floyd’s death, facts and circumstances start dropping on the chart, if you want to call it. And at the top of the chart then, there’s one around the, anything around white supremacy, around nationalism, and then riots and protests. Police brutality drops way to the bottom. Facts and circumstances drops to the bottom. That’s what we call phase two, we call it, enter the missionaries.

Ben Hunt:

So a missionary in game theory terms, this is the person behind the podium, behind the microphone, in front of the camera, the person who shakes his or her finger at you and tells you how to think about the events that have occurred. And so this is, again, there’s a pattern to this. The first, call it stage is just the facts, facts and circumstances. Second phase is, enter the missionaries, the talking heads, the politicians who tell you now, how do we think about these events Mr. And Mrs. public citizen consumer of this. And this is where the cohesion starts to occur in the narrative.

Ben Hunt:

Well, by four days in, what we’ve moved to now is really a two separate narratives, a war of narratives, if you will. Where at the top of the charts, in terms of attention, we have a cohesion that’s very high, it’s now split into two sets of arguments. One is focusing on the riots, that’s the word that’s used, riots. The other is, call it police brutality, white supremacy, racism. Facts and circumstances are now at the absolute bottom.

Ben Hunt:

So it stopped being about George Floyd at all. And now we’ve been channeled into one of two narrative camps. Which is that, Oh my God, the Republic is being threatened by these riots, and so we need to call out the military. Or, Oh my God, we’ve got white supremacists running every police force in the country and it’s the end of the Republic in that respect.

Ben Hunt:

And what I mean by this being, leaving, channeling oneself, or channeling us is that you may have, and I think most thinking human beings can simultaneously have two ideas in their head at the same time. It’s possible to think that yes, there is systemic racism in many institutions in the United States and around the world frankly, including police departments. It is okay to thin yes, this was murder, this was not an accident, this was a murder. And it goes beyond just a few “bad apples”.

Ben Hunt:

It’s also possible to think that the riots … you’ve used that word riot, let’s call it the destruction of life and property by “protestors” why were they protesting again? Or was this just an outright criminal activity that does both deserve and must be required to be stopped. It’s possible to have all of those ideas in your head at the same time, until you get channeled into one of these two camps.

Grant Williams:

Well, that’s it. I mean, because the more ideas you have, I guess the more you’re looking for one that can drown the others out. So you’re just so susceptible to this stuff. It’s almost worse to have competing ideas in your head. Right?

Ben Hunt:

It’s crazy. Because I find that most thinking, feeling human beings, they do have conflicting views in their heads. And what’s so striking to me is the way that all media … I think it goes back to the way our political system is set up, with having these two parties, it’s really set up to channel you into one camp or the other, there are no bridges there. And I think that’s intentional, I really do think it’s intentional. Because this system of the co-dependence, if you will, between the Republicans and the Democrats, between Fox and CNN, they’re all part of a single system that profits, and I don’t mean just profit in the monetary sense, I mean, that thrives by encouraging these divisions and this narrative world where there are no bridges between the two worlds.

Grant Williams:

Yeah. That’s a great point. But it’s funny, I jotted something down here while you were talking and I’ve just written Mr. And Mrs. Public citizen? Because you mentioned when you’re talking, they’re talking to Mr. Mrs. Public citizen. And as soon as I heard that, I thought, does that couple exist anymore? Or is it Mr and Mrs. Democrat and Mr. Mrs. Republican? Because that’s what it seems to be. You’re going after your base.

Ben Hunt:

You know what Grant, I think it absolutely does exist, and I think that’s one of the things that the broad daylight protests that we saw just over this past weekend, not just in the United States, but all over the world. I think that’s what it represents. Because it’s not just a political party that’s marching here, it really is people from all walks of life, including people who vote Republican and people who vote Democrat. It’s the sort of thing that I think is very difficult. This is a challenge for either political party, and their media mouthpieces, which essentially they’ve become, I think it’s a hard thing for them to control.

Ben Hunt:

They keep trying to control it, and that’s what you see in this media effort. They’re trying to tell you what you are thinking or what you mean by your march. But, I don’t if they’re able to control this. I don’t know they’re able to contain this, and I don’t mean control in the sense of putting down violence, that’s not what I mean. I mean, controlling it from a narrative sense. Because I think a lot of the things that people are asking for when they are out on Sunday and in enormous masses, it doesn’t necessarily link directly to a democratic party platform. I think it is talking about desires, thoughts that are not so easily contained in this party, or that party.

