" In 2017, tech workers are the world’s villain."
December 18, 2017 9:18 AM   Subscribe

The Other Tech Bubble Erin Griffith, formerly of Fortune, writes at Wired about the technology bubble we're not talking about—the one insulating Silicon Valley and its startup founders and funders, from criticism.
posted by SansPoint (60 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
It doesn't necessarily speak well of my character when I say that the straw on the camel's back for me is that most of these guys (and they are almost all guys) just visibly aren't that smart, but it's true. There's no technical genius involved in putting together some random platform to replace middlemen with complete risk- and cost-shifting onto the people being intermediated. "Can we openly flout regulations long enough to make enough money to fund the resulting lawsuits" is a question for thugs, not for thinkers. I'm weak. I could forgive more of these people if they were actually solving difficult technical or design problems. But, for the most part, they're not.
posted by praemunire at 9:27 AM on December 18, 2017 [154 favorites]


This is happening from a lot of angles, and rightfully so from my perspective both as someone who works in downtown SF and viscerally hates the way the VC world runs. The constant self-congratulation and insane spending by people who think they're too smart to fail (and, by extension, assume that others who aren't wealthy are stupid) are just two spokes in that shitty wheel. The way they treat their workers is another one.
posted by zerolives at 9:30 AM on December 18, 2017 [16 favorites]


It's a nice microcosm of everything that these b-school jocks get to claim the mantle of Supreme Ultimate Geniusdom on the backs of their exploited workers who actually do the hard work (but most of whom aren't as smart as they think they are either). Inflated egos and Dunning-Kruger all the way down.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:38 AM on December 18, 2017 [10 favorites]


...On the plus side, though, I will say that I was at a fundraiser this weekend run by Mefi's own (I think?) Maciej Ceglowski's Tech Solidarity that raised over $30K for four progressive candidates in out-of-state Congressional districts, so.
posted by praemunire at 9:42 AM on December 18, 2017 [17 favorites]


most of whom aren't as smart as they think they are either

Most of the time when people say they are really into "technology" they mean they spend all day on social media phone apps. I don't think you should be able to say that unless you plan to pass certain circuits through five or six pounds of platinum, to be used as a duo-dynetic field.
posted by thelonius at 9:49 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


When your only advantage is being the first to try to do it (even more so if its not 100% legal) which seems to be what start-ups are pursuing, I don't see how you get any other kind of person than a super aggressive risk taker type of person.

Lets face it, most tech startups aren't what I'd call 'r&d heavy' startups, there's no groundbreaking problems being solved, its just cobbling together a new way to solve a (imaginary?) problem using existing technology.

So you get founders that usually aren't that smart, or even good at managing their businesses, they were just not afraid to fail and had the skills needed to fool/convince somebody else to get on board.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:58 AM on December 18, 2017 [29 favorites]


Business and Industry Sector Ratings, Gallup, Aug. 2017

"Computer Industry" is first place at +67, followed by restaurants, agriculture, and grocery, with "Internet Industry" fifth at +41.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


I got through half of the article and all the way through these comments, and am left wondering how the headline quote applies to "workers," when it looks like the villains are the founders and funders.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2017 [38 favorites]


Here's the thing. People have skills, people use skills and using skills in a positive way gives positive feedback. I'm going to declare this as axiomatic.

The unfortunate part is that getting funding for a startup is a skill. And that's it. You don't need a good idea or an idea that the world needs or fuck it, you don't even need any idea at all. All you need is the skill to land funding.

And there is a lot of funding out there. So people are getting funded. People who are bad at running businesses. People who have useless ideas. They're all just playing the funding game. Shooting that ball through that hoop. Using that skill.

I think it's completely rational to assume that most startups are terrible ideas until proven otherwise. A decade or so of world-changing companies seems to have conditioned people to think every startup is a golden-egg laying goose.

Most are simply goose eggs.
posted by GuyZero at 10:16 AM on December 18, 2017 [28 favorites]


When you start seeing this kind of talk in fucking Wired, you know it's bad.
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:19 AM on December 18, 2017 [25 favorites]


When you start seeing this kind of talk in fucking Wired, you know it's bad.

