Is anybody out there?
1. What’s going on here? The AP deleted a tweet on September 5 tweet attributing the murders of Israeli athletes to undefined “guerrillas.” Someone complained: it then tweeted, “The AP has deleted a tweet about the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics because it was unclear about who was responsible for the killings and referred to the attackers as guerrillas. A new tweet will be sent shortly.” Finally, this was the tweet decided upon:
“On Sept. 5, 1972, the Palestinian group Black September attacked the Israeli Olympic delegation at the Munich Games, killing 11 Israelis and a police officer. German forces killed five of the gunmen.”
2. Wait: ARE there really “AI ethicists,” or just unethical ethicists grabbing a new niche by claiming that they are any more qualified for this topic than anyone else?
From the Defense Systems website:
After a rash of tech employee protests, the Defense Department wants to hire an artificial intelligence ethicist. “We are going to bring on someone who has a deep background in ethics,” tag-teaming with DOD lawyers to make sure AI can be “baked in,” Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who leads the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told reporters during an Aug. 30 media briefing.
The AI ethical advisor would sit under the JAIC, the Pentagon’s strategic nexus for AI projects and plans, to help shape the organization’s approach to incorporating AI capabilities in the future. The announcement follows protests by Google and Microsoft employees concerned about how the technology would be used — particularly in lethal systems — and questioning whether major tech companies should do business with DOD.
I’m hoping that the Defense Department isn’t doing this, as the article implies, because some pacifist, anti-national defense techies at Microsoft complained. [Pointer: Tom Fuller]
3. Campus totalitarians gonna totalitary! University of Michigan students and alumni aare demanding that the University to sever ties with real estate developer Stephen M. Ross , who is the largest donor in the University’s history. This would presumably include removing his name from Ross School of Business, which he substantially funded. (His name is on other buildings as well) Did Ross rape women willy-nilly? Has he been shown to be racist? No, he held a re-election fundraiser for the President of the United States.
The new paradigm in what were once called “liberal circles” is that anyone differing from the mandated political posture must be shunned and punished. Freedom of speech is an illusion and an inconvenience. After all, Donald Trump is a danger to democracy, and if you don’t support and advance that narrative, you’re going to regret it.
Amid threatened boycotts of his companies, Ross defended the fundraiser while calling himself “an outspoken champion” of various social issues. Good—the attacks are working. He’s grovelling now.
Scott DeRue, dean of the Ross School of Business, sent an email to the Business School community after the news broke in August, emphasizing that the school did not endorse the fundraiser—who has ever claimed that a university automatically endorses the activities and opinions of its donors?—but business school alum Kumar Rao still started an alumni open letter asking the University remove Ross’s name from buildings campuswide. Another graduate, Logan Drummond, created a Change.org petition with the same demands, this time open for anyone to sign. Created by University alum , the petition has more than 200 signatures as of Wednesday night.
Drummond says he created this petition because he believes Ross’s support of Trump may impact student well-being on campus. He really said this. The fact that campus buildings include the name of a philanthropist who supports the current President of the United States threatens students. People honest-to-goodness say stuff like this now, and are not laughed into oblivion. “Particularly for marginalized students at U-M, walking around and seeing the Ross name and knowing its associations with Trump now, it’d make them feel less welcome,” Drummond said.
Two reactions: 1) Prove it, and 2) What an idiot.
If Ross had any gumption at all, and it sounds like he does not, he would tell the university that he will demand a return of all funds relating to any building that now bears his name, and will send the entire amount to the Trump campaign. That’s what I would do.
Yes, that’s what Donald Trump might do too.
4. And what does this tell you about the reliability of apocalyptic warnings by climate scientists? Yesterday we learned that the CDC had urged the public to stop using e-cigarettes because of a recent spate of illnesses related to vaping. Hey, what do they care if people weening themselves off cigarettes go back to the ol” coffin nails? Better safe than sorry!
This is a typical mentality among scientists who bear no responsibility for policy trade-offs. Just minimize risk, no matter how small or attenuated, and ignore the unintended and undesirable consequences; it’s simple! The warning about e-cigs was pure fear-mongering—you know, like saying that unless the U.S. bans fossil fuel within 12 years, we’re all dead.
All indications are that the vaping causing breathing problems are the result of black market devices tainted with mysterious, dangerous substances. But the false correlation still prompted “public health” advocates who already are waging war against e-cigarettes (despite overwhelming evidence that they are an excellent alternative to smoking.) One group, Parents Against Vaping, called the disease wave “terrifying” and used the tragedy to argue that “our kids should not be guinea pigs for the JUUL experiment!”
This response is the result, as so many are, of bias and ignorance. Not one identified case thus far links to an ordinary nicotine-only vaping product. E-cigarettes, meanwhile, when legally manufactured, are 95 percent safer than cigarettes. They have found to be nearly twice as effective for quitting as nicotine patches or gum.
But hey, better safe than sorry!
5. He’s not exactly an Ethics Hero, but…Dave Chappelle’s new concert video, now streaming on Netflix, is thought-provoking, brave, and full of ethical insights and analysis. I could do a two hour ethics seminar using just his material.
Chappelle is clearly a devotee of cognitive dissonance and understands the ravages of bias, including his own. On several topics, including the “cancellation culture,” the women’s equal pay in professional sports controversy and abortion, Chappelle cuts hard and uncomfortably to the heart of the matter.
He’s also very funny.