Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Tech backlash has come to Stanford (slate.com)
173 points by ForHackernews 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 210 comments



I did the Stanford thing a long time ago, but there were tech objectors even then. A comparatively small number of activists protesting this or that, “Do you really want to work for Microsoft/IBM/Oracle?” with most engineers just keeping their head down and studying.

This is nothing new.


I think what’s new is the rapid fall in the number of CS grads from Stanford (and other top schools) accepting offers from Facebook.

But I doubt it’s just about ethics. I remember when Facebook dethroned Google too.


The cynic in me thinks this is purely a factor of smart kids in tech realizing Facebook is old news and provides little path for differentiation (or rapid promotion). They better than anyone know the exciting startups their friends and friends of friends are starting especially compared to the tedium of a (cushy but) relatively non-challenging job at Facebook, Google, MS, etc. Plus, there's more chance for a moonshot 10/100/1000x at a company that's not already a behemoth. The smartest people I know are itching to work at startups. They could care less about FAANG.


> The smartest people I know are itching to work at startups.

What's stopping them?

In my experience, the people who actually want to work at startups tend to be either (a) very young engineers, who have more risk tolerance and perhaps more naiveté, or (b) people who worked at a successful company (e.g., FANG) and set aside a comfortable nest egg, and therefore also have high risk tolerance.


You wouldn't go to any startup, you'd pick the most promising one.


One of my friend's cousins lives in the Bay Area, and he was looking for a new gig at the time after his company sold (IIRC). He asked his cousin why doesn't he go work for a FAANG. His cousin essentially responded with, "Facebook is really the company that you go to while you're looking for another gig. No one really wants to work there, but it pays the bills until you find something else."


Also, fintech is paying significantly more than FAANG right now. The interviews are harder, but there was an ~$60k premium to go to NYC over SF for most of my friends in Harvard's last class. Combined with what is viewed as a relatively low promotion curve vs NYC -- if they wanted a big company, most students took NYC.

At 5 years of experience, the gap was even wider. A friend just took a 400% pay raise to move from Google to a fintech firm. He shopped around at other tech companies, but no one was above a 20-30% increase.


400% seems much higher than anything I've seen. assuming 200k at google (likely conservative), this implies a 1m offer from a quant fund for someone with no special complementarity for the role? i would be very surprised labor market is this much out of alignment.


I can't edit the original post. It was a 300% pay raise, salary was 400% of original. 1m at a quant fund isn't unreasonable 5 years out, but it would be extraordinarily high.


agree, but surprised at this number for someone without a proven track record given the high false positive rate for success in these roles


Given that recent grads probably male 200K their first year at Google I'd say its probably north of 1.5M which is obviously ridiculous. Top portfolio managers at major Hedge Funds barely make that.


Don't believe it, numbers don't add up. Maybe he moved from Google Iowa to Janestreet. But let's say it's true, it's pretty rare. Fintech is not paying significantly more than FAANG when it comes to software developer. Not even at all.


This is interesting. What do you mean by fintech -- hedge funds and HFT shops, or financial technogy companies like Affirm? Could you share a few examples?


Prosthetics for sharks. It's a growing industry.


Lol. There was a time when I wouldn't post 'lol' on hn, but I've loosened up in my old age.


Did your friend have special domain knowledge like machine learning?


He has a bachelors and masters from a Top 3 US program, but neither were related to the work he's doing. In fact, they asked him to start studying ML (with the understanding that he had no prior knowledge) in preparation for his new job.

My gut feeling here is that the 'I don't do what they're testing for in interviews' feeling pervades FAANG management as well as engineers. They probably don't actually see much value in programmer intelligence above a certain bar.

On the fintech side, they are approaching recruiting as they always have and probably won't even schedule an interview if you don't have a recommendation and a top 5 university on your resume.


Top 3? Go bears! ;)


Can you provide some companies that could offer this? I'm interviewing in NYC atm and would be great to know.


> Do you really want to work for Microsoft/IBM/Oracle?

Maybe the reason has changed though... why did they say this back then?


They were all varying levels of evil at various times. People thought Microsoft was a predatory monopolist. Embrace, extend, extinguish. Oracle a sue-happy company run by a megalomaniac. “What’s the difference between god and Larry Ellison? God doesn’t think he is Larry Ellison.” IBM was a stuffy has-been with strong military-industrial ties. I have no good joke for IBM, which is part of IBM’s problem.

Google’s “Don’t be evil” really was in stark contrast to all that. (Whether lived or not is a separate thing. )


I honestly think that there should be some sort of ethics course required of CS students (like how MBA students are often required to take a class in business ethics, and doctors are required to learn medical ethics).

Engineers who behave unethically without asking questions aren't good engineers--at least, they're not the sort of engineers we want to be creating.


I have trouble with the notion that a single class during tertiary studies is what will make the difference between ethical or unethical behaviour.

Ethical behaviour is - or should be - learned and refined over a lifetime, via parents, peers, all levels of education, employers, wider society and one's own contemplation.

I'm suspicious of the inclusion of ethics classes in MBA courses, given the kind of work many MBAs end up doing. I suspect it can create a mindset in which anything you convince yourself is OK according to what you learned in your ethics class is acceptable, which is a very weak and inconsistent standard.

To be clear, I'm fully supportive of the idea that engineers and everyone else in tech companies should behave ethically. I'm just not sure ethics classes will achieve that outcome.

If engineers, or any employees, are behaving unethically, it's because there's a misalignment between the employee's own short-term incentives (i.e., keeping their job, getting a promotion/raise), and societally-beneficial objectives. It'll take more than an ethics class to fix that.


In my case, I never seriously thought about several hot button social issues that were ethically troubled until I took a course on ethics. They simply didn't intersect with my life, nor did I expect them to. Only once I was in the class did I stop and think about costs incurred by choices and policies and their outcomes, much less how I might simply ask "What choice is more just (or less unjust)?"

College is about not only learning deliberately but allowing serendipity to open your mind to the unexpected. In my experience, budding engineers are among the last of us to become aware of social costs vs benefits and alternative perspectives. Without a required course to open their eyes, it's likely that many young techies will leap into life's choices before they look.

IMO, college is exactly the right time for all students to confront the cost of living an unexamined life.


> learned and refined over a lifetime

Absolutely. But, what if someone's parents, peers, etc have never really introduced the foundational ideas? I mean, most people are taught ethical rules, but they're often taught as rules and not ideology that should be applied broadly. Also, most parents aren't equipped to teach some of the ethical dilemmas that we face with social media and big data. Having a course on some of these things should be another building block for many, but also a backstop for those who have never given it any thought at all.