Ben Hunt:

That’s not to say that the parties won’t try to co-opt this. And that’s what we’re saying. I say, if you look at the media, there’s a real effort to try to channel you into one camp versus another. I like, maybe it’s just the uncharacteristically optimistic side of me. I actually think this is bigger than that, and it’s going to be very difficult for either party to again, channel this sort of discontent in a way that doesn’t go against incumbents of both parties.

Grant Williams:

Okay. That’s really interesting because, if that’s the case, if the narrative spirals out of control, which one would imagine would be the worst thing that could happen to those who wished that, kind of shepherd people down one of two alleys. Does it then run the risk of becoming about the real problem which you could argue here is probably, I would think, and I may be completely wrong, but I would think this is more about inequality than it is about race in terms of the way this has erupted. Because we’re at that point where people are just angry. And a lot of them are angry because they’re losing their jobs, they’ve got no money, the prospects are struggling all the while they see the headlines about the stock market going up and all this stuff. I mean, it feels to me as though at the root of this is inequality rather than race. Obviously race is a big component of it, but it felt like that was the trigger and not the underlying cause. But I’m happy to be completely disavowed of that notion.

Ben Hunt:

Look, I think as with so many things in our social lives, these events are overdetermined. I mean, the answer is yes and, not yes but. So, are the issues you described part of the impetus to go out and protest in, I’ll call it kind of an incoherent fashion? Absolutely. And that’s, I think another reason why you see these marches and these protests not just happening in the United States, but all over Europe as well. I do think that there has been a coalescing of I’ll call it, the demands, there’s been a coalescing of the focus, on the police. That there is an injustice that is felt in a concentrated fashion when you’re talking about the institution of law enforcement, that the belief that I think the truth that all too often in this country and every other country law enforcement is applied unequally.

Ben Hunt:

And with a lack of justice, and a lack of justice in a systemic way, would I argue that there’s a lack of justice and an inequity in the way that our capital markets are applied? Absolutely. In a way that our tax policy is applied? Absolutely. And yet, I don’t think that those issues would be on the top 10 list of most of the people who were marching over the weekend, even if they are not certainly contributors to what’s going on.

Ben Hunt:

But see, the reason I think this is very hard for the mainstream political parties to control this, even though they’re both making every effort to do so, is that the anguish, the anger, it is anger, is very much. And I think maybe this is what you’re getting at Grant, against the status quo.

Grant Williams:

Absolutely.

Ben Hunt:

An inequitable and an unjust status quo, where we are told that this is the best of all possible worlds. And we are told that the economy has never done better. And we are told that there’s no inflation. And we are told that the other guy is the guy you need to vote for and you need to elect. We know that those are just lies for so many of us.

Ben Hunt:

So, there is that incoherent I think anger against the status quo, the focus though, I believe is rapidly going on the inequitable application of law enforcement. And so where I think that that leads to is, an effort by, again the status quo media and political parties, again to create a narrative that channels you into one camp or the other. So it’s defund the police rather than what I think is the real root, ask here, which is to, demilitarize the police, to deunionize the police. But saying demilitarize and deunionize, well, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, the status quo are for that.

Ben Hunt:

And yet when I … my sense of what the ask is of the protestors, it’s these items that do not fit deeply into one camp or the other. I mean, demilitarize, I think that’s what a lot of the democratic status quo could get behind that, but deunionize, are you kidding me? There’s not a status quo Democrat in the country that can get behind that. On the other hand, deunionize, sure, the status quo Republican party could get behind that, but de militarized, no, no, no, we can’t have that,

Ben Hunt:

So this is what I mean by, I think that what I see developing is something that is going to be very difficult for the status quo political institutions and their media mouthpieces to try to contain. They’re sure going to try, and that’s what we’re showing in this piece, that the clear visual evidence of their effort to try to channel seem to force us to only hold one set of coherent beliefs, even though I think most of us are able to do a lot better than that. I think that’s where we’re going.

Grant Williams:

So, how does this play out? Because I looked at that kind of table, the matrix that Rusty included. And if anyone listened to this, hasn’t seen this, we’ll tweet a link to this, it’s called No Accident, you’ll find it on the Epsilon Theory website, epsilontheory.com. And you need to read it and see it because it becomes so much clearer when you see it. But the thing that really I noticed was when you look at the matrix of phase one phase two phase three, when we get to this war of narrative was just how quickly facts and circumstances are a casualty, which I guess they need to be, because if you’re going to channel a narrative, you don’t have the luxury of channeling one, if you just rely on facts and circumstance. So I get that.

