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New Tech Super PACs Could Tap Into Google Riches

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the pot-of-gold dept.

The Almighty Buck 52

An anonymous reader writes "A for-profit university bankrolled by prominent tech firms and co-founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil is behind four separate super PACs formed this week, according to interviews and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Randi Willis, an official at Singularity University, confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that leaders at her institution will later this year begin determining how to best use these new political committees, which could tap into the wealth of tech industry titans."

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What use is all that money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47013963)

It's becoming clear they have no idea what to do with their billions.

Re:What use is all that money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47015005)

The last thing we need is a group of people with the money and lack of morals needed to become part of the 1% being given another weapon. These people are scum who would happily step on you if it helped and the further they stay from politics the better.

Re:What use is all that money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47015757)

It's even more clear that we need to get money out of politics. wolf-pac.com [wolf-pac.com]

Re:What use is all that money (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#47016265)

It's becoming clear they have no idea what to do with their billions.

No idea? That's what I thought, until they made this investment, which has the highest ROI of any venture. "Millions" is obviously petty cash to an outfit like Google, but it can be worth billions in getting laws and regs that benefit them. It's worked for other companies and industries.

It's one thing for the president and congress to be whores, but it's downright insulting to the American people that they're such cheap whores. I'd feel better if they held out for $10B before turning on the corruption spigot. The United States of America deserves better than $20 street corner crack whores.

My guess (3, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 5 months ago | (#47013999)

They'll decide that they know how we should all live our lives. Then they'll lobby government to force us to live that way. Futurists and tech "geniuses" are neither wise nor humble.

Decide? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014537)

They already "know" that they know how to decide how we should all live our lives. Tech companies, alas, often fall into dipshit-left territory.

(* Dipshit-left: Politically, a faux-left, where instead of bitching constantly about who's sticking what in whom in the bedroom, one bitches about who's sticking what in themselves in the kitchen.)

Re:My guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47016805)

In 18 months Kurzweil will be gone and they'll be lobbying full-time for more H1Bs.
(Unless the Dems and Chamber-of-Commerce RINOs have already snuck through "immigration reform" by then.)

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014011)

I for one welcome our new... for-profit-university-owning futurist overlords? ... Wait, no, I don't welcome that! Stop, please!

Banana republic strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014025)

"We buy law. We have money."

Re:Banana republic strikes again (2)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 5 months ago | (#47014165)

"We buy law. We have money."

More like we try to buy results but can't get any... like the 100 Million that Zuckerberg burned trying to improve urban education in New Jersey. The sad fact is that the billions earned by the 1% won't be any more effective than the trillions the fed prints on behalf of the 100%; in other words money is having an unpredictable, diminishing effect on improving the shortcomings of human politics, society, and institutions .

No matter how much we want money to be the silver bullet for all of our ills, you just can't buy solutions off the shelf.

I think we've already established that moving money in greater and greater heaps is not really changing the reality. We have gradually dug ourselves into the current reality, a bunch of green paper can't really be expected to be the only requirement for swift and enduring solutions to our consequent failures of coexistence.

We can fix sociological problems with a focus on people and our behavior, The Golden Rule may actually carry a great deal more weight than the Gold. What a wonderful exercise in irony for the wealthiest philanthropists in the "richest" nation. Perhaps we'll be richer if we place more value on human beings that don't have a lot of cash, but have a lot of value to offer society.

....but the money can't hurt....even if it won't help it sure seems like it should. We're addicted to the fantasy that it buys everything.

Re:Banana republic strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014567)

... ....but the money can't hurt....even if it won't help it sure seems like it should. We're addicted to the fantasy that it buys everything.

It doesn't?

Go look at the results Tom Steyer is getting for political donations - the scale of which make anything the Koch's spend look like chump change.