Yes, it may not be sufficient. But what we need is not only to change the short-term incentives, but to encourage employees to disregard these incentives when it is morally necessary to do so.


There's research (and common sense) showing that ethics is taught by example moreso than by words/books/lessons


I am not so sure. It is hard to teach ethics, but you can have ethics as a basis for a framework. Most MBAs will be very aware of something like compliance or labour law. And if know that framework you can critique them. Not every hardware engineer understand the importance of ethics, but they mostly accept the regulations or principles derived from ethics. In tech we don't really have that, so it is often a non-starter to begin with. The exception being GDPR, but you have probably noticed how messy those discussions are.


I mean, given how ethically MBAs act, it seems the ethics course isn't really all that effective...


Well, define ethics. The protesters mentioned in the article seem to think that even providing software to law enforcement is unethical (like many google employees seem to think that providing software to the US armed forces is unethical). I don't think that a Silicon Valley definition of ethics will gather much consensus.


But SV doesn't get to redefine ethics. They have to confront the same problems, criteria, and choices as the rest of us.

For example, I used to contract to the US military in the DC area. That work invited many of the same concerns that SV does -- privacy, security, freedom of speech, acting preserve and defend the Constitution's principles. Today I work for a big pharmaceutical. Comparable concerns apply here too -- honesty, doing no harm, serving people in need, improving and extending their lives.

Ethics are universal, no matter where you live or what you do.


"Well, define ethics."

An ethics curriculum would help you with that task.


I don't think that would do anything at all. People aren't going to learn ethics from a class. Furthermore, there is absolutely no reason to single out CS students, as many ethical decisions in tech are made by business people anyway.


Some people really do learn from classes. I'm not being facetious. Sometimes teaching you can actually see that students have never considered certain things and for them it is a revelation of sorts.

To understand this you have to also take on board that ethics is difficult. The media often gives us simplified versions of situations after the fact and we can't help but feel the "right" choice was always obvious. But in reality, as an ethical conflict develops those involved often feel helpless as the problem continues to grow. No one risks stopping it precisely because they don't have the intellectual framework to deal with or understand the developing complex ethical dilemma until it is too large for a single individual to take on.

I get where you are coming from though. I'm just saying that some people aren't lucky enough to have come from that place. Education does often make the difference for well meaning people not otherwise exposed to a good moral foundation.


My journalism ethics class did open my eyes to some things. However, when the industry itself ignores the ethics taught in the classroom and demands its cogs do the same, then no matter how good the class may have been, it's not going to win over a boss deciding to behave unethically.


There are plenty of things I didn't fully understand as a student, not just academic things but self-realization "youth is wasted on the young" type learnings, which I suspect impacts all of us

BUT, I bet if you look at the data, things like DARE and driver's ed and sex ed v abstinance education have measurable, statistical impacts on what people believe and how they act.

ALSO, there are plenty of jobs out there for technical work. Each of us decides what people and organizations we are comfortable supporting with our labor. It's not a perfectly free decision, and there are plenty of individual trade-offs to make, but we're hardly passive players.


In the US, if you go to an ABET accredited engineering school, you are required to take an ethics class. Computer Science, however, is not an engineering discipline as far as ABET is concerned, so CS majors often don't have an ethics requirement.

The content of the ethics class is different than you may think though. There isn't really an engineering version of the Hippocratic Oath, and the instructor normally realizes that he or she isn't going to instill a sense of ethics into a bunch of bored 20-somethings in three months if they haven't developed one already. Instead, the class tends to focus on choices you might face as an engineer, why they are hard, and the outcomes for both you and society at large.


I think that such a class, if required of software engineers, would be a great idea.


There was a year-long module on engineering ethics included in my M.Eng. degree course. We discussed the usual "software engineering failure" stories - THERAC-20 and so on.

In my experience - the overwhelming majority of students just wanted to pass the module, had no intention of contributing. I asked a friend in the same class what he thought of it, and he responded:

"What does it matter? I'm going to be working for a company, and they'll have rich lawyers. Any problem can be made to go away with enough money. All I need to care about is my pay cheque."

Last time I looked at LinkedIn he was working at one of the FAANG companies.


When I was studying and we talked about that and other software failure incidents in a class my experience was more that most did not want to work on projects where failure had such a huge impact (i.e. death) or the discussion was about how can one avoid it from an engineering perspective. No one was flippant about consequences or talked about lawyers.

I also do know that people have been discussing AI, ethics and consequences in that same class now as I know the teacher. I don't now the outcome but I think people at least recognize the potential problems.


Was it the Therac-25 or the Therac-20? I thought 20s were unaffected.


Might well be the 25. I probably should have Googled that first, it's been a few years since I looked at it.

Point of my comment: you can teach this all you like, but it won't do any good unless you can break people out of the "I only care about the size of my pay cheque" mindset.

The money-chasing mentality is probably partly to blame for the mess we're in...


Lack of accountability. People get away with doing Evil (tm) things at companies, in the name of the company. Company gets a slap on the wrist.

US government was afraid to break up Microsoft. They were afraid to fine Facebook higher as well.


Nice idea in theory; in practice, it might be tricky to have the organizational incentives aligned to make sure such a course is rigorous enough to be useful, rather than yet another worthless and trivial humanities requirement (at my large public research university with a strong CS program, faculty essentially compete for students based on how little work their gen ed courses are---no joke---and our required CS ethics class was similarly light).


And not just rigorous enough, but also engaging enough that even the "apolitical" students find it interesting. (The students who naturally find an ethics course interesting are the ones who will still find it useful but ultimately need it least.)


Perhaps, then, we should stop calling CS programs strong when they only specialize in churning out obedient code monkeys.


Does anyone seriously behave unethically because they don't know how to behave otherwise? I have a feeling that it's virtually always a conscious decision where someone prioritizes their own benefit over any cost to others, not that they just didn't know what the "right" decision was. Curious if anyone has experience a major change in mindset after taking an ethics course.


We had to take a required ethics course at UT after a student went to ridiculous lengths to lie during the senior year recruiting process. It was obviously just something faculty came up with in a scramble to save face. I suppose OP’s suggestion makes sense if you consider that there are people who seriously think an ethics course does anything, so you might as well wear the badge to one-up fellow applicants. Kind of like those certifications you find online.


Yes, it's known that psychopaths don't have an internal moral frame of reference and learn about what is acceptable by observing others, then replaying those learned scripts during social interactions, while not caring about them at all.


