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Levandowski sentenced to 18 months in prison as new lawsuit against Uber filed (techcrunch.com)
483 points by Scaevolus 85 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 418 comments



This guy had such a sweet deal at Google originally, it staggers me that he'd go to these lengths to steal even more.

He was getting a massive salarY, bonuses in the millions, and he had persuaded Google to pay him even more money through a side-hustle company of his while remaining an employee. Then he quits and steals their stuff.


>bonuses in the millions

Hundreds of millions. As part of breaching his employment agreement by stealing trade secrets, Levandowski had to pay back one of his bonuses, which was $120 million.

I mean, part of paying this type of comp is to retain talent. How much more should Google have paid to retain him? Or was this even preventable?


Except that in his case the bonus was paid based on Project Chauffeur hitting certain milestones. They retained him until the project hit the milestones, and then he left. Which is fair and square. And by the way, Chris Urmson and Sebastian Thrun did the same.

It's just that Google did not understand the Goodhart law of self driving, which states that you can hit arbitrarily hard milestones and yet get nowhere near real self driving.


I suspect we could generalise your law for all of AI work: you can solve arbitrarily hard tasks and yet be nowhere near real general intelligence.


A half-joking prediction:

at some point we'll solve all arbitrarily hard milestones for AIs and yet find ourselves 'nowhere near having real general intelligence'.

At that point we might start questioning our assumptions about intelligence.


Well, if those hard milestones include "building an AI system to solve a given problem" then I'd agree with you.


With intelligence, the territory is not the map :-)


https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/91177/how-our-eyes-see-e...

Until we can understand and correct unconcious inferences, how can we ever understand intelligence.


  In the days when Sussman was a novice Minsky once came to him as he sat
  hacking at the PDP-6.  "What are you doing?", asked Minsky.  "I am
  training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-Tac-Toe."  "Why is the
  net wired randomly?", asked Minsky.  "I do not want it to have any
  preconceptions of how to play." Minsky shut his eyes.  "Why do you
  close your eyes?", Sussman asked his teacher.  "So the room will be
  empty."  At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.


Please don't use code blocks for quotes. It makes it very hard to read text on mobile, narrow viewports or via screen readers.


I get what you're saying, but 99% of those working in AI aren't even trying to create AGI. They're working on narrow AI, and they're perfectly willing to acknowledge that.

Even the SOTA reinforcement learning folks know that they are working in limited (albeit progressively expanding) niches.


This has traditionally been a problem on Wall Street also -- if your bonus is based on profit, traders maximize profit (but also risk.)

Then the company wizes up and the bonus is based on profit with a risk cap...and traders maximize profit and minimize some form of risk (while taking on some other unmeasured liability, e.g., liquidity)


hard task: generate a pile of money in short time.

If an AI accomplishs this task, I don't care whether it is general intelligence or not.


AI becomes US treasurer


Has anyone seen any good hard milestones that would validate that self driving progress is being made? Even the framework?


Yes - dunno what GP is talking about because there are tangible milestones for working self driving:

https://www.synopsys.com/automotive/autonomous-driving-level...


Yes. Working self driving.


>I mean, part of paying this type of comp is to retain talent.

As with ever increasing CEO compensation, it has been frequently pointed out that this may be less an issue of performance and more a sort of internal cronyism with tightly connected people being excessively compensated. Given the mythology around tech founders/talent it's not surprising.

As long as the companies grew it was fine, but I honestly think these compensations are on their way out as shareholders at some point have to recognise that this isn't reasonable.


Its not just about shareholders. You can better spread bonuses for overall happiness of employees and overall better productivity.


Like shareholders have any real say.


God what kind of knowledge / training do I need to get that level of bonus?


It's telling that the "he deserves it, it's all foresight and brilliance" is the leading reply and the "right skills, right time" reply is behind. I imagine just by sheer nature of the power law that some upvotes are people trying to justify their lot but that would be the minority of people. I guess just so many who haven't made it at all but hold this fiction dear for their own peace of mind?


Without seeing the scores, if the more recent comment is on top, we don't know which has more votes. But in fact, both have been on top at different times.

