Remember how, despite warnings to the contrary, many of you thought STEM was safe from the holiness spirals and vice signaling working its way through academic like salmonella through a dumpster-diving meth-addict’s colon?
Next time listen to the warnings. STEM, it’s true, held on to Reality longer than did the humanities, but it’s grip was loosened one finger at a time until, now, it’s hanging on by, well, a hangnail on the left pinky finger.
A group of soy-drenched social justice warriors submitted an open letter to the American Mathematical Society, a letter which turned out to be an enormous hit among the mathematicians who wanted to get in the vice signaling but couldn’t figure out how.
Here’s how the letter “Boycott collaboration with police” opens:
To the Mathematics Community,
In light of the extrajudicial murders by police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and numerous others before them, and the subsequent brutality of the police response to protests, we call on the mathematics community to boycott working with police departments.
Murder is a strong word, one of the strongest. The academic mathematicians, a huge and growing list of them, just called police murderers. Serious charges indeed! Are they true, or is this libel?
The police did not, in fact, murder these three individuals. Floyd died from a body ravaged by drug use and criminal behavior. Taylor died inadvertently after her boyfriend shot a cop as they were serving a warrant on Taylor. And the woman McDade (who thought she was a man) was killed in an altercation when “Officers tried to stop McDade in connection with a deadly stabbing on Saxon Street minutes earlier.”
Even allowing that police killed all three is not to say police murdered them. Which they did not.
The letter thus starts on an outrageous libel. It begins with a claim having no relation to Reality—no strange thing in academia. It goes into pit after that.
Before we continue, it would be good for these falsely accused police to go the route of Nick Sandman, who successfully sued the propaganda outlets that slandered and libeled him. That young man is now rich, God bless him, because of the lies the left was foolish enough to tell about him on camera. The police accused very publicly in this letter should sue each of the universities, and course individual professors, whose names appear as signatories. Hit these people where it really hurts: their wallets.
Back to the libelous letter.
The gist is that the anxious mathematicians no longer want better mathematicians to do predictive policing.
Why? It’s—did you really not see this coming?—“racist”.
Well, and so it is, if by “racist” you mean these models use race as a input, and that input turns out to be useful in identifying areas of calm and areas of tumult. Which it does: race, that is.
Given the structural racism and brutality in US policing, we do not believe that mathematicians should be collaborating with police departments in this manner. It is simply too easy to create a “scientific” veneer for racism. Please join us in committing to not collaborating with police. It is, at this moment, the very least we can do as a community.
There is no “structural racism” or “brutality” in US policing. There is plenty of brutality in the neighborhoods identified by predictive policing to be dangerous, though. Just as there is a lack of brutality in the areas identified by predictive policing to be calm. Predictive policing works.
In favor of the critique, it’s clear that a lot of what goes in the PP is commonsense. It’s also true, like all models, PP models, and particularly facial recognition models, are not perfectly accurate and should not be used indiscriminately. As long as these models are not used as evidence of guilt in court, but as focused clues for cops during their policing, they are fine and work well.
That’s why these academics are squeaking. They don’t like that predictive policing works. The wrong people are being identified as criminals. Not wrong in misidentifying who is a criminal and who isn’t. Wrong in identifying people it’s no longer politically correct to identify.
The letter, as said, has a lot of signers. The list, probably because of a technical gaffe, has lots of duplicates. Still, it’s sizable, well over a thousand of the usual suspects. Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford, University of Michigan. Maybe you’ll recognize some of the names. I don’t, but that’s because many appear to be up-and-comers or PhD students. Which is not good news, because these are the kiddies who will run the shop when whatever are left of the adults take their early retirements.
The letter is getting a lot of press. A popular magazine, once manly now woke, the one that published a method of how to scientifically tear down a statue, covered it using words like “bias” and “racist feedback loops”.
On the other hand, Nature focused on “systemic racism” and “racial biases.”
And so on.
If we had time, we could discuss “Black in AI“, but, mercifully, we do not.
To support this site and its wholly independent host using credit card or PayPal (in any amount) click here