What the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive wants the world to know – CBS News

At 97, Ben Ferencz is the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive and he has a far-reaching message for today’s world

Source: What the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive wants the world to know – CBS News, by Lesley Stahl


“Do you think the man who dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima was a savage? Now I will tell you something very profound, which I have learned after many years. War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people. All wars, and all decent people.”

“Well, if it’s naive to want peace instead of war, let ’em make sure they say I’m naive. Because I want peace instead of war. If they tell me they want war instead of peace, I don’t say they’re naive, I say they’re stupid. Stupid to an incredible degree to send young people out to kill other young people they don’t even know, who never did anybody any harm, never harmed them.”

— Benjamin Ferencz

Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism – The Atlantic

Extreme libertarians built blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power. It could consolidate their control instead. … The anti-authoritarian left has profoundly misunderstood the corner into which such an ambitious aspiration paints society.

Source: Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism – The Atlantic, by Ian Bogost


More: Radical Technologies, by Adam Greenfield

How Conservatives Awoke to the Dangers of Sean Hannity – The Atlantic

The Fox News host is under attack as never before because many Americans are now forced to take what he says seriously for the first time.

At the unlikely climax of his career, Hannity’s job is under attack because the most powerful man in the world trusts his words in a way no similarly powerful man ever has––and with that great responsibility, with that opportunity to inform the president about any matter in the world, Hannity indulges in half-baked conspiracies.

Source: How Conservatives Awoke to the Dangers of Sean Hannity – The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf


It’s a dramatic and lurid misdirection, one that even the writers of House of Cards would find far-fetched, and it has the benefit of tricking gullible Trump supporters into further mistrusting the media. … Every time Hannity and his allies hyped this story, they disrespected their conservative audience, they hurt a grieving family, and they violated their own professional obligations to carefully check facts rather than engage in wild speculation.

Source: The Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory Is Shameful Nonsense | National Review, by David French


The network I once respected as a necessary antidote to liberal media now peddles craven lies and Russian disinformation.

Fox was supposed to provide some ideological balance within the larger media universe. That was a laudable ambition, but what Fox has become is far from laudable. Not only is it a toxic workplace where the harassment of women is rampant; it is also a no-fact zone. The Pulitzer Prize-winning website PolitiFact found that nearly 60 percent of the statements it checked on Fox News were either mostly or entirely false. Another 19 percent were only half true. … FNC might as well stand for Fake News Channel, and its myths have had a pernicious, indeed debilitating, effect on U.S. politics.

Source: The Seth Rich ‘Scandal’ Shows That Fox News Is Morally Bankrupt | Foreign Policy, by Max Boot

On Becoming the Enemy | Boston Review

A family of Jewish refugees remembers Berlin before the war.

Source: On Becoming the Enemy | Boston Review

After Kristallnacht, we had been removed permanently from public view, thereby masking our fate from our fellow Germans. Kristallnacht is often represented as a radical break with what came before. In fact it was not. … As my grandmother, Ilse, recounts in her 1957 memoir The Unforgotten, few even in the Jewish community realized what was really occurring.

Between 1936 and Kristallnacht, the German government flooded public spaces with Gestapo agents. In my grandmother’s memoir, she describes the growing familiarity of the German people with seeing agents appear at doorways, in restaurants, asking for documents, looking for enemies of the people where they were rumored to be. It became typical, normal, ordinary, to see such sweeps. At a certain point, people stopped asking when they saw two agents knocking at the apartment next door. Having agents of the government drop by to remove a neighbor was an event that no longer required an explanation.

Is there a tension between creativity and accuracy? | Michael Nielsen

Source: Is there a tension between creativity and accuracy? | Michael Nielsen

I believe there is a tension between behaviours which maximize accuracy and those which maximize creativity… A lot of important truths come from very irrational people.

Being overconfident in beliefs that most people hold is not at all the same as being overconfident in beliefs that few people hold.

To be creative, you need to recognize those barely formed thoughts, thoughts which are usually wrong and poorly formed in many ways, but which have some kernel of originality and importance and truth.

How Facebook’s tentacles reach further than you think – BBC News

Share Lab uses flow charts and data analysis to map one of the greatest forces shaping our world – Facebook.

Individually, these are powerful tools; combined they amount to a data collection engine that, Mr Joler argues, is ripe for exploitation.

The data will remain in the hands of one company. Even if its current leaders are responsible and trustworthy, what about those in charge in 20 years?