Highly Agree! I took a tech ethics class and learned so much about the basics of ethics, it really framed the world differently. I followed that up by taking a tech focused philosphy class which expanded on using those ethics basics in applied difficult tech industry questions. Just two classes, probably 6 credit hours total, and I have greatly expanded my mind. I also took a basic sociology course that was about information disparity in america which focused on race, class, etc. that probably helped as well. I so wish I could build a curriculum for modern CS


Most CS programs in the US have a mandatory ethics class.


Do you have data to support that claim? I did not have an explicit ethics subject at MIT. The closest we got was discussing Therac in 6.033.


Data point of one (school) but I did at University of California, Davis.


Stanford had a specific mandatory CS ethics requirement when I attended.


Data point 2, Drexel University requires it


Same here...but also UCD.


In my experience business ethics courses encourage behavior that is a far cry from what the rest of us would consider ethical — effectively boiling down to “generating the most value for shareholders”.


My career really started taking off once I started reading about moral relativism and nihilism.


Lots of people here conflating "teaching what is right vs wrong" and "teaching how to consider what is right vs wrong". Ethics classes are typically the latter.


It would be great if the industry could agree on an actionable code of ethics first. But I don't think this would be easy.


Actionable is always questionable even for those professions, like medicine, where it's well known there is one.

However, code of ethics do exist in software and other engineering:

https://www.acm.org/code-of-ethics

https://www.ieee.org/about/corporate/governance/p7-8.html


There usually is one, although mine was basically "remember not to kill anyone."


We had a required ethics course at my college.


Why? Engineers have functioning brains. They can decide on their own what is ethical or not. And act accordingly.


Yes, but they may decide incorrectly. Plenty of inethical people have "functioning brains"; they just lack the necessary knowledge.


Well incorrectly according to whom? People are well aware when something is wrong. They just love the money. A training course won't solve that problem. Brainwashing one will though.


Lots of clever people unintentionally trained deep networks that unfairly discriminated against people of various races or from certain zip codes. Sometimes you aren't aware of all the implications of the decisions you might make and a course that informs you of such pitfalls can be helpful. Professional ethics courses at the University level aren't there to convince you discrimination based on gender, race etc is wrong, but to make you aware of when that may be occurring.


I don't know. From what I remember of the flame war the problem was that they fairly discriminated against various races and zip codes. So actually the algorithms had to be made less accurate to fit the legal expectations.

But once again the problem was in the customers. They should have said optimize for a, while keeping discrimination in check, not just optimize for a


So, do you think calculus, physics, type theory, etc are all things that should be taught and studied, yet ethics is not? Do you think that unlike the former subjects, the latter is just something that everyone knows?


The fundamental difference is that calculus, physics, type theory etc are all studies of what is. The goal is simply to describe and predict the world.

Ethics is the study of what one ought to do. It purports to lift some values over other and define morality, meanings, and legitimate goals.

These two - positive versus normative - are fundamentally different types of discussion and knowledge.

Just consider: A physics course in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia would likely teach the same thing as a physics course in Stanford. An ethics course absolutely would not. Consider why and what that means.


> Just consider: A physics course in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia would likely teach the same thing as a physics course in Stanford. An ethics course absolutely would not. Consider why and what that means.

Deutsche Physik rejected relativity and quantum mechanics, aka “Jewish physics”:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Physik

Lyshenkoism killed millions through famine by espousing nonsense biology and ignoring genetics:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

Philosophy, including ethics, is foundational to everything we do, and unfamiliarity with the rules of the normative allows the unscrupulous to corrupt the positive.


You're right. I was thinking of things like rocket physics (the US gained many great engineers and physicists from German and to some degree Russia). Example would have been better if I specified "rocket physics" or "aircraft engineering". Let's proceed on that basis.

"unfamiliarity with the rules of the normative allows the unscrupulous to corrupt the positive. "

Which rules of the positive are you talking about? Your rules? My rules? Trump's rules? Hitler's rules? Confucius' rules? Jesus' rules? Mohammed's rules?

The point is that the normative doesn't have rules in the same way as the positive. You can do a science experiment to objectively show Lysenkoism is wrong. You can't do a science experiment to objectively show that slavery is wrong.

Given that there are so many systems of rules of the positive, there's no way you can teach one as the rules the way you can teach physics.

My fear with such courses is that they just end up as moral propaganda for whoever is in power - empowering the powerful.


> Which rules of the positive are you talking about? Your rules? My rules? Trump's rules? Hitler's rules? Confucius' rules? Jesus' rules? Mohammed's rules?

I'm talking about the ones that explain how to think about concepts, how point-of-view and experience affect what we perceive, how discourse can be used to further or detract from truth, etc. Basically, epistemology. Otherwise, how do you even presume to tell me that your physics is right? Because rockets fly? I think they fly because if you put fuel and make an offering of electricity to the gods of the ether, they will send it upwards—on what basis do you convince me, when I can rephrase everything you say to me as "the gods of the ether will it so"?

What has happened is that the Western world has created a shared epistemology and has done a very good job of laying it down and universally teaching it. So most of the time, we don't need to worry about right and wrong because the decision has been made for us long ago (and what does that say about us?)

Now, though, new questions are coming up—ethics in software engineering, bias in machine learning, etc.— where the universal model hasn't yet caught up and been agreed on, or where it is being challenged. And if we are not familiar with the process by which such things are agreed on, we are essentially letting other people make the decisions for us.

I totally understand the reluctance to empower the powerful, but I think education doesn't have to be brainwashing.


> The fundamental difference is that calculus, physics, type theory etc are all studies of what is. ... Ethics is the study of what one ought to do. ... Just consider: A physics course in Nazi Germany ... would likely teach the same thing as a physics course in Stanford

This is a superficial understanding. Once you start digging deeply, the difference between the hard and moral sciences is more tenuous, and less "fundamental". Sure, "calculus, physics" etc largely attempt to describe what "is", but these fields are motivated by the belief that nature "ought" to make sense. There would be no calculus or physics without a desire to make sense of the world, an "ought".

And "ought" does not just motivate hard science, it's an integral part of it. When following the scientific method, the first thing you do is form a hypothesis. A hypothesis, but its very definition, is not necessarily true, i.e., it's an "ought" not an "is". Scientists therefore have to embrace and believe in "normative" knowledge to advance just like other endeavors. The types of hypothesis and endeavors hard scientists engage in are subject to the prevailing social norms.

