There's a lot to be frustrated by in the culture and cult of tech, but the irony of Morozov posting this op-ed on a site that is usually proudly powered by a mountain of open source created by the sorts of smart kids that spend time researching at the MIT Media Lab is galling.
That's the definition of empirical argumentation.
That's if you're writing a paper.
If you're making an empirical observation in the real world, the demands are much less rigorous, and if one can't tell what's going on without first demonstrating "that your list of events is an unbiased sampling of all relevant events" one is pretty much screwed...
The demands are only less rigorous when you agree with the conclusion. Link an article from a racist website dedicated to black-on-white crime (that ignores other crime), and watch as the demands suddenly become much more rigorous.
This is hardly the first charity scandal related to accepting donations from questionable donors. The issue predates electricity, let alone modern tech companies.
In your interpretation:
1) What is the motivation of the donor (Epstein)?
2) What is the motivation of the acceptor (Ito)?
If your answer is
Then that does not work: they can not reach a mutual understanding about whether Epstein is allowed tell the world he donates to the Media Lab, which can be seen by splitting up in cases:
1) if the mutual understanding is that Epstein is allowed to tell the world he donates to Media Lab : in this case Ito's motive evaporates, because he was fully aware and scared shitless of Epstein's name getting associated with the Media Lab.
2) if the mutual understanding is that Epstein can not tell the world he donates to Media Lab : in this case Epstein's motive evaporates, since it doesn't raise his prestige.
So all the authors of these articles are systematically individually either unintentionally overseeing the inconsistency, or intentionally obscuring a deeper fact.
Let's hypothesize it's for the tax deductions for the root donors (like Bill Gates etc.) instead: this too doesn't make sense, if you find a scheme for tax deductions etc by donating, why not donate directly? if for some reason the tax scheme can only work with an intermediary... why on earth select a radioactive person like Epstein?
So the tax evasion angle is misdirecting chaff too...
Consider that many of the unrecognized victim(s) of Epstein (and the buyers of his underage prostitution ring) are now adult. Consider the typical promises that were made to these girls (money, and future prospects). Many of these girls are adult women today, possibly studying, PhD studying or working. If some of the girls insist on studying some place, Epstein needs to pipe hush money, scholarship, salaries into the faculties and departments.
My interpretation is that it is hush money.
Bill Gates is not shy, he openly donates to many causes. He wrote books etc...
Before this scandal there was nothing controversial about the Media Lab, so why would he donate anonymously?
Even if he insisted to donate anonymously, why donate through Epstein? Bill Gates should be smarter than that, why are we holding Ito to a higher standard than Gates? If Ito & Co were handling the connection with Epstein with radioactive precaution, why didn't Bill Gates geiger counter crackle beyond repair?
And why on earth would Gates pay off someone else's hush money?
Suppose Gates paid hush money (or was blackmailed by) Epstein for services rendered (say in a somewhat distant past) to forward the hush money to the victim(s) at Media Lab.
That could also explain why Gates would go through Epstein: if he paid the Media Lab directly, the shorter connection towards the victim(s) might be construed as a financial acknowledgement of his involvement with the victim.
It also explains why he would go through Epstein as opposed to involving a clean person: the clean new intermediary between the Media Lab and Gates would be an extra point of failure who could leak the secret.
While it might be relatively easy for the "already-did-his-time" Epstein to find a lab or department head, and convince him with his crocodile tears to cooperate in a cloak of charity to pipe the "compensations" ( hush money, work position salary for the victim ) through the department head.
Instead we have Big Media suddenly (and suspicously) spinning stories and redirecting attention to either academic vaporware like growboxes from the Media Lab, or "billionaire circuits" naturally attracting male and female "deplorables". (which is just slutshaming all over again!)
The most egregious example of this is the Sackler family's ( Purdue Pharma/Opioids) massive donations to the arts/museums. They should not receive the glory and praise for their generosity to the arts for triggering the deaths of so many Americans in the pursuit of drug profits.