Steyer founded Farallon Capital, which made billions investing in - get this - fossil fuels including coal [financialpost.com] :

During Steyer’s tenure, Farallon helped finance coal project acquisitions in Indonesia and Australia valued at more than US$2 billion and covering some of the region’s biggest mines, some of which swiftly ramped up production afterward, according to a close examination by Reuters of company disclosures and interviews with people involved in the deals.

And Farallon is a major (controlling?) stockholder in Kinder Morgan, a pipeline company. A pipeline company trying to expand one "TransMountain Pipeline". That expanded pipeline would compete with the Keystone pipeline - and would move more Canadian oil than the Keystone pipeline is supposed to. For sale to Asian markets.

Self-proclaimed "green" Tom Steyer paid for ads opposing the Keystone pipeline. [politico.com] But stands to make hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars off the TransMountain pipeline if the Keystone pipeline isn't built. By shipping the oil over the Pacific...

Who says spending money doesn't get political results?

Re:Banana republic strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014779)

Devil's advocate: What doesn't it buy?

When you get to a certain age and are male, what you own and your FICO scores are pretty much your sole criteria that determine your worth of a relationship to the other party.

(The younger crowd knows this all to well. Ask them how gearscores play in being able to do much in WoW.)

Re:Banana republic strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47015763)

This is why we need a 28th Amendment to get money out of politics forever.

wolf-pac.com [wolf-pac.com]

Re:Banana republic strikes again (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#47016291)

This is why we need a 28th Amendment to get money out of politics forever.

wolf-pac.com [wolf-pac.com]

Hear, hear! I'm going to send them some money - the only political contribution I've ever made.

If the Supremes make absurd and crooked decisions, the only way around them is an amendment.

Wonder what their vision of the future will be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014129)

Wonder what their vision of the future will be. Hopefully some Henry Ford is part of their vision where they pay people enough to by the products the company sells (unlike today where most car maker employees can't afford the vehicles being made.)

I fear though... If Steve Jobs is the archetype of the modern tech CEO, (leaving $0 in donations to charity, no foundations, nothing but his company/products and a debt-laden ship behind), it might be that we have grim times ahead for ourselves and the next generation. Even the cruel tycoons of the Gilded Age left hospitals, theaters, arts foundations, and many other things which persist today.

Re:Wonder what their vision of the future will be. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#47014147)

Steve Jobs was obviously a narcissist. Fortunately not all billionaires are that problematic.

Re:Wonder what their vision of the future will be. (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 5 months ago | (#47014221)

Really? Just because he believes doing good things should not be a publicity contest now means he is a narcissist?!

Re:Wonder what their vision of the future will be. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 5 months ago | (#47014253)

Really? Just because he believes doing good things should not be a publicity contest

Leaving money to charity upon one's death is a matter of public record in many jurisdictions. If it had happened, we would have heard about it.

Re:Wonder what their vision of the future will be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014321)

Really? Just because he believes doing good things should not be a publicity contest

Leaving money to charity upon one's death is a matter of public record in many jurisdictions. If it had happened, we would have heard about it.

I invite you to learn about the concept of a living trust which avoids probate and is therefore NOT a matter of public record. I have no clue what Jobs did or did not do, but your assertion is simply wrong.

Re:Wonder what their vision of the future will be. (1)

click2005 (921437) | about 5 months ago | (#47015029)

Your faith in the lord Steve Jobs will be rewarded. The rest of us know he was a dick.

Re:Wonder what their vision of the future will be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47019493)

It's a statement of fact, dumbass. My living trust and its bequests will not be a matter of public record. I don't know or care what Jobs did or didn't do. I take issue at the false statement that estate donations to charity are necessarily a matter of public record.

Re:Wonder what their vision of the future will be. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014443)

He might have done good things, but how do we know?

History is going to be hard on him because, as far as anyone knows, he did nothing concrete and provable for anybody but himself. Even small things like the talk about him taking handicapped parking spots are not going to give him a good place in the textbooks in 5-10 years.

My big fear is that Jobs is just the start of what the "modern" tech CEO is about... with echos of "let them eat cake" royalty.