> I imagine just by sheer nature of the power law that some upvotes are people trying to justify their lot but that would be the minority of people. I guess just so many who haven't made it at all but hold this fiction dear for their own peace of mind?

What you're doing here is speculating about the motives of an unknown number of people who upvoted a comment. Can you really not think of any other reason they might have done so?


It's either that, or some people really believe in the benefit of doubt.


The Just World Fallacy is an important cornerstone of a lot of people's beliefs about the world.

It tends to come out most fervently in strained justifications about such massive and obvious inequalities in compensation, such as this case.


Whenever someone says "this state of the world is just, because <something you disagree with>", it's easy to say "that's the just world fallacy talking". But it's basically contentless. Really you're just saying that you disagree with the "because", and not explaining why you disagree.

I wish people did it less often.


The problem isn't with the explicit statement, which is rarely made.

The problem is with the fact "the world is just" is a position they reason from, and seek to defend, often in blatant contradiction to the facts of the situation.


I agree some people do that. But not everyone who says "this state of the world is just, because <something you disagree with>" is doing that. How do you tell the people who are doing that apart from the people who just disagree with you in this instance?

It seems to me that you're accusing people of a pattern of "mistakenly seeing the world as just". But your only evidence for this is one case of them mistakenly seeing the world as just; and in that case, you haven't even put in the work to show that they're actually mistaken.

(edit - for that matter, how many people even think this state of the world is just? From skimming, I can't see anyone explicitly saying it is. The author of the comment that triggered this subthread explicitly disclaims it.)


"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." ― Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress


The flip-side of this truism is that this point of view is probably healthier for the individual than seeing themselves as helpless victims.

Both views are flawed, of course.


> The flip-side of this truism is that this point of view is probably healthier for the individual than seeing themselves as helpless victims.

That's not the flip side of that view, because the socialist view of an exploited proletariat in an advanced industrial democracy is not one of “helpless victims”, but of a powerful force that has the power to reverse the power structure once they realize it exists and act in solidarity against it.


I don’t understand why this post is being down-voted as it clearly states one of the foundations of socialism.

A quick (and very) simplified summary of the traditional socialist perspective is that in capitalism, the vast majority of the population must work as wage-earners (proletariat) to provide the means to sustain their life.

A much smaller group of people (capitalists or bourgeoisie) own the means of production and do not need to work. The material interests of these two groups are in opposition (class struggle): value is created by work done (labour theory of value) and it is in the interest of capitalist owners to exploit workers as much as possible, i.e., maximise the amount of value they can extract as profit.

As economic value is created by the labour of workers, in an advanced industrial society, they are the class with the potential to consolidate this economic power: if they were to unite (in unions and socialist parties), they could use this economic power to take political power from the capital class. The goal of the socialist is to unite workers across boundaries so that they understand that their material interests coincide with other workers (class consciousness) – what they have in common is more important than what divides them. If workers don’t see that their material interests lie with the vast majority who have to work to live, the class will remain divided (as illustrated by the Ronald Wright quote).

As well as these two primary classes, there are other (smaller) classes in capitalist society, such as

- petit-bourgeoisie (small capitalists who own their means of production, e.g. shop-keeper) who can employ workers but don’t possess sufficient capital to not have to work themselves. Their class interests can lie with both capitalist and worker.

- lumpen proletariat – the underclass of the proletariat who don’t provide economic value, e.g., thieves, beggars, criminals; they lack class consciousness and act in their individual self-interest; they can be used by capitalists against the interests of the proletariat (e.g., strike-breaking, inciting racism to divide workers).


Clarity doesn't matter when it comes to politics here. Left views about workers' power like this often get downvoted.


> As well as these two primary classes, there are other (smaller) classes in capitalist society,

Not really smaller, the lumpenproletariat and petit bourgeoisie are each generally both numerically larger than the haut bourgeoisie. Less important in terms of the basic class conflict, but not smaller.


I wrote that synopsis quickly and expected some nit-picking but that's an excellent correction. Thanks.


Can you recommend leftist authors other then marx and Engle? I've read their stuff but I'm open to more.

