After Epstein, it’s time for the Valley to find a moral view on capital

Is capital moral or amoral?

In the predominant view held in Silicon Valley today, capital is amoral — cash is cash, and regardless of where it comes from, once it leaves the hand of its investor or donor, it no longer has that individual’s taint. That money might have previously been spent on acquiring access to underage girls, or murder, or espionage, but now it is being spent on something productive, something useful. Isn’t that ultimately a net win for society?

That culture of fundraising is under an exacting microscope this week after the MIT Technology Review reported that Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the famed MIT Media Lab, would have continued to take convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s donations to the research center.

[… He] said he had recommended that [Joichi Ito, the lab’s current director] take Epstein’s money. “If you wind back the clock,” he added, “I would still say, ‘Take it.’” And he repeated, more emphatically, “‘Take it.’”

The comments, made during a meeting of the lab’s staff, shocked many of the participants, with some angrily replying in the heat of the moment. As the Review noted, “Kate Darling, a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab,

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