Wired: tech mega-corps
Tired: starups
posted by GuyZero at 10:22 AM on December 18, 2017 [13 favorites]


On his blog, Y Combinator president Sam Altman argued that political correctness was damaging the tech industry. “This is uncomfortable, but it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics,” he wrote.

Jesus fucking Christ. He seized the rope to hang himself all on his own. Why are we still sharing a planet with assholes like this? Dinosaurs are supposed to be extinct...
posted by Dysk at 10:22 AM on December 18, 2017 [81 favorites]


The article is about founders, founders != tech workers. I'm was also confused by the post title.

But GuyZero is right.

One of the most interesting place I worked at was a small R&D focused company started by 3 engineers. One of them was REALLY GOOD at software so he got to lead the R&D efforts (he and some other really good early hires were 100% of what was valuable in that company). Of the other 2, 1 quit to do something else (he was a founder because he was a friend), the other stayed as CEO, but he wasn't good at it. He thought he was Steve Jobs, and he certainly got the ego part, but the idea-filtering/communication/design-flair wasn't there.

So even though they had kick-ass software solving real problems and the capacity to solve more if they only would've had the funding to tackle bigger projects they never got there because sales didn't take off and nobody was able to get them funding. I'm 100% sure that if they'd have better person to pitch the company they would have at least gotten more funding.

(this was during the early 2000s which probably explains the lack of funding due to the bust)
posted by WaterAndPixels at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


Why are we still sharing a planet with assholes like this? Dinosaurs are supposed to be extinct...

Yeah, I don't get the weird logical leap from "people don't like what I'm saying" to "SILENCED ALL MY LIFE." I guess it's a defense mechanism and that rich and powerful and successful people are no more enlightened about their own internal being than the poor and unsuccessful.
posted by GuyZero at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2017 [12 favorites]


it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics

i can't figure out any interpretation of 'possible' where this could be a meaningful statement

i knew people in VC-land were pretty well divorced from concepts like cause-and-effect but this... this surpasses even my jaded understanding
posted by halation at 10:32 AM on December 18, 2017 [11 favorites]


GuyZero: The unfortunate part is that getting funding for a startup is a skill. And that's it. You don't need a good idea or an idea that the world needs or fuck it, you don't even need any idea at all. All you need is the skill to land funding.

One of my kids is 15, and has been binge-watching "Shark Tank" lately. I always thought of the show as lightweight because they rarely were anything but kind to the guests making their pitch. But last night the Sharks truly ripped a pair of guys wide open. For not having any actual sales yet. For filing their patent themselves (instead of using a lawyer who specializes in the field). For assembling the product in their garage by hand. For not having a decent plan at all.

And I was delighted that my son was now seeing that you needed more than attitude and good hair to be successful: you need an actual new idea that's not 100% gimmick. You need to make a new thing in the world.

(It also pisses me off whenever I see that one sleazy Shark make an offer that gets royalties, because it will suck the vitality out of a young company. I tried explaining that once or twice; maybe next time I will use the phrase "rent-seeking" and see if that sinks in.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:36 AM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's simple. If you surpress their urge to disparage gay people, they'll go sulk in their gulch and deny you their physics discoveries.
posted by thelonius at 10:37 AM on December 18, 2017 [34 favorites]


also
'physics'?
lol
i'm pretty comfortable saying that even if 'BUT PHYSICS' was in any way a reason to allow people to be shitty to other people, and it's not,"changing the public's attitude towards targeted advertising and giving brand's a new way to market with their customers instead of to them" [sic] wouldn't exactly meet the cutoff; none of the shit they just funded would. because most of what gets funded is shit that actively makes the world worse.
posted by halation at 10:38 AM on December 18, 2017 [13 favorites]


It also pisses me off whenever I see that one sleazy Shark make an offer that gets royalties, because it will suck the vitality out of a young company

