Josh Hawley Continues To Pretend That Silicon Valley Isn't Innovative

from the nanny-state dept

Josh Hawley pretends to be against big government. He pretends to be against the "nanny state." But since the second he got into power, nearly everything he's proposed has been about increasing government control over industry. But just one industry. The internet/tech industry that he has personally decided doesn't work the way he thinks it should. Beyond trying to get rid of Section 230, Hawley has proposed a bill that literally makes design choices for internet companies. Earlier this year, he introduced another bill that tries to design features for online video sites. He's made it clear that he doesn't like internet site because his constituents like them too much, which seems odd.

And, just a week after the Wall Street Journal rightly mocked this approach, and explained that his constant refrain that there is no innovation coming out of Silicon Valley anymore is laughable... the very same Wall Street Journal has allowed Hawley to simply repeat his nonsensical claim that there is no innovation coming out of Silicon Valley (likely behind a paywall):

Men landed on the moon 50 years ago, a tremendous feat of American creativity, courage and, not least, technology. The tech discoveries made in the space race powered innovation for decades. But I wonder, 50 years on, what the tech industry is giving America today.

Nice poetic start... by essentially announcing to the world that you're totally ignorant of what's happening in tech and innovation today. That's one strategy.

Innovation in physics—the world of real things—has slowed, and America is losing its manufacturing process edge in key industries. Meanwhile, the landscapes of our cities and towns look about the same as they did half a century ago.

[Citation needed]. It's unclear how you decide that "innovation in physics... has slowed," but one simple point on that is that the easier challenges have been solved, and people are working on much harder stuff. Similarly, it's unclear how you determine that we've "lost our manufacturing process edge." According to whom? And what? The US is still a massive manufacturing country, neck and neck with China. It is true that fewer jobs are in manufacturing, but much of that is because of process innovations. And I'm not sure what the landscapes of our cities and towns have to do with anything at all.

There’s no question that Silicon Valley and the three or four corporate behemoths that dominate it have made it easier to share information. But the modern smartphone, the search engine and the digital social network were invented more than a decade ago. What passes for innovation by Big Tech today isn’t fundamentally new products or new services, but ever more sophisticated exploitation of people.

It's totally fair to note that innovation in search engines, smartphones and social networks has slowed down, but to argue that this is the end of innovation and that the only thing Silicon Valley is working on today is "sophisticated exploitation of people" is laughably ignorant. First of all, the smartphone is really only about a dozen years old. That's still a pretty damn recent innovation. Successful tablets are even younger. That's pretty recent.

And there's lots of other amazing innovation still happening -- in fact, much of it driven by the revenue successes of those older innovations that Hawley is now mocking: self-driving cars, space exploration, distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, health technologies, robotics. Hell, there are even a whole bunch of flying car companies out here these days. You literally have to willfully not look to argue that all anyone is doing out here is working on "exploitation of people."

To monetize older innovations, the dominant platforms employ behavioral scientists to develop interface designs that keep users online as much as possible. Big Tech calls it “engagement.” Another word would be addiction.

There is some fair criticism hidden within the sneering. It is reasonable to wonder if this is the best use of the time of some people who work on things like engagement (which, it should be noted, is fundamentally different from addiction). But if that work is actually about providing a better product that people find more useful, that's a good thing, no? I admit that there may be a fine line between building a better product and using tricks to keep people engaged when they shouldn't be. But it's still more of a line than Hawley is willing to admit here.

By getting their users to spend more time on their platforms, the social-media giants turn the customer into a data source to be sucked dry. Here’s how it works: The more attention users give the platform, the more personal information the platform extracts from them, recording every click, view and preference. Big Tech then converts this information into advertisements, all targeted with increasing precision—which produces even more advertising dollars for Big Tech.

Yes, that's the narrative that some people like to push. But here's the thing: there's no "sucking" anyone "dry." Data is not a finite resource. You don't go dry of data. And, yes, if these systems actually work in giving people more of what they want, then isn't that the market at work? Isn't that what people like Hawley always pretended they supported? And if, as I suspect, all this targeting doesn't work all that well in most use cases, then these efforts will flop and people will learn and move elsewhere.

What “innovation” remains in this space is innovation to keep the treadmill running, longer and faster, drawing more data from users to bombard us with more ads for more stuff.

Again, this ignores nearly every other bit of innovation happening in the Valley today. I hate to spoil this for Hawley -- who really seems to be itching for the job of "Product Manager, all of Silicon Valley" -- but the "engagement" jobs are not the ones that engineers and techies are excited about these days. It's all the stuff in the list above. The exciting jobs are in new areas, built on "moonshots" and exciting new technologies.

