Saturday, August 12, 2017
Some thoughts on the firing of James Damore from Google
As a holder of Google stock I have a few thoughts on this.
Software engineering is a job where you cannot replace one brilliant software engineer with six adequate ones. It really is a job where the best people can lever their work over millions of computers and the whole world.
If you are Sundar Pichai (the CEO of Google) your job is to attract, hold, motivate and direct the very best software engineers - and to make sure their work does scale over the whole world.
In doing this he literally should not care whether men are better software engineers or mathematicians on average than women. Google should not interested in average. Google should be interested in the best.
I will hold Emmy Noether up as better than pretty well all men in all current mathematics and physics faculties. There may be a dozen in the world who can match her. Probably less. If she pops along you should hire her. Even if women are less good on average at maths than men that should not matter. Emmy Noether is clearly better than anyone else you are going to hire this year.
The truth or falsity of James Damore's assertions in the memo literally do not interest me and should not interest Sundar Pichai. His memo made his job of hiring the the best harder. If the best happened to be a woman or another minority they might prefer work somewhere more welcoming.
If I were the Google CEO I would not have just fired James Damore. I would have been proud to fire him.
There is a lot of talk about Mr Damore receiving compensation from Google for his firing. For what? He broke the Google code of conduct and was fired for cause.
Yes, his feelings and the feelings of many delicate petals on the right are hurt.
But they are no more entitled to compensation for hurt feelings than anyone else.
If Sundar Pichai wastes shareholder funds compensating him I will be disappointed.
And don't think for a moment that this is a liberal line. Google is and should be a proudly elitist place for a software engineer to work. And Mr Damore was fired because he offered a phoney elitism (based on gender rather than competence).
Phoney elitists like him don't deserve to work in such a place.
Mr Damore was right on one thing. Diversity shouldn't be valued for its own sake in such a place either. But I haven't noticed a lack of elitism in Google staff I have met. They positively drip elitism.
Diversity is valued though and it seems is valued for the right reason. It gets you a better chance of recruiting the best.
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