I do keep hope though... Google has done a lot of good, and is the -only- hope we have for getting around the ISP monopolies in the US with the ever tightening vise grip they have.

All hail our tech overlords!! (4, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | about 5 months ago | (#47014335)

Great... another group of rich assholes deciding what we should think and do and say and running our government.

Would be much better if we had an actual democracy where the government did what the majority of people wanted rather than just what the rich bastards wanted.

Re:All hail our tech overlords!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014707)

http://mayone.us

All hail our tech overlords!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014897)

If we had a government that did what the majority of people wanted then the government would just hand out freebies and aim to end the need for the majority to work. We are steadily building an entitlement mentality based society that is increasingly comfortable with reliance on the government to provide for their basic needs. This is a means to an end that will not be pretty.

Re:All hail our tech overlords!! (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 4 months ago | (#47015723)

A functioning democracy doesn't need people voting on every single issue, but it does need accountable representatives who haven't forgotten who they represent. An honest politician is one who knows that he represents the people, looking after their interests without pandering to their every whim. And a clever politician is one who understands the importance of business, but also knows that corporations aren't much interested in people's interests: looking after those is the politician's job.

Re:All hail our tech overlords!! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47017537)

A functioning democracy doesn't need people voting on every single issue,

Perhaps not, but they do seem to have more actual democracy in the countries where the people vote on more issues.

Re:All hail our tech overlords!! (1)

Graydyn Young (2835695) | about 4 months ago | (#47018513)

At least it's rich nerdy assholes instead of the usual oil barons. That's progress... sort of.

Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (2)

Hartree (191324) | about 5 months ago | (#47014495)

Kurzweil's big into life extension. It's a fair bet that one or more of the PACS will lobby for more research into the mechanisms of aging and improved health care techniques for it.

Another would be prosthetics and human augmentation (I want my brain interface VR, dammit! Screw the flying car.).

He might actually do some good in those areas.

If it's just the usual corporate type lobbying I can't really see that as much of a plus.

Re:Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014655)

I'd like to know if he would propose continuing to extend social security benefits to people who undergo life extension or to have it immediately cut off.

Re:Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 5 months ago | (#47014717)

I'd bet it's in one or more of his books (None of which, I must confess, I've read.). Probably something more nuanced than those two options only.

It's a good question, though. In some ways we're already confronting a similar situation. People are living a lot longer after retirement than was originally planned. Full benefit retirement age for social security used to be 65 across the board, but is now 67 for those born after 1937. It's a very touchy political issue, so nothing more has been done in that direction. Yet.

Re:Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47018547)

Full benefit retirement age for social security used to be 65 across the board, but is now 67 for those born after 1937.

Umm, no.

SSA retirement age is 67 if born 1960 or later.

It is 66 if born between 1943 and 1954.

Between 1955 and 1959, it oozes from 66 to 67, two months at a time.

Note that there are SSA bonuses for delaying your benefits to age 70. Arguably, that makes age 70 "full benefit retirement age", and everything earlier "reduced benefits".

Re:Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 4 months ago | (#47020607)

My bad. Left out "up to" between "now" and "67".

I put it down to early onset Alzheimer's.

Re:Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 5 months ago | (#47015037)

Do we get a turret and a gun in our new canister-shaped wheelchairs?

Re:Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 4 months ago | (#47021777)

Only if I can have that screechy augmented voice saying "Exterminate!"

Re:Likely topics, given that it's Kurzweil: (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#47016329)

He might actually do some good in those areas.

A benevolent plutocracy? Lenin had a similar idea. Since you can't trust the people to do what's best for themselves through this democracy nonsense, you need a small and powerful "elite" to do it for them.

PAC is Politicial Action Committee (4, Informative)

claar (126368) | about 5 months ago | (#47014703)

For those clueless like me, PAC stands for Politicial Action Committee

I can forgive the headline and summary for not defining the acronym, but when the article itself also doesn't say, it's getting ridiculous.