Shark Tank (and Dragons' Den, the UK and Canadian equivalent) is really, really expensive marketing. It's only sort-of funding. Anyone that can get a good funding deal on Shark Tank could get a better one somewhere else.
posted by GuyZero at 10:40 AM on December 18, 2017 [10 favorites]


How did having a basic level of politeness and workplace ettiquete become being politically correct? How often do you need to bring up race/politics/sexuality/etc when discussing how to best configure a database or fix the Q18 budget for some blah blah initiative.
World might be a better place if the bro's had to do a stint in a boring grown up organisation to learn how adults get along when they're different.
posted by Damienmce at 10:40 AM on December 18, 2017 [49 favorites]


How did having a basic level of politeness and workplace ettiquete become being politically correct?

I mean, it's always been politically correct, even when it was uncontroversial. Why has decent behaviour and political correctness become vilified with a certain set of wankers, though?
posted by Dysk at 10:47 AM on December 18, 2017 [22 favorites]


He seized the rope to hang himself all on his own.

This is the same guy who now writes that he's thinking about supporting some kind of UBI, because after all at Y Combinator he saw the effect a basic income for startups could have! It takes a couple of years from light emitted from reality to reach his hideout.
posted by praemunire at 10:58 AM on December 18, 2017 [6 favorites]


it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics

The joke here is that it's actually really hard to say something novel about physics today that has any chance at all of being right.
posted by Slothrup at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2017 [10 favorites]


“This is uncomfortable, but it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics,” he wrote.

No we fucking don't! What is wrong with you!

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!!!!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2017 [16 favorites]


I'd have more respect for these guys if they tried to solve problems other than "problems a well off white boy making San Francisco money has." Instead of replacing bodegas with a kiosk, come up with a way to make public toilets in San Francisco safe, clean, and accessible so I can no longer play the game of "How long is it going to be until we see a pile of human shit?" when I leave my hotel in the morning (3 blocks is the record, if you're curious). There's something that needs disruption.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:21 AM on December 18, 2017 [50 favorites]


I'd have more respect for these guys if they tried to solve problems other than "problems a well off white boy making San Francisco money has."

Those don't make huge money. $700 machines to squeeze pre-made juice out of a bag are more appealing to venture capitalists.
posted by Stonkle at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


“This is uncomfortable, but it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics,” he wrote.

Alternatively, "this is uncomfortable for people with immense amounts of privilege who are used to having things their own way, but it's possible we have to stop saying disparaging things about marginalized groups to encourage contributions from people who may have something novel to say about physics or really any number of topics but we just assume they can't be that smart because we've spent hundreds, maybe thousands of years pushing them out of any sort of academic discourse".

AS ALWAYS, THE STATUS QUO IS NOT NEUTRAL! Brilliant people are already be excluded from making their genius observations, you just don't realize it because they're not really who you think of when you think of "brilliant people".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:47 AM on December 18, 2017 [78 favorites]


Instead of replacing bodegas with a kiosk, come up with a way to make public toilets in San Francisco safe, clean, and accessible so I can no longer play the game of "How long is it going to be until we see a pile of human shit?" when I leave my hotel in the morning (3 blocks is the record, if you're curious). There's something that needs disruption.

Then I'm delighted to tell you about my new startup, Poopr. We're really going to disrupt the public defecation space.

It is a series of small office wastebaskets with coin slots attached.

They are wifi-enabled.

posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2017 [40 favorites]


it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics

> i can't figure out any interpretation of 'possible' where this could be a meaningful statement


All I could figure is that the guy thinks physics has a hetero bias.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:39 PM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


The unfortunate part is that getting funding for a startup is a skill. And that's it. You don't need a good idea or an idea that the world needs or fuck it, you don't even need any idea at all. All you need is the skill to land funding.

I think you're giving this world a little too much credit. Skill implies an ability that can be acquired.

I think we've seen a lot of startups get funded, not due to any abilities that one can acquire, but due to certain characteristics their founders are born with.
posted by Borborygmus at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2017 [10 favorites]


come up with a way to make public toilets in San Francisco safe, clean, and accessible so I can no longer play the game of "How long is it going to be until we see a pile of human shit?"

