Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] My Apology Regarding Jeffrey Epstein (mit.edu)
125 points by Anon84 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 195 comments



"I met Epstein in 2013 at a conference through a trusted business friend and, in my fundraising efforts for MIT Media Lab, I invited him to the Lab and visited several of his residences. I want you to know that in all of my interactions with Epstein, I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.

"

" On June 30, 2008, after Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge (one of two) of procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18 "


I think a lot of people became aware of Epstein in 2011 when Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror creator) did this piece on Prince Andrew - https://youtu.be/yPyn7mu375I

I remember it going viral at the time, and since then a casual Google would have thrown it up pretty highly.


I miss Charlie on TV - wish he would still at least do the yearly wipe.


Do you do a deep dive in the criminal history of every person you deal with? No? didn't think so.


Come on. This wasn’t a hidden secret. I can believe not everyone who did business with Epstein after he left prison was aware, but this wasn’t a secret; it was widely reported (the truth is, many people just didn’t care) why he went to jail. The circles he traveled in might have changed, but from my own experiences on the periphery of the wealthy/connected, stuff like this comes up.

You’ll note Ito never claims he wasn’t aware of the allegations or the guilty plea, he simply says he didn’t ever see any evidence of that behavior.

Plenty of people would pause before accepting money from someone like Epstein and plenty of people, as we’ve seen, did not.

Those that did aren’t responsible for any of Epstein’s crimes, but it’s more than fair that they answer questions about why they took money from someone like him — even if the answers are uncomfortable.


Not to mention that, if you believe Ethan Zuckerman’s account of events (http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...), he specifically warned Ito about Epstein’s history in 2014.


This is probably not the best time to point to SV and the influence of Milner and the Kremlin, but it's fascinating to read PG's comments in the 2011 discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3143604 and how he seems to be comfortable with the Kremlin connection even though others seemed to have known at the time.


So? There are many other external investors in the US companies, most importantly from China and Saudi Arabia. This is not illegal. And US-Russia relationships were a lot different in 2011.


https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3143897 and PG's reply captures the problem well:

> Basically, Milner is a crook, and if there was any justice in the world he and Usmanov would be in jail for what they have done. But there isn't, and there are people in the Valley who are willing to overlook ethics if you have enough money. The fact that Milner is now working with YC is a sad testament to that fact.

PG: VCs are not so high minded that they're offended by who his LPs are, believe me.

> Actually, it would seem to be just as simple as he implies. VCs in the valley care only about money and don't give a hoot about morality. You haven't debated the fact that Milner is linked to the looting of state resources; you've simply said that anyone else would also take his money if they could.

PG: even if Yuri's money was tainted in some way, it was being used as a counterweight to another bad thing.

This is the ultimate problem and it has nothing to do with US-Russia relations but rather with dealing with known seedy characters


The really open secret part is the weirdness about his homes. Nude art, chessboard with half nude figurines of his staff.


[flagged]


>This may be a controversial opinion, but... in the great list of mortal sins, I don't find it ranks particularly high.

Welcome to HN, where a 55 year old man having sex with a 16 year old girl is "not a great look".

Throw in the power and money imbalance, and still "not a great look".

Throw in that the child was having sex for money, at a time when she should've been concerned with getting good grades in high school, but it really should be a choice for high schoolers to engage in dangerous and - as it is - damaging acts like prostitution, so yup, "not a great look". A "red flag" perhaps.

We don't let 16 year olds drive cars (without restriction), buy cigarettes and alcohol, skip school (in some jurisdictions), or, hell, work full time or at hazardous occupations (in CA at least) for good reasons, but it somehow should be a choice to engage in prostitution, because the letter of the law in Alabama permits 16 year olds to have sex.

No, I don't think it's fine to feel that way, and I don't think the parent's opinion is "controversial". A rich 55-year-old paying for sex with an 11th graderis very much un-controversially a bad thing no matter how you wrap it, and no matter what the laws are in Alabama, medieval Europe, or Mars.

Please don't be an apologist for child abuse. It's not a great look.


8 years ago, in a thread about YC partnering with Yuri Milner: [1]

> there are people in the Valley who are willing to overlook ethics if you have enough money.

Seems very little has changed.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3143897


> AFAIK, Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of hiring a 16-year-old prostitute.

While that's true of the substance of his sweetheart plea deal, there was a lot more involved than that, which was also widely reported on.


A 16 year old can't be a prostitute (they can't consent to have sex with an adult). It's called child rape, and yes most people consider that to rank particularly high on the moral failings list.


> A 16 year old can't be a prostitute (they can't consent to have sex with an adult).

Legally, they can in much of the United States.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_the_Unite...


Nitpick all you want, a 16 year old cannot legally consent to prostitution.

And if they could, the laws would need to be rewritten, because that would make child rape legal.

Repeat after me: a 16 year old having sex with a 55 year old for money is child abuse.


> Nitpick all you want, a 16 year old cannot legally consent to prostitution

No one can legally consent to prostitution, except where prostitution is legal.

A 16-year-old can legally consent to sex in much of the USA, which makes the act prostitution, not “child rape”.

> Repeat after me: a 16 year old having sex with a 55 year old for money is child abuse.

Whether that's legally true depends on the state. Whether it's morally true depends on the 16-year-old (the reason for variation in age of consent laws is that there isn't a simple, clear, consistent chronological point where a bit flips from a person being incapable of mature consent to sex to capable of it), and a lot of other factors (including, potentially, the state: legality alone does not control morality but it's not completely irrelevant, either.)


OK, I rest my case here.

I'll just note that on HN, a 16 year old girl having sex with a rich 55 year old man for money is a morally ambiguous situation, whose morality depends on "a lot of other factors" (presumably, ones not including age, wealth, and power of the 55 year old in question).


Perhaps that's because most of HN is young enough to remember what it's like to be 16, and can empathize with being in that role more than you.

When I was 16, I was having sex with a woman who was - let's just say old enough to be prosecuted in California. It was great. If the right 55 year old came around, why the hell not?

I guess you'll claim that I'm an abused child. That's bollocks.

Or maybe you think that only girls need to be protected/infantilized?

Nobody is arguing for a world where teenagers turn tricks for a living. And sure this situation brings up all sorts of questions, and isn't "fine". But 16-18 is definitely in the grey zone of adulthood, and the majority of US states grant them a lot of sexual agency already. There's a big gap between "just fine" and "hang 'em!"

