Don't fall for the siren call of publicly funded stadiums
A. Barton Hinkle, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Atlanta Braves haven’t done much winning on the field of late. But they continue to triumph in one area: extracting money from taxpayers. From their new major-league stadium in Cobb County, Georgia, to three minor-league parks, they’ve stuck the local jurisdiction with the bill every time. The same scenario is playing out in Detroit and Hartford, Connecticut. “The money might buy the locals some hometown pride. But it doesn’t buy them much of anything else: More than two decades of academic research on the subject find that stadiums produce almost no economic benefit.” Economists are nearly unanimous on this point. “And remember: Economists are almost never unanimous about anything.”
A.I. has no place in criminal justice ... at least not yet
Jason Tashea, writing for Wired
As in many parts of modern life, the use of algorithms is now pervasive when it comes to sentencing criminals. “Currently, courts and corrections departments around the US use algorithms to determine a defendant’s ‘risk’, which ranges from the probability that an individual will commit another crime to the likelihood a defendant will appear for his or her court date. These algorithmic outputs inform decisions about bail, sentencing, and parole.” These algorithms are typically purchases from third-party vendors, which are often “proprietary or ‘black boxed,’ meaning only the owners, and to a limited degree the purchaser, can see how the software makes decisions.” As artificial intelligence grows more advanced, so too will its opacity. Policymakers should “hit pause and create a preventative moratorium” on AI’s use in criminal justice, until we can determine how AI’s “risk assessments should be examined during trial” and what kind of oversight mechanisms can be put into place.
No good options when it comes to North Korea
Ian Buruma, writing for The Atlantic
President Trump may have to accept that the North Korean conundrum cannot be “solved” in any traditional sense of the word. “The fact is that there is nothing much America can do about [Kim Jong-Un’s] attempts to develop nuclear-tipped missiles, especially without China’s support.” First off, Kim will not surrender his nukes at any price; they’re the only thing keeping his country from being viewed as the “small, impoverished dictatorship” that it is. Any diplomatic solution must include China, “but the last thing Beijing wants is for its communist neighbor to collapse. The Kim regime may be annoying, but a united Korea filled with U.S. military bases would be worse, not to mention the potential refugee crisis on China’s borders.” There’s certainly no one to play the role that Mikhail Gorbachev did during German reunification, preventing bloodshed as the two halves of a country reunite. For now, the world will have to live with a nuclear North Korea.