But here’s the problem. As we spend more time on that digital treadmill, our real-world relationships atrophy, sometimes to disastrous effect. Teen suicide is up. Twenty-two percent of millennials report that they have no friends. More than a few researchers have noticed a connection.

Everyone's got studies. Just recently we pointed to a pretty comprehensive and rigorous study out of Oxford that found almost no impact of social media on "adolescent life satisfaction." While there may be a clear correlation between social media use and depression/suicide, to say there's a causal relationship seems based on little more than speculation. The Oxford study actually tried to dig in and go beyond the correlation, and found that "social media use is not, in and of itself, a strong predictor of life satisfaction across the adolescent population." That's not to say it doesn't have any impact -- it clearly does. But, in many cases, social media use actually increased "life satisfaction," by giving people others they could talk to, often about topics they might not be able to discuss with people who are in the same general location. Focusing narrowly on assumed causation, as Hawley does, likely would mean taking away all of the benefits of social media, and the ability to connect with others in an attempt to weed out what negative effects there are as well.

At the same time, the dominant tech companies’ market concentration is stifling competition that might bring truly new and rewarding innovation. Want to raise money for a venture to challenge Facebook or Google? Good luck. The best pitch for a startup is a pitch for getting purchased by one of the tech giants a few years in. If they won’t buy you, they’ll just copy you.

If this were true, we'd likely see a decline in venture investing. But we don't. It keeps going up and up. And there are lots of entrepreneurs who want to challenge Facebook and Google. Most entrepreneurs talk about wanting to be "the next" Facebook or Google, just like those before them wanted to be the next Microsoft or Yahoo. It's kind of a thing that Silicon Valley specializes in. Indeed, I was just talking to a venture capitalist recently who is actively looking for startups to challenge Facebook and Google, because he thought those companies have gotten so big and so cumbersome that they're ripe for disruption.

Americans shouldn’t settle for this stagnation.

What stagnation?

It’s time we demanded more of Big Tech than it demands of us. That's why I’ve proposed banning the “dark patterns” that feed tech addiction. I’ve introduced legislation to provide consumers a legally enforceable right to browse the internet privately, without data tracking. I’ve advocated stepping up privacy safeguards for children and requiring tech companies to moderate content without political bias as a condition of civil immunity. And I’ve advocated more competition to spur real innovation for real people.

These are all fascinating, if misleading, ways to spin his legislative solutions, that amount to little more than kneecapping how tons of internet services work.

It should be no surprise that the tech companies have fiercely resisted these proposals at every turn, often with hysterical claims about breaking the internet or putting the American economy at a disadvantage to China—as if “autoplay” or “infinite scroll” were powering American productivity. If those are the weapons we’ll marshal in an economic battle with Chinese high-tech manufacturing, the war is already lost.

This is an odd one to point out. No one thinks that prohibiting auto-scroll will lead to China taking advantage. But people do worry about taking away Section 230, or other odd restrictions on every internet company -- including startup challengers to the big guys -- opening up the space for Chinese startups (who are already taking market share: see TikTok). But, really, the autoscroll thing is so odd to highlight because that's one of the most egregious examples of Hawley's nanny state tendencies. Literally telling companies how to design their products.

To the masters of Big Tech, I say: Raise your sights. If you want to be leaders for this country in this century, earn it. Build tools that enrich lives, strengthen society, create good-paying jobs, and improve productive capacity.

Again, if Hawley ever actually bothered to look around, he'd see that all of that is absolutely happening. But Hawley won't do that.

There was a time when innovation meant something grand and technology meant something hopeful, when we dreamed of going to the stars and beyond, of curing diseases and creating new ways to travel and make things. Those are the dreams that fuel the American future. Those are the dreams we need to dream again.

This is bizarre. Literally the hottest companies in Silicon Valley right now are all ones around "going to the stars and beyond, of curing diseases and creating new ways to travel and make things." Hawley is either deliberately lying about Silicon Valley or so ignorant as to be in no position to comment on it. The WSJ should have stuck with last week's op-ed, and rejected this nonsense one.

Filed Under: big government, innovation, josh hawley, nanny state, regulations, silicon valley


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  • identicon
    Michael, 30 Aug 2019 @ 10:55am

    "Meanwhile, the landscapes of our cities and towns look about the same as they did half a century ago"

    I'm not sure where this guy lives, but I barely recognize the town I grew up in. It's completely different. Solar panels and energy efficient materials and designs have our cities looking completely different.

