Corruption: So what?

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Hillary Clinton famously said, concerning the dead Americans in Benghazi, “What difference does it make?”

I want to tell you what difference it makes. What you choose to do with your time is immensely important.

I am busy with Machine Learning nowadays. It’s a hot topic in computer science, one that mega-corporations are willing to pay top dollar for development in. In Machine Learning, we take large quantities of data and try to make sense of it. If we can understand the data with algorithms, then we can do things like speech recognition and image recognition. We can even predict the future. It’s quite amazing what is possible in this field.

But it’s not really magic. It all depends on the data. And sometimes, you have a lot less data than you realize.

You might think that since you are one in seven billion, what you click on in your browser, which YouTube videos you watch, or what brand of soap you buy has little impact. That might have been true thirty years ago, but it is not true today. Everyone is watching you. We are collecting data you can barely conceive of. And the data you generate is powering algorithms that magnify your choices a billion fold.

Let’s get to politics.

When I came back from Korea in 1998, having served 2 years as a missionary, I was genuinely culture-shocked. It wasn’t the way people talked to each other or how they treated each other so much as what had changed in those two short years. Our society had gone from barely mentioning sex during primetime to broadcasting that the sitting president had oral sex with his intern. I had to listen to countless pundits try to justify Bill Clinton’s lies and deceptions and corruption, and worse, they thought I actually believed what they were feeding me. Memorably, Bob Dole, failed presidential contender, did an ad with Brittany Spears, who could barely understand the concept of clothing and didn’t seem to mind that she was prostituting her body to millions of young minds.

You might laugh at how prudish I sound, but ask yourself: Have things not changed in the past ten, twenty, thirty years? What kinds of things do you see everyday that would be unthinkable back then?

Our culture is corrupt. When Muslims declare Jihad against our corrupt Western Society, I have to agree that our Western Society is corrupt. (Obviously, I disagree that killing people indiscriminately will solve anything.)

Hillary Clinton, according to FBI testimony, is hopelessly corrupt. She lied about basically everything, and then lied about those lies. The wikileaks, the Guccifer 2.0, the O’Keefe videos, all point to an organization of people who have decided that corruption simply doesn’t matter anymore. If they fear getting caught, they don’t fear any consequences of it.

During Bill Clinton’s presidency, it seemed every week we were greeted with a new scandal that made Watergate appear as child’s play. The Clinton strategy, I surmised, was to have so many scandals and have them be so extraordinary that no one could keep track of them or even believe them. Hillary Clinton seems to have perfected the art.

So they’re corrupt.

But it’s not just Hillary. When you look at politics in general, or really, anything, you see signs of corruption everywhere. It is in our human DNA to corrupt things, to selfishly take what we have control over and direct it towards our own ends. It is terribly naive to think that there is such a thing as unselfish people. As an example, let me speak of one of the most selfish people on the planet: Mother Theresa. She sacrificed her time, money, and potentially any kids she could have had had she got married, for something she wanted more. Now, we don’t call Mother Theresa selfish because her interest was caring for others, but if we are honest with ourselves, we must see that she did, indeed, sacrifice a lot of things she could’ve done that may have been even more beneficial to society for those things she thought was most important.

So in reality, we’re all corrupt.

What do you do about it? “What difference does it make?”

Hillary subscribes to the philosophy that it doesn’t make a difference. That you’re too unimportant, that whatever you think about her doesn’t really matter.

That’s where she is wrong.

As I told you earlier, we are living in an age where any small action anyone takes is amplified many, many times, thanks to machines that can find trends and patterns faster than any human can. Your decisions do make a difference. They do have an effect.

As a missionary, I knew what difference a young, 20-year-old boy who could barely speak a language could have. I saw people change, dramatically, for the better. I saw things I can barely describe here, and I experienced things I don’t even know how to begin to put into words.

As an individual, you have extraordinary potential. The small choices you make every day have a huge impact.

This November, when you vote, you can vote for Hillary, or Donald, or someone else. No matter who you vote for, your vote will matter. Maybe Hillary’s people will steal the election like they’ve admitted to doing for 50 years, but at least they’ll have to work a little harder, and hire a few more mentally disabled and homeless people. So you’re doing at least a little good by giving them a little pocket change from Hillary’s multi-billion dollar slush fund.

More importantly, the things you do online, the things you buy and the things you say, these are all being watched and monitored. Maybe not by computers, but by the people around you. When you tell them what you think, it has a real effect, for good or ill.

Now, you have a choice to make. What is your ultimate good, your ultimate goal? You can choose to be like Mother Theresa today if you really wanted to. You could choose to be like Donald Trump. Or you could choose to be like Hillary Clinton. It’s up to you where you go and what you do. The only limits are limits you impose on yourself due to your lack of imagination. Why don’t you spend a little time each day teaching my algorithms that humans have a better imagination than the computer scientists who invented these algorithms?

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