Or People, Either

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Kevin D. Williamson provides useful (but, sorry, paywalled) observations on those Left Behind by History. You can probably guess the ones he's talking about.

History moves on, and, if you get left behind—it may not be your fault, but it is still your problem. The Israeli forces should be the least of the mortal worries afflicting those Hamas killers—if the Palestinians had any self-respect, it would be them taking the lead in putting an end to the power of these monsters, who are homicidal maniacs when it comes to the Jews but who haven’t done the Palestinians a lick of good, either. But, unhappily, the one almost universally shared assumption of modern diplomatic discourse is that the Palestinian Arabs are something less than whole and complete human beings, that they are not advanced enough to be true moral actors because they do not have the strength of national character to bear the moral weight that falls exclusively upon the shoulders of the Israelis and the peoples of the other liberal democratic states. The Palestinians, according to this line of thought, just bounce around like windup toys, and only the Israelis, the Americans, and the Europeans can be expected to behave like responsible adults. Nobody ever puts it exactly that way, of course, but that’s the upshot. The Palestinians are treated by their so-called advocates and benefactors as though they were a nation of people who have no agency and, hence, no responsibility.

The mystery is why the Palestinians continue to put up with it, and have for so long. They don’t need “days of rage.” They need property rights, free enterprise, the rule of law, and decent government. And nobody would be better pleased to see them have these than the Israelis.

A decent recipe for success. One that's almost certain to not be implemented.

Also of note:

  • A reading assignment for Robert Azzi. I'm still a tad riled by his column printed in my local paper a couple days back. It wasn't worth responding in detail, but here's one of the "facts" he thought relevant to his discussion:

    Hamas came of age in the late-70s. Led by Shaikh Ahmed Yassin it was protected and assisted by the Israeli government, which imagined it as a challenger to the more secular Palestinian forces, Fatah, who were controlled by the Palestinian Authority from Ramallah.

    As Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official who worked in Gaza, told the Wall Street Journal in 2009: “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.”

    You can read the WSJ article to which Azzi refers here. See if you agree with me that Azzi is conveniently ignoring a lot of relevant historical context.

    And you could read David Harsanyi, who has something to say about this particular talking point: Let's Talk About The Idiotic Claim That 'Israel Supported Hamas'.

    One of the most misleading, contextless talking points spread by the pro-Hamas right and left contends that Israel “supported” and “created” the terror organization. It is the political equivalent of condemning someone today for failing to make a citizen’s arrest of O.J. Simpson in 1986.

    The myth was popularized by former Qatari propagandist, now one of MSNBC’s leading terror apologists, Mehdi Hasan. The insinuation, of course, is that Israel bears moral and historical responsibility for the murder of its own citizens. A lot of these same people, no doubt, blamed Americans for creating al Qaeda and thus 9/11. The Hamas claim is even weaker, frankly, considering Israel had no hand in arming any iteration of the terror group.

    Azzi's no idiot. But he is one of those people who, for whatever motivation, as KDW says above, treats Palestinians "as though they were a nation of people who have no agency and, hence, no responsibility."

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    "Don't play for safety. It's the most dangerous thing in the world." That counterintuitive advice is from Sir Hugh Walpole. (Who, somewhat ironically, died after overexerting himself while participating in a 1941 fund-raiser for the British war effort.)

    That quote also led off this 1988 Reason review of Aaron Wildavsky's book Searching for Safety (very expensive Amazon link at your right.) I recall reading the book back then; it was the olden days when the University Near Here bought physical books. Read Walter Olson's review and see if you don't agree that Wildavsky's general observations seem as if he'd written them this year.

    Demonstrating the adage that "the more things change, the more they stay the same", today we're talking about "safety" in the context of AI. And Dean W. Ball channels Wildavsky in his National Review article: 'Safety’ Is Not the Best Standard for Regulating Artificial Intelligence. Noting the recent examples of (um) tasteless images produced miscreants testing Bing Image Creator:

    Obviously, such “art” is juvenile and in poor taste. But it raises, in a relatively low-stakes setting, a broader issue about the nature of AI-safety efforts and, indeed, the nature of safety itself. As AI becomes more powerful, individuals will be able to wield it with increasing precision — just as Adobe Photoshop has more options than Microsoft Paint. As that happens, it will become harder to make systems “safe” according to the term’s broad definition encouraged by the media, academia, and many AI firms. The more precisely the AI can be controlled, the more precisely clever users will be able to find ways around content-moderation rules designed to prevent the production of content that offends liberal sensibilities.

    Even if it were possible to make a highly advanced AI system safe, according to this broad understanding of safety, it is not clear that such a system would be desirable. The work-arounds used by internet trolls to generate the images described above are ways of manipulating the system. But consider which system sounds more troubling: one that can be manipulated to generate content that some will find offensive, or one that can peer into its users’ psyches, understand their true motivations, and decide whether it wishes to comply? The former is an extension — albeit a supremely capable one — of the digital tools we have been using for decades now. The latter is reminiscent of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. If such a system were even possible, it is far from clear that it would be a good creation — particularly if it were created simply to prevent people from being offended on the internet.

    The next time you hear people demand that AI be made "safe", throw some Walpole, Wildavsky and Bell at them.

  • None dare call it corruption. Mark Mix notes some (sadly) unsurprising news: Biden Cements UAW Support with Taxpayer Billions.

    In a blatantly political and legally questionable move in August, the Biden Energy Department announced that, regarding its $12 billion in grants and loans for companies transitioning to electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturing, it would “prioritize” those that corral their employees into unions. On September 26, CNN reported that this handout emerged shortly after a “personal audience” between [UAW president Shawn] Fain and Biden.

    CNN’s Kayla Tausche went on to quote an unnamed UAW source who confirmed that the $12 billion payoff would, in the reporter’s words, “go a long way in helping to secure the union’s endorsement of Biden.” A second anonymous UAW source was directly quoted regarding the payoff: “This isn’t enough to get an endorsement, but it gets us a significant part of the way there.”

    Fox News reports that UAW Prez Shawn Fain (1) has been spotted wearing an "Eat the Rich" t-shirt; (2) makes somewhere around $350K/year, maybe more.

    Eat the rich? Advice for Shawn: google the word "autosarcophagy".

Last Modified 2024-01-10 5:49 AM EDT