An unexpected democracy slogan

At least six readers have by now sent me the following photo, which was taken in Israel a couple nights ago during the historic street protests against Netanyahu’s attempted putsch:

(Update: The photo was also featured on Gil Kalai’s blog, and was credited there to Alon Rosen.)

This is surely the first time that “P=NP” has emerged as a viral rallying cry for the preservation of liberal democracy, even to whatever limited extent it has.

But what was the graffiti artist’s intended meaning? A few possibilities:

  1. The government has flouted so many rules of Israel’s social compact that our side needs to flout the rules too: shut down the universities, shut down the airport, block the roads, even assert that P=NP (!).
  2. As a protest movement up against overwhelming odds, we need to shoot for the possibly-impossible, like solving 3SAT in polynomial time.
  3. A shibboleth for scientific literate people following the news: “Israel is full of sane people who know what ‘P=NP’ means as you know what it means, are amused by its use as political graffiti as you’d be amused by it, and oppose Netanyahu’s putsch for the same reasons you’d oppose it.”
  4. No meaning, the artist was just amusing himself or herself.
  5. The artist reads Shtetl-Optimized and wanted effectively to force me to feature his or her work here.

Anyway, if the artist becomes aware of this post, he or she is warmly welcomed to clear things up for us.

And when this fight resumes after Passover, may those standing up for the checks and balances of a liberal-democratic society achieve … err … satisfaction, however exponentially unlikely it seems.

55 Responses to “An unexpected democracy slogan”

  1. Sergei Says:

    “Jewish and democratic” state as declared by Ben Gurion remains the great riddle. We have the feeling it’s impossible but we cannot really prove it wrong.

  2. Scott Says:

    Sergei: Isn’t Japan both Japanese and democratic?

  3. But Don't Oversimplify Says:

    @Scott #2 – come on. This is basically trolling, coming from someone as attuned to nuances as you can be.

    97.8% of the population in Japan are Japanese – does this have no bearing on the matter?

    “Jewish” is more loaded than “Japanese”, being a religion, a culture(s) and ethnicity.

    The process of populating Japan with Japanese has been somewhat less recent, less turbulent and less complicated.

    Japan is not surrounded by countries hell-bent on its destruction due to being primarily Japanese, forcing it to maintain a large standing military that for complicated reasons can’t include many non-Japanese.

    I could go on, but it should be obvious to anybody, and certainly it is obvious to you, that you’re making an extremely weak point. A pity – some “sub-points” of it could be interesting.

    To give a few instances of the tensions Sergei #1 alludes to – Israel’s flag is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. Does it represent the non-Jewish population? If it doesn’t – how much Israel’s democratic nature suffers? If we change it to something more “Jewish in the sense of cosmopolitan pro-Enlightenment culture” – does this faithfully represent what “Jewish” means to millions of Jews in Israel that have a complicated relationship with said culture?

    Immigration law – is there no tension there?

    What is the role of military service in the shaping of Israeli culture and society?

    How do we handle the ambiguous-at-best relationship with the state of Israel that many Arab citizens have?

    This is just a ridiculous comment unworthy of you.

  4. Jules.LT Says:

    Remaining a Jewish state in that region despite the local demographics risks *requiring* some less than democratic qualities… I fear that this is what we’re seeing.

  5. Scott Says:

    But Don’t Oversimplify #3, Jules.LT #4: This is not the place for a debate about whether a Jewish democratic state can exist or should exist, so please don’t draw me into another such debate. In any case, I don’t actually see how that question is engaged at all by recent events in Israel. Neither side here is placing the end of a Jewish state on the table. And the debate wouldn’t even be happening at all—i.e., the current status quo would just be accepted—if not for certain freakish events, e.g. Meretz failing to win enough votes to qualify for the Knesset, and the idea of a “judicial reform” / putsch being hatched by American political consultants.

    Mostly the purpose of this post was just to find out who wrote “P=NP” on the street.

  6. But Don't Oversimplify Says:

    @Scott #5 Ummm you’re attacking a strawman? I didn’t at all engage in the debate you mention, certainly not taking sides, and the first one to say something controversial and likely-to-be-interpreted-as-taking-as-a-side was your comment #2. I was merely protesting the absurdity of the comparison to Japan in this context and the implied rejection of the complexities Sergei #1 was referring to.

