Links to Consider, 12/17
Rob Henderson takes notes on a podcast; Frederick Hess on government and campus Wokeism; Ian Leslie on AI; John Cochrane is grumpy about non-profits
When gossip is repeated by multiple independent sources, people are more likely to believe it. Having allies reiterate one’s gossip can be an effective way to undermine same-sex rivals. Female allies can serve as reputational defense for oneself and reputational offense against others.
(Ian Leslie) writes,
Colleges and universities receive hundreds of billions of dollars a year in public resources, largely because they promise to provide a particular public good: a home for free inquiry. When they abandon that mission, they lose their claim to support. Institutions that apply ideological litmus tests — such as mandatory DEI statements for admission, hiring, or academic promotion — should be stripped of state subsidies and rendered ineligible for taxpayer-funded financial aid or student loans. Lawmakers should also prohibit public dollars from being used to pay dues or fees to “scholarly” associations that have abandoned their scholarly purpose and from funding travel related to their convenings.
[ChatGPT]’s articles are fluent but tend towards the generic, bland and superficial. What we have here, for now at least, is a machine for generating plausible bullshit.
…Spotify uses machine learning to identify what kinds of songs are successful at winning user attention at the moment, then they push songs which conform the model to the top of the queue by adding them to playlists. The result is a penalty for complexity, variation and surprise - for anything the algorithm may not recognise. A feedback loop ensues, as musicians respond by creating songs to fit the model, and everyone herds towards the latest trend.
He is saying that the machine imitates the human in a least-common-denominator way. Then the human is incented to imitate the machine. A sort of Doom Loop as far as creativity is concerned.
John Cochrane is envious of Elon Musk’s power to eliminate organizational fat.
Stanford is a non-profit. Non-profit doesn't mean "doesn't make a profit." Non-profit really means that it does not have shares outstanding, which you can buy up if you think the thing is badly run, and clean the place up. Non-profit means protection from the market for corporate control.
It's time to rethink whether the non-profit structure is doing what it's supposed to do. A regular corporation is perfectly free to not make money if its shareholders choose to operate that way. But bloated immoveable "nonprofits" don't make sense.
Non-profit means accountable only to donors. In the case of a university, the donors are too diffuse. So the managers of the university can run amok, with no accountability whatsoever.