My moral judgement basically comes down to: How did the 16yo feel about it? It's really their interest we're advocating for, right?


>My moral judgement basically comes down to: How did the 16yo feel about it?

It keeps getting better!

I'll just note that on HN people think there's a question about how a 16 year old girl feels about having sex for money with a 55 year old known child abuser (old enough to be her grandfather).

Do I need to underline every word of the above sentence for people here to stop pretending this situation is something else?

This forum is full of programmers. Here, let me try logic:

    IF ((girl.age == 16)
        AND (girl.had_sex == TRUE)
        AND (partner.age == 55)
        AND (partner.is_rich_and_powerful == TRUE)  
        AND (girl.is_rich) == FALSE
        AND (partner.paid_for_sex == TRUE)
      ) 
    THEN
      girl.has_been_abused = TRUE
If you insist on "grey areas", replace the last line with

     girl.has_not_been_abused.probability = MACHINE_EPSILON
But sure, go ahead and paint me a world where the above doesn't hold, and Jeffrey Epstein just happened to be the right 55 year old for the 16 year old girl(s) he paid to have sex with.


You're howling at the wind. People on this forum, and in much of the rest of the world, have zero ability to empathize with someone that basically isn't their carbon copy. So you will never convince the person that you're responding to that being a middle class 16 year old girl and being paid for sex by a 55 year old billionaire, is not the most fun thing in the world, because that person is not (and probably never has been) a middle class 16 year old girl.


>You're howling at the wind.

Perhaps, but then there's all there more reason to do so. And thanks for lending your voice! Perhaps someone reading this will feel a bit better.


> 16 is the age of sexual consent in 32 out of 50 US states

I think you may have glossed over this part of the comment you're responding to


The first victim that started the case in Florida was 14 - are you going to try and justify that by saying it's legal in Pakistan?

He ran an interstate recruitment ring of underage girls not just for himself but for other men. There's no justifying anything with this man.


It's pretty common. VC funds will run these checks on you, and most companies do as well when they even hire you. It's table stakes for any company committed to data security and safety.


So, it sounds like the real error was Ito's failure to do some due diligence research on a potential funder, is that right?


I was commenting based on my experience that 1) VC firms actually do ask you for permission to run background checks on you, look you up online, and know a fair bit about you 2) We run background checks on everyone we hire, and its fairly easy to do, because I believe it would be irresponsible not to.

I don't think there is one real error here as you put it, but it's been made public he was warned about him before and people he worked with would refuse to go to his properties when invited and told him why (citation: https://medium.com/@EthanZ/on-me-and-the-media-lab-715bfc707...).


Thanks, I think this is what I was missing. Failing to google a donor is a pretty bad oversight, but I think attributable to basically negligence. Ignoring the advice of your peers is more egregious, which looks like what happened here.


"Due diligence research" makes it sound complicated. Just Google the guy. I always look up potential business partners. And, in the past, I have discovered evidence of criminal activity that puts me on alert (nothing like Epstein though, just run-of-the-mill fraud.)


Yeah, seems like he already knew about Epstein's past, but accepted money anyway.


The real error is acting like the most likely explanation is he just failed to do some utterly basic due diligence.


Well, that's what's unclear to me — the apology makes it sound like he just had no idea about this guy. From the other comments, it sounds like that's false, and he ignored warnings from his peers, which makes more sense to me.

No need to be hostile, I'm just trying to understand the situation :)


The situation is Joi is dancing around Epstein's rape conviction being ok with him.

Joi would love to pretend he (somehow) didn't know, but a colleague has come forward to say he warned him.


Are you insinuating he did the due diligence and ignored it?


He was literally told by his colleague (who today quit) that he should not associate with Epstein:

https://medium.com/@EthanZ/on-me-and-the-media-lab-715bfc707...


No, only the ones I deal after I visit several of their homes and they invest in the company I work for and also invest in several different of my private financial dealings that I have a stake in. And even then maybe not a deep dive but just may be that I noticed something on the news...

I think it's pretty common place to know a little bit about the background of anyone who is an investor in your interests. When you take or solicit an investment there's often a conscious cost-benefit decision on those dollars. Even people who need money and want to take risks often want to make the best risky decisions and deliberately place their bets.


Every person? No. Someone giving you around a quarter million dollars? Yes. Hence the appropriateness of the apology.


If someone wants to invest a quarter million in whatever I'm doing with no strings attached (aka donate) the last thing I'm gonna be doing is asking questions. Most academics, charities, and other operations that run off donations don't have enough money to be picky about where it comes from.

Considering that that's basically pocket change to the MIT Media Lab they can afford to do their due diligence and turn people down if need be.

Some small charity you've never heard of that runs a summer camp for inner city kids or some no-name research lab at a state university's non-flagship campus (or whatever) is just gonna take the money because they can't afford to be picky. They're not gonna do background checks because the last thing they want is being in a position of weighing the need for money vs the ethics of who's giving it.

TL;DR: People and groups with less resources are less picky who they're willing to take money from but MIT doesn't have this excuse.


> If someone wants to invest a quarter million in whatever I'm doing with no strings attached (aka donate) the last thing I'm gonna be doing is asking questions

haha why are you proud of this? That's essentially the quintessential spirit of corruption representing everything wrong with this country and world.


The presence of strings attached or implied is necessarily part of how corruption and "not technically corruption but pretty damn close" behavior works.

It's a little different if you're a pro-privacy organization or climate change researcher and google or exxon starts stuffing you with money. There's a material conflict of interest in cases like that. That's the exception, not the rule. Some hypothetical summer camp has no conflict of interest taking the Koch brothers' money even if it disagrees with their politics.


Strings are always attached when taking billionaire money.


> I'm doing with no strings attached (aka donate) the last thing I'm gonna be doing is asking questions.

Good you can end up like a friend of a friend that realized his investors were part of the Israeli Mafia. That guy was one of the few people who was ecstatic when tech industry cratered in 2001.


Jeffrey Epstein was a well known sexual predator in 2013, nobody who is in charge of fundraising for any institution would need to do a "deep dive" on his criminal activity in order to know about that. It shows a major lapse in judgement, as Joi Ito states in his apology.


> It shows a major lapse in judgement

At best...


