This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott flew solo to discuss the week's big national security news, including:
- “Just Dropped in to See What Condition This Extradition is In.” The U.K. government has signed off on the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, putting him one step closer to trial in the United States. Are claims that his extradition threatens press freedoms fact or hyperbole? And what do we expect the Biden administration to do if it happens?
- “Teach Xi How to Dougie.” A recently revealed internal report has revealed that, despite corporate commitments to Congress, substantial customer data held by the company TikTok can still be accessed by personnel at its Chinese parent company. Does the Biden administration need to revisit its position towards the app? Or China’s technology sector more generally?
- “Not the Droid We’re Looking For.” An engineer was suspended last week for going public with his belief that Google’s LaMDA artificial intelligence program had achieved sentience. Is this a possibility worth taking seriously? What role should the possibility (or potential appearance) of sentience play in AI policy, if any?
For object lessons, Alan endorsed Viet Thanh Nguyen's literature/spy thriller mash-up "The Sympathizer." Quinta shared her favorite John Eastman quote—“I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works”—and dared listeners to find a New Yorker cartoon where it wouldn't work as a caption. And Scott urged listeners to check out their local arboretum or botanical garden, and gave a special acknowledgement to the late William Gotelli, the "man who loved conifers" and donated his massive, continent-spanning collection to the National Arboretum, where they are now Scott's favorite section.
Here are a few other articles the RatSec crew mentioned in the course of the episode:
- Gabe Rottman's Lawfare piece, "The Assange Indictment Seeks to Punish Pure Publication"
- Justin Sherman's Lawfare piece unpacking how TikTok intersects with U.S. national security
- The YouTube series "Two Minute Papers," which features advances in AI
- Ezra Klein's discussion of AI ethics with Ted Chiang