    As an aside and without taking a side – ignoring the fact that “Jewish and democractic” debate _is_ relevant to some aspects of recent events is being superficial. Which is fine, this not an Israeli politics blog and you’re allowed to be superficial. Just not self-deludedly so.

  7. Scott Says:

    I’m so, so tired of this comment section—of blogging as a whole, actually. Anyone who wonders why I blog less than I used to needs look no further than right here. I feel a few more asshole comments away from shutting down this blog, which might be the best thing I ever do for myself.

  8. Physics student Says:

    I’m so frustrated at the situation in Israel.

    Honestly, Bagatz (the supreme court) is also responsible to the widening hatred in Israeli society.
    Political activism eventually results in politicians seeking to change the court.

    As a recent example you have Hametz law recently passed. It all started with the media hyping up a sign in a hospital asking for no Hametz in Passover inside hospitals. Media was stirring up hatred. And then they sued through Bagatz.

    And Bagatz, instead of dismissing the issue, and letting people deal with the issue like normal people would (where if you wanted to eat Hametz you would do it in a way that people around you aren’t offended),
    decided to tyrannically force the hospitals to allow Hametz. Bagatz doesn’t try to reach an understanding but to pour salt on the wounds of Israeli society.

    So now today the Knesset passed law forbidding Hametz in Passover. And of course, secular people are pissed and think the government is going to become religious dictatorship. And nobody in the media reminds them how we reached this point in the first place.

    The last government was disbanded over this issue – Silman left the coalition, reaching 60 from 61, over exactly this issue. The first domino started from Bagatz directly pouring salt on the wounds of Israeli society.

    And they have been doing this for years. This isn’t a one off issue. The Jewish basic law passed, defining Israel as a Jewish state was also an attempt at reconciling with Bagatz continuously ignoring Jewish values and judging things that shouldn’t be in their power to do so. The judicial branch shouldn’t tyrannically force opinions. There’s no human right to eat Hametz. They are no longer judging by the law, they are judging by their personal opinion.

    Recruiting Haredim was another extremely contentious problem. They have tyrannically forced the IDF to either recruit Haredim which neither the IDF nor the Haredim could handle at that point. So the government created a committee to reach a careful agreement, cooperating with Haredim. A law was passed – and then Bagatz stepped in again and nullified the law. Now Israel has no “equality” basic law. So they were citing the “right to dignity” of the other soldiers. Seriously? They aren’t interpreting existing basic law or even a semi constitution, they are straight up stretching things.

    They have interfered with countless political appointments. But not only of religious people, they have interfered with other appointments too, citing “svirut” plausibility doctrine that was never written in any law and was invented out of thin air.

    Here’s my P=NP interpretation: (I didn’t write this graffiti). The judgement system is a prover-verifier system. The judges give a judgement, and they need to prove to you in the verdict that they reached this judgement from the laws, because their judgement is supposed to be independent of their own opinions. Whoever you put as a judge shouldn’t matter. And the verifier is screaming out false proof. And that’s true regardless of your political opinions. Getting the “correct” side isn’t the important part, it’s getting a convincing proof.

    I don’t want political judge appointments. But we can’t ignore the fact that their process is compromised. Bagatz needs to stick to the written and agreed upon law. Otherwise it’s pouring salt over the wounds of Israeli society, and that’s truly destabilizing. I’m tired of hearing this is about Bibi. It isn’t. Anyone listening to the other side would’ve understood it by now. Tyranny leads to tyranny.

    Bagatz and the media are tearing this country apart. Bagatz must acknowledge its role this mess. They need to take responsibility so that the other side won’t seek to destroy them. I don’t want political judge appointments. That’s destroying the system. I want the current judges to plead guilty and repent. I don’t want to replace current activist judges by other activist judges of the other side. There’s no law that can force judges to rule by law and by law only. Political appointments only escalate activist judges, so they are not the solution. The best solution is that Bagatz will take responsibility and acknowledge it’s mistakes.