    How does anyone take this guy seriously?

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:08am

    No innovation?

    I suppose he hasn't heard about self driving cars, rockets that land after use to be reused, algorithms being created for "AI". Hawley should pull his head out.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:16am

    Is the drug going to be marketed as the 'Josh Hawley' drug once's it's released?

    I assume it's already in trial runs.

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    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 5:30pm

      Re:

      This drug started it's Trial Runs when Hawley took office. And I have it on good authority that it will be called the "Trump Lite" drug - it has only half the stink of the "Original Trump" drug.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:20am

    Let's see how long it takes Hawley to vote to cut NASA funding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 5:34pm

      Re:

      That'll be interesting, seeing as how Trump wants us back on the Moon, and beyond.

      OTOH, this might make for a good office pool - "How soon before Trump starts frothing at the mouth about how we should send Hawley back to California?"

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:29am

    Since you mentioned flying cars, it got me thinking, where's all the hot new innovation coming out of the old-school auto industry? I mean, the car was invented over a hundred years ago. And it's not like the car companies aren't data mining their customers too. Why isn't Hawley after "Big Auto?"

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:54am

      Re:

      Because it is an oil consumer - they don't want innovation because that would mean reduced consumption. I think the closest is aluminum trucks.

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  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:31am

    Hawley is right, they should do everything like companies in his state, that hotbed of innovation, Missouri. They could switch to producing soybeans as it's going great for the state of Missouri under republican policies.

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    icon
    Zof (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:38am

    We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging elections...

    That's much more important than some NPC's getting their feelings hurt. We have a legitimate threat to the democracy in Google, and we have to do something about it. We have no choice. If only they hired just liberal folks, we'd have never found out how racist they are towards conservatives. I mean, imagine your company CEO standing up in front of you, telling you that you are a bad person if you voted for the winner of a presidential election. Imagine that.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:44am

      Re: We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging elections...

      Using "N.P.C." seriously? Man, that's pathetic.

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 2 Sep 2019 @ 12:41am

        Re: Re: We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging election

        It's usually a good sign that the person commenting is a sociopath who literally doesn't think that people who disagree with him are human. I hope he's on the relevant watchlists before he decides to join the increasing ranks of people who act on that kind of delusion.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:45am

      LOL WTF?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:48am

      LOL WTF?

      we'd have never found out how racist they are towards conservatives

      How can one be racist towards conservatives? Is being conservative a race now?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Pixelation, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:58am

        Re: LOL WTF?

        I think it's that he is conservative with racists.

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 2 Sep 2019 @ 12:42am

        Re: LOL WTF?

        It's in line with the far right tendency to baulk at being called negative things but somehow not being able to understand why their behaviour causes them to be called those things. So, they try laughably weak projection.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 12:02pm

      Re: We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging elections...

      The real threat to democracy is destroying the means that have enabled people to talk to anybody in the world.

      The previous technology that has a similar potential to change society was the printing press, as it allowed a few people to get their ideas widely disseminated, leading to the reformation and enlightenment. Between that and the Internet, technology speeded up one to one, and a few to many communications, but other than speed, there was no change in the communications ability, of one to one, and a few to many via publishers.

      The Internet has enabled many to many communications on a world wide basis, as you and I have the same potential to reach a large audience as anybody else, including politicians. The printing press threatened, and seriously weakened and changed to power of those in charge of society, that is what the reformation and enlightenment were all about. The Internet is doing the same, and will cause deep changes to how society is managed, and guess which group of people will be most impacted if they let it continue to be open, that right, the politicians.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 12:24pm

      Re: We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging elections...

      We have a legitimate threat to the democracy in Google, and we have to do something about it.

      Why not start with "build your own fucking Google equivalent" and work from there?
      Where are the conservative tech innovators?
      Why isn't your president doing something, other than complaining?
      Why didn't congress do anything for the 2 years you had full control?
      Why are republicans so impotent when it comes to actual actions?

      Why aren't you asking YOURSELF these questions, you whiny, lazy, goofy-headed son of a bitch?

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      • icon
        Gary (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 12:44pm

        Re: Re: We've got Conservatives rigging elections...

        Gerrymandering. Look it up.

        Why not start with "build your own fucking Google equivalent" and work from there?