See that problem’s been solved. You don’t need a start-up to do it. You don’t need VC funding. You need a responsible government that provides essential social services. Please don’t suggest we hand more of those kinds of things to trashy tech-dudes. They’ll just invent some app that guides desperate homeless people towards a bush they can poop behind or something.
posted by Jimbob at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2017 [21 favorites]


Oh I see Mr. Bad Example has already covered that territory.
posted by Jimbob at 12:45 PM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


The Y Combinator tool was just using the most provocative asshole-ish example of what is probably pretty true in reality...in the bromancial world of investments and startups, its always struck me that that guys with no filter and high intellect were more likely to have an a-ha type of insight to a problem. The trouble of course, is that fully 80% of the bros aren't of very high intellect and so that just makes them assholes with no filter because everyone imagines themselves this...The other smart ones know enough to keep their mouth shut.
posted by sfts2 at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2017


No he wasn't. He was referencing Brendan Eich. And maybe the women and minorities that don't get the chance to share their every word with the world had brilliant ideas and you never heard about them, hey?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:54 PM on December 18, 2017 [17 favorites]


In other words, having no filter doesn't correlate with being smart and aha moments, it correlates with being really loud about it so everyone knows you had them.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:55 PM on December 18, 2017 [23 favorites]


On his blog, Y Combinator president Sam Altman argued that political correctness was damaging the tech industry. “This is uncomfortable, but it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics,” he wrote.

Ah yes, as I recall, these were the exact opening lines of Newton's Principia, one of the foremost scientific and mathematical works mankind has ever produced. Clearly Newton outs himself right from the get-go as an eager physicist fueled by heterosexual rage.

Oh wait, the opening lines were
Since the ancients (as we are told by Pappus), made great account of the science of mechanics in the investigation of natural things; and the moderns, laying aside substantial forms and occult qualities, have endeavoured to subject the phenomena of nature to the laws of mathematics, I have in this treatise cultivated mathematics so far as it regards philosophy.
posted by hexaflexagon at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2017 [10 favorites]



Oh I see Mr. Bad Example has already covered that territory.


Poopr: We've Got Our Shit Together.®
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2017 [17 favorites]


And maybe the women and minorities that don't get the chance to share their every word with the world had brilliant ideas and you never heard about them, hey?

At minimum, the intellectual and scientific potential of the female half of humanity has been actively suppressed and oppressed for millennia, never mind the vast majority of men who weren’t allowed to work on physics or much else during the same period. We as a species are lucky to be alive with the fucking white patriarchy in charge, and it is STILL TRYING to kill us all with climate denialism.

Of COURSE homophobia is the answer.

Boggles the goddamn mind.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:27 PM on December 18, 2017 [30 favorites]


Here's an "uncomfortable" thought: maybe cishet white guys who haven't solved whatever given problem already by now despite having their voices privileged since the dawn of fucking history need to shut the fuck up so that everyone else's ideas can be heard.
posted by Dysk at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2017 [45 favorites]


Sam Altman is not a good role model in technology, IMHO, but he is gay and that makes the context of what he said a bit more complicated. The blog post is ultimately a nonsensical, trite, predictable argument (IMHO), but to be fair, the line about gay people also had an immediately footnote (the "[1]"), and also considering the paragraphs that came before it, all he was obviously trying to articulate but failing to was just the idea that dogma is bad, "intellectual freedom" is good. Like, as a gay person I am on board with that. But if you use trite 1-sentence arguments, that just teaches/trains other people to not think; it's how his rhetoric performatively de-intellectualizes his audience i.e. the tech workers of SV. That's why he's a harmful role model.
posted by polymodus at 2:06 PM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics
Only if we believe that people are uniquely good and irreplaceable from a physics point of view -- which, as they say on Law and Order, assumes facts not in existence.

Example: if Einstein had never been born, would we have been stumbling along ignorant of Special and General Relativity? No. Poincaré was also close, and no doubt many others were as well. Newton and Leibniz both came up with Calculus. After 25 years in Academe and Silicon Valley I'm convinced that no one is irreplaceable.

