Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Chat #4 – Response to “Google’s Ideological Echo”

Originally this was going to be about some of my older writing on the blog, but my friend just happened to tell me about some drama going on in Google that I think fits pretty well with stuff I’ve talked about in my past (2014) articles, so I figured it would be better for a Monday Chat.

Just yesterday (August 5th as of writing) a pastebin was leaked from apparently an anonymous engineer working at Google, decrying their overarching corporate goal of diversity due to its effect of silencing certain ideas for solely “moral reasons” and forcing a completely equal corporate society where one doesn’t have to exist. As always, many have already thrown the essay off as inherently sexist – however, word from inside says that many of the engineers, no matter their background, agree with what it says. So, I figured I might as well take a neutral look to see whether or not this really does have some merit.

The essay starts with the writer defining some of his language, just as left and right political bias, psychological safety, as well as Google’s own biases (I won’t go into detail his precise definitions, as they’re extensive and also pretty much how they’re used in the everyday. If you’d like to see them yourself you can read the pastebin for itself. I’ve included a link below my thoughts). He describes that Google tends to have an extremely left wing bias, which is where its extensive diversity mantra comes for, and that it is generally bad for any business to have an extreme political stance (which is true). After this then comes the more controversial part of this so-called manifesto.

The writer decides to explain some of the biological differences between male and female, and how that might explain why not as many females go into the software engineering side of the workforce. His first point is spot on – the concept between empathizing versus systematizing. This concept explains that women tend to be more attached to people than to things (and men vice versa) which causes them to pick jobs that follow this logic, such as teachers, psychologists, and doctors, just to name a few. And this makes sense – these jobs have a much greater percentage of females working in them than men, while men work in more technical jobs such as software engineering. And really, there’s nothing wrong with this – a teacher is easily as economically valuable as an engineer (for if there are no teachers, where come the engineers?). These social jobs were once primarily suited toward men, due to an actual case of gender discrimination. Now, that’s not to say that their can’t be female engineers – biology and genetics aren’t end alls, especially when it comes to humans, and so there should definitely be a sizable group of girls wanting to become engineers and scientists, and they should have all the right to hold those jobs. But you can’t force a girl who doesn’t want to be an engineer to be an engineer – just like you can’t force a boy who doesn’t want to be a teacher to be a teacher.

His second point here is a bit more questionable. He states that women are more agreeable over assertive, and therefore have a harder time negotiation for salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. I’ve found that this concept is pretty universal among all human beings, not just women. Many people will go for the easy but small win rather than the hard but big one just because they’re too afraid to speak for themselves, and I’ve never really seen this connected to women specifically outside of typical discriminatory portrayals. I feel that there is a large amount of weak, agreeable people in this world and a small amount of strong, assertive ones and that this is not dependent on gender, nor any other case – especially not biologically.

Same general feeling with his third claim – that women tend to be higher in neuroticism. I’d actually argue the exact opposite for this – in highly stressed environments, women tend to react more solemnly, whereas men deal with their situation with high anxiety. It’s also more common for higher intelligent males to pick up the trait of neuroticism than it is for higher intelligent females to. After this, he makes a few smaller claims which I all disagree with – such as “men have a higher drive for status” and “women are on average more cooperative” – but I’ll save talking about those and instead come back to his main point.

Where I completely agree with him is the fact that companies – and in fact, people in general – should not moralize ideas in order for them to be bulletproof. The concept of “diversity” shouldn’t be invincible from argument because its, well, “diversity” – in fact the only concepts that should be invincible from argument is fact and truth itself. But diversity is not in its entirety fact and truth – there is parts of diversity that is derived from facts and truth, but the concept itself is not completely impenetrable. And, of course, there is business fact that taking such a far left ideological stance not only hurts your employee’s opinion of you (such is the matter of this pastebin) but also might ward off potential workers as well. So I do believe all of the writer’s suggestions are sound. As for the people throwing this off as blatant and inherent sexism – well, I know it’s a long read, but I feel like making generic defamation articles without actually reading the work seems pretty silly, no?

But really, overall this is probably one of the more poorly construed calls for action that I’ve seen. A lot of it does get muddled in the core of the piece – making multiple assumptions on the opposite gender always seems like a pretty bad idea, as human beings and our naturally contradictory nature don’t tend to follow the stereotypes all that often (which is why I’d say take my own assumptions with a grain of salt). But, as for the idea of Google moralizing certain parts of their policy so that others cannot argue against it, it’s clearly a bad idea that doesn’t exactly work in the companies favor. In sum: If someone wants to be an engineer, let them be an engineer. If they don’t, then don’t. If someone wants to speak up against a policy, let them do so and then argue for or against it formally and logically. No topic is too holy to be argued – what one should do is show with facts and truth why diversity is as good as it is, don’t completely dismiss arguments against it in calling in “belligerently sexist”. I have seen some articles that have in fact taken this stance, taking what the pastebin says and making the arguments of why it is completely wrong. And while I am more in the gray area in terms of how I feel about it, I can find myself appreciating those who argue for or against it without just saying “its completely sexist so you shouldn’t even read it” or “google is an authoritarian SJW engine trying to destroy us with its liberal propaganda”. And that’s the conclusion I find myself writing at the end of all of these, but people still seem to not get it, and so I have to repeat myself every time. Oh well!

Link to the pastebin:

Currently reading: I’ve begun to focus solely on House of Leaves and the Military Battles book, as I’m the farthest in both and am honestly just ready to finish them. I’ve also started back up my e-library after my last one with 5,000+ books was destroyed in a terrible accident (Library of Alexandria 2.0). I’ve decided that this time I’m not going to bulk download and instead just add a few at a time and read them. I’ve added a couple of science and mathematics papers as well as a few literature classics like Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick. I’ll get around to them… eventually.

Currently playing: My attempts last week of organizing what I play have gone horribly awry, and I’m now at the point where I have to hold off what I play because I straight up don’t have enough space on my computer to handle it. I’ve started playing, among others: Rise of Nations, Empire Earth, Age of Empires 2 (I think I included this last time?), and Mount of Blade Warband (which includes a bunch of mods I installed, which is why it makes up the bulk of my playtime). Something’s got to go here.

Currently watching: Much more fruitful have been my attempts to organize what I watch. I’ve decided to go down the infamous “1001 films you must see before you die” list, speaking that I’ve already got 60 of them down I figure I might as well tackle the beast. Right now I’m on Les Vampires, a crime series from 1915 which is considered to be the first miniseries ever made. And to be honest, for being completely silent and in black and white this thing is pretty damn entertaining – though the fact that it’s 6 hours long in total has me worried. As for TV, I had actually planned to drop Game of Thrones this week but Showtime changed the show time (!) of Twin Peaks to one hour earlier without telling anybody so I was forced to watch Game of Thrones yet again while I waited for the Twin Peaks rerun. On a much better note because of this I ended up staying for a playing of the newest two episodes of Rick and Morty which were actually surprisingly great. I’ve always had a grudge for this show based on its obnoxious marketing schemes (this newest one was particularly bad) so I had never watched the show until now. But… at least the show’s good I guess? Also planning on seeing Dunkirk in theaters tomorrow (or today as of writing).

Currently listening: Not much new. Some Scum Fuck Flower Boy and some of the Dunkirk soundtrack. That’s about all for new music!

Well, that’s all for now. Remember to follow Codex of Aegis on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

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