        Gab, Stormfront, Infowars, their own news network at Fox "Working For the President." Seems like the Conservatives are represented. When are those services going to eliminate their bias?

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    • icon
      Bloof (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 12:33pm

      Re: We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging elections...

      Yes, Republicans million/billionaires never, ever apply pressure to their workers to try and pressure them into voting according to their will, threatening layoffs should a democrat take power or a law they dislike like not be overturned. People on the right certainly haven't weaponised political discrimination and aren't pushing to erode what little barriers remain between them being able to fire people for their political/religions beliefs... It's all that goshdarn Google.

      If the right projected any harder, they'd burn their likenesses into the moon.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging elections...

      And which ones would those be, exactly?

      If only they hired just liberal folks, we'd have never found out how racist they are towards conservatives.

      Ok, first, you can only be racist to races of human beings, not political groups.

      Second, they either made a huge opsec error in hiring non-liberals, since conservatives would expose them, or they really aren't "biased" and you're just full of it as usual.

      I mean, imagine your company CEO standing up in front of you, telling you that you are a bad person if you voted for the winner of a presidential election. Imagine that.

      There is nothing illegal about that. I get told that all the time by friends, family, and random people on the internet. Also, as far as I know, no CEO has done that to their employees.

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      • identicon
        urza9814, 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:43am

        Re: Re:

        "'We've got Tech Companies bragging about rigging elections...'

        And which ones would those be, exactly?"

        Did you miss the time when Facebook published a paper in Nature about their results in their secret experiments which they claim succeeded in altering voter behavior?

        It's a bit of a stretch to call that "rigging election"...but only a bit. They definitely did brag about altering elections, and since we didn't know about that project until they published the results it's quite possible that they've run others that weren't made public.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 8:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "It's a bit of a stretch to call that "rigging election"

          So, in other words the original claim was false.

          "They definitely did brag about altering elections"

          "Did you miss the time when Facebook published a paper in Nature"

          This one? https://www.nature.com/news/facebook-experiment-boosts-us-voter-turnout-1.11401

          It takes a long stretch to call that rigging an election. Words mean things, they are . important, and if you're going to accuse people of things they didn't do because it sounds scarier, you're part of the problem.

          If they're so bad, it should be possible to stick to the facts of what they actually did, rather than making stuff up about what they might have done.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 11:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They definitely did brag about altering elections,

          Are you claiming that only politicians are allowed to try and influence how people vote?

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          • identicon
            urza9814, 3 Sep 2019 @ 12:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Are you claiming that there's no difference between a regulated political advertisement and a secret behavioral experiment?

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 4 Sep 2019 @ 3:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              There's a vast difference between a regulated political advertisement (encouraging people to vote for a specific candidate) and what Facebook did (encouraging people to simply vote without trying to affect who they vote for). Stop conflating them. What Facebook did in that experiment was a more effective version of "rock the vote" or "I voted" stickers, not what you're implying.

              Oh, and if what Facebook did in the study you're referencing is a scary secret behavioural experiment, I advise you not to look into things like retail layout and A/B testing. Lots of things are happening without you being informed about them, it's the way public-facing business works, and always has. They will try things on different groups of people, and improve their processes based on their observations. If anything, by publishing a paper on it, Facebook are more open and honest than more companies you deal with.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 2:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Did you miss the time when Facebook published a paper in Nature about their results in their secret experiments which they claim succeeded in altering voter behavior?

          Lying and twisting what happened isn't a good look.

          The only "behavior" that was altered was getting people to go vote. It had nothing to do with WHO they voted for. And it wasn't really a secret since they PUBLICLY PUBLISHED A PAPER ON IT.

          It's a bit of a stretch to call that "rigging election"...but only a bit.

          It's a LOT of a stretch. Nowhere did they claim to have altered the outcome (a.k.a rigged) the election, nor did they even attempt to influence who people should vote for. If getting more people to go vote, regardless of who they vote for, counts as "rigging" the election in your book, then the US is not the country for you.

          They definitely did brag about altering elections

          No, they really didn't.

          since we didn't know about that project until they published the results it's quite possible that they've run others that weren't made public.

          Possibly, maybe even probably. But there is nothing to suggest that any of them are in any way a nefarious attempt to rig the elections. And certainly nothing in that study suggests it either.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2019 @ 1:13am

      Re: We've got zofs bragging about being racist and stupid...

      Goddamn you are a dumb fuck bro. You should stick to spamming WND or 8chan with your horseshit.

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 2 Sep 2019 @ 12:43am

        Re: Re: We've got zofs bragging about being racist and stupid...