There is absolutely no reason to pander to racists, misogynists, or assholes in general.
posted by phliar at 2:08 PM on December 18, 2017 [28 favorites]


On a related note, a story in Canada's Globe and Mail (the 'Report on Business' section) today reads in part:
The Gandalf Group's quarterly C-Suite Survey resulted from interviews in November and December with 153 Canadian executives, 95 per cent of whom were male. When asked if sexual harassment was a problem in their business, 94 per cent of those surveyed chose to disagree.
Well, clearly we have the situation under control hamburger.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2017 [10 favorites]


all he was obviously trying to articulate but failing to was just the idea that dogma is bad, "intellectual freedom" is good.

If you can't manage to articulate that cleanly, perhaps you'd better steer clear of pronouncing on society in your influential blog posts, eh?
posted by praemunire at 2:28 PM on December 18, 2017 [14 favorites]


Only if we believe that people are uniquely good and irreplaceable from a physics point of view

That's not all we need to assume for the position to make sense: people need to be uniquely irreplaceable, those uniquely irreplaceable people need to be bigots, and those a able uniquely irreplaceable bigots need to be unable to conform to any kind of decency or professionalism. Even if Einstein were the only person who could ever come up with the theories of relativity, and passionately hated gay people, that wouldn't be enough. He'd have to also be unable or unwilling to come up with those theories unless people let him mouth off whatever bullshit in any and all circumstances. That's beyond unlikely, deep into the eyeroll territory that marks an utter lack of critical thinking.
posted by Dysk at 2:33 PM on December 18, 2017 [24 favorites]


Although the "we must tolerate homophobic jerks because physics" part of Sam Altman's blogpost/essay is getting the most play (which he has tried to walk back slightly in a follow-up), I don't think we should sleep on his opening sentences:
Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me. I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco.
Yes, of course, because China (or, more specifically, the Chinese government) is well-known for its embrace of free speech and especially for controversial topics like Tibet, Taiwan, and Tianamen Square.
posted by mhum at 2:51 PM on December 18, 2017 [23 favorites]


did the 'controversial ideas' maybe perhaps possibly involve making a lot of money while not caring about the impact to the surrounding community or the legality of said ideas
I BET THEY DI-IIII-IIID
posted by halation at 2:54 PM on December 18, 2017 [28 favorites]


That time you tried to make common decency sound bad but instead let everybody know how well authoritarian environments suit you.
posted by clawsoon at 3:04 PM on December 18, 2017 [12 favorites]


It's almost like it's not the same ideas that are controversial everywhere, and the dude is both too dumb to realise that, and much more comfortable when everyone's just nodding along!
posted by Dysk at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yes, of course, because China (or, more specifically, the Chinese government) is well-known for its embrace of free speech and especially for controversial topics like Tibet, Taiwan, and Tianamen Square.

Isn't that the point? It's a dumb rhetorical move, though, because it's almost certainly different axis of "controversial ideas." Also he's being kind of cagey about what he's actually talking about so it's hard for me to tell whether he's hinting at something really ugly or merely extremely dumb and out of touch (as the most explicit examples in his essay suggest)

More recently, I’ve seen credible people working on ideas like pharmaceuticals for intelligence augmentation, genetic engineering, and radical life extension leave San Francisco because they found the reaction to their work to be so toxic. “If people live a lot longer it will be disastrous for the environment, so people working on this must be really unethical” was a memorable quote I heard this year.
posted by atoxyl at 3:34 PM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


Oh boy... In that blog post, Altman says, "Of course we can and should say that ideas are mistaken, but we can’t just call the person a heretic. We need to debate the actual idea."

To debate that: Do we though? Do we really have to debate every idea to know it's not a good idea? Or do some people just feel the need to debate certain ideas because they don't know the prior art? I would suggest some debates may not need to be rehashed outside of a classroom. I'm a radically question-anything kind of person, but even that notion itself should get its own line of inquiry.