Re:PAC is Politicial Action Committee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47016227)

There is this IT acronym that appears everywhere. It seems rude that no one explains it explicitly in their article.

Re:PAC is Politicial Action Committee (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 months ago | (#47017115)

For those clueless like me, PAC stands for Politicial Action Committee

PAC's have been a major factor in American politics for around forty years now. One of two possible cause for being clueless is to be fourteen.
 

I can forgive the headline and summary for not defining the acronym, but when the article itself also doesn't say, it's getting ridiculous.

Horseshit. Very few articles explain that NASA or DNA are acronyms - it's assumed that the average educated individual knows their meaning. The second of two possible causes of being clueless is subnormal intelligence or education.

Re:PAC is Politicial Action Committee (1)

claar (126368) | about 4 months ago | (#47022587)

Thanks for the insults.. very informative.

Perhaps this XKCD will be of help: http://xkcd.com/1053/ [xkcd.com]

Re:PAC is Politicial Action Committee (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47017721)

For those clueless like me, PAC stands for Politicial Action Committee

I can forgive the headline and summary for not defining the acronym, but when the article itself also doesn't say, it's getting ridiculous.

"Super PAC" is actually in the dictionary now: https://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/03/18/14427/merriam-webster-makes-super-pac-official

is this the same Kurzeweil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014743)

whose predictions are usually 97% wrong?

Re:is this the same Kurzeweil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014857)

I wonder what kind of Chuck E Cheese bullshit factory the "singularity university" will be.

Sounds like he's entering L Ron Hubbard territory.

oh stfu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014823)

Good lord, when is kurzweil going to die, already?

How is this even legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47014943)

What a fucking unashamed announcement to buy the elections right in the face of everybody. FUCK YOU.

American presidential campaigns are no different. (1)

andy_spoo (2653245) | about 4 months ago | (#47015309)

How do you think the president became the president? By lobbying and spending millions of dollars. He affects how you live and is still influenced by outside corporations. That's constitutionally fair, right? So another group are operating in the same way. It's part of American life. If th And to those who are going to reply with "but he was elected", well not by me or millions of other people he wasn't. But he still affects us all.

Can't we simplify things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47015753)

Just put the greenbacks into the ballot boxes instead of bothering with all that cargo cult called "voting". Those "ballots" really don't mean a thing.

There is the third party doctrine, of course: you don't get a reasonable expectation of privacy until voting for a third party.

Re:Can't we simplify things? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#47016467)

Just put the greenbacks into the ballot boxes ...

The problem is that we still have a secret ballot, so they won't know where the money cam from.

Here's an alternative: Since the Supremes have ruled that money = speech, and we have Constitutionally protected Freedom of Speech in this country, they can't stop you from delivering a suitcase full of money to your favorite politician(s).

Money = Speech (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#47016341)

The Supreme Court thinks that money = speech. It's amazing that amongst nine judges and their research staff nobody could find a dictionary or a thesaurus. I'll send them nine sets and see if it does any good.

Incoming huge donations AKA legal bribes (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#47016807)

"THANK YOU!" said every single politician in the US. "It's about time. What the hell do you think these antitrust lawsuits hassling you were for?"

Alsmost every country you go into politics so you can get in the way so you can get paid to get back out of the way. It's just that in the US the "useful idiot" touting the surface meme of regulatory utility exists as a strange blindered creature.

The best way (1)

trawg (308495) | about 4 months ago | (#47017535)

The best way to use these committees would be to have them shut down the stupid situation that allows them to exist in the first place.

Like Lessig is doing with Mayday PAC [mayone.us] .

Why does Google want Kurzweil linked to them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47018083)

I can't figure out what Google gets out of having Kurzweil linked to them. He is a big-time kook that blemishes Google's technology bona fides. Just associating with someone who has inflicted decades of kooky nonsense in book after self-promoting book gives Google a black eye. Now they want to give him more money?

Why doesn't Google invest some of this money in open-source development or something instead of giving it to this kook?

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