To reference your example, Nazi Germany did all sorts of ghastly experiments on twins and other prisoners, all in the name of science. Something that would not be done elsewhere. Even today, research on areas like stem cells and global warming are largely influenced by social norms and "ought".

Accordingly, while I agree there is a fundamental difference between "is" and "ought", that difference does not so clearly differentiate hard and soft sciences.


I think that many philosophers have gradually come around to the idea that the fact/value distinction is illusory. This is particularly apparent in the case of so-called "thick" ethical concepts (words like "cruel" or "courageous"), which do not seem to belong exclusively on either side.


> Well incorrectly according to whom?

You know, this sounds like a good topic for an ethics course.


A good software written to spec is by definition ethical. It is unethical to write bad software, not evil one. But if you write bad software - nobody should hire you anyway.


> A good software written to spec is by definition ethical.

Even if the spec specifies unethical behavior? Sounds like passing the buck.

Or what if the spec itself isn't well defined, and leaves many undefined states and holes that the developer has to fill in themselves?

If a lawyer submitted a brilliant and conforming but racist or unethical argument to a court, the lawyer can still be found to be unethical. Just because you're following the rules, doesn't mean that you're doing the ethical thing.


Even if the spec specifies whatever unethical behavior means. That is problem for the guy using the software not the one making it.

Get the job done, get the money, get out.

If you want to waste precious time of your life wondering whether something is wrong - be my guest. But don't impose it on people with better things to do.


Careful - this line of argumentation can also be used to allow yourself to do some very, very evil things in life.


10 years ago I’d agree with you, but now? Not so much. Such a class would quickly be taken over by SJW-types and turned into advocacy instead of a class with a more philosophical demeanor where there is room for debate and disagreement people generally practice the principle of charity.


I don't think that these are mutually exclusive.


I think they'd be similiar to how you use HN.

Spread your own personal opinions and downvote anyone who disagrees with them.


And the only downvote that matters will be the one of whichever ideologue happens to be the "professor" that is grading you.


I can say, as someone currently hiring, that more than one applicant(1) has cited our focus on cancer, and not killer robots, as a compelling factor in applying. People in the killer robot jobs are actively looking for ways out. As an aside, the killer robot jobs tend to pay about 10-15% under market, at least according to Glassdoor.

What makes the comparison somewhat interesting, I think, is that we are still a military group, in military installations. We just happen to be hunting cancer because people in the military also get cancer.

(1) We're mainly talking STEM BS to PhD, mostly under 40.


Pretty sure you’re not supposed to discriminate by age when hiring


He was describing the candidates he sees this behavior from. I don't think it's discrimination to observe obvious information.


Indeed, a classic example of bias is to refuse to discuss race information explicitly in selection deliberations.

If you see people refusing to consider information given to them, it's a signal, and it's implications may be less altruistic than they want you to believe. Perhaps more than they want to believe themselves.

One of the most compelling examples of this I've seen was in a selection board procedure where there were simply no black applicants (from a field of potential applicants roughly 5-7% black). This was at a service academy, the board was selecting for student leadership positions. The board members were senior officers of the military (hate the military all you like, but considered opinions have generally held the military up as a model of integrative practices done right).

After selections were made, the demographics of the selectees and the pool were compared. The glaring absence of blacks was deemed a problem by everyone on the board. In prior boards, the white people on the board would have immediately moved to revote with the explicit intent of elevating more blacks into leadership positions. This was simply not possible, there were no black applicants. A black woman who happened to be on the board (who was highly accomplished) was deeply concerned and moved to reconvene after she could review the entire field of potential black applicants.

A week later the board reconvened and she said she simply could not find a black student she would recommend. The anguish in her face stays with me 15 years later. She felt that the black students who might qualify on other grounds were on shaky academic ground and she felt it was her duty to make sure they had the best possible chance of graduating.

To some extent it is surely a tale of small numbers (higher variance in smaller populations leads to sad stories like this) but if there is a person capable of understanding the problem, I would think a black female computer scientist with a lifetime in government would understand. And she was clearly troubled.

You can easily imagine the other version of this story, where one or a few black students had applied and not been selected. The white majority would have quickly added one or more of them to the student leadership coalition, and the black woman's minority opinion would have been drowned out in a simple majority vote.

What I see now, I think, some years removed, is the routine, callous use of blacks by whites to avoid confronting their racist tendencies in the usual board setting. Indeed, out of the many boards I participated it, it was this one instance where the absence of black students forced everyone to acknowledge the black leader's opinion carried weight.


7 years ago, i worked with a really smart undergrad. I asked him if he would come to google, he said google is not cool. Went to spacex.


SpaceX is notorious for chewing up starry-eyed new grads and spitting them out after they burn out from the lack of work life balance.


Maybe, then maybe not.

I had no wlb for quite a while after school, by choice. Some people just like to do what they do.


I doubt that google is hiring many mech engineers or those targeting space/aerospace.


This guy was a CS.


Drank the Kool Aid


So he wasn't that smart after all.


He was, he is


You're not going to convince anybody of that if the only thing we know about him is that he turned down Google for SpaceX.


I was the first full-time engineer at the previous company that I worked for. We were acquired by one of the companies mentioned in this article. During the acquisition, employees were given the choice to simply not join the acquiring company. I pondered on it a lot given my ideological beliefs and stances. For practical reasons, I decided to join while a close colleague opted out…looking back, for a number of reasons (first-hand knowledge/exposure/experiences that I prefer to not dive into), I wish I had done the same.

This was a bit of time ago and I am no longer employed by said company.

I applaud these students for standing up for what they believe in.


I lost my tech altruism after the Snowden revelations. I'd been in the business professionally since the mid 90s and as a hobbyist since the mid 80s. I still do it for a living because I gotta pay bills, but SV doesn't impress me as world changing, for the better anyway.


I had a similar epiphany, though I'm also a generally cynical person. It was always easier for me to believe that human nature would see us ultimately misuse technology for dystopian purposes. I also believe what's happened thus far is just the tip of the iceberg.


Reminds me of a SFGate story a few years back, tech whiz 'retires' to scrubbing barnacles off boat bottoms, and finds it more gratifying.


Meh, do your part and fix it. We can fight tech with tech, case in point, cryptography, PGP, Signal, OpenBSD. Adblockers, the battle of privacy will be fought, won or lost with tech. Pick your side, but apathy doesn't help.


I appreciate your enthusiasm, but none of what you listed fixes anything, it just allows us to hide better, for now. We're against the terminator and all we can do is hope it doesn't find us. The only solution is through legislation, but both political parties seem content with their side of the spying relationship.