  9. Shmi Says:

    Please keep blogging, Scott! Even if you close the comment section, or require “bluechecks” or Patreon subscription (like Sean Carroll) to comment. Or any other action that would reduce the emotional labor that goes into dealing with people who should know better.

  10. Amino acid Says:

    Scott, can you please say something about desantis’ attacks on free speech and academic freedom in Florida? The GOP there is banning all these gay books and banning teaching about racism in schools.

  11. Scott Says:

    Amino acid #10: I think DeSantis is an odious person and his policies are horrifying. And I say that as someone who’s on the record as not a fan of woke bureaucrats firing anyone who they disagree with. Are vastly more powerful anti-woke bureaucrats firing anyone who they disagree with supposed to be an improvement?

  12. JimV Says:

    My wild guess, for whatever little it is worth, is P=NP stands for Putsch = No Peace, or something like that. That is, an allusion to complexity math to gain some attention, but with a different meaning. (I’ve heard PM Netanyahu’s judicial-system proposal referred to as a putsch.) Possible also based on the “woke” saying “No Justice, No Peace”.

    (To me “woke” simply means, conscious of racial and ethnic injustices. What people do based on that consciousness is something else, and could be good or bad, whereas “woke” seems to be mostly used to connote something bad.) (I seem to have lost that battle.) (And no doubt some of my terms upset other people.)

  13. Lane M Says:

    @Scott #7. I’m baffled that people have the time to be this obnoxious, and I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with it. I hope that you consider more vigorous enforcement of policy #3 and readily leaning on SOCG. This is a special place and I would hate to see it disappear. Though in truth, I hate to see your expend your time, thought, and emotional capital on unworthy drivel even more.

  14. Topologist Guy Says:

    Scott, I just read your post from two years back, “My Values Howled Into the Wind,” where you list as one of your values “free speech, to the point of proudly tolerating views that really, actually disgust them at their workplace, university, or online forum.” Setting aside the fact that my opinions are an entirely reasonable contribution to the dialogue and should disgust nobody, your censorship of my comments here would seem to contradict that value you “howled into the wind.” Surely you should post an updated set of values, filling us in on how you got sick of free speech?

  15. Vladimir Says:
    1. The government has flouted so many rules of Israel’s social compact that our side needs to flout the rules too: shut down the universities, shut down the airport, block the roads, even assert that P=NP (!).
    2. As a protest movement up against overwhelming odds, we need to shoot for the possibly-impossible, like solving 3SAT in polynomial time.

    While the graffiti artist could indeed have meant either or both of these, doublethink being extremely common among the protestors, I hope you at least can see that the two are wildly contradictory. When practically every institution in the country, up to and including the military and members of the would-be dictator’s own party, has vocally supported your side, you can hardly be said to be fighting overwhelming odds.

  16. PNP Forever Says:

    @Scott 5: Please don’t shut down your blog. It’s such an amazing place. But you probably should introduce much stricter rules for the comment section, like no politics, no off-topic comments, no trolling and aggressive comments, no fake emails etc. You really seem to waste too much time and energy discussing and moderating comments. If all else fails, you could still turn off the comments section. But not the blog! 🙂

  17. danx0r Says:

    Scott who occasionally inhabits #5 —

    I sure hope you do not shut down this blog. I realize it is a burden, and no sane person with knowledge of the situation would begrudge you for hanging up your skis at this point.

    Just wondering — have you ever considered expanding the blog to an actual blogsite, with multiple posters and moderators, the way lesswrong is formulated? Lately Substack has been a popular choice for this (see for example Astral Codex 10). And of course there is the possibility of getting compensated through substack subscriptions and/or Patreon. OK I suspect cash money is not a major factor here, but asking for a few dollars a month to post comments may act as an effective filter against the trolls.

    I know, you have work to do and a life to live… but I for one will miss this locus of (mostly) serious discussion of complex topics by (mostly) intelligent, thoughtful people. It’s a rare breed these days.

    You had me with the soap bubble post years ago…

  18. Kostas Says:

    Scott, interesting thoughts but my first impression seeing this P=NP slogan was yet another one. It struck to me more like the artist was trying to state a pro-democracy and an equality message along the lines of “Our voices matter equally despite how overwhelmingly it doesn’t appear that way”.

