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Articles of Note
80 years ago, Harvard had a “Jewish quota”. They used rhetoric about “character” to limit the number of Jews they admitted, in favor of students who weren’t as book-smart but fit the Harvard ideal. Today, the same thing is happening to Asians, for the same reasons.
Controlling for other variables […] Asians need SAT scores 140 points higher than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics, and an incredible 450 points higher than blacks (out of 1,600 points) to get into these schools.
If you want to see some ridiculously offensive statements from MIT’s Dean of Admissions, this is the article for you!
Some people like to use GIFs as metaphors for their own lives:
No, no, no!
That’s not you. Don’t pretend a GIF is about you when it’s clearly about someone else.
To repair this broken world, I’ve written some antidotes to this “What Should We Call Me” nonsense. Please use these whenever you encounter the appropriate situation.
I get fancy when I review books and music. Not so for movies.
This is a straight-up list of the films that moved me this year. The first on the list was the best. The ninth was the ninth-best.
Most of these weren’t released in 2015 — that’s just when I found them. Whatever year you live in, I’d recommend them all.
The Best Movies of My 2015 (list)
- Summer Wars
- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring
- Three Colors: Blue
- Ip Man
- The Tribe
- Gimme the Loot
- The Smash Brothers // “Be Right Back” (Black Mirror)
The Best Movies of My 2015 (reviews)
“Hello. You’ve reached the disembodied voice of Aaron Gertler. Aaron’s body isn’t here right now, but if you leave a message, it will get back to you soon.”
My latest post for the humanist blog Applied Sentience is up:
It’s a pretty strange post, but I think that the issues I raise around the utility monster problem are important. If you care more about a randomly selected human than a randomly selected chicken (and I think you should), you accept the existence of utility monsters — thinking beings which are worthy of greater moral consideration than other thinking beings.
Right now, humans are the world’s reigning utility monsters. That may not be true forever.
I think we are likely to eventually create machines which possess a kind of consciousness that is deeper and richer in certain ways than our own. Whatever metrics we can use to measure the “value” of a human life (and we all have them), we know of no reason that advanced computers will not eventually score higher on said metrics than we do, whether it’s in 50 years or 500.
And before we can make decisions about how to react to this situation — or whether we should work to prevent it in the first place — I think that we should do our best to understand what it might be like to be a superhuman utility monster. Empathy shouldn’t just extend to beings with lesser mental capabilities than our own.