I'd probably at least google a millionaire before visiting several of their residences?


Haha, a deep dive? It was probably the first Google result!


Because we all know that everything on the internet is true.


Epstein was literally convicted. You cannot be serious.


A Google search normally doesn't pull up boring criminal records. It will pull up extremely lurid reporting on a life-destroying case that later ends in acquittal.

Epstein is the exception--he was a level 3 offender and could have been pulled for a felony for not checking in with the police. He shouldn't even have been walking around.


Much less walking around while serving his sentence...

"While most convicted sex offenders in Florida are sent to state prison, Epstein was instead housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Stockade and, according to the sheriff's office, was after 3 1⁄2 months allowed to leave the jail on "work release" for up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. This contravened the sheriff's own policies requiring a maximum remaining sentence of 10 months and making sex offenders ineligible for the privilege. He was allowed to come and go outside of specified release hours.

Epstein's cell door was left unlocked, and he had access to the attorney room where a television was installed for him, before he was moved to the Stockade's previously unstaffed infirmary. He worked at the office of a foundation he had created shortly before reporting to jail; he dissolved it after he had served his time. The Sheriff's Office received $128,000 from Epstein's non-profit to pay for the costs of extra services being provided during his work release. His office was monitored by "permit deputies" whose overtime was paid by Epstein. They were required to wear suits, and checked in "welcomed guests" at the "front desk". Later the Sheriff's Office said these guest logs were destroyed per the department's "records retention" rules (although inexplicably the Stockade visitor logs were not). He was allowed to use his own driver to drive him between jail and his office and other appointments."

Info on his wikipedia page is well sourced: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein#Conviction_and...


Wow, that boggles the mind. Talk about double standards.


"Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein jailed for paying underage prostitutes"

That's a sample headline from the first page of search results from the date range 2008-2013.


Are you claiming that sex offender registries are routinely faked...?


Bad convictions do happen, but to think it could happen to somebody as wealthy as Epstein strains credulity.


But it isn't "every person"! It's a donor and an investor. It is not some random person that they had dinner with.


It wouldn't have taken a "deep dive" a simple Google search would have uncovered it. This was in the international news media, especially in the US and the UK.


Criminal background checks on investors is considered basic due diligence for any fund.


I Google most people I meet. Especially people I'm going to transact money with.


You should, especially in the age of the Internet where much of this information is publicly available


You expect us to believe Ito wasn't aware of the conviction? please.


His post doesn't say that either. The OP is presenting things that can both easily true and do not contradict one another.


My point is we should not accept Ito's claim that he was unaware of Epstein's background. It is a lie, designed to attenuate our assessment of Ito's responsibility.


Where does he say that? I don't see that. Edit: I'll save you the trouble: You can't, because it doesn't exist in the letter linked.


The apology letter is clearly meant to have us believe he was not aware! Through omission and indirection.

> I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.

But fine let's say you're right. "I knew he'd done this, but at his house I never saw evidence of rape or trafficking" isn't much better. He should resign.


You should probably know who's cutting your checks.


If they're giving me millions of dollars I do


At this level? Absolutely, yes.


Are you accusing the author of lying, or of being irresponsible for not having known about his criminal background? Either seems fairly presumptuous.

Edit: Changed "unrealistic" to "presumptuous". I certainly think it's realistic that this person I've never heard of may be immoral or irresponsible, but what I don't understand is making that accusation based only on the correlation to the simple fact of his criminal background.


http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...

"Joi asked me in 2014 if I wanted to meet Epstein, and I refused and urged him not to meet with him."


[flagged]


Isn't that kind of petty?


A fair number of people who follow politics avidly would have known that Epstein was radioactive even before his conviction. However, that's a tiny number of people. Many more people who follow politics would have been aware after that conviction, but that's still a very small number of people. Now, however, everyone knows.


If you were raising money from Epstein, investing with him and visiting his houses, it's safe to say you were one of the people that were aware of his background. Ethan Zuckerman explicitly stated he warned Ito about Epstein and Ito chose to ignore it: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...


Yes, I just saw that, and it changes things. I'm not sure that the Lab would have done too much of a background search on Epstein -- I'd forgive them not having done that in 2011. But if Ito visited Epstein's island, then that makes Ito radioactive as the public perception is that if you went, you knew of Epsteins crimes first-hand or -worse- committed crimes with him, and if Ito was warned and didn't end the relationship right then, then Ito is decidedly radioactive as he had to have known.


One: I don't keep track of criminal convictions of every person I interact with. I'm not going to investigate criminal convictions until I'm at the point where money is likely to start changing hands. It's called due diligence, and it occurs late in the game, not early.

Two: the justice system is supposed to work such that when you are done with it your debt to society is paid. The fact that Epstein got off so lightly, repeatedly, is the fundamental problem. An individual should not have to look up the criminal convictions of every person they interact with.


No.

The justice system must exercise extreme caution. The standard for guilt is “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is a very high standard.

It’s precisely because the justice system must be so conservative that we in our private lives MUST do our best not simply to mirror the decisions of the courts, but to make decisions for ourselves.

It is ONLY in our private circles the victims have ANY chance at being protected, because the courts explicitly (and rightly) must wait for unequivocal proof.

Especially in sex crimes that proof is almost never there. Acceding to the courts is the equivalent of saying 90% of victims should receive no protection from anyone on Earth. And that there is no corner where they might be safe from their tormentor.


> Especially in sex crimes that proof is almost never there.

Hogwash. As we have seen so far, in Polanski, Weinstein, Cosby, Epstein, etc. these people did this repeatedly and were protected and enabled. The evidence was abundant and only needed someone in the justice system to actually do their job instead of covering it up in return for favors.

Sexual abuse in the single he said-she said case is problematic, and there may simply never be a good way to fix that.

Your way, however, allows accusations to destroy careers and reputations without evidence, and, in the case of genuine malicious actors, allows such accusations to become weaponized. See: Franken.

In addition, your mob justice is, in fact, most likely to enable these rich abusers because they don't really have to worry about the mob. Only plebeians like you and me will suffer at the hands of the mob because we don't have the resources to resist.


1. The existence of people who were protected doesn’t imply that most unindicted predators are being protected.

2. Yes, accusations destroy careers (of the falsely accused). Not believing accusations that haven’t been proven in court also destroys careers (of victims). So that’s not a real argument.