I don't suppose this is really news, given that Facebook and Google are the Big Incumbents now. For many this is a Moral choice, and whether what you're doing is really helping out the world.

I'd say also, I currently perceive Google/Facebook as a place to "slow down". They're big enough and have enough resources to do anything they want, so it seems like there's gonna be a lot of people just hanging out and going the slow route.


>I'd say also, I currently perceive Google/Facebook as a place to "slow down". They're big enough and have enough resources to do anything they want, so it seems like there's gonna be a lot of people just hanging out and going the slow route.

Having worked in a startup and midsize environment and now at Google my experience has been the opposite. Getting to focus intensely on one or two projects at a time allowed me to push the needle on velocity. I don't push as many LOC, sure, but that isn't how I measure impact or progress. At Google I can make measurable, verifiable impact using a development cycle the loops over a few days. It's very hard to do that even at midsize companies.


Thanks for sharing, that is reassuring. Do you think the focus is more of a specialization thing and having all the people around to deal with other specializations (IE, clear lines)?


Of course. I didn't start out my career thinking I'd solve all the problems a given company has. I think that hero mentality is the reason a lot of startups fail, at least in a technical sense. I always viewed engineering in general as a process of abstracting complexity into easily understood components. Why do the hard work of making good abstractions if you don't put them to use by specializing your employees?


It’s news when hiring stats come out, e.g. Stanford students are no longer accepting Palantir. For example, one report found that Facebook’s new grad acceptance rate has fallen below 50% this year: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/new...

These stats are important for disseminating competitive information about the job market to job seekers and small companies. If Google et al own all the salary and resume data, then they have an unfairly outsized effect on the market.


Why did you link an amp page?


It loads faster on mobile.


> Google/Facebook as a place to "slow down"

I don't know where you've gotten that impression. Neither of those two companies got to where they are by having a culture of slowness.

Any team you're on doesn't have all of the company's financial resources at its whim -- rather the team has a set budget and quarterly objectives and everyone's breaking their back to meet them like in any other company. And if your team doesn't deliver, then your promotion won't happen... and most people are working towards that promotion.

There is absolutely nothing slow about it.


> I don't know where you've gotten that impression. Neither of those two companies got to where they are by having a culture of slowness.

My visibility is limited (don't work at FB/Google), but I have several friends and ex-colleagues who do and I have to say, I have the same impression that it's a company for people to slow down.

They're already at the top of their game and I think assuming everybody there is an A-player is misguided. It's more likely you become another cog in a giant machine with limited reach for better or worse.

There's a lot of politics and while it's true everybody wants a promotion, it's clear to me (at least from my sources) that promotions are more about learning to play a game according to their rules rather than being a fast, high-achiever.

Not everybody wants to have financial resources at their whim. But some people are happy getting to the office 11am, moving a button 1px to the right then 1px to the left once in a while, and then leaving at 4pom. From what I heard, if you're ok with that, a place like Facebook or Google is great.

Again, I don't assume it's the norm, but I heard enough to make me think "slowing down" is very doable.


Ex-Googler here. I found working at Google to be slower pace than the previous startups I worked at due to the code review process (reviewers sometimes being in different time zones or just being slow for whatever reason) and the time to takes for tests to run. (Global presubmits often had to run overnight for example.)

You can get around it by having multiple changes going in parallel, but it's still a lot of overhead. I don't think it was just me either. This seemed to be a common complaint. Maybe it's fixed by now?

This is going to vary a lot depending on the team and where you are working in the stack. Lumping Google and Facebook together and saying "there is absolutely nothing slow about it" seems too strong, though.


Lethargy isn't the issue. It's the growth plateau (after ~ year one) and stifled upward mobility that are the real dealbreakers, for some. The phrase "slow down" is imo accurate insofar as a fairly middling effort exerted by any sufficiently smart person will ensure continuity of employment at GooFace.


For every politically woke CS student there are two dozen completely apolitical ones (and a sprinkling of wrongthinkers). I don't think Palantir is really desperate for applicants.


Stanford has also dumbed down its undergrad CS major, removing all of the old engineering requirements that tended to filter out the SJW types.

Edit: seems the downvoters don’t like what I have to say, but that doesn’t make it less true. Compare the graduation requirements for CS at Stanford from a few years ago to now - no compilers or os, no multivariable calculus, no pointers. They literally eliminated all the hard classes. As a result, the degree has become more liberal arts focused and the makeup of the class has changed in sync. I’d guess more than 50% of cs majors at Stanford we’re asian and foreign born just a few years ago - folks who you generally don’t see leading direct action protests.


I see no connection between a person being a so-called "SJW" and an inability to perform more rigorous engineering work. I have no idea where you draw that connection from.


Statistics and observation, probably.


Anecdote & bias is more likely


Inclusivity at the expense of merit.


>> seems the downvoters don’t like what I have to say, but that doesn’t make it less true.

Except that it isn't true. A quick look at https://cs.stanford.edu/degrees/ug/Requirements.shtml paints a completely diffrent picture.


Stanford did indeed make some changes that I feel did significantly impact the rigor of the courses. Most notably, CS106 (A, B and X) and 107 all introduced team assignments, but the assignments themselves largely did not change. So you have twice the workforce for each assignment. I feel like this also meant that when a pair consisted of two people of different levels of skill the quicker student finds and fixes most bugs, thereby depriving the weaker student from developing debugging skills. Without pair programming the latter would eventually develop those skills but it would take longer and require more assistance from section leaders.

I think it's a bit crude to say it's been "dumbed down" but it is not entirely untrue. Also I don't think this has anything to do with "SJWs", these changes were directly prompted by staffing shortages.


Please point out where something I said isn’t accurate.


>> no compilers or os, no multivariable calculus, no pointers.

Stanford still requires cs students to take classes that cover the material above (except compilers which can be taken as a specialization)


That’s just not true - they all became depth electives or not required at all.

OS is 140. Not required. Multi var calculus is math 51. Not required. As you note, compilers is not required. They also removed the EE hardware class in favor of a mishmash of core cs classes that are easier.


It depends on the track. HCI for instance doesn't require those, but other tracks do. CS isn't just about printing software engineers.


sounds like they are aligning the degree with the realities of a programing career. did calculus really make you a better software engineer? Most development happens at such a high level that not knowing OS and compilers probably can get most people by. How much of development is made up of frontend js programmers, mobile developers, web developers writing php/wordpress stuff. If you do want to be good at it, it is a specialty.

If you do want to do science, there are still masters and phd programs. Undergrad is job prep for most people and colleges are doing a disservice by pretending it's not.


