An Interview with Greg Gutfeld
Greg Gutfeld is one of my favorite people on Earth. He is the co-host of The Five (weeknights at 5PM/ET) and host of The Greg Gutfeld Show (Saturdays at 10PM/ET). Follow him on Twitter at @greggutfeld. Buy his books here.
This interview originally appeared in the Monday, February 27 edition of the daily Bright email. Sign up at GetBrightEmail.com.
What’s your morning routine?
I wake up, make coffee and start writing immediately before I can develop the anxiety or fear about writing. If you write before you think about writing, then you win. Never start thinking before you write. I have written every morning, every day, minus vacations, for the last decade or so. I don’t read in the morning because it creates too much extraneous baggage. Read after you write. Throw the clay, then chisel. Reading before you write creates too many off ramps and options and renders you scattered and fearful.
What book, movie or TV show did you last recommend to a friend?
Last night I was out with my nephew who’s visiting — and as usual, when I drink I start talking about Nick Bostrom’s book, “Superintelligence.”
It’s a book that is at times inscrutable and terrifying, but the only book you must read if you want to get a handle on the benefits and consequences of artificial intelligence. Bostrom connects all the scary dots — how recursive self-improvement and non-conscious thinking of machines combine into a harrowing depiction of the end of humanity. For a taste, simply google “Bostrom” and “paper clips” to see how he describes what could happen to the universe once computers reach super intelligence (meaning so smart, that by comparison we are barnyard animals), and start counting…paperclips. A simple command to a non-conscious thinking machine could result in a universe of dead metal orbs. In fact, one of the possible reasons why we have had no contact with alien life forms is that these aliens already created AI, which in turned destroyed them. The silent universe is merely evidence that we are on our way to complete, and total oblivion — and the other life forms beat us to it. All planets are nothing silent balls of paper clip counting machines.
By the way, I just googled “Bostrom” and “paper clips,” and got to this economist article: http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21700762-techies-do-not-believe-artificial-intelligence-will-run-out-control-there-are
Anyone who drinks with me knows what happens — I end up talking about that book, and it must get tiresome.
But it beats talking about sports or Star Wars movies. In fact, it beats talking about anything. You could discuss things like the new “Westworld,” but you’re really talking about AI as a novelty, and not a reality. It’s amazing that Michael Crichton was so ahead of his time when it came to this sort of stuff. He wrote and directed the Westworld movie — but most people know him for Jurassic Park, Congo and Disclosure. And, I believe, the TV series “ER.” But he did the 1973 flick — as a movie, not a book — because he was so damn smart. He also did a vastly underrated film called “The Terminal Man,” which is about melding human flesh with technology. The guy was so far ahead of his time, it’s no wonder he died young. He was also one of the first to call BS on climate change hysteria.
Side note: Philosopher Derek Parfitt died this month, so I would recommend digging up “Reasons and Persons,” which is another inscrutable but engaging book — focusing on self-identity. I know it sacrilegious to say this: but skip Part 1. Unless you’re well-versed in the most esoteric terms of philosophy, it will boggle your brain. Instead jump to Part 2, where he investigates what it is to be a conscious human, to be a lone self, if that exists. He uses the teleportation concept from Star Trek to intriguing ends. He posits the notion that if you replace every single cell of your body, are you still the same person? Teleportation could very easily be your death as you are transported — and then your re-creation, say on Mars, is merely a copy. So, is that you, if every cell is identical? Or, is the original you, dead? It hurts my head, if it’s indeed my head.
This is a worthy question, as you live on earth, as time goes on, and your cells wither away. Are you the same person you were a decade earlier? It makes you think: can you, at age 50, sue your 30 year old self, for smoking?
Good luck trying to collect on that one.
It’s something I used to think about all the time as a kid. How much of me, is actually me — if I started removing parts of me — my limbs, my nose, ears and eyes? (Yes, I had lots of free time).
Last — a book that just came out called “Homo Deus,” which is another book on the future. Incredibly readable, engaging, brilliant, frightening. By a dude named Yuval Noah Harari . I underlined so many parts of this book it became pointless. I believe this book should be read to Donald Trump (I don’t expect him to have the time or patience to read it). But Harari nails every real threat to humans, and again, it boils down to automation, AI, assorted unbending ideologies — among other things. Read it.
As for movies, check out “Bone Tomahawk.” It’s Kurt Russell’s latest flick and it’s a western that happens to be the scariest movie I’ve seen in ages. Google “Bone Tomahawk” and “cave scene,” and it will blow your mind. Or better, just don’t. And watch the movie.
And of course “Bojack Horseman” — the only TV show that addresses the meaning of life for the comfortable but emotionally and intellectually untethered — once most immediate threats to life are vanquished.
What’s the last picture you took on your phone?
A small roasted baby potato, which I sent to my wife to mock her because I was eating carbs and she couldn’t stop me. It’s the dietary equivalent of sending a photo of a hostage to the cops. It’s like I’m saying to Elena, “look at this — there’s nothing you can do right now, so fill up a satchel of used fifty dollar bills.”
What’s your favorite piece of art in your home?
This is tough because we are living in temporary housing since the apartment flooded. And also, there’s work by Elena, and of Elena, so I have to be careful. But my favorite, sorry, is an absolutely awesome original painting given to me by the artist — Tom Hazelmyer. Tom, a Marine, founded Amphetamine Reptile Records, and is known for his band Halo of Flies. But he’s also an amazing artist, who’s done this incredible carved wood covers for Melvin’s records that are stunningly beautiful. When he and King Buzzo (leader of Melvins) came to “Red Eye” a few years back, Tom brought me this gorgeous block of work. It’s in storage until Elena and I move back in. But I found an image of it online:
IT’S KIND OF AWESOME. Mickey Mouse shooting Lenin in the face. If that’s not American, what is? Hazelmyer is an American treasure. He’s also one of the few people who entered, and exited, a coma. An intriguing fellow.
If you could, what is one think you would go back and tell yourself early in your career/life?
It’s very tempting to be meaningful or, the inverse, flippant. The fact is, I don’t know if I would want to tell my early self anything. If I did tell my early self something that he (early Greg) would then take to heart, then it would change the path of his life — a path that might end up in a far different — a perhaps better or worse place than now — and this interview would not exist, because this current Greg-self would not exist. For example, if I told myself in 1989 not to go into health publishing (avoid Men’s Health etc.), but go straight to TV, and therefore force oneself to get a job waiting tables in west Hollywood, and write scripts on spec and maybe hit it big at 25, then where would I be now? Would I have been in “Friends”? Would I have written the first post-modern zombie flick? Would I have married one of the chicks from “Heathers”? I know myself well enough that I would have done all that. And I would have developed a drug problem, an ego problem, a “I have a horrible kid” problem, an existential crisis problem — and now at 52, I would be the worst person in the world, ordering up escorts who are adult film stars, in my Brentwood mansion as all my teeth and hair fall out in clumps. So I’d rather not tell pre-Greg anything, and let him end up wherever he ends up in the trillions of parallel universes currently operating simultaneously above, within and around us.