3. I’m not advocating any formation of mobs. I’m advocating individual employers, friends, family members make decisions for themselves and bar the accused from their private spaces at their discretion, not based on the decisions of the courts.

I’m an American though, so maybe I’m overly committed to private autonomy. But I’m not going to defer to my government about the safety of my people.


> the justice system is supposed to work such that when you are done with it your debt to society is paid.

Yeah, no. If you are a convicted child sex trafficker I won't do business with you ever, even if the state is done with you. If you would, I'd say that's a moral failing on your part.


You are missing the point--HE SHOULDN'T BE WALKING AROUND FREE.

I shouldn't have to even think about doing business with a convicted child sex trafficker because he should be in jail.

And anyone you or I have contact with would have been in jail until doomsday if convicted of that.


So we're supposed to lock people up until everyone has forgiven them, else for life?


>until everyone has forgiven him

? The point OP was making is that the justice system is meant to have punished/rehabilitated him to a point where they are satisfied that he is no longer a danger to society.

If he hasn't served his time, then he shouldn't be walking free to do business with people.

Either it is legal for him to do business or it isn't, and it seems that it was legal for him to do business at that time.

The fact rich people seem to be able to manipulate the system to do easier/less time than others is a separate and very valid point.

Like OP said, if you or I did what he did, we'd be in jail forever.

Maybe in this case people should have known, but taking it to the extreme, citizens can't be expected to hire private investigators to learn about their business partners.


And so Joi Ito will continue to be in charge of "Ethics" at the MIT Media Lab?


You act as if one discounts the other. They do not.

Edit: I hate meta comments, but getting downvoted for pointing out lies is tiring. I've read the apology. I'm right.


of course they don't, but when presented side-by-side, it makes it harder for this sort of deception to fly


What deception? You aren't saying anything useful.


People plead guilty all the time. It's a byproduct of the US justice system. It doesn't mean that there was any evidence against them, much less indisputable evidence.


People willfully ignore those details when money is on the line. There's a good chance he genuinely didn't know because he genuinely didn't bother to research his investors.

Plenty of SV investors looked the other way when Milner flooded the community with Kremlin-connected money, including PG (see his comments in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3143604 from 2011)


I wouldn't have blacklisted the person or the transaction. Why are you and the author suggesting these are related things to weigh?

If they are not on the OFAC list, and we aren't involved in an illegal transaction, then what is the issue? I am looking for complete, articulate sentences here. I honestly don't know the other perspective and haven't been exposed to an articulate reason to attempt to financially isolate capital.

If optics of a particular name actually were of concern due to records and disclosures, I would say just use a lawyer or new entity in specific jurisdictions, or lawyer+entity. This is something I would recommend for everyone if they can afford it, just to avoid grifters that realize you might have money and are willing to move it around. And yes, this also prevents other scrutiny, and avoids anyone having to make the decisions I am trying to understand.

Do you or do you not have a cause to support? Do you or do you not have a supporter? Simple questions with simple answers.

Can someone here articulate why they would blacklist transactions or persons that are not blacklisted by the state? Even if Epstein was actually in prison he could direct funds to causes he wanted to support. Convictions have nothing to do with capital controls. Why are you trying to control capital?


> Why are you and the author suggesting these are related things to weigh?

Because it seems his donations bought him access as well.


Hmmm

1) Didn't the money also support causes and do what it was expected to do?

2) Isn't his predatory nature with this access only visible in hindsight? There are incentives not to be repeat offenders of the same kind of crime, let alone any crime as a prior convict.

3) What is the appropriate response here? Don't let any convicted felon try to redeem themselves via donations? Shut them out of capital based networking just like poorer convicts that need the workforce are shut out of it?

I don't see this is a valid response or a piece of a coordinated response. We should try to prosecute sexual assaulting maniacs better. But I'm open to you all's thoughts on this scenario and what I think the open questions are

I applaud that the author wants to try to use his voice to raise money for victims, this has nothing to do with having been a recipient of Epstein money previously, except for the possibility that the author's projects got funded and they were able to use that validation and project success to have a voice to begin with, instead of disappearing into the rat race of wage work like most of us.


This seems like an appropriate response. I was approached by a woman who wanted to merge her lab with mine a number of years ago, I didn't go through with the deal for a number of reasons, but many years later it was revealed that this woman was a neo-nazi. I had no inkling in my business dealings with her that this was who she was, but it would have made zero difference if I had merged my business with hers, as I would have been in business with a nazi. Folks make mistakes. Owning those, taking accountability for your mistakes and moving forward with contrition is the only way to make those kinds of mistakes okay.


I was listening to a recent podcast interview of Ricky Gervais on this topic, where he observed “it’s not enough to apologize anymore and move on. People want blood, people want you ruined, because it’s a point-scoring competition now.” [1]

My only disagreement with Ricky is that I'm not sure it was ever enough, but the people for whom it isn't enough now have a platform.

[1] https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/08/ricky-gervais-takes-o... is a write-up of the podcast interview


This is likely a reaction to the lack of accountability for those in power. For most of these things, the court of public opinion is the only available option left for any hint of accountability. The courts cannot be counted on for it. The legislature cannot be counted on for it.

The way to fix this would be by introducing more accountability, but the national review would oppose such things as 'unneeded regulation'.

The widespread feeling now is that if you are rich and powerful, you do not face the consequences for your actions. There are some pretty good reasons for feeling that way too.

My hypothesis is that if we started increasing accountability, we would see a decrease to the type of behavior you're describing.


Should it be enough to apologize and move on? I would say that such apology is empty. There should be that part where people who were affected are made even as much as possible, where we reflect on what was supposed to be done differently and make changes for future.

There was really no one who voiced disagreement at the time? If no, why? If yes, what did happened to their career and status in the organization? How were they argued again, how did the fight at the time went? Were they retaliated against at the time?

All these things matter and should matter, so that next time people voice dissenting opinions in case like this and are listened to.


The difference is between "wanting blood" and "restorative justice." In former, vengeance is a motivating force, potentially with little regard to making amends. Simply inflicting pain can be sufficient. In other, the goal is to compensate, restore and reform. This may or may not require inflicting great pain or ruining someone.


The apology includes a promise to raise an equivalent amount of money and to donate it to charities involved in trafficking.


