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Kevin Leyton-Brown
Works at University of British Columbia
Attended Stanford University
Lives in Vancouver, BC
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Kevin Leyton-Brown

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If you're interested in the intersection between feminism and nerd culture, the following recent internet brooha may be worth investigating. +Scott Aaronson, a prominent MIT computer scientist, recently made a blog post about MIT's removal of a popular set of physics videos from OpenCourseware, because the professor was accused of sexually harassing an online student. The extensive comments eventually morphed into a discussion of the role of privilege in nerd culture, due to the advocacy of a feminist viewpoint by a very articulate and nuanced commenter called "Amy". In response, Scott wrote an honest and moving discussion of his own struggles in the past (http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2091#comment-326664). I recommend reading particularly this comment (#171), and also some of the previous and subsequent posts by Amy (and pretty much ignoring the comments from everyone else, which are unexceptional). Scott's comment was picked up by the Twittersphere, prompting a great deal of hating on Scott. Here's a widely-read hating article (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/mit-professor-explains-the-real-oppression-is-having-to-learn-to-talk-to-women/) and a widely-read sympathetic-but-still-problematic one (http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/on-nerd-entitlement-rebel-alliance-empire). All of this was the subject of a long follow-up by Scott Alexander (note, a different person), which I think was just fantastic and--while not impossible to criticize in various details--says many things that we all need to spend more time thinking about. That's the article quoted below (http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/01/01/untitled/). Finally, I'll give the last word to Scott Aaronson: "If you’ve been following this at all, then please, please, please read Scott Alexander’s tour-de-force post. It’s long, but every section is rubies encrusted in gold. To understand what it was like for me to read this, after all I’ve been through the past few days, try to imagine Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the American Declaration of Independence, John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, and Clarence Darrow’s closing arguments in the Scopes trial all rolled into one, except with you as the protagonist."(http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2119)
[trigger warning: social justice, condemnation of some feminism, tangential reference to eating disorder. Note that although our names are very similar, I am NOT the same person as Scott Aaronson a...
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Thanks for the article--I think it's very reasonable, and it made me laugh out loud in two places (where I agreed with her). I do think she somewhat misses his point--he was describing an experience that he thinks is more common than acknowledged, and the online response bears this out; she seems to think he was offering a comment on feminism and how it needs to react to men's expressions of past hardships. But all that said, I enjoyed what she had to say.
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Kevin Leyton-Brown

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A particular pet peeve of mine...
The visionary who stares at formulas written on walls or mirrors — or better yet, thin air — has become a Hollywood trope. So has the depiction of the genius who can’t connect with real people.
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Yup, totally agreed, but if you ignore the headline it describes the phenomenon pretty well.
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This could come in handy to many :-)
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The original tumblr site is even better: http://criticalhandgestures.tumblr.com/
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I shouldn't find this as funny as I do: what happens when autocorrect meets elderly people meets old-school hip-hop.
Facebook auto-tagging doesn't work for everyone. From the Grampa and Grandmaster Flash tumblr.
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An excellent survey of the virtues to which a worker in the knowledge economy should aspire... the perfect read as we enter into a new school year.
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Charming, though profane.
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It helps to have less stature and credibility.
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Kevin Leyton-Brown

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An interesting, contrarian perspective: it's not actually that hard to get into a top school for undergrad.
Admission rates are misleading: It’s not that fewer students are accepted; it’s that applications have run riot.
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The `top' 20 collectively enroll around 20K students. Harvard gets 30K applicants, of which about 10K can be summarily tossed (don't recall where I heard this). About 1K will be admitted and the remaining 19K will probably end up at the 19 other institutions in the top 20.
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Interesting chrome extension helps you rethink your defaults about gender
Genderswaps your view of the web.
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Kevin Leyton-Brown

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My team's work with the Federal Communication Commission has made the news with this awesomely-titled piece. (Nothing in the piece is particularly inaccurate, amazingly enough, but the title makes solving an NP-complete problem sound like a bad thing!)
TVTechnology One terabyte of disk space, 4 GB of RAM and a modern multicore processor are recommended.
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:-)
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An interesting article on the state of Ivy League education, from one of its discontents--a former Yale prof. "I taught many wonderful young people during my years in the Ivy League—bright, thoughtful, creative kids whom it was a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But most of them seemed content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them. Very few were passionate about ideas. Very few saw college as part of a larger project of intellectual discovery and development. Everyone dressed as if they were ready to be interviewed at a moment’s notice. Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history."
The nation's top colleges are turning our kids into zombies.
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Seeing undergrads at Harvard, I agree with many of the points made in the article (there are obviously exceptions, but overall it seems a pretty fair description). I especially relate to this paragraph: "If there is one idea, above all, through which the concept of social responsibility is communicated at the most prestigious schools, it is “leadership.” “Harvard is for leaders,” goes the Cambridge cliché. To be a high-achieving student is to constantly be urged to think of yourself as a future leader of society. But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top. Making partner at a major law firm or becoming a chief executive, climbing the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy you decide to attach yourself to. I don’t think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning."
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Some good points about the current state of brain science.
It’s not just that we lack answers. We don’t even agree on the questions.
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Have him in circles
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Work
Occupation
Associate Professor of Computer Science
Employment
  • University of British Columbia
    Associate Professor, 2009 - present
  • Zite.com
    Scientific Advisor, 2007 - 2011
  • University of British Columbia
    Assistant Professor, 2004 - 2009
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Vancouver, BC
Previously
vancouver - richmond hill - hamilton, ontario - jerusalem, israel - palo alto, california - san francisco, california - kampala, uganda
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Professor of Computer Science, UBC Vancouver
Education
  • Stanford University
    Computer Science, 1998 - 2003
  • McMaster University
    Computer Science, 1994 - 1998
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Male