Reading List: Nothing Says “Wooo, it’s the Weekend!” Like Thoughtful Takes On Redacted Reports
Dearests! It’s Friday, it’s the middle of December, and our long nights mean you have more than enough time to stack up your various devices with stuff to consume. So let’s get to it!
The Report (Amazon Prime) - A watch rather than a read, The Report is a gripping account of the creation of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture spearheaded by a staffer of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). In this “based on” account starring Adam Driver and Annette Benning, the filmmakers rely on the facts and what the report said, avoiding adding extraneous details or distractions to an already-complicated tale. Never before have 6,700 heavily-redacted pages been mined for what at times feels like a spy movie. It’s an amazing film, and Driver and Benning should win allllllll of the awards.
Craig Whitlock, At War With The Truth (The Washington Post) - Speaking of redactions, WaPo FOIAed “more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war” in Afghanistan and hoo boy, the narrative we all told ourselves that ‘at least the war in Afghanistan was more effective than the war in Iraq” is not complete. So what did it feel like reading this after watching the above movie? Well, let’s just say that it didn’t help my existential dread that nothing is working and we’re all helplessly slipping into a void. Oh, I’m sorry, this is a Starbucks and I’m yelling at the pastry case? I’ll excuse myself now.
Craig Silverman and Alex Kantrowitz, Facebook The Plaintiff: Why The Company Is Suddenly Suing So Many Bad Actors (BuzzFeed News) - Having spent the 10s working in and around the tech industry, with half of it spent on technology policy comms, this Facebook shift from “we’re a platform, we’re not responsible for bad actors” to “we will sue the living daylights out of scammers” is imho a welcome change. And as this story points out, they seem to have hired well: their new head of ‘platform enforcement and litigation’ is a former federal prosecutor. SO BEST NOT MESS.
Sendhil Mullainathan, Biased Algorithms Are Easier to Fix Than Biased People (The New York Times) - In addition to a headline I so very aggressively nodded my head at, this opinion piece from professor who did the initial resume study confirming racial bias in hiring based on applicant first name shows how, while algorithms are biased because they are created by humans who are biased, it’s sure as heck a lot easier to change a line or few of code than it is to re-wire the deeply-rooted prejudices of entire swaths of humans.
You’re all great. Have a lovely weekend, and be kind to each other.