Particularly, there seems nothing super newsworthy here, in terms of the fact that normally speaking, internal arrangement of a workplace office doesn't make the New York Times. But if one of the aforementioned three companies is pushing the AI buzz, dropping the names of Silicon Valley's top executives in a piece like this seems pretty much the stock way to do it.
Google in particular has revamped it's entire imagine and identity as a company around being "an AI company".
It's hard to imagine where this article originated from other than a PR firm.
I could read it as "hey AI researcher, come here, and you'll be sitting and eating next to the CEO".
But then again, it talks about Google, Facebook and Overstock. So it's not so clear who has to gain.
Maybe it did start as a submarine article for one of the companies, but then the NYT reporter/editor asked around at other companies to see if this is common.
If the "most important" were really seated next to leadership at Google it should be Adwords team.
Friends at Tesla, FB, and other have mentioned this happening when a company is moving into new frontiers or needing to drastically improve certain product areas.
How awful! One would expect the vicinity of high-level managers to have a lot of activity... people walking in and out for discussions, visitors throughout the day, high-level management walking around potentially asking questions which might pull a researcher out from 3-levels deep problem solving! Maybe what researchers need are comfortable working environment (desks, chairs, boards, discussion rooms) and the right amount of stimulation -- maybe a few discussions with colleagues to spark ideas, and not too much generally distracting bustle.
My only point is that it is far from obvious whether this seating arrangement is beneficial.
which had a link to this interesting paper