        I have a feeling this particular poster is very familiar with all such places, he just decided to step out of the echo chamber and come here as well for some reason.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 11:40am

    our real-world relationships atrophy, sometimes to disastrous effect.

    That may have much more to do a with a work long hours culture than any use of the Internet.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 12:03pm

    'We at the WSJ have publication standards... somewhere...'

    And, just a week after the Wall Street Journal rightly mocked this approach, and explained that his constant refrain that there is no innovation coming out of Silicon Valley anymore is laughable... the very same Wall Street Journal has allowed Hawley to simply repeat his nonsensical claim that there is no innovation coming out of Silicon Valley (likely behind a paywall):

    That's almost impressive, how utterly boneheaded they can be to call someone out for making stupid claims only to allow that very person to use their platform to simply repeat those same stupid claims.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 12:58pm

      Re: 'We at the WSJ have publication standards... somewhere...'

      I mean, publishing two different opinion pieces with opposite opinions isn't exactly unusual journalistic practice.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 1:26pm

        Re: Re: 'We at the WSJ have publication standards... somewhere..

        Sure, but when one opinion/argument has been called out and shown to be without merit letting the person holding that opinion just present those same arguments again as though the original debunking never even happened is just kinda ridiculous, in the same way posting an op-ed from someone who thought the earth was a flat disc would be.

        It would be one thing if it was set in a sort of back and forth, where opposing sides were addressing the concerns and points raised by the opposition, but in his case he's just repeating the same crap from before that has already been shown to be flawed if not flat out wrong.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 2 Sep 2019 @ 12:46am

          Re: Re: Re: 'We at the WSJ have publication standards... somewhe

          Bear in mind that WSJ is a Murdoch rag and the stupid arguments are the ones generally pushed by those outlets across the board. The WSJ just had enough sense to try and apply a fig leaf of sense over them occasionally.

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          • icon
            Thad (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 9:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 'We at the WSJ have publication standards... som

            The WSJ's editorial section was garbage before Murdoch bought it.

            It hasn't improved since.

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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 12:48pm

    Isnt it strange

    That Everyone wants to OPEN the liability of WHO SAYS WHAT..
    Or restrict Who SAYS WHAT..
    And they act more 2 year old then anything they are asking.

    this really sounds as bad as they are doing in China, EU, Asia, Middle east....

    DEAR people take control of your Village idiots...PLEASE.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 2:15pm

    Accountability

    I’ve advocated stepping up privacy safeguards for children and requiring tech companies to moderate content without political bias as a condition of civil immunity

    As soon as you go after all the water companies that have carelessly let people drown in their water....
    As soon as gun manufacturers are tried along with the people pulling the trigger...
    As soon as the fast food places are help liable for all the obesity...
    and as soon as politicians are held to their word...

    Only one of those actually makes sense... and if you can't tell, then I don't want to talk to you...

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 2:21pm

    requiring tech companies to moderate content without political bias as a condition of civil immunity

    I wonder if anyone told him that racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic content that isn’t directly advocating violence or illegal acts is political — and would thus be unmoderatable under his proposal.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      That is what he desires.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 3:16pm

      Re:

      That's...the entire point, isn't it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 3:46pm

        I can’t say that is the point of his proposal because I don’t know that with even the slightest bit of certainty.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 9:45pm

          Re:

          It's the same "Facebook and Twitter shouldn't be allowed to censor conservatives" claptrap that Trump, Cruz, and every Fox News pundit and comments-section troll have been spouting for the past year and a half.

          Where the "conservatives" who are being "censored" invariably seem to, by a startling coincidence, be people who spout racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic content.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Aug 2019 @ 5:15am

            That may well be (and often is) true. But correlation doesn’t equal causation. Hawley can, without any cognitive dissonance involved, stand against both the supposed “censorship” of conservatives on social media and the hateful speech of bigots. He may not know that the supposed “censorship” of which he speaks involves that hateful speech. If he does, however…well, that wouldn’t be a good look, now, would it.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2019 @ 9:10pm

    Hopefully somebody will open a Josh Hawley's cow twitter account... If it ever gets his attention, maybe he will finally realise how he actually sounds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 9:51pm

    You know, I occasionally see people in the comments talk about how Congress needs term limits or age limits.

    It may be worth keeping in mind that Josh Hawley is a freshman, and the youngest person in the Senate.