This is frankly ridiculous. Conservatives at the National Review - of all people - should understand that consequences exist and should be meaningful. If Kevin Hart made homophobic comments in the fairly recent past, why should we assume he has changed? He never apologized on his own; in fact, he repeatedly refused to apologize until public pressure made it unavoidable. He almost certainly would never have taken back his comments if they were not brought to public attention by someone else. Not if he lived three lifetimes.

This is why many people are not satisfied with a simple apology; it rings hollow because it is hollow and purely self-preserving. Life isn’t: “Press button here, apologize for bigotry, erase everyone’s memories.” The shit you say matters, whether 8 seconds or 8 years in the past, especially when such behavior was a regular part of Kevin Hart’s set for a long time, not an off-the-cuff comment.

Many people knew that homophobia was a bad thing 8 years ago. Treating gay people with respect is not a new invention.


Ignorance isn't usually a defense, but it seems difficult to blame someone in these kinds of cases. If my former college roommate is a nazi, that doesn't seem to reflect on me, even if we sometimes got donuts together.

Obviously this isn't the case when our theoretical Nazi is going around throwing up salutes and goose-stepping, but certainly no human can be judged for not being omniscient?


The saying is "ignorance of the law is no defense"--it's a real stretch to recast it in terms of "ignorance of the activities of an independent third party" don't you think?


In the strained analogy to Epstein, consider that this (now hypothetical) neo-nazi has been convicted of being a neo-nazi and now wants to give you a big pile of money.


They were accepting funding after Epstein's first conviction (and dodgy deal) in Florida. Moreover, Minksy, the lab founder, has emerged as a client of Epstein's.

This "apology" arrived only after high-profile researchers at the lab have started quitting.

"Sorry we got caught."


> They were accepting funding after Epstein's first conviction

If the funding wasn't conditioned on naming things in Epstein's honor or giving him authority over how funds were directed, why would much, if any, diligence be due?

A VC investing in a business assumes risk of the others failing (potentially on behalf of others, if it's a VC firm with other people's money), which makes it so that diligence about factors relevant to that performance due.

But accepting a no-strings donation from a charitable foundation? What makes particular diligence about the foundation’s head due?

(I'm not defending Ito here as it seems like he was in a position beyond accepting donations where he reasonably should have known about Epstein's background; I'm just curious about why one would argue that accepting a donation creates an expectation of vetting the head of the foundation providing the donation.)


It's called due diligence. The guy had a conviction on the record for underage prostitution. This isn't mom and pop's corner gas station, this is MIT, a well respected institution. You don't get "well I had no idea this man who has a public criminal record had a bad history" when MIT is running background checks on janitors that wouldn't get through with something like that on their record.

The world needs more accountability, not less, especially amongst those in power. Patting this guy on the back for posting an apology on the internet is effectively approving of the status quo that got us here. MIT can and should do better.


Having had to shake the proverbial money tree in academia though, I can say that I could have fallen into that trap if an enthusiastic investor wanted to plow money into my project. I certainly don't mean to pat this person on the back, but what are they supposed to do? should they be drummed out of science and/or society?

You're correct in that this person should have known better, but I am also saying that it is entirely understandable how it happened and it appears that he is genuinely contrite and trying to make it better. What would you have done in that situation?


> should they be drummed out of science and/or society?

That's certainly an interesting philosophical and moral question. Personally I'm not sure where I would draw that line. I am, however, pretty comfortable saying that education institutions accepting money from people who admitted to sex crimes against minors is on the "nope" side of the line.


Appropriate?

This is as good as agit-prop as any.

Sorry, but not sorry: why is it important that someone was associating with a child molester, if they never experienced or was witness to, or participated in, the said crime, has an opinion? Has to defend themselves, for association?

A conclusion one can reach, upon careful inspection: molesters live among us. You will not always recognise them. Be fearful, always, of the ones you think you can trust - for their altitude, for their contribution, for their gratitude.

Essentially, this is white terrorism.

Epstein was a heinous, now famous, human being. There are a lot more of them out there.


I thought they didn't know about the fact they were dealing with a criminal at all. So if anything to me, assuming the above is true, an apology isn't appropriate at all. If I deal with someone in good faith with no knowledge of their monstrous doings or the accusation of such I am blameless. If I am aware that they are doing things like that I should be reporting them but that's a different scenario.


Ito did know Epstein was a child sex rapist. Ethan Zuckerberg urged Ito not do deal with Epstein at the time and he ignored him: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...


I find this tiresome. You don't need to apologize for acquaintances, or for the hidden personal lives of people you have impersonal business transactions with. Guilt is not spread by touch.

My guess is that you have shaken hands, at least once in your life, with someone who (unbeknownst to you) is a truly horrible person. It's life.


(1) There is a pretty big difference between shaking hands with someone and allowing someone to tie their financial stake in with yours via a quarter million dollars in investment money.

(2) The idea that anyone with this large of an involvement with Epstein was unaware that he had been convicted in 2008 strains one's credulity, to say the least. If at any point after Ito met Epstein, he had casually googled Epstein's name, he would have been inundated with information about his conviction. Not to mention that in his resignation letter, Ethan Zuckerman explicitly mentions that he told Ito not to meet with Epstein back in 2014. (http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...)


Raising money from, coinvesting with and visiting the multiple homes of someone isn't "impersonal business transactions". It's a deep relationship with someone who was already convicted of raping a child.

You should read Ethan Zuckerman's resignation post as it offers much more information: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...

Ito was warned against getting involved with Epstein and he ignored those warnings.


It wasn't exactly "hidden" though. Their interactions happened _after_ his plea dead for underage prostitution.


It sounds like Ito probably missed that news, which I think is what folks have a problem with — he should have done his research before accepting the money.

I think there is also a separate debate here about whether Ito should accept or reject money from a donor who he knows is a sex offender.

Edit: seems like people are assuming he did know about that past, which is unclear to me.


> seems like people are assuming he did know about that past, which is unclear to me.

According to Ethan Zuckerman, he "urged [Joi] not to meet with [Epstein]". Presumably Epstein's past was the reason for that urging.

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...


Its possible Ito didn't know initially, but its pretty implausible someone didn't tell him about it once he started introducing Epstein around the lab.