> did calculus really make you a better software engineer?

I am no math whiz but I would say yes. Having the basics down at least at one point in you life is pretty helpful.

I am not the type to develop new lock-in functions for encryption and I do not use LaPlace tables to create models of control loops to configure pid controllers. But the understanding helps me to know about important stuff I have to look out for.

That said, you can still design amazing software without that knowledge, but the foundation certainly helps. Even if this knowledge might not be directly applicable to your day-to-day job.


C'mon. This is Stanford. No OS, compilers, or pointers? Really?


This is somewhat misleading. You have to pick a specific track, and there are hard requirements in each track. For instance in Graphics you make a ray tracer and 3D renderer in 148 and a 3d mesh editor and a video game in 248.

In theory you dig heavy into algorithms and probabilistic running time, and other things.

In the systems track operating systems is a required course as is compilers.


Why should those be mandatory? The department is fucking huge now and allowing people more space to take electives or having separate tracks with different requirements helps with staffing issues.

I TAed for the undergrad compilers course when I was a grad student there. My PhD is in the field. I really don't see compilers as a reasonable mandatory course for engineers today.


> Undergrad is job prep for most people and colleges are doing a disservice by pretending it's not.

This is a completely inverted way to frame it. Higher education shouldn't be perverted by the whims of the labor market. Universities don't need to change their curriculums. Companies need to change their hiring standards.


It shouldn't be, but for most people entering into it, becoming highly desirable on the job/employee market is the chief motivator. If a university doesn't cater to that demand, the students will go elsewhere.


I don't disagree. And maybe students should go elsewhere. Maybe our society should rethink what qualifications it seeks of prospective entrants to the labor force.

What should not change, however, is the fundamental nature of academia. That model is inviolate and has propelled much progress in our species' collective knowledge. In fact, I think the hijacking of higher education as an assembly line to furnish credentials wholesale is an unforgivable adulteration of that institution.


Agreed, but debasing a valued asset for short-term gain is as old as the human species. In the past, it was coinage that was shaved and alloyed. Stanford's reputation and the CS degree's reputation are valuable assets today, so it's hardly surprising that some amoral administrator decided to trade them away for increased enrollment.


If only higher education weren't already perverted by the realities of greed and incompetent bureaucracy leading to our little student debt problem inconveniencing a handful of students in the country /s


This is very a bold straw man.


> did calculus really make you a better software engineer?

Ten years ago, I might have agreed with you, but with data mining and machine learning coming to dominate the practice of software development, calculus is more relevant than ever. I took undergraduate calculus about 30 years ago, and I’ve forgotten so much that I recently dug out my old textbook (that I still have for some reason) and started to re-read it just to make better sense of a lot of the machine learning documentation I’m coming across these days.


You’re literally just calling SJWs stupid in a roundabout way.


I don't like forced moralization as much as the next one but I think this is a bad development. Before computer science becoming something you could study, it was mostly bundled with philosophy in my country.

That isn't just about chugging two beers and talking about the state of the world. Arguments are carefully crafted and (logical) consistency is valued that could for one help you with in your field and additionally allows you to look beyond the horizon on a lot of issues.


Stanford's admission rate has been dropping over the last decade, so I highly doubt newer students are any less qualified or capable.

In fact, I'd argue the opposite: The median student slated to graduate in 2023 is likely smarter and harder-working than median student who graduated in 2003.


Not necessarily, a dropping admissions rate can be experienced even if the performance requirements remain the same and the number of unqualified applicants increases.


Unlikely given that Stanford has long been considered by the public to be a name-brand tier-1 school for decades.


"for decades" that's somewhat debatable. Stanford has been renowned locally in California and along much of the west coast for decades. Its nation-wide renown and worldwide renown are more recent. Stanford started to see large growth in the matriculation rate and number of applicants in the mid to late 2000s and really kicking off in the 2010s. One year, I think in 2009, there was unexpectedly high matriculation to such an extent that freshman had to sleep in cots for a few weeks.

It's been a good University for a while, but I think it's reputation as an institution on par with Harvard or Princeton, or OxBridge is maybe 10-15 years old.


You're really flattening the diversity of people with a political consciousness. "Social justice" isn't the be-all end-all goal of politics.


You may be getting downvoted for applying a derogatory term commonly used to dismiss anyone with a conscience, and the privilege to actually exercise it.


Hmm, sounds like the argument used to justify social conservatives who attempted to impose their conscience / morals on the others...


You can speak up for what you believe in without imposing it on others, you know.


No worries. Us non-wokies will vote you up :)


Exactly. I know people would work for Palantir specifically because it appeals to their political taste.

People are different and complicated, assuming a blank slate of tech people following certain ideology is ignorant at its best, stupid at its worst.

Smart people won't go to Google/Facebook? Think twice. Maybe they want to spend more time in exciting/shiny stuff when they still can afford to make mistakes. The difference here being they CAN join Facebook or Google at the right time.

Money definitely talks, let alone the problem/scope company like Facebook or Google could offer, that certain startup couldn't even dream about.


The article does say the percentage of people accepting full time offers from Facebook has dropped from 85% to 35-55%. I imagine its far worse for Palantir. Sure, they can always get more applicants from somewhere, but in all likelihood they definitely do feel the effects.


Anecdotally - I'm at a moderately liberal college for undergrad (what colleges aren't at least this much, I guess) - more than plenty of people are willing to at least intern at Palantir, Facebook, etc., especially with their initiatives for signing more women and poc on board. A lot have even accepted offers, and I haven't noticed any decline in these patterns over the past few years. Many young students still want to work at FANG companies and make sexy bank, everything else be damned.

Not that I necessarily know what my peers' moral integrity and political positions are like...


> The article does say the percentage of people accepting full time offers from Facebook has dropped from 85% to 35-55%. I imagine its far worse for Palantir.

Attributing this to politics seems like a premature conclusion. Another possibility is that there are an increased number of competitors that compensate well. Uber, AirBnb, and others.

Also, it looks like the drop is only across 1 specific year so it's heavily subject to noise:

> the acceptance rate for full-time positions at Facebook from recent graduates of top-tier schools had fallen between 35 and 55 percent as of last December, down from an 85 percent acceptance rate for the 2017–18 school year.

If this were measured as as sliding window and showed consistent decline it'd be more convincing.


How much of that is merely due to students interviewing at more places and thus getting multiple good offers though?


I don't know if that's true among top-tier applicants. And even if the ratio were 24:1, it still not a meaningless gesture. It puts an economic pressure on a company when finding candidates is harder.