Appreciate your time. Peace


I’m not as well-read as I’d like to be (thanks, Internet) so I can’t be of much help. I’ve read a fair bit of Chomsky but his writing focuses more on modern topics such as US foreign policy and the influence of the media in democratic societies.

I used to be an anarchist (libertarian socialist) and was very much inspired by the accomplishments of the CNT and FAI in the Spanish Revolution of 1936 [1]. The book that I remember most from those days was “The ABC of Communist Anarchism” [1] by Alexander Berkman which explains in plain language the ideas and philosophy of libertarian communism. Being Irish and interested in history, I also read James Connolly’s “Labour in Irish History” [2] where he argued that class solidarity was more important to the cause of freedom than pure nationalism. I was also strongly influenced by the Orwell classics, “1984”, “Animal Farm” and “Homage to Catalonia”. Most of these books are free of the jargon and overly academic language that many leftist authors are wont to use.

Nowadays, I still consider myself to be a socialist, albeit a sceptical one. I’m always open to learning more about history, economics and human nature. I find myself seeing the conservative perspective on a number of issues and I despise the divisiveness of cancel culture and the modern incarnation of identity politics as being antithetical to the ideals of socialism. Anyhow, I’ve had “The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists” on my to-read list for some time (now that I’ve publicly said it, I better stop procrastinating and actually do it).

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Revolution_of_1936

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Now_and_After

3. https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1910/lih/

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ragged-Trousered_Philanthr...


I understand why socialism appeals to people when they see so much suffering and inequality in the world. What I do not understand is why any scholars would cling to the labour theory of value in light of such things as multi-billionaire startup founders.

It should be pretty clear to anyone at this point that all you need is a laptop, programming skills, a good idea, and a lot of luck to become a billionaire. You don’t need thousands, let alone millions, of employees labouring for you.


> You don’t need thousands, let alone millions, of employees labouring for you.

Name a company with a billion dollars in revenue that is, or could be, operated solely by someone with a laptop and programming skills.


Previous poster didn’t claim billion dollars in revenue - just that to become a billionaire. Take Facebook acquisitions for example - WhatsApp, Oculus - low headcount (less than 500) for multiple billions.


> low headcount (less than 500)

Indeed. There's a big difference between 1 person and a team of hundreds.


There are a lot of trusts out there that operate with no full time employees and make billions in revenue. Maybe getting returns on investments isn't really a company, but it's also hard to say something like a hedge fund isn't a company.


Those trusts earn their money by investing it in enterprises that actually create value through the use of many employees.

I definitely would not describe myself as a socialist (I have an academic background in economics) but it's pretty clear that the labor theory of value is not contradicted in the slightest by citing examples of lone rent-seekers.


Leverage the install base of more computers than humans.

Write code that makes those computers $0.01-$0.10 more valuable for human being, multiply by large number of humans paying yearly.

Billion dollars, easy


> As well as these two primary classes, there are other (smaller) classes in capitalist society,

While central to Marx’s writing, the LTV isn't particularly essential to socialism (that labor is essential to the production of value is, the LTV itself is not).

> It should be pretty clear to anyone at this point that all you need is a laptop, programming skills, a good idea, and a lot of luck to become a billionaire.

Or ownership of sufficient quantity of the means of production and a lot less luck. But, though there are reasons to question the LTV, I'm not sure how the high value of of some particular labor that requires only minor capital to realize in any way figures I to such criticism.


that labor is essential to the production of value is, the LTV itself is not

But that's silly. We see celebrities generating tremendous amounts of economic value by the "labour" of taking a selfie. To emphasize the labour is like focusing on the discarded cigarette butt instead of the thousands of acres of dry tinder it landed in.

Or ownership of sufficient quantity of the means of production and a lot less luck

People who own factories needed a lot of luck to get there as well. What real difference does it make whether I earn a billion dollars with a factory or a laptop? Or are they roughly equivalent in power and my laptop ought to be collectivized? That doesn't seem right.


> We see celebrities generating tremendous amounts of economic value by the "labour" of taking a selfie.