Grant Williams:

But you look at mainstream media and you look at how quickly they, let’s call it the liberal agenda, the narrative about white supremacy leaps to the top, while the, let’s call it the red media, anti-fur left wing extreme doesn’t really get it out of the gate very fast here at all. It squeaks up a little bit in phase three, but still, it’s all about riots, it’s all about white supremacy at the top, facts and circumstances at the point, this would be a great horse race commentary, what you think [crosstalk 00:27:59].

Grant Williams:

So I look at that and I look at where we are in the political cycle with an election coming up. And I really do get despondent. I’ve been pretty despondent this last two weeks about this and looking at the way, not only America is going, but I’ve seen it now in my own country, in the UK, we’ve seen it across Europe. And I’m curious as to how you think this goes, I mean, are there potential stick saves that can be made, or is this horse race now in motion and trying to stop the horses and channel this into a productive place is going to be very difficult indeed.

Ben Hunt:

Yeah. I guess I’ve actually gotten more hopeful over the last few days. And what gives me hope is that I think we are seeing a significant shrinkage and decline in the dead of night, looting criminal behavior, just outright criminal behavior. And at the same time, I think we’re clearly seeing an increase in both the duration that the depth and the breadth, let’s call it of the broad daylight political marches. And I’m encouraged by that sort of political participation, that sort of voice. I’m encouraged that while the, as you call it, the red meat media wants to describe this still as violent protesting, still wants to describe this as efforts of radical left-wing efforts to eliminate police departments and the like, and the rest of the media wants to describe it as, Oh, this is against Trump, and trying to make this as a national political impetus that is I think in almost all these cases very local actually, very local, not necessarily national at all.

Ben Hunt:

I see these efforts and on the side of the media again, to channel it in one of these, as you say, depressing directions. But I don’t get the sense that that’s what is really driving people to come out and march. So again, maybe I’m being too optimistic here, but I see this, the marching, not as a Democrat thing, not as a left versus right thing, but as a pissed off people, who are angry in something of it incoherent fashion, but focused on a police system, a system of policing that I think can be, not just improved, but revamped in a way so that it is more equitably applied. Gosh, I think of this as a good thing. I think it can certainly be derailed as the media efforts will continue to try to make it so, as incumbent politicians will intentionally try to co-opt. And I’m hopeful though, that it creates a momentum for change that is outside of a corrupt two party system in the crony capitalism that goes along with it.

Grant Williams:

Well, I guess that brings me to another question, which is for people listening to this, again, back to the question that we had in the last episode, how do we insulate ourselves? Because I’m so happy to hear you talk about being optimistic about this, because I saw one particular video clip, I think it was taken out of a window in New York of that looked like Gotham city. I mean, it was shocking, truly shocking to me. It looked like it was in Soho based on the streets, but I don’t know for sure. But it was chaos, it was people looting and then having the stuff they’d stolen, stolen by other looters, and I just couldn’t believe it. But for us listening to this and trying to understand it, how do we defend ourselves and how do we channel this the way you talk about, and make sure that the focus stayed in the right place. And how do we avoid being pulled off the straight narrow and into the little alleyways where all the despair Heights.

Ben Hunt:

I don’t have a great answer for you Grant. I think the most important thing is to … as they talk about all sorts of these self-help programs, is to recognize that we have a problem. To recognize that we are hardwired to respond in very specific ways to the images and the political entrepreneurs and the media entrepreneurs who want to present us with certain constraining narratives. I do think though that … and we all think we are immune to this. I know-

Grant Williams:

Well, that’s the danger, exactly.

Ben Hunt:

So I know it doesn’t affect me, it affects the other guy, but it doesn’t really affect me. And look, I have to catch myself all the time, and sometimes I don’t catch myself in time. Somebody will post some picture right on Twitter and I’ll retweet it and say, Oh my God, it is awful. And then, you look back and say, well, there’s a context, there’s a motivation behind the picture and the way it was taken that, so, this was intentionally chosen to elicit exactly this sort of response for me.

