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Wired - August 27, 2019

"But Epstein didn’t stop at socializing with scientists or giving them grants; he also helped spread their ideas.Mother Jonessays that Epstein and his accused procurer-of-girls Ghislaine Maxwell were on the board of Seed Media Group, publisher of an influential science magazine and blog network of the early 2000s that featured many Brockman clients. And no influence peddler’s circuit is complete without a stop at TED, the then-exclusive, now-ubiquitous conference at which Brockman was astalwart, always on the lookout for new clients. Brockman threw an annual dinner during TED, for a while called the Millionaires’ Dinner—and then, for a while, the Billionaires’ Dinner. Epstein sometimes flew Brockman’s chosen guests in a private Boeing 727 thatThe New York Timesdescribedin 2002 as “outfitted with mink and sable throws” and catered by Le Cirque 2000."

Give the money back.

Anyone who took money or accrued influence from accused child rapist Jeffrey Epstein, who died of an apparent suicide in jail, should give that money back. Or they should donate an equivalent amount to someone who will help people with it.

It would be the smallest quantum of reparations. MIT knows this; after apologies from Joichi Ito, head of MIT’s Media Lab, and physicist Seth Lloyd for accepting Epstein’s money, university president Rafael Reif announced Thursday that the school would be giving away $800,000, the amount Epstein had donated over the past 20 years. Harvard, thus far, doesn’t get it. In July, school representatives said the university had no plans to return $6.5 million that helped set up its Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.

Giving away the money would begin to clean up the gross, topologically complex web of influence trading that Epstein helped weave. Before and after his year in prison, in 2008, Epstein lavished money and attention on scientists—biologist Stephen Jay Gould, biochemist George Church, evolutionary scientist Martin Nowak, linguist Steven Pinker, physicist Murray Gell-Mann, physicist Stephen Hawking, and AI researcher Marvin Minsky, among many others.

Epstein was, in the parlance of the sciences, a marker. Like the radioactive tracer you get injected with before an fMRI, his villainy illuminates how the connections among a relatively small clique of American intellectuals allowed them, privately, to define the last three decades of science, technology, and culture. It was a Big-Ideas Industrial Complex of conferences, research institutions, virtual salons, and even magazines, and Jeffrey Epstein bought his way in.

How did these geniuses find themselves cozying up to a child rapist? In putting his apologies on the record with Stat reporter Sharon Begley, Church chalked it up to “nerd tunnel vision.” Ito, who also let Epstein contribute to his personal technology investment funds, called it “an error in judgment.” (Two people affiliated with the Media Lab have announced their departures as a result.) ...
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