Friday, August 11, 2017

Should Sundar Pichai Resign?

Google has a problem. It should have seen that diversity programs had damaged many of America’s universities. It should have known better than to introduce them into the company. It should have, but it didn’t.

This morning David Brooks points out that the situation has been seriously mishandled at the highest corporate levels. The company’s diversity officer, Danielle Brown, denounced the memo for advancing “incorrect assumptions about gender.”

One does not quite see how Brown is qualified to pass judgment on biological research, but clearly she does not care about biology or fact. Brooks points out that her remarks were an instance of “ideology obliterating reason.”

The man most responsible for managing the crisis was CEO Sundar Pichai. And yet, Brooks notes, instead of managing it, Pichai fueled the fire by surrendering to the forces of political correctness. He followed the appalling example of far too many college presidents and administrators.

Brooks calls for Pichai to resign his position. He was facing a difficult management challenge and he failed:

He could have wrestled with the tension between population-level research and individual experience. He could have stood up for the free flow of information. Instead he joined the mob. He fired Damore and wrote, “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not O.K.”

That is a blatantly dishonest characterization of the memo. Damore wrote nothing like that about his Google colleagues. Either Pichai is unprepared to understand the research (unlikely), is not capable of handling complex data flows (a bad trait in a C.E.O.) or was simply too afraid to stand up to a mob.

Regardless which weakness applies, this episode suggests he should seek a nonleadership position. We are at a moment when mobs on the left and the right ignore evidence and destroy scapegoats. That’s when we need good leaders most.

Of course, Damore said nothing about biological unsuitability. One suspects, with Brooks, that Pichai was simply too weak to stand up to a mob. It’s a bad sign for one of America’s greatest companies.


Freddo said...

If I was given to tribal thinking then I'd think Sundar Pichai is perfectly ok with the whole SJW filtering of conservatives as it means more people of his tribe will be hired. Must have more H1B visa as there are no suitable local candidates....

Sam L. said...

From what you wrote, it seems to me that Brooks was mostly reasonable in this (though I'm not going to read what he actually wrote in the NYT), but we must all understand that Diversity Ist Uber Alles in HR departments (because GOVERNMENT), so Pichai is between the proverbial rock and hard spot, and the rock is approaching terminal velocity. Is Brooks now discriminating against an Asian person in calling for Pichai to resign?

James said...

It's all pretty simple. The Left is running out of money, especially with DJT as POTUS. Well GOOGLE has a pile of cash. They are vulnerable and on the chopping block, here come the the lawyers and politicians. This will make the tobacco company settlements look like chicken feed.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

It's even simpler than that.

The Left believes it can fight "covert" discrimination with blatantly overt discrimination.

This has been going on for over 45 years. Normal people know what the consequences are... they live with those consequences.

The ideologues pretend it has no impact, and this is the Yellow Brick Road to utopia. I have yet to meet a Lefty/liberal who doe not believe this.

It is claimed "Once the veil of racism is lifted, all will eat at the same table." What they choose not to see (please note the verb) is that all this virtue signaling perverts the incentives of those who sit at the table.

The incentives are based on immutable characteristics... those characteristics the Left has always told us are the chains of bondage.

The guy at Google is being criticized for his means of communication -- his verbiage, terminology and manner -- but notice he is not being challenged on the essence or context of what he says. It is purely a defensive fight by Google. They have no leg to stand on. "Don't be evil"? Don't grow up.

And this blog is hosted on a Google engine. How ironic.

James said...

"It is claimed "Once the veil of racism is lifted, all will eat at the same table." What they choose not to see (please note the verb) is that all this virtue signaling perverts the incentives of those who sit at the table."
Or this menu "sucks".

Ares Olympus said...

A great article by Brooks, including this section on "a legitimate tension":
What we have is a legitimate tension. Damore is describing a truth on one level; his sensible critics are describing a different truth, one that exists on another level. He is championing scientific research; they are championing gender equality. It takes a little subtlety to harmonize these strands, but it’s doable.

Of course subtlety is in hibernation in modern America. The third player in the drama is Google’s diversity officer, Danielle Brown. She didn’t wrestle with any of the evidence behind Damore’s memo. She just wrote his views “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.” This is ideology obliterating reason.

And the media failed widely as well, repeating claims that did not exist in the memo, the standard strawman approach to dishonesty, so easily checked by re-reading what's actually there, and find yourself caught in the very web Damore was warning about.
My concrete suggestions are to:
● De-moralize diversity.
○ As soon as we start to ​moralize an issue​, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”

It would be amazing if Pichai resigned over this, but Brooks makes the case well. Google has taken sides in favor of subjective feelings and ideology, and against factual knowledge, and given its status as internet knowledge sourcing, we should all be concerned.

David Foster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Foster said...

I doubt that Pichai made this decision without discussing it with the senior officers of Alphabet: Schmidt, Brin, and Page.

Whoever was involved, I expect the decision was largely made out of fear...'if we don't get rid of this guy, his memo will be used as evidence against us in future discrimination lawsuits, arguing that we tolerate a sexist culture'...justified in their own minds, as fear-based acts often a