But really being able to be proud of the work you do in your life is its own reward.


I disagree. In my experience (graduated from Stanford in 2015) at least as many people, probably more, are put off by "woke" culture and corporate activism. Opinions that are commonly voiced are not necessarily widely held because people with strong opinions tend to speak a disproportionately large amount.


You're drawing a false dichotomy. "Don't be evil" isn't at all the same as "wokeness."

Just as one example, some of us would never build an unconstitutional mass-surveillance system, and it has nothing to do with "wokeness."


I'd wager it's even more true among top-tier candidates. Anecdotally the best engineers I've ever worked with have been among the most uninterested in politics.


My experience is that they're interested in politics somewhat orthogonal to the mainstream discourse.


Anecdotally, several of the smartest people I knew as a grad student at Stanford are now working for an international nonprofit seeking to reduce bigotry, working in politics focused on privacy, working on encrypted communications, and working as faculty at another top tier university focused on accessibility and ml fairness.


Not many of the excellent programmers I know went to grad school. It's probably self-selected for people interested in social issues.


It's pretty meaningless, and top-tier at that level is fit based, the objective geniuses have a way of not working for other people for very long at all.


There is no such thing as "apolitical."


This is a more nuanced version of the "silence is violence" position. You're either an activist or you're part of the problem. You're either with us or against us.

It's a position that makes total sense and seems unassailably true to...well, people that are tuned in politically. People that don't care or don't connect the dots between politics and their actual life are pretty dang apolitical.


When I was a college student and in my early twenties I was aware that my opinions on political stuff changed a lot. So I didn't worry about politics much, I had an opinion about right and wrong but didn't take it seriously. That is apolitical.


Saying that something is apolitical is like saying someone is speaking with "unaccented English". By definition, you can't say anything in any language without an accent, it's just that some accents, by virtue of being default, get promoted to the status of "unaccented".


That's not true. For example, homotopy type theory is apolitical.


If you strip it of context then sure. Grad students working on pl research are largely funded by the government, often by the military. They work in a subfield that has low adoption among undergrads, especially undergrads from schools other than top ranked schools. The work seeks to solve a specific set of problems in cs and software engineering, which may or may not be the most impactful problems out there. We also see vast differences in formal methods between US and European institutions both in coursework and in research.


To be apolitical is to make the tacit political statement, "Things are okay enough for me to not care." It's very difficult to be truly apolitical in a nation where a birthright to political interest in whatever you deem fit has been vested in you since... well, birth. Assuming you're American.


> To be apolitical is to make the tacit political statement, "Things are okay enough for me to not care."

But the point is, they don't care. Which makes this position apolitical, an absence of political opinion. The fact that they aren't spurred into political actions due to personal suffering does not mean that there's no such thing as being apolitical.


In this case, yeah, it does. To not care either way is to be okay with ceding your right to care to others. Which is... a choice. An opinion on the worthiness or usefulness of having that choice. The only way to be apolitical is to never have had a choice... And since duress makes having a true stance impossible, there's no way to be apolitical.


That's a reason, but not the only one. Others include, but aren't limited to:

- The world is too complicated for me to know who is correct

- Both options on the table suck

- My voice doesn't matter

- I trust others do better than I would

Not taking a stance between essentially two choices for how things should be done is not the same as saying things are being done okay.


Being apolitical just means that instead of trying to change society you make the best out of it. Of course it makes more sense for privileged people to be apolitical, but plenty of people without privilege are apolitical as well.

Examples of apolitical people who doesn't fit your description: Illegal immigrants who try to keep theirs heads down and just work, women who adopt a conservative role instead of fighting it, slaves who picked cotton instead of making a fuzz, Gays who pretended to be straight and even married etc.

If you think a bit, being political is almost always more work than not being political. So it is mostly very privileged people who engage in it. The rest are just trying to get by, they don't have the time or energy to spare being political.


None of these are examples of "apolitical" stances. They are people on the margins who are not able to vocalize what they feel to be in their best interests, either way. To hold an apolitical stance under duress is not really to hold an apolitical stance.


Yes, in my experience people that say things like "no need to drag politics into this" really mean "no need to drag political opinions that are different from my own into this".


I'd rather not have annoying protestors disrupting the education I paid for and bugging me with pamphlets even if I agree. I counter-protested some annoying walk-out over the election result at college with a "Krusty Krab Unfair" sign and some of them got mad at me, so at least I got back at them a little. Outrageous that some professors weren't counting absences though.


Way to prove my point. You wanting to deny others right to peaceful assembly is you getting political. You just don't realize because you (obviously) agree with yourself.


If you are absolutely determined to inconvenience other people then congratulations; everything can be political because you have the power to make it so.

However this is a hostile approach. If you can't get results through the usual political channels, trying to inconvenience the neutrals into compliance is a dodgy way of proceeding. I'll accept that nobody in politics plays fairly, but the people being harassed by an organised protest are completely reasonable in claiming that they were apolitical and the protestors are forcing politics upon them.

We have a word, 'apolitical', because it is a possible state someone's opinions can be in.


Please peacefully assemble 100 feet outside of somewhere I didn't pay tens of thousands to be.


Protest doesn’t work unless it it causes extreme inconvenience. You’re telling the protestors not to protest.

Americans have a completely impotent understanding of protest. Protest and asking nicely are NOT the same thing. You do the former when the latter doesn’t work.


> Protest doesn’t work unless it it causes extreme inconvenience. You’re telling the protestors not to protest.

No. This is the kind of misguided logic that protesters use to do things like block freeways, stand on caltrain tracks, and trespass on private property.

When protest causes extreme inconvenience, more often than not it inspires ire for the protesters. None of my friends that were stuck in traffic when BLM protesters blocked highways in Oakland came away from that experience with an improved opinion of BLM.


It's not really that misguided because in general it does work.

One has to understand that the inconvenience you feel by being inconvenienced by a protest is truly a tiny fraction of the "inconvenience" that motivated the protestors to protest. You know, have some empathy.


If a woman seeking an abortion has to drive 4 hours to the next state because protestors stormed the abortion clinic, would you tell her to "have some empathy" for the protestors? Or how about a bunch of white and Asian tech workers disruptively protesting women and URM ERGs in objection to discriminatory hiring processes (e.g. diversity quotas). If not, then you're at least conceding that only some protestors are justified in causing "extreme inconvenience" and that others are not justified in causing inconvenience. And in my experience, whether or not a person feels a protest is justified in causing inconvenience largely correlates to whether or not they agree with the protest - a pretty hypocritical position in my view.