    There are a lot of problems in Congress. But younger, fresher senators aren't necessarily any better than older, more established ones.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 Sep 2019 @ 12:52am

      Re:

      "You know, I occasionally see people in the comments talk about how Congress needs term limits or age limits"

      I never find those compelling arguments, even if you buy into the "younger= better" stupidity. The end result of such things would be needlessly jettisoning experienced statesmen in favour of people with no experience at arbitrary points with no regard to actual ability or results. Meanwhile term limits in other posts seem to lead to questionable decisions, when it's known that they're out of a job next election no matter what they do.

      There's room for improvement, but setting hard limit at which a person is no longer deemed valuable is not an improvement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2019 @ 5:57pm

        Re: Re:

        It hasn't helped that in the case of older people in government, the extent of their tech knowledge is limited to what their donors tell them.

        On the other hand, once in a while, amongst a sea of Liam O'Gradys you get a Harry Pregerson.

        Sadly Pregerson is dead and O'Grady isn't.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 6:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "It hasn't helped that in the case of older people in government, the extent of their tech knowledge is limited to what their donors tell them."

          SOME older people in government. Some older people are very knowledgeable, and may even have helped drive modern tech into existence. Some younger people believe whatever their religious leaders tell them about tech and science despite evidence in front of their own eyes.

          That's why obsessing about age is dumb. You might be kicking out your closest allies so that a cult member who's easier to buy/fool can take his place.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 4:03am

        Re: Re:

        Forget age-limits, what I'd like to see is competence and knowledge tests(which could open up their own problems to be sure), where if a politician wants to propose and/or sponsor legislation on a subject they have to demonstrate that they actually know what they're talking about and have the relevant level of knowledge in the subject, with failure of the tests being public knowledge and pointed out any time they issue a statement on the subject.

        Having a politician making claims on something right alongside a reminder that they failed a basic competency test on the subject would be worth a good amount of laughs I'm sure, and I imagine after a few examples of public humiliation like that they'd be much more careful on what they said.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 6:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Agreed there, but then you have the problem of who sets the standards and who judges the tests. Applied the wrong way, and all it would do is further entrench lobbied interests.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 10:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That would be the big problem with the idea, yes, 'who writes the tests, and who judges them?', as it would be all too easy for that to be corrupted and used to keep the 'wrong' people from being involved in the laws if the ones doing the writing/judging weren't neutral and had no stake in either side.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          urza9814, 3 Sep 2019 @ 7:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah, the problem is those competency tests would probably be written by the same kind of "education providers" that do the training programs at my office. The kind of idiots who claim that Git cannot possibly be used except through GitHub, or the ones that claim you can't write Javascript without using Google libraries...because the "competency test" is actually just a thinly veiled advertisement for whatever product the writer was hired to sell. That would be WORSE than the current situation.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 8:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The kind of idiots who claim that Git cannot possibly be used except through GitHub"

            Oh dear... shakes head. Although, that's a great illustration of the problem. While Microsoft are now all happy and friendly with open source, and now own GitHub, back when git first appeared they were very religiously opposed to the concept. To the point where they were bankrolling things like SCO vs IBM to try and kill off the concept entirely, at least in commercial markets.

            It's not hard to imagine a company with that influence being involved in writing tech proficiency tests. In fact they'd be guaranteed to have been one of the most influential. One quick abuse of power later, you have tests that explicitly state that open source concepts don't count. Then, as the newly created laws kill off open source in favour of protecting Microsoft's old business model, there's no GitHub for anyone to be ignorant about in the first place...

            It sounds almost far-fetched today, but I guarantee that if you handed mid-2000s Microsoft the tools to kill off open source, they would have done that - and allowing them to help choose the knowledge that "counts" would have been handing them the tools.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 10:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Forget age-limits, what I'd like to see is competence and knowledge tests

          No. No no no no no.

          We used to have tests people had to pass in order to be allowed to vote. They were used as a way to prevent black people from voting.

          Introducing some kind of test to hold office would produce the same result: it would be used as a pseudo-scientific excuse to keep "unqualified" people out of office, and "unqualified" people would just happen, by an astonishing coincidence, to disproportionately include women and minorities.

          There is no way to introduce a test to hold office that won't be used to discriminate against people who are already disenfranchised. It may sound like a good idea, but it is not.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    freakanatcha (profile), 31 Aug 2019 @ 7:33am

    Josh

    The J-Man's quotes read like some H.S. freshman grabbed his cousin's paper written for an overdue Sarah Lawrence sociology assignment and sent it to the WSJ.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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