Well, and their and various publicists and promoters labor that went into creating the environment for the reception of that selfie, and lots of other people's labor on the things that made the celebrity a celebrity, whether it's the labor that went into building a business that made the family name for someone like Paris Hilton, or the labor that went into making movies or TV shows for celebrities manufactured in Hollywood, or the labor that went into political campaigns for celebrities of political origin.


But all that same labour goes into aspiring celebrities that nobody cares about. Hollywood is full of them. So the value clearly does not come from the labour.

Heck, even celebrities who have “made it” like Kevin Costner can still produce something like “Waterworld” while complete nobodies like JK Rowling can launch themselves to mega stardom by writing a novel while commuting on the train.


Which billionaire has turned a good idea into a billion dollars without at least hundreds of employees?

And what of users? The value in social media companies, for example, comes from the number of users, who provide free labor in producing content.


Don't forget to be insanely smart. Otherwise programming skills won't help.


Insanely smart, and well educated.


> socialist view of an exploited proletariat is one of...a powerful force

May be mistaken, but historically didn't socialist view proles as a 'lumpen mass', with no real power?

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


> May be mistaken, but historically didn't socialist view proles as a 'lumpen mass',

No, the lumpenproletariat, in Marxist theory is an underclass beneath and contrasted with the proletariat consisting largely of the unemployable (not due to economic system or structure, or physical capacity, but personal character and inclination), career criminals (of more than mala in se than malum prohibiting sense), and the others who neither make nor are inclined to make a positive contribution to society, and which unlike the proletariat is not viewed as a fertile ground for developing class consciousness and is viewed as a dangerous class at best useless to revolutionary organization of the proletariat, and also having a great potential, largely for pay, to individually be recruited as agents by the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.


Social mobility is a thing. the fact that becoming rich has non-linear payout (e. g. it is expensive to be poor) encourages hard work.

If there are no real barriers in upward social mobility, it will quickly be apperant that earning a little capital and putting it to work is the best way to spend your life. Over time it will compound and produce even more.

Of course, often the best capital to accumulate is skills and education.

If the is no real upward social mobility, people will feel indifferent to the idea of producing more value, right now.


The converse involves temporarily embarrassed Bolshevik central planners.

The truth is that any system has winners calling the shots and losers at their mercy. What matters is figuring out which system (or blend of systems) produces the best outcomes for its worst off constituents.


So true.


Yes and there's no socialist country that has produced Amazon, Google, Apple, Tesla, SpaceX to name a few. This platform, keyboard, routers in the middle are all US made. And there's a good reason for that


You mean no socialist country that hasn't been under constant attack by the majority of non-socialist countries.


Please create your socialist utopia and make it work. Why change US and other successful countries?


Never claimed I could or wanted to, just pointing out that it's disingenuous to claim these systems fail in a vacuum because they are inherently flawed.


Or maybe they do fail because they are flawed. And foreign interest weakening them is just a story. People suffer under socialism. Maybe you should liver under a socialist regime before preaching them.


Yes, people suffer under embargo. We'll never know how much is scary socialism and how much is pile on effect.


I am happy to have this debate in a more fluid channel and with a wider group. May be that's the best way to understand this. HN leaks into wider culture and people here do have voice and impact. So definitely arrange for a discussion for wider participation if you can.


There's a profile of the dude in Wired that goes over what made him so valuable in Larry Page's eyes. https://www.wired.com/story/god-is-a-bot-and-anthony-levando...

Basically, he was one of the key founders of the project that made Google Maps what it is today (a crown jewel of Google with one of the best cartography datasets), vs what it was originally (better UI to third-party, licensed cartography data).

I remember about 12 years ago somebody from the GIS industry, scoffing at the notion that Google might even try to go do some mapping of their own. For him, maps was something Navteq and TeleAtlas knew how to do, and a search engine was deeply misguided if it thought it could venture into that space. That was honestly the prevailing wisdom at the time — it was going to be hard for web-based Google to even deal with the ugly real-world-ness of mapping.

Fast forward to today. Google Maps basically showed the GIS crowd how their work oughta have been done all this time. They invented street cars, street view, and actually made it work; and they used the data to produce accurate maps of the world.