Empathy works both ways. Protestors that lack empathy for the people they're disrupting aren't going to get good reactions from most people because most people don't like to be disrupted.


Yeah, I think only some protestors are justified in their action because I think some protestors have stupid immoral beliefs. I would say that if a group is storming an abortion clinic, I'd at least have to concede that they're doing what has been demonstrably effective in accomplishing their goals.

I don't see any hypocrisy. I want what I want, and I don't want my enemies to get what they want. We can't both get what we want if our views are incompatible.


The abortion protestors would not be effective because fortunately the bulk of society does not agree with your belief that protest grants license to disrupt other people's lives and we have enacted legislation to prevent protestors from interfering with the operation of abortion clinics, businesses, transportation, etc. If abortion protestors did that, they get hauled to jail. Same deal with BLM protestors blocking highways. Protestors have a right to be heard, not a right to disrupt the lawful activity of others.

> I don't see any hypocrisy. I want what I want, and I don't want my enemies to get what they want. We can't both get what we want if our views are incompatible.

You're essentially saying, "it's good when I do it, it's bad when people I disagree with like do it." This is hypocrisy, justifying actions for oneself but criticizing others for doing the same. And not to mention, I frequently find that this mentality fosters enmity between people with different views - you even referred to protestors espousing views you don't approve of as "enemies".


"You may well ask: 'Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?' You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored."

- Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail


Not sure about anyone else but disruptive protest has the opposite effect of its intention on me. It inclines me to like the movement less if people are going of their way to inconvenience me in its name.


You're going to rip some refugee family apart to invisibly spite some trust fund kid protester who is fully insulated from any negative externalities of Palantir?


You want to have your cake and eat it too. You can't both be a jerk to people and expect them to also support your cause simply because you aren't the beneficiary of your cause.


The victims have already "asked nicely" for people to support their cause. Tupac explains this well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0XMJMphPT4


> Protest doesn’t work unless it it causes extreme inconvenience

Extreme inconvenience for who/what you are protesting, inconveniencing the average Joe is counter productive and will turn them against you.

You're right though, apart from in some mythologized version of the Indian independence movement peaceful protest has never done jack. You need to throw your body on the gears and the levers etc.


Or you could try engaging with the system directly?

There are a lot of political movements that achieve a huge amount without getting serious about protests. Any modern democracy gives people the option to get involved with shaping how the government works.

Waving the broad brush of generalisations, usually the people protesting are doing so because is because they have no chance of getting the numbers to effect change - because the majority simply doesn't care about whatever their special interest it, or will actively resist it because it is secretly a fringe issue. If they have a chance of capturing majority opinion, they'd be too busy using effective channels rather than protesting.


Or we just don’t need politics to infest every aspect of life, public and private. Voting only happens every other year.


Or maybe they just want to come to work, write some code, get a paycheck, and go home. I don't know what any of my coworker's political stances are and I kind of like it that way.


In my experience, the people who insist that there is no such thing as being apolitical are the ones most averse to political views different from their own. More often than not, people who insist that coworkers should bring politics into the office neglect to consider that many of their coworkers probably hold views they consider morally wrong or harmful. For instance, several co-workers who made such statements had also called all Trump supporters white supremacists (attributing the label to all supporters was explicit) and that apprehending any illegal migrants at the border is inherently racist. Something tell me these people have a pretty specific image in mind when they're encouraging their co-workers not to be apolitical in the workplace.


Then political is a meaningless word, the results are the same.


You seem to be implying that being apolitical is a political position in itself, much like how atheism is a religion too.

Do you consider baldness a hairstyle?


    Gather 'round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun  
    A man whose allegiance
    Is ruled by expedience
    Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown
    "Nazi, Schmazi!" says Wernher von Braun

    Don't say that he's hypocritical
    Say rather that he's apolitical
    "Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
    That's not my department" says Wernher von Braun

    Some have harsh words for this man of renown
    But some think our attitude
    Should be one of gratitude
    Like the widows and cripples in old London town
    Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun

    You too may be a big hero
    Once you've learned to count backwards to zero
    "In German, und Englisch, I know how to count down
    Und I'm learning Chinese" says Wernher von Braun
-- Tom Lehrer, That Was The Year That Was, Reprise Records 1965.


Tom Lehrer performing "Wernher von Braun " live (1967):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEJ9HrZq7Ro

His amazing wit is just as biting today as it was when he originally composed most of his songs over half a century ago.


Indeed. But the echo chamber resents their apolitical being equated with amoral. Lest they develop ethics, and bite the hand of mass consumer surveillance that feeds them.


I don't understand why is Palantir singled out there. Compared to Facebook (maybe even Google) seems like a good company to work for.


Palantir is heavily into surveillance and is used by many customers to secretly push their interests well past the fuzzy boundary of US privacy law, much like Facebook. The main difference is that Palantir heavily serves police and military customers on projects that are classified and thus criminal to reveal.

Any company whose business is to help federal and local police surveil the public while hiding these practices from public scrutiny and oversight worries me, and I think, should worry everyone in light of Snowden's revelations.


While there's definitely backlash happening against companies like Google and Facebook, I have another theory.

New graduates are less interested in these companies because they don't represent their generation. When I was a kid, the idea of working for these companies was cool not only because they had cool products but because they were relatively new and were something relevant to be a part of.

Today, these companies aren't so cool to graduates because they're old school in tech years. Facebook and Google are massive companies where your impact will probably be a drop in the ocean. In a lot of ways, they're the IBM and Xerox of today; why would a kid in the 70s or the 80s want to work for those stuffy and slow-moving corporations when they could work for Apple or Microsoft? Maybe millennial still view these companies the way they did in their youth, but I doubt that Gen Z see them as the exciting new thing. Young people naturally want to do something new and don't want to exist merely to be the Atlas of the same world their elders built.


Probably. Also in the early days Google was publishing things that were at the forefront of tech, which was interesting to everyone in tech. But over the years they got bigger, started to lag behind, putting out boring crap for strategic reasons. Big companies just cannot advance tech and be seen as exciting, as they are the ones trying to hold it back to keep getting those massive profits.


The founders were also young! Today to the 18 or 22yrs old, Google founders are old men!


Idealism will lose some of its luster when the time comes for them to pay off their enormous student loans.


Stanford's financial aid is /generous/. Most students aren't coming out drowning in debt, despite the high sticker-price.


It is basically modern servitude and I hope not a model for future education.


Blocked for the GDPR conscious.





Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: