Indeed, I gather the point of the Stanford effort is precisely to regulate AI research. Which will mostly just mean China does it instead.

Capital Thinking | Bloat

Capital Thinking  •  Issue #1162  •  View online

From Rob Wiesenthal at the Wall Street Journal re Elon Musk and Twitter:

Minutes after closing his purchase of the company, he started a process that reduced the workforce from 7,500 to 2,500 in 10 days....

Twitter and universities

John H. Cochrane | The Grumpy Economist:

Mr. Musk is trying to cure a degenerative corporate disease: systemic paralysis. Symptoms include cobwebs of corporate hierarchies with unclear reporting lines and unwieldy teams, along with work groups and positions that have opaque or nonsensical mandates. Paralyzed companies are often led by a career CEO who builds or maintains a level of bureaucracy that leads to declines in innovation, competitive stature and shareholder value....
Mr. Musk set his new tone immediately. He eliminated a 12-member team responsible for artificial-intelligence ethics in machine learning, the entire corporate communications department, and a headquarters commissary that cost $13 million a year (despite prior management’s pandemic decree that Twitter employees would be “remote forever”)....
he knows he doesn’t need five layers between him and the employees who actually do the work. His recent email to the engineering team stating, “Anyone who actually writes software, please report to the 10th floor at 2 pm today,” makes it clear he doesn’t want a membrane of corporate yes-men between him and the people who actually build things....
As sole owner, he can also quickly terminate the members of Twitter’s black hole of middle management, that cold and lonely place where great ideas go to die at big companies....
The days of nap pods, emotional-support dogs, corporate pronoun guides, personal wellness days and email blackouts after 5 p.m. are quickly vanishing....
Those employees who relish getting things done will thrive.

My thoughts go naturally to my home institution, Stanford. We are self-evidently bloated with administrative staff. Stanford proudly lists 15,750 staff, for 7,645 undergrads, 9,292 graduate, and 2,288 faculty.

This lovely Harvard Crimson editorial by Brooks Anderson (HT Chris Phelan) paints a devastating picture there:

Across the University, for every academic employee there are approximately 1.45 administrators. When only considering faculty, this ratio jumps to 3.09. Harvard employs 7,024 total full-time administrators, only slightly fewer than the undergraduate population. What do they all do?
For example, last December, all Faculty of Arts and Sciences affiliates received an email from Dean Claudine Gay announcing the final report of the FAS Task Force on Visual Culture and Signage, a task force itself created by recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging. This task force was composed of 24 members: six students, nine faculty members, and nine administrators. The task force produced a 26-page report divided into seven sections, based upon a survey, focus groups, and 15 separate meetings with over 500 people total. The report dedicated seven pages to its recommendations, which ranged from “Clarify institutional authority over FAS visual culture and signage” to “Create a dynamic program of public art in the FAS.” In response to these recommendations, Dean Gay announced the creation of a new administrative post, the “FAS campus curator,” and a new committee, the “FAS Standing Committee on Visual Culture and Signage.”

The "12-member team responsible for artificial-intelligence ethics in machine learning"... I just learned that Stanford, like other institutions, now has an "Ethics and Society Review" bureaucracy gearing up. ("Voluntary" for now.) We already have the large and cumbersome Institutional Review focusing on human subjects, but it had a pesky limitation

The IRB should not consider possible long-range effects of applying knowledge gained in the research [...] as among those research risks that fall within the purview of its responsibility.

Well, let's not let that get in the way...

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Twitter and universities

*Featured post photo by Maximalfocus on Unsplash