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A Twitter mob made a mistake when it went after an AI industry giant

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We’re all going to need the tips U of Washington’s Pedro Domingos provides for defeating the online bullies and their mobs in the years ahead. Refreshingly in these times, computer prof Domingos handled the problem adroitly, getting the industry to side with him and with free and fair discussion:

An issue in AI today is the question of whether algorithms to determine loan or parole eligibility, etc., are biased. It’s an important question but a difficult one because algorithms are not self-evidently easy to understand, even among professionals. Domingos (pictured), at the University of Washington computer science faculty, came under fire when he questioned “ideological litmus tests” for publications discussing this area of the discipline.

The Cancel mob, led by a well-known industry bully (“a California Institute of Technology academic who is also research director at a major tech company”), besieged his university and targeted anyone who appeared to support him. But, surprisingly in these times, Domingos handled the problem adroitly and ended up getting much of the industry to side with him—and with free and fair discussion of the problem.

He also published a list of fifteen strategic principles, of which we will excerpt three…

“Hold the moral high ground. Never descend to the level of insults, taunts, and ad hominem attacks, no matter how strong the temptation. Let the cancelers do it to their heart’s content, and the onlookers will judge accordingly. In my confrontation with the AI cancel crowd, I was particularly helped by the fact that several of the ringleaders are (or call themselves) professional AI ethicists. Some of them are even well-known within their field. When they serially engaged in childish and unethical behavior in full view of their colleagues, they did my job for me. – Pedro Domingos, “Beating Back Cancel Culture: A Case Study From the Field of Artificial Intelligence” At Quillette (January 21, 2021)”

News, “How an AI giant beat Cancel Culture (you can too!)” at Mind Matters News

You may also wish to read: In Big Tech world: The journalist as censor, hit man, and snitch. Glenn Greenwald looks at a disturbing trend in media toward misrepresentation as well as censorship. When an institution is no longer needed, its sense of its mission usually changes. The type of people attracted to it change too.

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