Quote of the day : the ethical “success” of probability

I am reading Ian Hacking’s The Taming of Chance, which I picked up from The Seminary Coop upon arriving here. They just had it on the shelf! The book, as he puts it, is a way to understand why probability has been “an incredible success story” in the realms of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and ethics. By success he means probabilistic ideas have radically changed these areas. On the last point:

Ethics is in part the study of what to do. Probability cannot dictate values, but it now lies at the basis of all reasonable choice made by officials. No public decision, no risk analysis, no environmental impact, no military strategy can be conducted without decision theory couched in terms of probabilities. By covering opinion with a veneer of objectivity, we replace judgement by computation.

the job market : so many applicants

I just got a rejection from the CS department at Brown, and they sadly neglected to Bcc the recipients, so I now know that they rejected 362 people in one fell swoop. Just glancing through the addresses I recognized several of the recipients. I think, based on my limited expertise in privacy-preserving algorithms, that this is pretty much satisfies the Dinur-Nissim definition of blatant non-privacy: if there are n applicants, I have reconstructed n - o(n) of them, since I can’t imagine that they would interview more than o(n). Ok that was a little more nerdy than I intended. I do think that they deserve a wag of the finger.

Update: I just got a followup saying that the sender “would like to recall the message…” Alas, no.

Update 2: Another followup came in saying to “please ignore and delete” the previous message. Does this mean I still have a chance?!? (Again, alas, no).