Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Teaching Resumes...

I return to the City for Fall term tomorrow. Straining my poor printer making copies of the syllabus and creating sign-up sheets and that sort of thing. As always, I'm a bundle of nerves. I'm hoping teaching queer theory and pressuring the history nonviolent resistance will turn out to be fortuitous topics, and help me find ways past the emotional and conceptual impasses of this year rather than simply exacerbating them. Earnest, creative, critical students are always a spur. I'm hoping and even expecting this to be a good term.


jimf said...
> Teaching Resumes...
Google Memo: Aftermath
Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux
Published on Aug 14, 2017


Jordan Peterson: OK, so by the 1960s Marxism was pretty much discredited,
certainly by the mid-70s when Solzhenitsyn wrote _The Gulag Archipelago_,
which should be required reading for every citizen in North America --
in fact, in the world. So what happened then, as far as I can tell, is
the French intellectuals, who were sort of at the forefront of the Marxist
movement, and also the most recalcitrant with regards to apologizing
for the excesses of Communism, performed an intellectual sleight-of-hand
and slapped Marxism with a postmodern facade to hide from those who
were justly criticizing it its transmutation, and it's progressed apace
through the universities ever since. And so, we see now the absolute
domination of the humanities and much of the social sciences by this
unholy alliance -- unholy and incoherent alliance -- between postmodernism,
which claims there are no reliable grand narratives, and neo-Marxism,
which is a grand narrative of exactly the kind the postmodernists object
to. So it's not even intellectually coherent. So now we have the domination
of the universities by what are essentially unrepentant Marxists producing
social activists of the type, for example, that were hired as VP of diversity
and human resources for Google. And they're the fifth column within these
capitalist organizations. The damn capitalists don't seem to have enough
sense to push back against the people who are really their mortal enemies.
It's a remarkable spectacle, actually.

So, as far as I'm concerned, the universities need to be, um -- what would
you say? -- the state of the universities needs to be addressed and
repaired. And we have one tactic in mind for that, so I'm going to release
a Web site here in about two weeks that will enable students to upload
course descriptions, along with the professor's name, the discipline
and the university, and it's got an AI engine inside it, and it will tell
the student whether or not the course is postmodern neo-Marxist
indoctrination cult material. And then leave it up to the student whether
or not they want to take that course. And so what I'm hoping is that
the right way to address the pathological and powerful remnants of this
Marxist idiocy -- murderous idiocy -- is to stanch the flow of new minds
into their indoctrination camps, and I think the best way to do that is
through information. So I'm going to make a video detailing some of the
things we're talking about and introduce this Web site. So, you know, that's
one possible strategy for cleaning this mess up. . .

AI to the rescue! :-0

jimf said...

> Google Memo: Aftermath
> Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux

This is the same Jordan Peterson who was up in arms a few days ago about
having his Google accounts (both YouTube and Gmail) abruptly deactivated,
with (he says) no clear explanation. Private communication with Google
failed to get his accounts reinstated, so he complained publicly, and shortly
thereafter his accounts were turned back on (also with no explanation).
Jordan B Peterson - Google is SJW cesspool

In ironic contrast to his remarks about "repairing" universities with
the help of AI-driven course evaluations to warn students away from
"Neo-Marxist cults", he says here (4:22/9:04):

> We've turned our communications over to very large systems, or
> very large systems have emerged to mediate our communication, right --
> I mean, there's lots of benefit to it, so we don't want to get too
> cynical about it. But, we're blind with regards to the policies that
> regulate the actions, the regulatory actions, of these large
> organizations. And that's really a bad thing. And something else
> is even more ominous -- really ominous, you know. It's highly
> probably that we're going to build political algorithms into our
> artificial intelligence. And this sort of thing will be regulated
> by machines that no one understands. And that's a really bad idea.
> And that's a really likely possibility.

I have to admit that I don't think it's a good thing that Google
has so much arbitrary power (though they do seem to be sensitive to
the threat of bad publicity -- especially if it's going to upset
major advertisers).

They've been wielding that power in more subtle ways as well, according
to the New York Times:
Google’s Disturbing Influence Over Think Tanks
AUG. 30, 2017

I also have to admit I've watched a few of Peterson's videos and enjoyed them,
though it's obvious enough that he has what you might call a "sophisticated"
right-leaning agenda. It would be interesting to put Peterson and
Robert Sapolsky on the same stage and see what happens. (Or even better, Peterson
and Christopher Hitchens, but alas that's no longer possible.)

jimf said...

> Google is SJW cesspool

Or not?
If you’re wondering why American companies are so reluctant to block online hatred,
one answer is that American tech workers have a high proportion of haters.

> [ ]
> The early iterations of whatever Gab’s movement produces may very well
> be funded by its builders, many of whom purportedly have high-paying jobs
> in Silicon Valley. Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the Daily Stormer, told
> Mother Jones in March that the majority of his site’s traffic comes from
> Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley. “The average alt-right-ist,”
> the white supremacist Richard Spencer told the magazine, “is probably a
> 28-year-old tech-savvy guy working in IT.”