Bottom line, I think a donation, an idea, a contribution is useful even if it comes from an awful source, but the problem lies in whether you reward/enable the source's awfulness. I think that's the argument to make, as opposed to just focusing on whether the source of funds was a morally acceptable person.
As I said on another thread, if you really want to donate anonymously to a good cause, you just call a lawyer and pay a small fee to have them to submit it on your behalf.
If we said this must be prevented because the donor is not a truly ethical selfless person, there would be much less money going to good causes. And who would be the judge of which of us is good enough to be allowed to donate to charities?
edit: This was a poor comment. I shouldn't have phrased my point in such a crass way when I do not actually believe rowanG077 thinks what I wrote above. Sorry for my tone, rowanG077. It wasn't helpful to the conversation.
And what aren't we allowed to do with these people? Accept their money? Talk to them? Have dinner with them? Be in the same room as them? Same building? Be friends with friends of theirs?
I struggle with this because I think I want someone I can never have. I require an omniscient AGI just to figure out if people are sorry or not.
I’m not sure how many museums you have to found to make up for opioid deaths or child sex trafficking. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be qualified or required to make these kinds of decisions.
> You'd like to recognize a rapist for their charitable givings?
Is clearly referencing Epstein and returning the thread to discussion of Epstein instead of the Sackler family.
But the main point I am making is that we shouldn't stop the rapist from making charitable givings. Nor should we punish institutions for taking that money.
However that is completely separate from believing that blacklist to be valid. I don't think such a blacklist should exist at all. But it's not the call of the researcher itself to bypass it.
That has nothing to do with your original point which said that his donations allowed him to work as a sex trafficker.
No, but it helps him maintain his social standing, which was a key factor in the lenient sentence he got for his conviction. Connections were a form of insurance for Epstein.
Look at Bill Gates for instance. People still give him a lot of shit for what he did 20 to 30 years back even though he objectively has done a lot more good now then bad. Bill Gates did both of those things. We shouldn't forget either.
If you are having difficulty understanding this issue then you are either immature or socially illiterate. You might as well ask what harm a cancer on one of your organs is since it hasn't metastasized yet.
Money that comes from illegal or immoral activity colors it. You may think it's the same money, but the source of the money is important for institutions that have moral and ethical standards.
All elites (political, financial, tech, medicine, etc) are morally bankrupt.
They're like regular people, but with power and money, both known corruptors, reduced empathy , and all the motivations to increase their reach. And they were probably quite psycho which helped them get at the elite level to begin with ...
1. We expect people higher up the status ladder to behave better than most people.
2. Getting higher up the status ladder probably means you are statistically likely to be "worse" than most people by virtue of the traits it requires to get there.
(Please excuse the "better/worse" shorthand but you all know what I mean)
- The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno elites
- Facebook's plan to break the global financial system
- It's not enough to break up Big Tech. We need to imagine a better alternative
- The left needs to get radical on big tech – moderate solutions won't cut it
When somebody does something good we shouldn't say "That must not be allowed because he is only trying to make himself look good".
Rather than try to prevent bad people from doing good things, we should try to do good things ourselves.
Condemning somebody else is a way to make yourself look good. How? When you say that someone else is bad you are implicitly claiming that YOU are not (that) bad. And you are just spending energy (if not money) to prop up your reputation. That is in fact kinda unethical because you are in fact doing nothing good to anybody else than yourself, just polishing your halo, by pointing out how bad some other people are.
If you take this to it's logical extreme, you only allow bad people to give money to bad causes; especially so because the folks making these determinations allow no room for neutral causes.
* Engaged in any activities the general public would find reprehensible?
* Plan on doing so in the future?
* Generally disliked by the general public?
* Possibly going to be targeted by public outrage at some point?
If you answered yes to any of the above, we regret to inform you that your charitable donation cannot be accepted.
The Epstein case doesn't surprise me. Most people with money are morally reprehensible or have dealt with morally reprehensible people.