    On a side note, please don’t let any asshole comments get to you and shut the blog down. I think the silent majority (or lurkers — as the slang describes it) really appreciates your efforts. It would be a loss for many of us if you stopped blogging. Understandable though if it affects your mental health but hopefully it won’t come to that.

  19. Scott Says:

    Topologist Guy #14:

      Surely you should post an updated set of values, filling us in on how you got sick of free speech?

    Mostly because of commenters like yourself! 😀

    We all have to choose how to spend our brief lives. I don’t want to spend mine arguing with people who say that the January 6 insurrectionists were heroes, the COVID vaccines killed far more people than they saved, GPT-4 is just a giant Clever-Hans-like fraud that pre-memorized the answers to all the questions, or whatever else, and who exude total confidence and put the burden on me personally to prove them wrong. I’m tired. I just want these houseguests to leave my house and go to someone else’s house.

  20. no one special Says:

    Scott: It’s entirely reasonable to run your blog without comments if you’ve attracted a bunch of people who are just here to argue with you. You don’t owe us hosting.

  21. lewikee Says:


    I suggest you immediately block trolls or those you suspect might be trolls but are carefully trying to hide it. They will then whine about free speech in comments left in moderation (they don’t actually care about free speech, they are whining that they can’t annoy you further – besides, isn’t this your living room?). And then they will eventually know this is a place where they can’t get away with mean-spirited trolling, not return, and you won’t even have to moderate their comments much.

    This is the internet where people want to be mean to you on purpose, and are happy to take advantage of your good faith and use it against you. Guard yourself against these people.

    But please don’t end the blog!

  22. Vadim Says:

    Scott, this blog is a gem and a lot of people would be sad if you shut it down, though we’d also be sad to know that it’s causing you tsuris. If I may make one suggestion that you’re free to ignore: treat comments like a newspaper treats letters to the editor; they only get posted if they truly add something to the discussion, otherwise they never see the light of day. The best content on this blog is primarily from you and secondarily from other academics, not from the peanut gallery where I sit.

  23. PNP Reloaded Says:

    @Lane 13: “Though in truth, I hate to see your expend your time, thought, and emotional capital on unworthy drivel even more.”

    Exactly. The blog and discussion section should be a place of creativity, inspiration and energy for Scott, making him even more successful at work. But it is up to him to shape the website and comment section in this way. The internet is a place of extreme negativity and frustration and you really have to protect your virtual garden in order to remain happy and healthy.

  24. Dave Says:


    Please don’t close the blog. Instead, I **strongly** urge you to do either of these:

    1. totally close the comment sections, since the signal-to-noise has reached useless value
    2. leave comment section open, but don’t even EVER look at it yourself as the owner/moderator. Leave that TOTALLY to the SOCG, and just behave as a normal other poster. Let the SOCG deal with the mess (and have them be EXTREMELY strict with what passes)
    3. this is arguably the hardest to implement and enforce and may be the most unfair, but it’s an option: let all commenters PAY actual dollar amount, on both a per-month subscription and per-post fee and per-word cost. Donate the proceeds (perhaps even double with your dime, to show you’re not driven by greed) to any or all of the worthy causes you occasionally mention (and donate) in this blog.

    I strongly urge you to do one of them, and even better, I strongly urge you to do the one that is EASIER and following the for you.


  25. Craig Says:

    P=NP was most likely put there by the opposition to make the protesters look stupid.

  26. MyName Says:

    Scott, maybe you should think of this blog as part of your alignment research. The commenters (human-level intelligent agents trained to complete your prompts) are attempting to outwit the rules. It seems like they’re succeeding, if only marginally! I’d imagine if you can design the blog so that you win against them, then you’ve succeeded at your alignment task. At least until we get super-human level intelligent agents, that is. But it would be a good start!

    But even if this isn’t how you’d like to approach it (it was only a partly serious suggestion), please keep the blog. Removing comments would alleviate your bad houseguest issue, but even better might be to simply not personally act as the bouncer. Let other folks moderate before you even see the comments. That way they won’t be a mental burden to you.

