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Amid Epstein fallout, MIT’s Center for Civic Media director resigns

MIT Center for Civic Media director Ethan Zuckerman today resigned his position in protest due to alleged business relationships between MIT Media Lab, accused billionaire sex trafficker Jeff Epstein, and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito.

Minsky created the first neural network and was implicated earlier this month by a sex trafficking victim who said in a 2016 deposition that she was forced to have sex with Minsky on Epstein’s island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. A coroner ruled last week that Epstein committed suicide in his Manhattan jail cell.

“That the MIT Media Lab’s connection to Epstein included a business relationship between MIT Media Lab director Joi Joi and included trips to Epstein’s properties,” he said in a Medium post. “My logic was simple: the work my group does focuses on social justice and on the inclusion of marginalized individuals and points of view. It’s hard to do that work with a straight face in a place that violated its own values so clearly in working with Epstein and in disguising that relationship.”

Zuckerman said in the blog post he had no involvement with Epstein, and that he initially intended to leave MIT in May 2020 but a Boston Globe article published today sped the announcement of his departure.

“I know that some friends are committed to staying within the lab and working to make it a better, fairer and more transparent place, and I will do my best to support them over the months I remain at the Lab. For me, the deep involvement of Epstein in the life of the Media Lab is something that makes my work impossible to carry forward there.”

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