Tournament of values!

Every few years, I go through an exercise where I collect a giant list of values, virtues, and intentions and rank them. The whole endeavor is a pseudo-quantitative approach to something deeply qualitative, but it articulates what I’m finding meaningful and helps me choose how I spend time, energy, and money. In the past, it’s been especially useful for helping me come up with responses to tricky situations where I don’t immediately know what to do.

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The carrots and sticks of ethical NLP

Professions run into ethical problems all the time. Consider engineering: the US sold $9.9b worth of arms in 2016 ($3.9b in missiles). The most optimistic reading is that instruments of death prevent death. Consider medicine: Medical research is dominated by concerns of market size and patentability, leaving basic questions like “is this fever from bacteria or virus” unanswered for people treating illnesses in low-income countries. Consider lawLawyers upholding the law can break any normal definition of justice. Even in philosophyethicists are not known to be more moral than anyone else.

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¿Por qué es más fácil aprender un idioma que otro?

Así lo afirma una investigación del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos. Cuando queremos describir algo particularmente indescifrable decimos que nos suena a chino. A un alemán, sin embargo, lo raro le suena a español. La lengua emblema de lo incomprensible varía según países y culturas: para franceses e ingleses es el griego, para los italianos, el árabe; para los finlandeses, el hebreo. 

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