  27. Andrei Z. Says:

    This reminds me of (1) the Friedmann equations being used during recent protests in China against overly strict quarantine measures because “Friedmann” is similar to “free man”; (2) the normal distribution (and personally Gauss) being used during 2011 protests in Russia following rigged elections because blatant electoral fraud was clearly revealed using statistical methods (in addition to observers’ evidence).

  28. Christopher Says:

    Suggestion: somehow add those fact-check labels that Twitter has. That way you can express disagreement with the trolls without needing to directly engage with them. I know it’s tempting (and often useful) to argue with someone who is in bad faith; but at least change it up a bit so it doesn’t distract from good faith discussion. Just an idea though XD.

  29. Eric Rodriguez Says:

    Scott, what do you think of the open letter calling for large AI model development to be paused?

  30. Occassional Commenter Says:

    Scott #5:

    I wonder whether the reappearance of the incel troll, now threatening suicide, has anything to do with your frustration and fatigue. If you made this one person go away, I bet that would solve much of your problems over here.

  31. Scott Says:

    Eric Rodriguez #29: Reposting from my Facebook…

    When people argue that AI scaling needs to be paused right now, by government fiat if necessary … well, they might be right! But here are some followup questions:

    1. Would your reasons have applied to pretty much *any* technology under development — the printing press, radio, airplanes, the Internet? “We don’t know the implications yet but there’s an excellent chance terrible people will misuse this, ergo the only responsible choice is to pause now”?

    2. When, by your lights, would we know that it was safe to end the pause and continue scaling, or at least that the risks of *not* scaling exceeded the risks of scaling? Or does the precautionary principle apply forever?

    3. Were you, until approximately last week, ridiculing GPT as unimpressive, a stochastic parrot, lacking common sense, piffle, a scam, etc — before turning around and declaring that it could be existentially dangerous? How can you have it both ways: if the problem is that GPT-4 is too dumb, then won’t GPT-5 ironically be *safer*? If, on the other hand, the problem is that GPT-4 is too smart, then why can’t you bring yourself to say so?

  32. JimV Says:

    One can believe in “freedom of speech” while still instructing one’s children to be polite and not insulting or demanding. I don’t know of any case where our host has objected to polite statements contrary to his view which weren’t way off-topic (other than to try to reason with them); and he is far more tolerant in general than I would be. (Maybe because I don’t have as good a sense of humor.)

    A society that tolerates everything is depicted in “The Purge”. (I think; I’ve never watched it.)

  33. Christopher Says:

    The petition does not mention misuse risk.

    (I do think the petition is a bit extreme though; you risk capabilities and hardware overhang.)

  34. ira Says:

    If P=NP won’t convince him, then I fear nothing might.

  35. fred Says:

    It’s slang for “Pressure = No Problem”

  36. Jules.LT Says:

    I’d like to second the proposition that others moderate comments before you see them, Scott. I didn’t think you’d be hurt by my comment, and I’d rather it had been filtered out.

  37. Nepeta Says:

    How about, “We could all *recognize* a better political order than this, let’s have faith that we can also *generate* one”.

  38. fred Says:


    “Were you, until approximately last week, ridiculing GPT as unimpressive, a stochastic parrot, lacking common sense, piffle, a scam, etc — before turning around and declaring that it could be existentially dangerous? How can you have it both ways: if the problem is that GPT-4 is too dumb, then won’t GPT-5 ironically be *safer*? If, on the other hand, the problem is that GPT-4 is too smart, then why can’t you bring yourself to say so?”

    1) the vast majority of commenters haven’t had access to GPT4 for as long as you have, (under NDA). It takes time for anyone to personally probe ChatGPT to assess it and get a good feel for what it can do (something everyone has to do for themselves), and then probe again GPT4 to re-assess (and now you’re already bringing GPT-5 in the discussion, haha).. things are moving so fast, it’s very hard for anyone who’s not actively working in the field to keep up with all the latest stuff (academics on sabbatical are a rarity!).