But why? Why would American computer programmers drift towards Naziism? I think
there’s an answer to that, too. They’re saturated in triumphal capitalism,
and in particular, Libertarianism, which is the gateway drug to full-blown greed,
which they’ve branded as “liberty”.

> Since Google fired Damore and Gab lost its spot in the Google app store,
> the effort to found an alt-right internet has taken on a new urgency. . .
> In the past two weeks, a handful of far-right video bloggers have jumped
> onboard to promote the nascent movement, including Styxhexenhammer666,
> a popular libertarian video blogger, whose two videos about the effort
> have notched almost 70,000 views. Others have posted “call to action” videos,
> rallying technologists to join the movement to build “new ‘free speech’
> platforms,” which have also attracted thousands of viewers. While these
> might not read as huge numbers, they suggest a movement with a groundswell
> of grassroots support.

They don’t care about race or gender. That usually means they don’t care about
the inequities constructed around race and gender, because they’re mostly
white men who have got theirs already. They also claim to not believe in ideology,
even to be ideology-free, while not noticing that they’re soaking in a
particularly ugly ideology.

you know that horrible anti-SJW manifesto out of Google?

yeah, turns out it was largely cribbed from a Scott Alexander post
[ ]

. . .

gosh, how could anyone think lesswrong had anything to do with neoreaction

. . .

oh, and here’s
[ ]
scott alexander thanking him for not naming him in the manifesto, but suggesting:

> And if you’re reading this - sorry, huge respect for what you’re trying,
> but it’s pretty doomed. The best hope is a Fabian strategy of making sure
> enough there’s enough of an underground of people who know what’s up that
> they can quietly self-sort, form bubbles of liveability, and curb the worst
> excesses without forming a clear target for anybody. If you actually go riding
> in on a white horse waving a paper marked “ANTI-DIVERSITY MANIFESTO”, you’re
> just providing justification for the next round of purges.

i.e. literally form a misogynist underground to evade HR.

how could anyone assume a self-declared liberal like scott was any sort of reactionary

Well, the code word for "right-leaning liberal" these days seems to
be "classical" liberal. Like Coke Classic.

YMMV. :-0

jimf said...

This guy is gunning for your job, Dale!
Jordan Peterson - We Need To Stop Postmodernism Now!

I can't help but be reminded of Georgie Babbitt
( )

Peterson has become a YouTube celebrity partly through a self-help
course of "Self Authoring" designed to get college kids' heads
screwed on straight, which means, yes, seeing through the lies
of their (other) Neo-Marxist professors (by reading Solzhenitsyn's
_The Gulag Archipelago_) and getting used to the idea that
the only path to fulfillment (for ordinary, uncreative folks)
is traditional marriage and family. He points out that creativity
is handed out according to the "Pareto distribution", with the vast
bulk of the population being stuck at the "useless" end of the curve.
So have kids and raise them -- that's probably all the good
you can do for the world.
Jordan Peterson on Wealth Concentration & Normal vs Pareto Distributions
Then there's Price's Law -- the principle that says that the square root of the
number of producers create 50% of the product
Jordan Peterson - Inequality of Wealth and Productivity

Peterson's also big on IQ which, he says
(along with the "Conscientiousness" dimension of the Big Five
personality scale) is the major predictor of success in life.
Peterson's own IQ is (or was, in his salad days) upwards of
150, so he's cool. And he thinks Donald Trump must have **something**
on the ball. ;->
Jordan Peterson Reveals His IQ,
Jordan Peterson on Trump's Intelligence,

He tries to recoup traditional religion for the thinking person,
via the "deep truths" of Jungian archetypes, or something.
Jordan Peterson on "Why Bashing Religion Doesn't Make You Smart"
(Heads up, P.Z. Myers, you're just not being very smart. )

One reason Peterson is deeply suspicious of "Social Justice Warriors"
(and "Neo-Marxists") is that he believes, along with Nietzsche, that
well-off people who want to overthrow the social system that handed
them their privilege are most likely motivated by a kind of nihilistic
rage against the people who are **better** off than they are,
and that their purported empathy and concern for the downtrodden
doesn't bear close examination. What Nietzsche called _ressentiment_.
(cf. "Another Country"
;-> ).

Peterson is big on the Big Five dimensions of personality, and
some of his YouTube videos are devoted to explaining their significance.
A decade and a half ago, I took an on-line version of a "Big Five"
personality test, something called the IPIP-NEO. One of the "facets"
of the Openness to Experience "domain" was something called
"Liberalism", on which I scored at the 96th percentile. The description
read "Psychological liberalism refers to a readiness to challenge
authority, convention, and traditional values. In its most extreme
form, psychological liberalism can even represent outright hostility
toward rules, sympathy for law-breakers, and love of ambiguity,
chaos, and disorder." Or "ressentiment"?

Anyway, Peterson's YouTube guru mojo is in the ascendant, at the
moment. Move over, Stefan Molyneux! He has a kind of Ayn Randian,
suck it up, soldier!, **hoist** those bootstraps! ambience.
A bit tightly wound and, I dunno, **angry** at times. Together with
that plaintive voice and Canadian accent. Some folks love him.