Comment by at_the_zoo on Google’s Ethical AI team and AI Safety · 2021-02-20T10:37:40.602Z · LW · GW

See also this Twitter thread for some additional insights into this story. Given the politically sensitive nature of the topic, it may not be a great idea to discuss it much further on this platform, as that could further antagonize various camps interested in AI, among other potential negative consequences.

Comment by at_the_zoo on Google’s Ethical AI team and AI Safety · 2021-02-20T09:56:20.059Z · LW · GW

Hacker News discussion about why Margaret Mitchell was fired. Or see this NYT story:

Google confirmed that her employment had been terminated. “After conducting a review of this manager’s conduct, we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct,” read a statement from the company.

The statement went on to claim that Dr. Mitchell had violated the company’s security policies by lifting confidential documents and private employee data from the Google network. The company said previously that Dr. Mitchell had tried to remove such files, the news site Axios reported last month.

Comment by at_the_zoo on For moderately well-resourced people in the US, how quickly will things go from "uncomfortable" to "too late to exit"? · 2020-06-12T23:55:01.911Z · LW · GW

One relatively easy and low-cost idea: buy some physical Bitcoin and/or gold, hide them somewhere, and hedge them with short positions (in Bitcoin futures and/or gold ETFs) if you don't want to be too exposed to their price movements. It's probably a good idea to have some exposure to them anyway as a hedge against inflation. And in case it's not clear, physical Bitcoin means on a hardware wallet that you can easily hide and carry with you when you need to move.

Comment by at_the_zoo on Steelmanning social justice · 2019-11-19T04:54:49.951Z · LW · GW

Ah, I think you're right. It seems like they want an "ethnic studies" version of everything and students have to take at least one ethnic studies course per year. I'm not a huge fan of that and it seems like it is taking some well-deserved criticism.

FYI, there is virtually no criticism within the city / school district itself, because (1) it's too progressive / left-leaning and (2) anyone who does offer criticism gets labeled as "racist" or "white supremacist", even if the critic isn't white. (Look up "internalized oppression" if you're not already familiar.)

Looking at this presentation through the lens of the original post, it seems like what the Ethnic Studies Board is trying to do is create safe spaces and reduce perceived harms against minorities (hence, I think, why they want to make sure there's an "ethnic studies" version of every core class: so that the people they feel will best benefit from this curriculum can use it for their entire high school education).

That's part of it, but it's also about turning students (and not just minorities) into social justice activists. See this quote from page 31 of the presentation:

Critical pedagogy aims to engage students in an exploration of their world in order to gain a political and critical consciousness. It is based on the belief that historical events are the result of a series of contradictions and their solutions.

Humanizing pedagogy is a component of critical pedagogy that encourages learners to recognize oppression doesn’t just happen and they are agents of change.

Educators who employ critical pedagogy accept that the practice of teaching can never be apolitical when systems of oppression exist. Educators see education as a tool of resistance and liberation.

Critical pedagogy transforms the learning environment from one of passivity to one of action and change. Students don’t learn for the sake of learning, but learn to understand the how and why of social systems that oppress certain groups and privilege others.

Combine this with other forms of political correctness (e.g., it's taboo to even talk about "culture" as a factor in educational disparities; any differences in educational outcomes must be the result of racism/oppression) and it's hard not to be concerned about the outcome of this educational philosophy and to see certain worrying historical parallels.

BTW, I don't know if it's a good idea to get into a big object-level discussion about this here. Initially I just wanted to offer some clear-cut evidence to correct your belief that "bring SJ into all the sub­ject at school" is unlikely. Hopefully that's settled at this point?

Comment by at_the_zoo on Steelmanning social justice · 2019-11-18T21:57:16.067Z · LW · GW

The curriculum isn't mandatory

I believe this is a mis-reporting, or talking about part of the curriculum. See pages 27 and 28 of this presentation:

We believe that all courses should incorporate Ethnic Studies curriculum, however at a minimum, students should participate in 4-5 ethnic studies classes in high school, i.e., a minimum of 1 ethnic studies course per year. [...]

A graduation requirement is a way to ensure that Ethnic Studies classes reach all students.

Comment by at_the_zoo on Steelmanning social justice · 2019-11-18T20:25:21.260Z · LW · GW

This sounds unlikely, uncharitable, and frankly more than a little conspiratorial. I'm not even sure if this is something most social justice advocates would even want.

It's already happening IRL. See this Reason article:

The district has proposed a new social justice-infused curriculum that would focus on "power and oppression" and "history of resistance and liberation" within the field of mathematics. [...]

If adopted, its ideas will be included in existing math classes as part of the district's broader effort to infuse ethnic studies into all subjects across the K-12 spectrum.

Comment by at_the_zoo on Utility functions and quantum mechanics · 2012-09-01T01:41:51.262Z · LW · GW

Can you explain why "the only measure available is indeed the ordinary amplitude-squared measure"?

Also, I'm confused about this:

Continuity: If you prefer |A> to |B> and |B> to |C>, there's some quantum-mechanical measure (note that this is a change from "probability") X such that you're indifferent between (1-X)|A> + X|C> and |B>.

According to the Wikipedia entry you linked to, a probability measure is a real-valued function, but X here is apparently just a number? What's the significance of your parenthetical note here?

Comment by at_the_zoo on The $125,000 Summer Singularity Challenge · 2011-07-29T18:41:23.836Z · LW · GW

This seems relevant:

Five: US tax law prohibits public charities from getting too much support from big donors.

Under US tax law, a 501(c)(3) public charity must maintain a certain percentage of "public support". As with most tax rules, this one is complicated. If, over a four-year period, any one individual donates more than 2% of the organization's total support, anything over 2% does not count as "public support". If a single donor supported a charity, its public support percentage would be only 2%. If two donors supported a charity, its public support percentage would be at most 4%. Public charities must maintain a public support percentage of at least 10% and preferably 33.3%. Small donations - donations of less than 2% of our total support over a four-year period - count entirely as public support. Small donations permit us to accept more donations from our major supporters without sending our percentage of public support into the critical zone. Currently, the Singularity Institute is running short on public support - so please don't think that small donations don't matter!