    2) people never have clear and stable opinions about new tech that seems too miraculous to be true, both with amazing potential and very dangerous potential. A(G)I is really a lot like nuclear technology.
    Its development was also very rushed (not because of economic pressure but because of the war effort), and the people in the know were flip-flopping too, like Einstein or Feynman (who was super enthusiastic while working on it because smashing obstacles when doing science is exciting, and then became pretty much depressed after he witnessed its actual full potential after the Trinity test).
    It’s not that surprising to be at once impressed, but not totally sold yet, and still be very worried (just like the first glimpse of sustained nuclear reaction was achieved, it was still far from having an actual atom bomb), with LLMs we’re also still at a point where it’s impossible to say whether we’re on the brink of something leading to full AGI or not being good enough to get us there (given that it’s still very easy to make them fail spectacularly).
    Again, keep in mind here that, for the vast majority of the ppl commenting on this blog, it feels a lot like trying to assess some new ongoing Manhattan project from the outside, one or two years behind the people with top secret access clearance…

    3) for the people in private business, not working in AI, it’s natural to be worried about job security. With that frame of mind it’s hard not to be both impressed and scared by it and also try to look for flaws in it (it’s a glorified parrot!) in order to keep some hope alive that it won’t lead to a massive tsunami of layoffs without enough time for society to find ways to reorganize itself.

  39. Ryan Alweiss Says:

    Right, so I can think of two things:

    1) P=NP is kind of a leftist anarchist belief, anti-hierarchy, no constraints, etc (as the commenter said on Gil’s blog).

    2) P=NP means PH collapses, everything collapses, it’s the end of the world.

  40. Ben Standeven Says:

    @Scott #31:

    For #1, there are several citations to existential risks associated with AIs; most new technologies weren’t perceived as existential risks at the time, so I’d say the answer to this one is a definite “no”.

    For #2, the petition does give an answer, although not, I think, a realistic one. The only way to know that our protocols are safe is to actually use them, after all.

    For #3, based on the citations, the answer is a mix of “yes” and “no”, with a few “doesn’t matter”s (because they saw AIs as an X-risk even before LLMs came along).

  41. fred Says:

    Ryan Alweiss

    3) the guy actually found the proof for P=NP, but didn’t have enough paint or time to write it all down before charging the cops and getting whacked so hard on the head that it’s now all an incoherent mess…

  42. fred Says:

    The idea of trying to pause AI development is impractical given that Russia and China are pushing just as hard as anyone else and they’d never agree to pause.
    It was the same thing with nuclear weapons, at some point after WW2 the US considered stopping it all internally, but it was no longer an option once the USSR could build a bomb too.
    The difference with AGI is that we’ll never each any sort of equilibrium (like a concept of deterrence). By definition it’s a winner takes all scenario no matter what (the chance of US, Russia, China, etc all realizing AGI at the same time and then things staying balanced is exactly zero).

  43. Daniel Says:

    Scott, please, please, please don’t shut down this blog! I’ve been following you for now more than a literal decade, and I think you are the only public figure whose takes I consistently agree with. You also represent the main argument, in my mind, for the proposition that it is possible to have a career in TCS without causing more social harms by greasing the wheels of automation than can be justified by all the beautiful math that goes into it. In a (coastal US) world where statements like that are becoming very unpopular very quickly, I don’t know what else I could cite to defend my love of TCS if not this blog 🙁

    Not that you are obliged to keep blogging for my sake or anyone else’s of course, but please know that for every loud hater there are a ton of weird nerds out there who love you but are usually too shy to say so 🙂

  44. P NP interpreter Says:

    Maybe it means “Palestinian = Not Palestinian”, as in arguing for either equality or one state or something else democratic-sounding like that.

  45. Mike Says:

    Hi Scott.

    Just to let you know that I for one really value this blog. As someone outside of academia, this blog is my only insight into TCS and related topics as discussed by active researchers. I consider it a great privilege to read your blog, and have done so for about 6 years now.

    I’ve learnt a lot from the blog and QCSD. I also really appreciate your brave decision to stick up for us “nerds” in such a thoughtful way over the years.

    I hope that there is a way for you to enjoy blogging again, I miss the more frequent, more fun blog entries.

    Anyway, hope you’re doing OK! Much respect, Mike.