Anyway, when I read the line before that, "This is uncomfortable, but it's possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics," it made me wonder if he'd been corresponding with a certain notoriously homophobic physics professor here in St. Louis. That dude emailed me back in the day, too, man. Don't listen to his nonsense. Sadly, dudes like that are everywhere.
posted by limeonaire at 5:59 PM on December 18, 2017 [14 favorites]


"It wasn't until I attended a Klan meeting that I finally felt I could talk freely." Wait, no, that doesn't sound good, either. Damn.
posted by clawsoon at 6:28 PM on December 18, 2017 [11 favorites]


I would suggest some debates may not need to be rehashed outside of a classroom.

This is another thing that privileged bros tend to do a lot: "I just had an idea which is totally original, because I'm brilliant, and therefore I'm not going to bother to check if someone else has thought of it, let alone understand the debates surrounding it, particularly if they contradict my totally original idea in some way.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:55 PM on December 18, 2017 [17 favorites]


I think we'll come out of this with some idea that the real smarts are required to figure out what not to enable in a service. Almost anybody can follow a "how to make Twitter from scratch" tutorial, and it'll work. Friends! Tweets! Wide-open freedom! Whoops, Nazis and Porn discovered it! Then the real work begins.
posted by rhizome at 8:20 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Poopr's going to need competition to drive innovation.

That's why I'm starting Feecal. There's plenty of room for growth in the Dunny-on-Demand sector of the turd economy.
posted by allium cepa at 11:14 PM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


After getting Rafts of shit for decades as a self taught technology person from Bros, stupid Bros, I have finally gone out on my own. I work with start ups but if the founder is younger than I, I usually don't work with them because they are too bro – tastic to bother trying to find me. I end up self selecingt for actual decent human beings.
posted by tilde at 2:56 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's a tech bubble per se. I think it's just plain old social stratification, same as it ever was; it just so happens that tech is the most prominent of the current pathways to getting filthy rich.

It's completely predictable that filthy rich people will prefer to pretend that all the poors are undeserving. What unnerves me is the way I've observed, over the decades since Reagan and Thatcher, such a huge increase in the number of poors (relatively speaking) who have internalized that same dictum.

There has been endless ink spilled on the utter moral soundness of the vast rewards allocated to wealthy industrialists; it's not all Ayn Rand but it all sounds like her. And I'm really quite dismayed at the number of wage slaves who are more than willing to tip a bucket of slops over welfare recipients they perceive as getting money for doing nothing, while completely ignoring the vastly larger amounts paid to passive investors for doing even less.

It's all marketing. "Passive income" sounds so much more respectable than "freeloading".
posted by flabdablet at 5:18 AM on December 19, 2017 [9 favorites]


flabdablet: The thing about the Valley ecosystem, though, isn't that it's running on private wealth. It's running on, literally, Other People's Money. Venture Capital funds like YCombinator get their money not typically from private investment from the wealthy, but from institutional money: pension funds, university endowments, sovereign wealth, etc. There are private investors in VC funds, too, but in an indirect way: a wealthy family will have a team of investment professionals on hire to manage their money and make investments.
posted by SansPoint at 6:55 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


This is another thing that privileged bros tend to do a lot: "I just had an idea which is totally original, because I'm brilliant, and therefore I'm not going to bother to check if someone else has thought of it, let alone understand the debates surrounding it, particularly if they contradict my totally original idea in some way.

Thus, the existence of Slate Star Codex.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:00 AM on December 19, 2017 [5 favorites]


Thus, the existence of Slate Star Codex.

What the fuck am I even looking at here? Oh look, Tyler Cowen decided to weigh in on the Sam Altman thing.

Also advertised on that blog, though I refuse to give them clicks by linking, is the AI safety dot com reading group (which may best belong in the Ted Chiang thread a few blocks over, but gave me a frisson or something).
posted by aspersioncast at 8:50 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics

It's possible that we might have to be accepting of gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about mathematics, cryptography, and technology.
Just for one example.
posted by yohko at 5:38 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


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