So to your question, what led this guy to an astounding level of monetary reward was that he was part of a team that made a big, calculated bet with Maps and executed very, very well on it. That gave Page ample reason to compensate them well, and it gave him trust that they could handle more projects where they would show up incumbents (such as the traditional car manufacturers, whose inroads into self-driving tech had been very timid for decades).

And it's not clear that they are close to self driving cars, but they certainly contributed to upping the game of that whole industry.

So there's your recipe :) I'd bet that folks who came up with the key tech behind the iPhone are in similar positions at Apple, given how they turned the whole mobile phone business on its head (remember Nokia?).

EDIT: I don't mean the above to indicate that the reward was deserved in any way. Likely, a lot of what happened here is luck plus outstanding team work rather than individual lead performance. But to the question being asked, this is the kind of circumstance and outcome that seems to have supported, in one man's view at least (Page), that level of compensation. If you look at folks at Google who made/make big $, the story is often similar - they led products that were fledgling challengers into industry leaders within a few years (Chrome, Android...).


Our GIS department had airphoto and street view on web based arcgis when google rolled out maps. So did our neighbouring cities, with a central site trying to link it all together.

They also had, maybe, 10 users outside of our own network a year. Everyone else we’re using the traditional pre-google-maps map websites, in my country krak.dk.

I think what google did better was marketing. Then they mapped every WiFi network on the planet to make real life location tracking faster than using GPS.


> I think what google did better was marketing.

What google did was make it into a mass product and they had the resources to apply it to a planet level. That is more than marketing. There are a whole lot of steps between tech demo/proof of concept to product. The most important of which is to actually have the foresight of what the product can be and a plan to get there.


It's true GIS departments did have some access to LandSat grade access via ArcGIS.

But it wasn't useful to anyone who wasn't in the GIS/remote sensingspace. Firstly, the ArcGIS product was primarily client/server and secondly you had to understand what you wanted to see before you used it - it was (and is) literally as easy to get infra red satellite imagery as actual photos.

That's not just marketing - it made it usable for whole new markets.


The hybrid location tracking technology was actually invented by another company that later sued Google:

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


>Google Maps basically showed the GIS crowd how their work oughta have been done all this time.

With a corporate sponsor willing to sink billions of dollars into a project with potentially no upside?


That's how any company should act. If you stop spending money with the risk of no upside, you'll be dead in a decade or two.


> With a corporate sponsor willing to sink billions of dollars into a project with potentially no upside?

I wouldn’t frame it as having potentially no upside. In public talks after Google found success as a public company, Larry Page has never hidden his desire to leverage Google’s strengths to improve the transportation industry, so the desire to invest in a venture that has nothing to do with Google’s vision of “organizing the world’s information” was always there. It turns out that transportation and search have a lot in common but it wasn’t immediately obvious back in 2009 how transportation could benefit from investments by an Internet search engine.

I remember attending a Google sponsored event where Google Street View—along with crowd-sourced data added by human users—was marketed as data that would lay the foundation for a self-driving car project. They would later screen a video of the panda-like prototype from the Google Self-Driving Car project, and how the SDC could use Street View data to safely drive people around town, to which there was a lot of applause by the audience.


I don't doubt he did a lot but you're overselling his or anyone's foresight.


Let me clarify then that I'm not making a case that this kind of reward is justified. Likely a lot of it is luck, and the dude might have been a crook from the start for all I know. Just saying this is the kind of circumstance and outcome that leads to that kind of reward (rather than a particular set of skills).


The comment author is explaining the thinking behind the bonus, not saying if it justified.


There were several others on that team with similar (or greater) degrees of insight and execution, none of whom got paid anywhere near that kind of bonus.


Very likely! Compensation at that level, in a company with this much power concentration, is not driven by much else than the owner's perception of what is beneficial to the business, however skewed it might be from the recognition of actual contribution.


and more leapfrogging.

google/apple were taking it to the next level (phone locaiton telemetry for traffic conditions)

and then tesla with not only location telemetry from their cars, but uploading images from customer cars.


This is the Google version of winning the lottery. Right place, right skills, right time.