  46. Mitchell Porter Says:

    Bing shared its thoughts on P=NP for democracy:

  47. Prasanna Says:

    Scott #31: While I agree with 1 and 2, subject to some oversight from govt that this is not close to being as dangerous as on the level of nuclear.
    However on 3, is seems that the stochastic parrot nature (note this is not being same as fraud due to memorizing) by itself can make it unsafe. If you can coax it into designing misinformation campaigns, cyberattacks -merely by clever prompt engineering, then its actually analogous to a paperclip than that of exhibiting smart emergent behavior.

  48. Y Says:

    Hi Scott, please don’t close the blog.
    Maybe it’s a good chance to test if ChatGPT can detect whether a text is “toxic/argumentative/tedious/does not contribute any new information/something Donald Trump would say.”

  49. Gil Kalai Says:

    Hi Scott, indeed these are difficult times in Israel and let me heartily thank you for your support. I share the view that the judicial reform will largely abolish the independence of courts in Israel and that it may transform Israel from a democracy (with problems) to a regime with dictatorial ingredients. Therefore, I personally object to these reforms and I join the demonstrations against them. (I participated in more demonstrations in the last few months, than in my entire life before)

    The optimal line of action, in my opinion, is that the government will withdraw completely from these judicial reform legislation. Even then, there would be a lot of damage to many aspects of our lives, and, of course, those people who support the reforms will feel that their views were suppressed. Still going along with the legislation would inflict much more damage.

    People use all sorts of humorous slogans and signs, and the NP=P street art should primarily be regarded in this angle. Personally, my “response” to the situation (beside taking part in protests) is to try to conduct dialogues, as calm, sincere and respectful as possible, with supporters of the reform. More for understanding the situation than for having any influence.

  50. Rory Kaufmann Says:

    I read it as a combination of 1 and 3 –

    There’s some humor in how far math culture is from protest environment.

    Plus an attempt by the artist to distance themself from the chaos (retreat to a happy place)

    And then, P=NP is a topsy-turvy, upside down statement, mirroring the chaos of the protest.

    And finally, it’s (in the real world) false, referencing 2+2=5 from 1984.

  51. maline Says:

    I was at the protest in Jerusalem that same day, and noticed street graffiti reading P \ne NP…

    And here I thought we were on the same side…

  52. Critical Times in Israel: Last Night’s Demonstrations | Combinatorics and more Says:

    […] the picture is authentic see comment and picture by Nir Sochen below; I saw it myself; Some undocumented reports on street graffiti from protest in Jerusalem the same day.  ) I am not sure if a proof of this […]

  53. asdf Says:

    Fred #41, outside the frame in the photo, it says “I have discovered a truly marvelous proof, which this street is too small to contain”.

  54. ACM Prize to Yael Kalai | Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP Says:

    […] photo was also picked up and commented on by Scott Aaronson on his blog. Gil […]

  55. Andy Weinstein Says:

    Late to the party.
    Scott, please don’t stop blogging! Your house, your rules, some suggestions already made here to reduce the burden for you. I learned about Shor’s algorithm here, adding another really super-cool thing to the list of super-cool stuff that I vaguely understand. That doesn’t sound like much, but it means a lot to me, and I wouldn’t have gotten there without you.
    P=NP is funny geek graffiti! I have no idea what they meant, all the interpretations are entertaining.
    But my graffiti would be: P ~= NP
    Everybody: Please do not reduce the issue to a binary one of yes or no to *the* reform. The whole problem over here (I live in Israel), but not just here (I follow what happens in the US), is making everything into us and them, light and darkness, identity politics, instead of actually discussing the issues. I completely agree that the coalition’s proposal(s) is beyond over-the-top. But as Physics student #8 describes, this didn’t come from nowhere – it’s a whiplash-inducing backlash to excesses in the other direction. There are now compromise talks happening, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that they will bear fruit. And it’s a good thing that some level of reform will happen. Even if you like the current arrangement because it brings about your favored outcomes, you have to understand that it has produced justified animosity and contributed to the loss of respect for the high court, which is bad for everybody. Hoping for a livable compromise both on this issue and in many other issues people are confronting in the world. Couldn’t we all pretty-please keep things together so that humanity will be able to benefit from all the wonderful technology that’s in the pipeline? The choice between Utopia and Dystopia is largely in our hands.

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