“What is most striking is the sense of resignation, the impotence of regulation, the lack of options, the public apathy,” says Dr Powles. “What an extraordinary situation for an entity that has power over information – there is no greater power really.”

Source: How Facebook’s tentacles reach further than you think – BBC News
about Share Lab

Invisible Infrastructures : Online Trackers

Immaterial Labour and Data Harvesting: Facebook Algorithmic Factory

The following map is one of the final results of our investigation

Within those invisible walls, in every moment algorithms are deciding which information will appear in our infosphere, how many and which of your friends will see your posts, what kind of content will become part of your reality and what will be censored or deleted.

Why do so few people major in computer science? | Dan Wang

Source: Why do so few people major in computer science? | Dan Wang

In 2005, about 54,000 people in the US earned bachelor’s degrees in computer science. That figure was lower every year afterwards until 2014, when 55,000 people majored in CS.

This is even more surprising when we consider that 1.90 million people graduated with bachelor’s degrees in 2015, which is 31% higher than the 1.44 million graduates in 2005. (Data is via the National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics) That means that the share of people majoring in computer science has decreased, from 3.76% of the all majors in 2005 to 3.14% of all majors in 2015.

How Far Should Societies Go to Prevent Terror Attacks? – The Atlantic

Really, it’s best to just go read the whole thing.

Source: How Far Should Societies Go to Prevent Terror Attacks? – The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf

Almost everyone is unwilling to do certain things to eliminate terrorism. And that is fortunate, for the endurance of a free society depends upon it.

The problem with [absolutist] arguments is the implication that disagreements about what policies to pursue are rooted in some people caring enough to stop children from dying horribly, and others not so much. In fact, there are deep disagreements about the likely effects of many policies. And while the willingness to adopt some policies even though dead children will result is real, it is also universal; if you favor allowing cars to drive faster than 25 miles per hour, or allowing kids to ride in them, then you are willing to say that a certain amount of deaths are the price we pay to live as we want.

To put it so bluntly is politically incorrect. But to hold the contrary position, that we will pay any price to end terrorism, is morally monstrous and incompatible with the Constitution.

No free society could survive the latter posture.

For many Americans, myself included, the Iraq War was not a counterterrorism success. It was a conflict that killed many more Americans than died on September 11, 2001; and the instability that it spawned was a major root cause of the rise of ISIS. The bipartisan consensus against more ground invasions in the Middle East is not rooted in an unwillingness to make the necessary sacrifices to reduce terrorism; it reflects a belief that the Iraq War seems to have increased rather than reduced global terrorism.

Is it even the case that the occupation of Afghanistan made Americans safer? … One also wonders how many people were radicalized into terrorism as a result of U.S. abuses in Iraq, like the ones at the Abu Ghraib prison, or by innocents killed by drones.

To be moved by an argument of the sort that [David French] offers is to be manipulated into eliding questions of efficacy and values by the specter of dead children. Don’t be led astray.

Source: How Far Should Societies Go to Prevent Terror Attacks? – The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf


A Republic demands courage — not foolhardy and unsustainable “principle at all costs,” but reasoned courage — from its citizens. The American response should be to find some other solution to this problem if the casualty rate is unacceptable. To demand that the government “keep us safe” by doing things out of our sight that we have refused to do in much more serious situations so that we can avoid such a risk is weak and pathetic. It is the demand of spoiled children, or the cosseted residents of the imperial city.

Source: Against Waterboarding | National Review, by Jim Manzi

Ghost in the Shell Philosophy

“What exactly is the definition of ‘human’ in a society where a mind can be copied and the body replaced with a synthetic form?”, “What exactly is the ‘ghost’—the human soul—in the cybernetic body, or ‘shell’?”, and “Where is the boundary between human and machine when the differences between the two become more philosophical than physical?”

A Stand Alone Complex can be compared to emergent copycat behavior … An incident catches the public’s attention and certain types of people “get on the bandwagon”, so to speak. … What separates the Stand Alone Complex from normal copycat behavior is that there is no real originator of the copied action, but merely a rumor or an illusion that supposedly performed the copied action … the facade just has to exist in the minds of the public. In other words, a potential copycat just has to believe the copied behavior happened from an originator – when it really did not.

due to the electronic communications network that is increasingly permeating society, more and more people are being exposed to the same information and stimuli, making the overall psyche and responses of large groups of people increasingly similar; the result is an exponential increase in the potential for copycat behavior that forms a Stand Alone Complex.

Source: Ghost in the Shell Philosophy