I think that's the problem with the apology, he doesn't actually say what he's apologizing for. It's pretty clear that he's apologizing for taking money for someone he new was a sex-offender, but he doesn't actually say it, nevermind apologize for it.


It seems conspicuous he doesn’t say he was unaware of the accusations.

He does say he was unaware of the evidence, and didn’t hear Epstein say anything about it.


A plea deal doesn't mean guilt or even evidence. It merely means that it was easier than fighting the charges, which could really mean anything.


Sure, but it means the "Oh my, I didn't know!" defense rings a little hollow...


I don't think so. You can't know just based on a plea deal, if you don't know why the deal was struck in the first place.


No, but again, it means you don't get to play the "I didn't know anything" card later.


I agree. And I can’t imagine many people would have known about the investments if he had not written this apology. I guess the author felt an inordinate amount of guilt about it all and needed to get it off his shoulders.

It’s one thing to look through Epstein’s close social contacts and history of close business partners for people who may have known or engaged in illegal activity with him. This doesn’t meet those criteria, IMO.


I know the following concept is absolutely foreign to most people in tech, who would gladly take seed funding from Unit 751, but if you're accepting millions of dollars in donations and investments you actually do have a basic moral responsibility to do at least a minimal level of due diligence, lest you end up helping to whitewash the reputation of a known child sex trafficker.



Also, Ethan Zuckerman and his Center for Civic Media is going to exit the lab as he can't in good conscience remain:

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...


I think the information portrayed here is less favorable to Ito.


Quite. Though Zuckerman doesn't detail what was inappropriate about the Lab's relationship with Epstein (besides "Epstein"), Zuckerman does say that they tried to warn Ito about Epstein five years ago -- that should have been sufficient to cause the Lab to separate from Epstein then.


> Joi told me that evening that the Media Lab’s ties to Epstein went much deeper, and included a business relationship between Joi and Epstein, investments in companies Joi’s VC fund was supporting, gifts and visits by Epstein to the Media Lab and _by Joi to Epstein’s properties_.

> As the scale of Joi’s involvement with Epstein became clear to me, I began to understand that I had to end my relationship with the MIT Media Lab.

Emphasis added

This doesn't go into enormous detail, but I wouldn't say he "doesn't detail what was inappropriate".


I'd missed that! Visiting Epstein's properties, especially his island, makes one radioactive.


The system has a turnkey solution to this sort of thing. Say I'm sorry. Then reassure us in conclusory fashion you didn't do anything really bad (ignore his prior conviction). Formulaic apology that uses phrases like "allowed him to invest" and "funds were received with my permission" to distance from the problem. "Equivalent" future-facing commitment to fund-raise. Return exactly the amount of money that led to your personal benefit, don't mention any gains on the money. Use the word "again" to reiterate empty message. Ok, everyone, ready to move on?


So what should we do?


He should step down from the boards of the Media Lab and The New York Times. Far more information is provided in Ethan's resignation letter than in Ito's "apology":

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...


I don't know about we, but he could do a lot more than a carefully worded apology. He knowingly took money from a man convicted [1] of child prostitution. The least he could do is resign.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein#Conviction_and...


We should demand that he both resign, and donate a large sum of money to organizations like International Justice Mission that fight sex trafficking.

https://www.ijm.org/give/

To be clear, he has pledged to do the second already, sort of.


I'm somewhat surprised that MIT just took money from someone based on a notable fundraiser's nod to do so. My understanding would be that a some kind of financial department would handle an application from the donee citing a joint interest between them and the donor [0]. That department would then investigate the donor for any red flags or question marks. This news is still pretty fresh, so I think there will be an investigation as to how all of this came to be and we will find out if there was any oversight process and if so, whether or not that oversight process was short-circuited in any way.

I mean I probably had to go through more for each of my job interviews and any corresponding background checks. Furthermore, MIT probably assesses potential students more thoroughly than what happened in this account of the event.

[0] https://definitions.uslegal.com/d/donations/

> The person making the gift is called the donor and the person receiving the gift is called the donee.


It's easy to return money or apologize after the fact. Universities are going to attempt to take any free money they can get and not worry about it until there's a proven public outcry.


It wasn't just the university though. Ito also allowed Epstein to coinvest in his personal startup investments. He also visited his houses (which were decorated somewhere between provocatively and illegally based on residence). Ethan Zuckerman also directly confronted Ito and was ignored: https://medium.com/@EthanZ/on-me-and-the-media-lab-715bfc707...


To add, it would be less likely that we would be reading and commenting on this story if a university like MIT was not involved here: Ito would just be some venture capitalist that did not perform adequate due diligence.


Then why have an admissions process? Just take the first N applicants who can pay in full, and the first M applicants who can show they qualify for full financial aid from outside sources (to meet any applicable state or federal funding requirements).

I don't think it's that simple. Due diligence is organizational security, and a good amount people have a lax attitude towards security.


> I vow to raise an amount equivalent to the donations the Media Lab received from Epstein and will direct those funds to non-profits that focus on supporting survivors of trafficking.

Raising money to combat human (child sex) trafficking is a worthy endeavor; go for it.

> I will also return the money that Epstein has invested in my investment funds.

Using well-earned money for evil is bad. Using ill-gotten money for good is good. If you think MIT Media Lab's research is good, keep the money and use it for good. Giving money (back) to a bad source just makes matters worse. At best it's a vain attempt to wash your hands of the situation.

> Regrettably, over the years, the Lab has received money through some of the foundations that he controlled. I knew about these gifts and these funds were received with my permission. I also allowed him to invest in several of my funds which invest in tech startup companies outside of MIT.

Was Epstein's money even ill-gotten? The man's deplorable personal crimes seem orthogonal to his wealth, or at least the causality runs from wealth to crime, not the other way around.


This person is also a board member of New York Times [1].

[1] https://www.nytco.com/board-of-directors/


I don't understand an apology in which the person apologizing admits to no wrongdoing. If you did nothing wrong, I would expect something along the lines of "What has taken place is extremely unfortunate, but I did not and could not have known that what I did would entangle MIT with a criminal."


Does this mean anyone who attended MIT and went to the Media Lab should also apologize because they acquired their skills through a corrupt system and now they're reaping their rewards in their careers?


I think I'm missing something with all this — hopefully someone can link me to better resources, or help me out.

What exactly did Ito do wrong here? It sounds like he had no knowledge of Epstein's misdeeds while they were associates.