Beyond that, the exact moment when this guy stop those trade secrets was unlikely to be the first time he did something unethical. He was likely manipulative, lying, either to harm competition etc etc etc long before which made him good at climbing corporate ladder and negotiating.

He just got too brazen with those trade secrets. Which is exactly how people get high rewards, until it breaks.


This point cannot be emphasized strongly enough. Having known him personally, he does not have the same kinds of qualms as most of us here.


But compared to the lottery, the skills needed to exploit the right place and the right time are not trivial to learn.


There’s enough people in the world to make the chance become the primary driving factor in that.

You could post factually justify their place, but that’s easy in hindsight.

If you think your statement is true - could you please provide a research into which skills would be needed to exploit the right place at the right time that actually proves that’s not some mystical abberation of self-help books?


No, you cannot compare becoming the world's best self-driving engineer to winning the lottery. This is like becoming Lebron James, it's tremendous talent combined with tremendous commitment.


Lebron James was the exact definition of right place, right skills, right time. Lots of players have "tremendous talent" and "tremendous commitment." Lebron wouldn't be what he is today without a tremendous amount of luck. Would his career have worked out if Carmelo was drafted to Cleveland and Lebron went to the Nuggets? What about if Lebron needed to do a year in college now? How would that have impacted his trajectory?

Nobody is doubting Levandowki is an extremely talented engineer, but literally every person that achieves that level of success also took a considerable amount of luck to get there. Right place, right time, right skills is everything.


Having followed sports my entire life, and played a bit... Lebron is not a good example. He is a freakishly transcendent talent, the exception to the rule.

There is no "right time, right place" factor for Lebron, unless we're simply considering the fact that he lucky enough to be born at a time on Earth when professional basketball is a thing that exists.

    Would his career have worked out if Carmelo was drafted 
    to Cleveland and Lebron went to the Nuggets? What about 
    if Lebron needed to do a year in college now? How would 
    that have impacted his trajectory?
Assuming his work ethic and will to succeed aren't somehow impacted there is literally no permutation of events, no alternate universe, in which Lebron James does not become the NBA's greatest talent for roughly a decade. He is/was that good.

Generally though, I do agree with you.

Lebron's championships, as opposed to his individual performance, are definitely somewhat the products of circumstance. He heroically dragged some mediocre supporting casts to the Finals and fell short a few times, which simultaneously proved both his own brilliance and the inability of even the arguably-greatest player of all time to do it all on his own.

A lot of supremely talented athletes have failed to find success in professional sports due to simply never finding a good fit for themselves where they were able to shine.

Similarly, there have been some oddballs who have found great success thanks to being in circumstances in which they were able niche for themselves. James Harden is a modern NBA player who comes to mind. The Rockets play a somewhat bizzarro style that caters to Harden's bizzarro skirting-the-rules game.


My only quibble with your "there is literally no permutation of events, no alternate universe" take is injury and other bad luck. I suspect for every Lebron -- who's been lucky enough not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, injury-wise, for decades -- there are a number of equal/better players (physically and mentally) who get bumped, land wrong, tear an ACL, and their trajectory changes forever. (Or get in a car accident, or... etc, etc.)

The underappreciated part of luck (by the lucky) is not the good luck people have the benefit of, it's the bad luck they avoid.


See this just isn't true. Durability is a physical property and in this area, like many others, LeBron is just on a totally different level than pretty much everyone else. The number of minutes he has played + the low amount of offseason he has (consistent deep playoff runs) + the physicality of his game + the few injuries he has sustained strongly suggests that he has a rare durability.

I really think you are underestimating how special LeBron is, how obvious it has been since he was in middle school, and how much it says about his physical gifts that he has played such heavy minutes for so long. We still talk about high school prospects being the next LeBron James because he was obviously a once in a generation talent (Zion being the only prospect since LeBron that has equalled his hype). Also LeBron has not really had good luck in his life. He had talent that transcended his terrible situation.


Certainly an ACL tear or other catastrophic event would have altered his trajectory.

