Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Join Talks at Google for a conversation with Kartik Hosanagar, John C. Hower Professor of Technology and Digital Business at Wharton, about his new book A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence. The book is the result of years of Professor Hosanagar’s research, and explores the impact of algorithmic decisions on our personal and professional lives, and their unanticipated consequences. Kartik will explore how firms can make use of the tremendous opportunities and potential offered by machine learning and automated decision-making, while also doing their part to ensure algorithms are responsibly deployed.
Monday, July 29, 2019
KOMO News, the Seattle news station that produced the “Seattle is Dying” special, sent a reporter to look at the homeless situation in the city of San Francisco. The result was a video report that compares the situations in the two cities and finds that things appear to be worse in San Francisco in a number of ways.
We doubt whether a "Trump Doctrine" can emerge from the intellectually incoherent mess that characterizes today's Conservatism, Inc. But any movement on the Right away from hubris and toward humility is potentially beneficial; particularly movement away from Buckleyite faux-intellectualism and toward Old Right sensibilities. Any chance at redemption by conservatives starts with the issue of war and peace, the recognition that Bush and Cheney were wrong while Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan were right. To the extent Mr. Hazony's attendees understand this, conservatism may have a flicker of life.
But there was another flat note at the conference, at least from the perspective of media pundits US Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, a rising pro-Trump figure in the GOP, spoke disparagingly of "cosmopolitan elites" in both parties who have lost touch with the interests of common Americans. This theme is not new, but finds growing purchase among economically insecure, downscale American voters; among Brexiteers in the UK and gilets jaunes in Paris; and among Euroskeptic pensioners in Italy and Greece. And of course western elites have made a terrible mess of everything, mismanaging government, foreign policy, central banks, financial markets, schools, and medicine. War and inflation, the two great products of 20th and 21st century governments, hardly benefit ordinary people. In the current context, anti-elitism (in the form of political populism) is entirely justified.
But is there more to this? Does Hawley's concept of a "rootless cosmopolitanism" imply a lack of allegiance to, or concern for, one's country? Worse, is "cosmopolitan" now a smear which some people think is too frequently applied against Jews, like "neocon"?
Americans must be wary of powerful institutions that seek to control what we see and hear.
As the internet has become an increasingly central part of modern life, Big Tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have increasingly sought to become the gatekeepers of the internet and political discourse. Without any sort of democratic mandate, these companies have appointed themselves the arbiters of acceptable thought, discussion and searches online.
These companies’ pervasive command of the internet — and blatant desire to control how we interact with it — is a direct threat to a free society. And arguably the worst offender is Google.
On Friday, a federal judge in Kentucky tossed Nicholas Sandmann’s defamation case against the Washington Post. Sandmann, the Covington Catholic student smeared by the Post and many other outlets earlier this year as a smirking, MAGA-hat-wearing racist who had blocked Native American elder Nathan Phillips’s path, promises an appeal.
On appeal, Sandmann is likely to win. I’ll lay out why, after a quick review of what happened.
There is no evidence for these accusations. There are no legitimate studies supporting these contentions. There is no documentation of company officials ordering up anti-conservative bias or policies.
There is a lot of anecdotal "evidence" of this going on. From Prager University, to China Uncensored, and the list goes on and on. It *can't* be systematically studied because Google is a private company and keeps a close guard on this information. This is why there is no public "documentation" of what company officials are ordering up. There have been whistle-blowers from Google who have come forward reporting on bias who have been subsequently fired or will probably be fired soon. Also this is an ephemeral phenomenon. Google almost certainly tracks what it is up to, but it would take enormous resources to track this oneself. It's a classic case of being capable of repetition but evading review. See generally the writings of Robert Epstein, a psychologist (and left-liberal of course) who has studied Google and who testified at Cruz's hearing on this stuff.
After a commercial, the next segment began, with images of several controversial Dershowitz clients: Claus von Bülow, O. J. Simpson, Mike Tyson. The lineup included Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy money manager who had been accused of sexually abusing underage girls. Starting in 2005, investigators had traced a sex-trafficking operation that extended from mansions in New York and Palm Beach to a Caribbean island, Little St. James, that Epstein owned. As charges became public, press accounts enumerated his famous acquaintances—including Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and Kevin Spacey—and described trips to the island on his plane, the so-called Lolita Express. Despite sworn accounts from more than a dozen women, Dershowitz and his team secured a deal in which Epstein pleaded guilty to minor charges and served only a brief sentence. On “The View,” which was hosted by four women, Dershowitz described the experience as fraught: “It’s a case that was very, very difficult, and very, very painful for me, because I saw real victims out there. I’m a very strong supporter of the MeToo movement.” But, he said, an attorney is obligated to defend the rights of the accused: “I think of myself like a doctor or a priest. If they wheel Jeffrey Epstein into the emergency ward, the doctor is going to take care of him.” (Dershowitz put it differently to me, in one of a series of conversations this spring and summer: “Every honest criminal lawyer will tell you that he defends the guilty and the innocent.”)
This term Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an important concurring opinion on stare decisis in Gamble v. United States, the case on the scope of double jeopardy. There Thomas rejects stare decisis for both constitutional and statutory cases except in cases where the precedent is not “demonstrably erroneous.” Thomas recognizes that judges in England at the time of the Constitution applied a more robust doctrine of stare decisis, but rejects the notion that federal judges have the authority to follow a similar doctrine today in statutory and constitutional cases. For Thomas, the difference is that English common law was judge-made, but “we operate in system of written law in which courts need not—and generally cannot—articulate the law in the first instance.”
The problem with Thomas’ historical argument is that judges in England also interpreted written law in the form of statutes. And parliamentary supremacy debarred them from “articulating the law in the first instance” in that context as well. Nevertheless, English courts regularly applied stare decisis to matters of interpreting the written law of statutes. Thus, it is not true that the change to written law put the traditional use of stare decisis outside the scope of judicial power that judges possess according to Article III.
I think I still agree with Justice Thomas about precedent. Except for Roe v. Wade, of course, which would be divinely inspired, were there a God.