Epstein's conviction for raping a minor was public information at the point that Joi Ito raised money from, coinvested with and visited his homes. Far more information is included in Ethan's MIT resignation post:

He should step down from the boards of the Media Lab and The New York Times. Far more information is provided in Ethan's resignation letter than in Ito's "apology":

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...

There's no way Ito didn't know about this, it would come up with a simple Google search. Investors do diligence.


Yep, that makes sense. I wish more of that info was in the apology — Ito makes it sound like he was just unaware.


Joi Ito associated with Epstein (personally and financially) 5 years after Epstein had been convicted as a pedophile. The assertion people are making here is that he either didn't do his due diligence and in this particular instance, said lack of due diligence reflects extremely poorly on him or...he knew (probably likely) about Epstein's history and did business with him anyway (which also reflects extremely poorly on him) -- as the saying goes "money talks".


Some important context is in this other post and thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20757879


Indeed, people should read Ethan's post as it contains much more content. I'm not even sure why Ito's apology is on HN right now. I submitted this exact same link days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20741961

Shouldn't post this be a dupe?


FWIW, I am pretty sure that the rich cavorting with pretty young women (and some of it in an exploitative manner, and some of them under 18, and most of it for compensation) is going on in a lot of places, and certainly in many parts of the Middle East, Asia, Africa.

In fact, it's probably safe to assume that anyone accepting investments from the Middle East or Asia has very likely dealt with or taken money from people engaging in the same or worse conduct, only that it hasn't been prosecuted there.

If this here is the standard by which things ought to be measured and decided now, then I would expect a lot of money be returned and/or given to NGOs and charities.

But then, I suspect this is mostly moral posturing and virtue signalling, so nothing substantial will happen.


It's funny how this comment in article about an American child sex trafficker that abused American children [1] somehow makes it about unprosecuted rich people in everywhere but the USA.

> I suspect this is mostly moral posturing and virtue signalling

Indeed, though I refer to a different "this".

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein#Civil_cases


If the policy is "don't accept money from American child sex traffickers that abuse American children", then fine, return the Epstein money and ask for the head of everyone that took money from him.

If the policy is "don't accept money from anyone abusing children (or at any rate people under 18)", then I suggest that a lot more due diligence is required.


But that's just whataboutism. The article and the whole topic is about this particular American child abuser and his American victims.


If the author never had reason to suspect Epstein of anything unsavory.... why is the apology required?

I can understand the need to make a statement, but seems to me that there was no lapse in judgement exercised at the time, but rather an unfortunate crossing-of-paths in retrospect.


The only reason he wouldn't have had anything unsavory to suspect of Epstein would be that he lived under a rock. Epstein's "unsavory" predilections were known for about five years (he was convicted in 2008) at the time that Ito started associating with him.


They probably take in money from so many questionable sources at MIT (and similar institutions) that Epstein's prior conviction didn't raise any red flags. Business as usual.


"he was accused of" ... a truly peculiar choice of words for a person who confessed, was sentenced, and in jail.


>I am deeply sorry to the survivors,

This is very strange phrasing. I would certainly say victims.

Perhaps English isn’t his native tongue, but I doubt he wrote this himself or alone. It seems to both eschew responsibility and subtly remind everyone to be grateful it wasn’t worse.


I don't understand the logic in returning the money? Why raise an equal amount of money for charity while returning the original contribution? Wouldn't it be better to also donate that original contribution to these charities?


And he's an Ethics professor? I am still fuming at having to pay for a (required) Ethics class at business school. What a load of crock that was! Come, learn how to be ethical in one credit spread over 4 Sunday seminars.


What's the scariest thing about monsters?

They look like you and me.


all i can think reading this is, "well the capitalist in me says that money is money, it doesn't really matter where it comes from, all that matters is where it goes to and what good it can do". i understand wanting to disavow oneself of unsavory characters, that's just fairly common political and business acumen. but, just accepting money from someone doesn't make you complicit in their behaviors, nor does it mean you condone anything they have done. it literally just means an transfer of finances occurred between two parties (which may itself have other ulterior motives, but ultimately that has nothing to do with how the money is distributed).

i honestly think in situations like this, when you get money from an awful person, the only place that that money should go is somewhere where it can do good in the world to offset the negative influence of the individual that provided it. just sending it back is basically saying "i worry more about maintaining my image than potentially helping people here and now when I can". sure, the whole "im going to work to match all the donations" thing is a good way to hedge your bets, but really, DRY should be a virtue in more than just coding. reduplication of effort is a bad code smell, and I'm sure that inefficiency extends to other domains in some analogous manner as well


Could someone explain why this is flagged? Maybe someone from HN? Is this topic verboten?


[flagged]


I totally disagree. Joi began his financial relationship with Epstein in 2013, well after Epstein became a publicly known sex offender. Either Joi didn't do his due diligence (doubtful) or ignored the facts that surrounded Epstein and decided to assume the risk of working with known sex trafficker.

This is damage control pure and simple and without tact. Had this been disclosed say a month earlier as the new criminal case began to form, this apology might actually mean something other than "Shit now everyone sees this putrid stink cloud is hanging around me too."


There's nothing classy about this. It wasn't until the latest batch of Epstein information came forward that Ito said anything. Epstein was raping children during the period Ito was raising money from him, coinvesting with him and visiting his houses! There's not excuse for that.


Dude, just resign


IDK, people seem to have forgotten the idiom, "Talk is cheap"


You have to apologise for having been friends with and having received money from someone you didn't know was a pederast?

Excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta.


Didn't know? Epstein was convicted 5 years before they met.


So you look up everybody who you meet irl? I mean the way I'm reading this blog post is that the author had no idea. Personally I don't believe it, that's why I wouldn't accept the apology if I cared about this


>So you look up everybody who you meet irl?

No, but if I'm trying to get someone to give me money for a project, invite them to my lab, and visit "several of their residences" I would definitely look them up


If you're receiving large donations from someone and allowing them to invest in your fund then yes, you absolutely spend some time looking into them.


It was public record 5 years before their interaction.


It isn’t like it was very googable until a few months ago. Now I guess all these big labs will just start running criminal background checks on anyone who wants to donate a bunch of money.


What? He was on the sex offender registry in multiple states, with several high profile pieces written in various media outlets. That's not some deep dark secret you have to dig to uncover.


