|Carsten Agger on Wed, 25 Sep 2019 23:06:42 +0200 (CEST)|
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|<nettime> MIT's nearly complete disgrace|
Things have really been looking bad for MIT and the "cool tech", WIRED-style tech-optimist movement in the last weeks (or months). First, it turns out several professors at MIT and Harvard have been closely connected to the deceased billionaire and alleged trafficker and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Among the accused of either complicity of rape and trafficking or, *at the very least*, enabling and reputation-washing in exchange for money, are as renowned scientists as Marvin Minsky, George Church and Steven Pinker. After this, it turns out that Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, Mecca and bonanza of the WIRED-style technotopian movement, has secretly been taken Epstein's money. The secrecy is allegedly so that it won't help launder Epstein's reputation, but soon it seems to be much more related to the embarassment of it all. Not only was Epstein a secret donor - he was also a very important fundraising collaborator and even showed up for meetings at MIT with his very young paid female companions, raising eyebrows and concerns not least among female staff and students. Apparently, Ito had received this money and concealed its origin in violation of MIT's rules on people like Epstein. But then it turned out that MIT president Rafel Reif had just as secretly OK'd the deal; not only that, he had signed receipts for at least one other donations from Epstein in 2012, when Epstein was barely out of probation for his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution. And *then*, it turned out that one of the Media Lab's absolute flagship creations of later years, the much-hyped food computer, never actually worked. When they had to demo it, programme lead Caleb Harper had an assistant fetch some lettuce or lavender plants in the supermarket and dust off the dirt from the roots so it'd seem they were grown hydroponically. This did not, however, dispel them from wasting several schools' time by sending out assembly kits for the botched things for the students to assemble. And as if all of this wasn't enough, the MIT Media Lab and the Food Computer programme consistently violated regulations by dumping toxic waste from said non-functional food computers with far too much nitrogen in it. I honestly don't know what to say anymore. Carsten https://patch.com/massachusetts/cambridge/mit-media-lab-kept-regulators-dark-dumped-chemicals-excess-legal-limit " "This is not about Open Agriculture, per se, or Caleb Harper," he said. "This is a bigger issue… I took every action I could, to go through the right channels to address it. I came to a point that I realized that the institution, apparently, has made a decision not to address this." In January 2019, Joseph Cerutti, a DEP employee who handles its disposal well program, emailed Carter, the EHS officer, asking for the monthly reports her office was required to send to his agency the previous year. Carter had told him the lab hadn't discharged anything into the well from April through June of 2018, but there were still nine months of missing reports. After a month without a response, Cerutti wrote back with a terse reminder, adding Harper to the email. If Cerutti didn't get answers within the next two weeks, he would issue a notice of noncompliance, followed by possible fines and revocation of the permit. Harper responded quickly, writing, "We have been following the protocol agreed with EHS which was for any agricultural effluent was to be spread in the open field and NOT put into the UIC system." Cerutti seemed unaware of this. The lab's permit only allowed MIT researchers to use the well. "When was the protocol to exclusively discharge the hydroponic growing solution to the open field rather than to the UIC well implemented?" he wrote back. After a phone call with Carter in April, Cerutti was still left with basic questions. In June, he asked for copies of all nitrogen water sample results since January 2018. Carter responded in early July, attaching results since July 2018, but not the samples from March that frequently showed concentrations more than 10 times the limit. State regulators did an on-site inspection of the facility in July. The investigation is ongoing."
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