15 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2017
    1. And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.” And in that perverse way, the democratic dreams of Jefferson and Jackson were fulfilled.

      This is probably an excellent summary of the article.

    2. The dent of racism is not hard to detect in West Virginia. In the 2008 Democratic primary there, 95 percent of the voters were white. Twenty percent of those—one in five—openly admitted that race was influencing their vote, and more than 80 percent voted for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Four years later, the incumbent Obama lost the primary in 10 counties to Keith Judd, a white felon incarcerated in a federal prison; Judd racked up more than 40 percent of the Democratic-primary vote in the state. A simple thought experiment: Can one imagine a black felon in a federal prison running in a primary against an incumbent white president doing so well?

      This reminds me of a line from Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker special:

      There still ain’t a white guy in here who would trade places with me — and I’m rich

    3. Moreover, to accept that whiteness brought us Donald Trump is to accept whiteness as an existential danger to the country and the world. But if the broad and remarkable white support for Donald Trump can be reduced to the righteous anger of a noble class of smallville firefighters and evangelicals, mocked by Brooklyn hipsters and womanist professors into voting against their interests, then the threat of racism and whiteness, the threat of the heirloom, can be dismissed. Consciences can be eased; no deeper existential reckoning is required.

      White guilt?

    1. Part of the wild success of the Silicon Valley giants of today — and what makes their stocks so appealing to investors — has come from their ability to attain huge revenue and profits with relatively few workers.Apple, Alphabet (parent of Google) and Facebook generated $333 billion of revenue combined last year with 205,000 employees worldwide. In 1993, three of the most successful, technologically oriented companies based in the Northeast — Kodak, IBM and AT&T — needed more than three times as many employees, 675,000, to generate 27 percent less in inflation-adjusted revenue.The 10 most valuable tech companies have 1.5 million employees, according to calculations by Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute, compared with 2.2 million employed by the 10 biggest industrial companies in 1979. Mr. Mandel, however, notes that today’s tech industry is adding jobs much faster than the industrial companies, which took many decades to reach that scale.

      It seems like this would certainly contribute to wealth inequality, since the majority of today's tech workforce is more well-educated than the industrial employees of decades past (who then shared in their employer's rise).

  2. Aug 2017
    1. So this transforms how we do design. The human engineer now says what the design should achieve, and the machine says, "Here's the possibilities." Now in her job, the engineer's job is to pick the one that best meets the goals of the design, which she knows as a human better than anyone else, using human judgment and expertise.

      A post on the Keras blog was talking about eventually using AI to generate computer programs to match certain specifications. Gruber is saying something very similar.

    1. Since Clojure uses the Java calling conventions, it cannot, and does not, make the same tail call optimization guarantees. Instead, it provides the recur special operator, which does constant-space recursive looping by rebinding and jumping to the nearest enclosing loop or function frame. While not as general as tail-call-optimization, it allows most of the same elegant constructs, and offers the advantage of checking that calls to recur can only happen in a tail position.

      Clojure's answer to the JVM's lack to tail call optimization

    1. Program synthesis consists in automatically generating simple programs, by using a search algorithm (possibly genetic search, as in genetic programming) to explore a large space of possible programs. The search stops when a program is found that matches the required specifications, often provided as a set of input-output pairs. As you can see, is it highly reminiscent of machine learning: given "training data" provided as input-output pairs, we find a "program" that matches inputs to outputs and can generalize to new inputs. The difference is that instead of learning parameter values in a hard-coded program (a neural network), we generate source code via a discrete search process.

      This suggests that one could eventually just write unit tests and the program generator could handle the rest, at least for relatively simple things.

    1. “Programming is like thinking about thinking. And debugging is a close approximation of learning about learning.” When you program, you translate your thoughts into executable form. Debugging your program is close to debugging your thoughts.
    2. The thrill of programming, for me, is found more in the exploration of ideas than in the joy of controlling machines.

      This is something that I can relate to. I tend to program as I learn a subject that I eventually want to write real programs for, as an aide to understanding. It helps me grok how things work in the new domain. It also helps me retain the new information.

    1. As these digital tools find their way into medical rooms, and they become digitally ready, what happens to the digitally invisible? What does the medical experience look like for someone who doesn't have the $400 phone or watch tracking their every movement? Do they now become a burden on the medical system? Is their experience changed?

      This is such an important question. An extreme version of this reminds me of things I've read in dystopian science fiction stories. This could create an underclass.

    1. Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago

      I wish this article had also looked at how much a given underrepresented group's graduation rate has changed as well (for the same group of schools). Even if a group's enrollment in top colleges has gone down, the data could show that a given group's graduation rate from those same colleges has increased over the same time period. Info on changes in enrollment and graduation rate would be so much more informative than studying each statistic alone.

    1. “Sankofa” teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.

      Another interpretation of Sankofa.

    1. taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress through the benevolent use of knowledge


  3. Aug 2015
    1. I asked him if, by the same logic, a man with the background of Darren Wilson would be inherently less effective in North County. McCarthy bristled. “Watch what you’re using for the definition of ‘effective,’ ” he said. “I can do my job down there, but you’re not getting the maximum use of my resources.” What would be lost? The ability to communicate easily, he replied. I reminded him that he considered communication to be the most important skill in law enforcement. Wasn’t Wilson’s confrontation with Brown, on some level, about communication? Would an encounter with Brown really have played out in the same manner for McCarthy? He insisted that he would have acted just as Wilson had. I then asked him to consider the initial moment of contact, when Wilson and Brown were still talking. “It might not have escalated to that point,” McCarthy conceded, uneasily. Later, he added, “There is likelihood that it could’ve avoided that confrontation—the escalation of that confrontation.” But he felt that such speculation was pointless.

      This part is very interesting. It seems one of the things this article does is juxtapose McCarthy and Wilson, vis a vis their communication styles.

    2. In 2009, Wilson got a job in Jennings, a town on Ferguson’s southeastern border, where ninety per cent of the residents are black and a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. “I’d never been in an area where there was that much poverty,” Wilson said. Interacting with residents, he felt intimidated and unprepared. A field-training officer named Mike McCarthy, who had been a cop for ten years, displayed no such discomfort. McCarthy, a thirty-nine-year-old Irish-American with short brown hair and a square chin, is a third-generation policeman who grew up in North County. Most of his childhood friends were African-American. “If you just talk to him on the phone, you’d think you’re talking to a black guy,” Wilson said. “He was able to relate to everyone up there.” Wilson said that he approached McCarthy for help: “Mike, I don’t know what I’m doing. This is a culture shock. Would you help me? Because you obviously have that connection, and you can relate to them. You may be white, but they still respect you. So why can they respect you and not me?” McCarthy had never heard another officer make such an honest admission of his own limitations. At the same time, he sensed a fierce determination: “Darren was probably the best officer that I’ve ever trained—just by his willingness to learn.”

      This Darren Wilson sounds like someone with the makings of a good police officer, someone who cares about the people in the community where he works. What happened to this guy?