Senior machine learning scientist quits Google over plan to launch censored Chinese search tool


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/13/jack-poulson.html


#2

So, that’s great and everything, but it’s not much of a stand or statement. This guy can pretty much get any job for any pay he wants.

Did Google lose a good engineer? Probably. But that’s not as much of a problem as people have been making it out to be recently.


#3

But he won’t take one of those jobs if they’re directly enabling authoritarian regimes. He’s setting a good example, one which made the news, so it’s a good enough statement even if he probably had a dozen offers in his e-mail within 30 minutes of the announcement.


#4

They could also probably buy a condo in a lower COL area like Vegas and live off investments, never working again. These are people who if they persist, do it out of want, not need.


#5

So as clever and impactful as this “Dr. Turning Lovelace” data scientist is: his absence, actions, or career path are not the cronicles of a modern day tech hero or villian.

This is not how software works, especially not at a big organization, especially not in a field where everyone knows they can just print money.

Was he good at his job? Yeah probably. I’m sure he’s good programer that’s quite efficient and dedicated. That’s what “senior” means really.

But the reality of this world is that there are no new ideas. He can try to throw his titles around but the end of the day there’s nothing he does that 3 eager fresh college students couldn’t pick up, innovate on, and improve; for much cheaper and Google knows this (so does every other company). Software engineers, in general, believe they’re much more talented and valuable than they actually are


#6

Really?


#7

That aside, so what you’re saying is they have a job opening? Have they checked with Trump? I hear he knows the best people.

If that fails, I’m willing to be considered. What do I know about machine learning? Why, I taught my toaster to do a backflip!

Okay, fine, it wasn’t my toaster. It was my dog.

And it wasn’t a backflip, it was “lie down”.

And I didn’t so much teach him to do it, as he happened to do it while I was talking. To someone else.

So… about that salary


#8

It would be interesting to see if this grows into a trend. I figure it’s safe to assume that every major tech corporation, including the one I work for, produce tools for governments and corporation who use said tools to do things that a lot of folks in Silicon Valley would find objectionable.


#9

Yes.
As a software engineer whose specialization demands a premium: yes.


#10

considering most machine learning work of the kind google does requires at least 2 years of coursework specifically in statistics and ML on top of a rigorous CS and math background, I’d disageree - you’d probably need at least a master’s, and probably a PhD to do said work. There probably aren’t many people with his domain knowledge + experience working at what Hooli employees eyerollingly refer to as “Google scale”. It’s definitely not the kind of thing any old college grad can do - even if they went to CMU/Stanford/et al. :slight_smile:


#11

If they all turn evil at once, no one can resign since there’s nowhere to go. Brilliant!


#12

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