Ben Hunt:

And I really do think that simply recognizing, and constantly reminding ourselves that, we are hardwired to respond to this, and others are trying to play us is really the first and best line of defense here. I’ll give you [inaudible 00:34:52] This maybe sounds a little bit weird, but I think unless somebody, unless you realize that there are homeless people everywhere, you don’t really see them. But once you recognize that homelessness is an enormous issue in this country, and frankly, most countries, particularly in the United States, once you realize that, you will see homeless people everywhere. Even though you didn’t see them before, your eyes somehow glided over them in the past until you made this conscious effort to say, I wonder if there are homeless people. And then you look around and say, Oh, there’s a homeless person. Oh, there’s one over there.

Ben Hunt:

It’s amazing to me how our mind’s eye is trained in so many ways, just to glide over things. And this is no exception. I think it’s so easy for our mind’s eye to glide over pictures, images, opinions, statements that don’t fit with whatever path has been greased for us. People talk about an echo chamber and you’re only getting one set of images and like, this is all very true. And on both the left and the right, it really is, I think geared because they’re only two political parties. So you are geared into a system where you’re on either the red or the blue side on everything.

Ben Hunt:

So I wish I had a better answer, but the best answer I’ve got is to remember that each of us is so prone to an overreaction and a hardwired response to what we’re seeing. And if we really make the effort, the extra effort to see another side or another opinion or another set of images, I think that’s almost the best we can do right now, until we make some structural changes. And so it’s those structural changes that, I think, we’ll take some time, but that a lot of our media systems insistence on channeling us into one or the other can be redressed.

Grant Williams:

Yeah. Rusty’s piece was so powerful when he talked about it, and you’ve touched on it here, the fact that, I think he said that the divisions that make us all unhappy are politically desirable on both sides.

Ben Hunt:

Exactly.

Grant Williams:

So, we’re fighting this juggernaut that is really … we’re so outgunned and out manned here, in terms of the ability to shape us and bend that narrative. So when people think about trying to see the other side and trying to look at other pictures, where should they go? Is it talking to friends? Because it seems impossible almost to go to the media and look for the other side, because everything that you read that is not your opinion is constructed to make you angry I seems.

Grant Williams:

And so it’s very hard to take in the other side, when you have a visceral reaction to it, it’s hard to be level-headed and say, well, I see what they’re trying to do here. They’re trying to upset me, but I’m not going to get upset, I’m going to [crosstalk 00:38:37]. So, how do you … is it community, is it talking and engaging with family and friends and people you can trust to not judge you if you want to take a side and argue it out, how do we do it?

Ben Hunt:

Honestly Grant that’s why Rusty and I started Epsilon Theory, is to try to create a community that’s not a geographically bound community, but it’s a community of, we call them truth seekers. It’s our pack, and trying to find, I’ll use this, this word [crosstalk 00:39:17].

Grant Williams:

This sounds like such a setup [crosstalk 00:39:21].

Ben Hunt:

What we’re trying to create is a safe space. And I know that word is for snowflakes everywhere, and the like-

Grant Williams:

And it triggered me already.

Ben Hunt:

Triggers you already. But what we mean by a safe place is a place where … Rusty and I have very different political philosophies. He’s way more to the right than I am, I’m way more to the left than he is. But when Rusty says something that I really disagree with, I don’t think he’s a bad person.

Grant Williams:

But that’s a lost art.

Ben Hunt:

It is such a lost art. And and look, I get it, you can’t have that sort of conversation. You can’t have that level of trust in public anymore. You just can’t. And so there has to be an area of self-selected safe place for discourse where we can disagree without thinking that the other person is bad or evil or a racist. It’s really hard, because to be effective on a larger stage, you need the sort of numbers and a mass society that don’t lend themselves to this sort of safe place, where you can assume a level of trust that the other person isn’t there to get you, that the other person isn’t acting in bad faith.

Ben Hunt:

The only thing that fixes that is to start with these communities of good faith, where the assumption is, look, I can disagree with you, but I’m arguing from a position of good faith and build on that from the bottom up, you can’t do this from the top down. Just to your point, you can’t go to a media outlet, you can’t go to a political party, you can’t go to a corporation and say, Oh, I trust you, because that trust is misplaced. It is absolutely misplaced. And yet we’re hardwired to want to give that trust. And that’s, again, why it’s so important to foster and develop these areas where that trust is not misplaced, but the trust can actually be reciprocated. It’s so hard today, but I think just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. And because it’s hard, it’s all the more reason why we have to try.