Besides Florida, what other states?

Also, I never even heard about this guy until a few months ago, it obviously wasn’t high enough media profile for my radar. What did his Wikipedia page look like last year?

Edit: I checked Wikipedia from 2012. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jeffrey_Epstein&o... All the allegations and convictions were listed, so I’ll take back my comment and admit this was a failure of minimal due diligence (or outright not caring).


> That said, I take full responsibility for my error in judgment. I am deeply sorry to the survivors, to the Media Lab, and to the MIT community for bringing such a person into our network.

If you don't know that a person is bad, then you just don't know. People didn't know Bundy was a serial killer, and we shouldn't fault them for not knowing. You don't know what you don't know. That's not a fault. That's not something you have to apologize for.


He pled guilty in 2008 for hiring child prostitutes. Joi mentions they met in 2013. If you don't do due dilligence, or even a cursory Google search, I believe you might bear some moral culpability in being willingly associated with a pedophile.

Frankly, nobody seems to have given lark about this guy until the new broke again this time. I'm not sure if it was his connections with many obviously famous people and the time peroid this took place, but before the MeToo movement it seems like many famous people had things like this swept under the rug or people looked the other way. I'm sure it's still happening, but hopefully more light will be shed on bad people in positions of wealth and power.


After he paid for his crime, doesn't he deserve a second chance?


I'd argue he didn't pay his debt to society and was not rehabilitated. His previous sentence and it's execution were a complete joke. It's well documented that he continued to keep incredibly young companions and surrounded himself with plenty of "art" of scantily clad very young women.

Even if both of those had been appropriate, his sentence fair and he was making obvious efforts to avoid past behavior, you couldn't be sure that you weren't taking money that was generated from the trafficking of other human beings. That's where Ito fucked up, plain and simple.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein#Conviction_and...


This is part of the problem; at that time Epstein hadn't "paid for" his crimes in any meaningful sense.


Rehabilitation/reintegration of sex offenders after they're released from prison is a real discussion that we'll need to have as a society sooner than later, but I think we should start with the folks on probation/parole listing a walmart parking lot as their residential address because they can't find housing, not a billionaire that gets a slap on the wrist.


> If you don't do due dilligence, or even a cursory Google search, I believe you might bear some moral culpability in being willingly associated with a pedophile.

If they didn't know they were a pedophile, then they didn't willingly associate with a pedophile.


if you're taking a quarter of a million from someone whose sex offenses are listed on their wikipedia page then you didn't just not know, you didn't want to know.

He's either lying or he was willfully ignorant, both of which amount to the same complete disregard of ethics.


Epstein had already been convicted. It wasn't a secret.


This has been blowing up for a very long time. They almost got away with it... now that people are leaving the lab the apology is certainly suspect.

By the same token, will the organizations that fight trafficking take Epstein-tainted money?


Either Ito failed to do even a minimal amount of due diligence on a person he accepted millions of dollars from, or he did and then didn't care. Either way, it's a catastrophic failure of judgment.

He ought to resign immediately. This is CYA apology. He's taking responsibility in words only. It's disgraceful.

Resign.


Doing this seems completely unnecessary to me. Did Joi really make a mistake that they could have realistically avoided?

To me, putting out this apology vaguely comes off as something like “virtue signaling” or “fishing for sympathy”. I’m not saying it actually is either of those things, I just don’t know the exact words to describe how I feel about it.

Somebody please let me know if I am wrong and an apology is in fact appropriate from this person.


> Did Joi really make a mistake that they could have realistically avoided?

Yeah, how could he have known a guy convicted 5 years before they met was a high-profile abuser. I guess he could have asked lab founder, Minsky, about what services he received from Epstein.


Didn’t notice that Jeffery was already convicted at that point.

If we don’t want to believe in rehabilitation (not that it did Jeffery any good), then in that case, a resignation seems more appropriate than a few words for an apology.


I think your point about rehabilitation and "paying one's debt to society" is very valid. Unfortunately in Epstein's case the punishment hardly fit the crime, ultimately he served 13 out of an 18 month sentence. "after 3 1⁄2 months allowed to leave the jail on "work release" for up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. This contravened the sheriff's own policies requiring a maximum remaining sentence of 10 months and making sex offenders ineligible for the privilege. He was allowed to come and go outside of specified release hours"[0]

Ito visited Epstein several times at Epstein's residences, which all apparently are plastered with enough "art" to make someone question if he really was a "reformed" sex offender. It should be perfectly clear to everyone that Ito understood two things: Epstein wasn't rehabilitated and Ito could claim enough plausible deniability if his dirty laundry ever got aired. His apology would be more meaningful if he actually donated to charities out of his own pocket rather than promising to externally raise funds...

Check out the his Wikipedia entry on how lax that sentence was.

0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein#Conviction_and...


Even with Epstein's light sentence, I'd be open to Ito saying he believed Epstein had served his time and been rehabilitated.

But Ito doesn't even try to use that defense in his apology, because it would make explicit that he knowingly took money from a sex-offender. So instead he doesn't mention Epstein's conviction at all, uses some weasel language to make it sound like he was unaware of it without explicitly saying so, and tries to make it sound like he (Ito) was just a victim of circumstances.

It's a pretty impressive non-apology apology, since he makes a big show of apologizing for something, but not the actual thing most people find troubling about his behavior.


Do you think our academic institutions should accept funding from billionaire pedophiles or not? The answer to this question may have some bearing on whether the apology is appropriate!


I think an apology is empty if it was for something that the apologizer had no influence over.

How can you expect somebody to deduce when they are dealing with a secret pedophile?

As somebody else pointed out, Jeffery already had a record at that point though. But now the question is: should a person continue to get punished for wrong doing after they had served their time? Sure the answer seems obvious with Jeffery in hindsight, but I don’t think it’s obvious that the


This is worse than virtue signaling imo. It's more like public image disaster response. The only reason this apology is going out is because Media Lab/Epstein relationship is getting mentioned publicly and in the press.

This apology would've meant something had it happened a month ago. Or if had any substance beyond vague usage of the words apology and sorry.


> an apology is in fact appropriate from this person

The apology is appropriate, but not because he had anything to apologize for, rather to attempt to quell the "outrage" of the holier-than-thou masses.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: