Monday, August 07, 2017

James Damore deserves $100 million as a compensation from Google

His observations about the stifling PC culture may be necessary for reforms that Google needs to survive
Updates: "$1 million in bonuses" was changed to "$100 million as a compensation" after Damore was "fired" by a Mr Kunda Píča whom I have never heard of; Damore plans to sue Google; he had previously complained to NLRB and wants to argue that his dismissal was a revenge which would be illegal. See a Damore's defiant answer to Reuters.

Donations up to $60,000 to JD. I haven't verified that website.
Recently, James Damore (here's where I learned his name) has studied towards his PhD in systems biology from Harvard but just like some other young men with numerous talents, this 23- or 28-year-old Gentleman immediately went to Google (in 2013, Damore's team won a computational challenge to evacuate a big city; more awards; he's been at Google since 2013) and became a Level 5 Senior Engineer – a position somewhere in the middle of Google's corporate hierarchy – focusing on the infrastructure of the search engine.

(I decided that a photograph of James isn't needed. Imagine a picture of Mark Zuckerberg's twin brother over here.)

Last week, he wrote an e-mail to some internal list of recipients at Google which was both relevant for the future of the company as well as related to the topic of his PhD program that he had previously undergone from a university that isn't quite unknown, ;-) either to me or to the world.

The full text of his 10-page-long essay, Google's Ideological Echo Chamber, may be found at Gizmodo (along with some less valuable appendices) if you click at the link in this sentence. See the original 10-page Damore's PDF file with charts and references; or a special website of the memo (later, a new Damore's domain). The stifling atmosphere of political correctness has largely conquered Google, Damore argues, and people who just suggest that they would prefer a more serious discussion about the actual causes of the gender gap in STEM fields are immediately demonized, threatened, and silenced.

Damore, a centrist and a sensibly self-described classical liberal, explained some characteristic features (which may become vices in too high concentrations) of the leftwingers and rightwingers, argued that the left-wing bias at Google has become staggeringly obvious, and this bias is increasingly preventing sensible people from saying self-evident facts such as that women's have a greater focus on people and emotions while men's focus on things and hard reasoning, aside from other biological differences he discussed eloquently.

You know, I was a new junior professor at Harvard in January 2005 when Larry Summers made similar – and similarly careful, moderate, and diplomatic – statements about the possible biological reasons behind the STEM gender gap at a closed-door conference. In fact, as you may remember, I have partly inspired him to make the speech.

Two months before his speech, in late 2004, I had my first serious ideological problem at Harvard. It was all about the same topic – women in science – and someone complained about my essay on this blog which was just born some two weeks earlier. The angry SJW-style complaint was sent to many recipients including the Harvard president Lawrence Summers.

Days later, new junior faculty were supposed to attend an excellent party in his house – not far from the Mt Auburn Cemetery. So with a Czech American girlfriend of mine, we were constructing the right sentence I should say to apologize for the extra hassle that my blog post caused to him, the Harvard president. The sentence was carefully built so that I wouldn't weaken any statements I had made about women in science, not even by one epsilon. But because I already knew quite something about Larry, I had actually predicted, more or less accurately, how this exchange would evolve. "I apologize for...," I told him this memorized sentence. Summers answered something like "Not at all! It was wonderful what you wrote," and so on.

Months later, he said something similar – maybe partly because he was shamed by the fact that a junior colleague on the visas with much smaller guarantees managed to show his spine – and the hysteria began. The SJWs ignited a constant Night of the Broken Glass at Harvard. Soon after this hysteria began in early 2005, I canceled all plans to extend my stay at Harvard. Whenever I was thinking about or interacting with the broader Harvard environment, I suffered throughout 2005 as well as 2006 – in 2006, the SJW hyenas finally forced Summers to leave the job that he had really liked, I think. For me, as one of the 5-6 faculty members at the whole Harvard who were known to be openly pro-Summers in this weird conflict, it wasn't just a return to totalitarianism that I thought to have been defeated by us since 1989. It was a return to its variation on steroids.