Grant Williams:

No, it’s so true. It’s funny when I was reading that, piece of Rusty’s, my mind went back, you and I were speaking at the same event in San Antonio, maybe five years ago, maybe six years ago.

Ben Hunt:

I remember.

Grant Williams:

And I remember you telling me-

Ben Hunt:

No, no. It was four years ago because you know what happened that night.

Grant Williams:

I know, that’s right, it was the night before the election.

Ben Hunt:

It was the night of the election.

Grant Williams:

Night of the election. That’s right, that’s exactly right. That’s four years ago.

Ben Hunt:

Yup.

Grant Williams:

But I remember we talked about this, we talked about what you are going to be going to do with the language and the NLP and building this incredible machine that we’ll be able to [inaudible 00:42:52] And I remember at the time being fascinated by it. And it wasn’t that you didn’t explain it well, it was that I couldn’t grasp the complexity of it at the time. And I came away thinking, wow, that sounds like it’s either totally impossible or science fiction stuff. And just reading that note of Rusty’s and just looking at it, it really brought home to that you’ve done it. I mean, it’s extraordinary, just kudos to the two of you for pulling that off.

Ben Hunt:

Thank you.

Grant Williams:

Because it really did seem like Fahrenheit 451 stuff that night, I remember it vividly.

Ben Hunt:

It’s come a long way Grant, it really has. And I’d love to take more credit for this. But the truth is this, that over the last four years, these developments in big data and what I like to call big compute, the ability to plug into the wall and get Amazon to put a million micro processors on a problem, that really changes the world. And that power of big data and big compute, Grant is used against us.

Grant Williams:

Of course yeah.

Ben Hunt:

I mean, this is what drive the media and the social media platforms that have created these echo chambers, and these mechanisms by which you can be inundated with a narrative that again, greases a path to make you either MAGA or Antifa. And it doesn’t have to be that way, but I think it does require using those same powerful technologies to reveal. To pull the curtain back from the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, and you say no, these are just politicians and business people doing what they’ve always done.

Grant Williams:

Yeah. That’s the same thing.

Ben Hunt:

Doing what they’ve always done, is move you into one direction or another, so that you either spend your money or you spend your vote in a way that advantages them. And pulling back that curtain and using the same technological tools that they’re using against us, but to use it to reveal them, that’s what we’re trying to do. And along the way, whenever you start to see this stuff, whenever you say, aha, well now I see the reveal, as they talked about on reality shows, the big reveal. Well, that brings people together and in a community of trust. It’s not geographically based, but is global, that’s worldwide. And I know it seems trite or silly to say this, but I really think this is how the world changes. I really think this is how the world changes.

Grant Williams:

Well, I mean, the great philosopher, Peter Spider man’s uncle Ben said famously with great power comes great responsibility. And you look at how much more power there is now in the way, even if its computing power. And it’s great to see you and Rusty actually taken up that mantle and trying to be more responsible with it, even if the force already against you are pretty powerful. So thank you to both of you for doing what you’re doing. And I know a lot of people out there appreciate the work you do. I certainly do, which is why I’m so happy that we can do these podcasts every now and again. I mean, the stupid things I already know are what I want to talk to you about next time, I have to hold my breath on that, because I can see another narrative starting to unfold that is again going to be powerful. But we’ll get to that next time.

Grant Williams:

Ben, what can I say? It’s always a pleasure. I love these conversations and I’m so happy that other people get to listen to them, and I can get to hug them all to myself.

Ben Hunt:

Fantastic Grant, any time. Thanks again. Can’t wait for next one.

Grant Williams:

Alrighty. All that remains is to thank everybody there for listening. Do follow Ben and Rusty, you’ll find them @EpsilonTheory on Twitter and epsilontheory.com. Ben what’s Rusty’s Twitter handle is @wrguinn I think, off the top of my head.

Ben Hunt:

It’s @wrguinn, G-U-I-N-N. But Rusty’s off of social media, he’s given it up for a couple of months and he’s never been happier.

Grant Williams:

I pray that you don’t catch that because it will be an awful place without you.

Ben Hunt:

No, I’ll stick around.

Grant Williams:

Thank you my friend. We’ll do this again soon.

Ben Hunt:

Very good. Thanks Grant.

Grant Williams:

Take care. Bye-bye.

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