Hundreds of mathematicians have signed a letter to appear in Notices of the American Mathematical Society calling for the field to cease collaborating with police departments, engage in public audits of algorithms, and to incorporate “learning outcomes that address the ethical, legal, and social implications” in data science courses.

Anton Howe’s suggestion that “Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, and Star Wars” are modern society’s “virtue-promoting public art” makes me think of a post of mine from 2013 which I only just recently imported here, wherein I suggested something similar, except instead of pop culture being about promoting moral virtue, per se, I pegged it as the texts of our moral exploration.

John Rice posits three degrees of racism in America: “taking actions that people of color view as overtly prejudiced”; “opposing or turning one’s back on anti-racism efforts”; and “when employers, educational institutions, and governmental entities do not unwind practices that disadvantage people of color” — that last of which Rice says “undergirds the everyday black experience”. Particularizing these degrees of racism, Rice says, allows us then to heed his father’s advice to “increase the cost of racist behavior.”.

We can ratchet up that cost in several ways, starting today. The first step is to clarify what constitutes racist behavior. Defining it makes denying it or calling it something else that much harder. There are few things that white Americans fear more than being exposed as racist, especially when their white peers can’t afford to come to their defense. To be outed as a racist is to be convicted of America’s highest moral crime. Once we align on what racist behavior looks like, we can make those behaviors costly.

Pair with John McWhortner’s look, prompted by Kennedy Mitchum’s request of Merriam-Webster, at the changing dictionary definition of racism.

Link Log Roundup for May 11, 2020

In this edition: labor surveillance, viral surfaces, blurb writing, knowing the risks, testing questions, child vaccinations, engineering ventilators, actuarial science, Cannon Beach, bunk beds, institutional discrimination, public pharma, money for Western states, virtual reality, false balance, the social safety net, salon workers, opening up the streets, and public opinion.

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Noah Kulwin of The Outline interviewed James …

Noah Kulwin of The Outline interviewed James Hamblin of The Atlantic, who happenstantially speaks to Noah Brier’s concern for our moral obligation during COVID-19 outbreaks.

That’s the problem it’s the hubris of healthy young people who think the limiting factor in whether I go out is whether I feel up to out and not whether I’m a risk to other people. You might feel up to it but you’re coughing, and then you cover it with your hand, and then you pass on the infection.

The only thing more fungible than cold, hard cash …

The only thing more fungible than cold, hard cash is privilege. The prodigal tech bro doesn’t so much take an off-ramp from the relatively high status and well-paid job he left when the scales fell from his eyes, as zoom up an on-ramp into a new sector that accepts the reputational currency he has accumulated. He’s not joining the resistance. He’s launching a new kind of start-up using his industry contacts for seed-funding in return for some reputation-laundering.

From The Prodigal Techbro by Maria Farrell (via MetaFilter)

Here’s another pet peeve: pretending that …

Here’s another pet peeve: pretending that the fact a moral position cannot preemptively address every and all potential and prospective application of or exception to its rule means we therefore cannot actually take a moral position — which effectively is what this comment (again, scroll down) is arguing.

In truth (and as I replied in that conversation), any morality that simply leans toward shunning anyone whose presence seems still to be causing people harm is consistency enough. The rest you work out as you go. That’s life; you’ve got to pick a starting position, and not be distracted by suggestions you’ve got to work out every specific beforehand.

Noah Brier, writing about COVID-19 for Why is this …

Noah Brier, writing about COVID-19 for Why is this interesting?, laments, “[T]here is one idea I’m not seeing spread as much as I would expect and that’s moral obligation.” This being the world that it is, I can only think of Chidi Anagonye and The Good Place’s use of T. M. Scanlon’s What We Owe to Each Other. Anyway, Brier notes that “the reason to be prepared for quarantine is not so if things get bad out there you’ll be able to avoid the germs, it’s so if you get sick you can isolate yourself and keep the rest of the population […] safe from you”. What I’m saying is that if you end up sick and quarantined, you could do worse than to (re)watch The Good Place.

My biggest takeaway from Noah Kulwin’s look …

My biggest takeaway from Noah Kulwin’s look at Acronym (the company behind the Shadow app that helped break the Iowa caucuses) for The Outline is that founder Tara McGowan’s philosophy—she told Axios, “The space was ripe for disruption and innovation. Yet with the ethos of taking great risks means that we can make great mistakes.”—is the same “move fast and break things” which is wrecking everything around us, and surely is too dangerous to import into the systems of our democracy.

I still read Whitney Fishburn’s newsletter …

I still read Whitney Fishburn’s newsletter even though I can’t quite figure out what she means by “herd immunity to anxiety and depression” and don’t really get what she’s doing, but today she described what she took from an edition of Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, which is that the proto-fascists who led us to Trump have successfully spent the last several decades “crafting the narrative that it’s AMERICA we have to preserve, not democracy”, and, honestly, this might be the most concise synopsis I’ve ever read of how we got to where we are today.