What I can't understand is where TED talks play into this? Are they evil by proxy?
Sounds like an absurd overreaction. Worth checking out https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/07/29/against-against-billio...
It's like the people who are against hunting, but who are happy to eat store bought meat.
Charitable contributions can make a sleazeball look like a boy scout, when in fact deep down he's profiting on human misery.
The thread is: bb88 proposes that Epstein's charitable giving to MIT was a way to reputation launder ("turn a sleazeball into a boyscout").
davrosthedalek disputed that claim, as the donations were anonymous.
The reason for anonymity doesn't matter; the net effect is there is no plausible reputation laundering effect from anonymous donations.
The Jeffrey Epstein Pediatric Fund for Incurable Childhood Illnesses
The Jeffrey Epstein Research Lab at MIT
The Jeffrey Epstein Fund for Worldwide Peace
(Note: some of these I'm sure I made up...)
Why are you caping so hard for this guy?
Donating money doesn't make you a philanthropist. I'm not caping(? not sure what this means) at all for Epstein. I simply think it beyond ridiculous to fault an institution for taking donations from any individual as if that act implies the institution agrees with all actions that individual has taken.
Had that not have happened, most people to this day would still think he's probably an "A OK dude."
But to disprove your point. If I go back one year with the wayback machine and look at his wikipedia the first sentence on his page mentions he is a registered sex offender.
It was only after the Miami Herald story came out did we learn about the child trafficking that took place -- and then this year it became a huge national story.
Upthread you said:
> Most likely, you didn't know about the evils of Jeffrey Epstein until a Miami Herald reporter started to dig into the story, and then got picked up by national papers.
Had that not have happened, most people to this day would still think he's probably an "A OK dude."
But I would heartily disagree with that.
Allegations of sexual assault of minors had been public from 2008 on, and Epstein settled literally dozens of civil suits from victims prior to the 2018 Herald piece. Allegations of trafficking were made in 2015 by Virginia Roberts.
(Also, honestly, isn't a single instance of knowing solicitation of a minor enough? Dude was known to be a creep since at least the 2008 conviction, despite the extremely favorable plea deal.)
Technically, it puts some of the blame on the underage girl, because she then becomes a "prostitute". Hence, she was at least half to blame. Hell, he could even have said: "I didn't know she was underage..." And a lot of guys would believe him.
The fact that she was trafficked instead completely changes the issue. She was never a "prostitute", and he was a bigger sleazeball than we realized.
If it was child abuse, they would have charged him with abuse. They basically called her a "prostitute" from the charges suggesting that she was at least partly to blame.
But it's still unclear why the US attorney's office refused to investigate the other cases and offered him a sweetheart deal. In any case, the 2008 charges made it sound like he was just looking for sex, not running a child trafficking ring.
Well, that's not the sleazeball's or the charity's problem. If you and other people don't think he's a "boy scout" then he won't be seen as one. If you do, he will.
I don't understood the argument for non-politician organizations returning donations from problematic people. By keeping the money, you're enriching your organization, at expense to the bad person. Win-win for society.
For politicians and political organizations, there is an implicit association with bribery, so in that case I can understand demands to refusing contributions from bad donors. (But even there, better to redirect it to a good charity than to return it to the "bad donor.")
I think that just confuses the issue.
> For politicians and political organizations, there is an implicit association with bribery.
1. Alice accepts money from Bob
2. Alice discovers Bob is running a underage sex trafficking ring on the side.
3. Alice continues to accept money from Bob.
So let's ask the following questions:
1. Is Alice implicitly condoning underage sex trafficking by taking Bob's money?
2. Does Alice look like she's implicitly condoning underage sex trafficking by taking Bob's money?
3. How does the public know what the true motives of Alice are? Does she support underage sex trafficking or not?
4. How do we know if Alice is telling the truth as long as she accepts money from Bob?
5. How does this affect Alice's reputation? Would you go to Alice to seek help with trying to stop underage sex trafficking? Or has Alice been "tainted" with Bob's money?