Damore must have known some of this recent history from his graduate school. We've been there... OK, so after Damore wrote that people who say something that is just "slightly against the radical dominant ideological spirit" get silenced, he got silenced. The hysteria that the SJW ignited has arguably trumped the anti-Summers hysteria in 2005. If you want to see some responses, search Twitter for two words, Google memo or Google manifesto. Because the word "manifesto" sounds slightly more negative or mocking, Damore's foes prevail under the query "manifesto" while his allies win if you search for the "memo". (Some of the hardcore leftists in the MSM media called his thoughtful essay an "anti-diversity screed". It was pro-diversity – pro-intellectual-diversity – and it surely wasn't a screed.) Another example of the fact that quantities and characteristics in the real world are rarely uniform and uncorrelated.

Among the explosive reactions to Damore's essay – I believe an extremely wise, balanced, and thoughtful essay that no reasonable person can possibly disagree with – you find many professional women, including those who were hired by Google because of their genitals, a female "vice-president for diversity and governance", a title that Orwell couldn't have thought about and he would surely be jealous to see how reality could have surpassed fiction. I don't want to reproduce thousands of insane reactions by people who simply can't rationally think or debate anything. But I picked one example, this incredible Mr Colm Buckley who is responsible for hiring somewhere in Google Ireland.

Yes, what he is doing is silencing, he confesses, "and I intend to silence these views; they are violently offensive". Wow.

I am only a Google stockholder indirectly but try to quantify the threat that hardcore jerks such as this Mr Buckley pose to the whole company. Google is employing some 60,000 people. How many people agree with Damore? How many of them would like to harass him because he wrote all these self-evidently true things? As Damore reminded us, most of the people who agree with him only dare to agree privately.

What do they answer when their opinions are measured through a poll run on Google-plus – which the SJW officials in charge could still hypothetically access? Some other Google employees gave us the following pie chart:

14% strongly agree, 22% almost agree with Damore's letter. That's some 36% if you combine it – over 20,000 employees of Google. If you add the 13% of neutral folks, you will get almost 49%, a slightly greater percentage than 48.5% of those who almost disagree or strongly disagree. Clearly, even if the participants of the poll face some risks that their vote could be used against them, the supporters of Damore's view are at least comparable in size to the opponents.

The other chart shows that a healthy majority of Googlers opposes censorship. Only 19% strongly agree and 11% almost agree with the proposition that his text is harmful and its sharing should be stopped i.e. the text should be censored. 43% strongly disagree with this censorship and 15% mostly disagree. The remaining groups are either neutral or say "this is James' opinion but" and so on.

If hiring of women were banned at Google, it would probably have minimal effects on the company. But as these charts show, if you create serious problems for those who agree with Damore's point of view or at least expect these opinions to be debatable and publishable, you would threaten the loyalty of a majority of Google's employees – over 30,000 experts. In the same way, if folks like Mr Colm Buckley are imposing ideological filters on the new hires, and everything he wrote indicates that he's doing it, indeed, it means that the pool of potential Google employees is reduced to less than 50% of what it could otherwise be.

Mr Colm Buckley – and he is almost certainly not the only one – is obviously hurting the company. The damages caused by these anti-meritocratic filters and by the ideologically driven hostility against a half of Google's employees is surely robbing the company of billions of dollars. He is obviously counterproductive as a man who works with the people and hiring and even though I am just an indirect stockholder, I find it essential to move similar people to more adequate positions, e.g. that of a janitor. And I am sure that there are lots of other people like Mr Colm Buckley over there.

Google was created by very smart men and they created what so many of us have found so impressive for many years – and independently of these men's political beliefs. Will Google allow to be hijacked by mediocre individuals such as the feminists and Buckleys who are nothing else than aggressive parasites living out of other men's ingenuity and hard work?

Exactly because the apparent problems at Google – the atmosphere that repels the actual drivers of progress – has been unmasked so clearly, Google owes some $100 million of dollars to James Damore for his excellent services which required some courage, too. He has figured out what is actually making about 50% of Googlers much less happy in the company than they should be – and provided us with a proof. Now it's time to do something about the toxic atmosphere and about the little kims who are transforming Google to a North Korea within the U.S.

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