On a human level, it is worth appreciating such things. Finding new ways to express and experience gratitude is one of the most profoundly powerful things a person can do. A true key to happiness. (I hope this doesn't sound sarcastic: I really believe this)

I think we just generally leave that sort of thing out of "what makes Lebron, Lebron?" type discussions because it's a constant for all athletes. A catastrophic injury would disrupt any player's trajectory. That's not interesting or useful to discuss from an analytic standpoint.

What we're really looking for is, "why is Lebron different from others who've avoided catastrophic events?" or to be more on-topic, "why was Levandowski able to rise to superstardom when other engineers weren't?"

Certainly, yes, some of this can be chalked up to Levandowski's avoidance of catastrophic events. He wasn't eaten by bears! His parents didn't blind him with acid! He wasn't struck by meteors! But, this is also true for a lot of other engineers, so this doesn't tell us anything useful. Everybody already knows that being killed by a bear is detrimental to one's career prospects.

To return to (and hyper-focus on) Lebron for a second...

    there are a number of equal/better players (physically and mentally) 
    who get bumped, land wrong, tear an ACL, and their trajectory changes forever
In his case, the numbers suggest that the number of "better-than-Lebron players who don't make it" is extremely small and likely zero.

1. Every year, millions of people play basketball and do not suffer catastrophic incidents and yet also do not display the sort of generational talents displayed by Lebron.

2. Given the extremely large sums of fame and money involved in collegiate/professional basketball, anybody manifesting his level of talent is unlikely to go undiscovered. There is a lot of incentive for everybody involved to identify and develop such talent. This would be less true for many other pursuits. I suspect there are many "undiscovered Bobby Fischers and Gary Kasparovs" out there in the chess world and many "undiscovered Lewis Hamiltons" in the racing world; I suspect this is not the case for "undiscovered Lebrons."

3. Basketball is also different from other pursuits in that freakish physical height is a great advantage. If you are tall, in most of the world, people will tell you to play basketball. A height of 6'8.5" (Lebron's height) is something like 99.99th percentile and playing basketball is one of the few lucrative things one can do with that height, unlike a 99.99th percentile intelligence or even 99.99th percentile strength.


I think that we agree mostly, but I just don't think Lebron's individual skill is that inherent. If you compare high school lebron to now, obviously there are tremendous differences. The amount of "what ifs" that show up indicate a tremendous amount of luck.

There are plenty of "Most insane athletes we've ever seen" coming up from High School that never turn into anything, or don't turn into the greatest players of all time. You can't just say "Lebron was more talented and worked harder" when things like car accidents, illness and coaching can all ruin a player's career.


I feel you're trying to make a valid point, but you aren't really respecting how much LeBron was an outlier as a prospect. There simply are not plenty of prospects with his size, control, explosiveness, durability and fine motor control. 16 years after LeBron was drafted, we finally saw someone who is as much of an outlier as LeBron in Zion.


> I feel you're trying to make a valid point

Thanks?

> but you aren't really respecting how much LeBron was an outlier as a prospect

This is rewriting history. The thing about signing someone straight from high school is it's tough to know how good they are, given they've mostly spent their whole career stomping normal people. Also I'm not implying Lebron was bad, or even anything less than a top pick. I'm just pointing out that there are quite regularly draft candidates that are touted the same way, that do not end up as a Lebron James.

> There simply are not plenty of prospects with his size, control, explosiveness, durability and fine motor control

Most of which he developed in the league? Which is as much a testament to him as it is his coaching, no? Which is a variable that could've prevented him from ascending as high as he did?

> 16 years after LeBron was drafted, we finally saw someone who is as much of an outlier as LeBron in Zion.

This is flatout not true (and frankly pretty offensive to Lebron). Zion is overweight and duck-footed, the combination of which has already shown issues even in his first season. His team knows it, which is why they're keeping him at 20 minutes a game.

If you can't play a player because of their fragility, you can't really call them great.


    I'm just pointing out that there are quite 
    regularly draft candidates that are touted 
    the same way, that do not end up as a Lebron 
    James.
Can you name examples? I don't think that's correct, at all. Not even Michael Jordan garnered that sort of attention in his early teen years.

Lebron had thousands of people and scouts at his games as a high school freshman and sophomore, and was was on the cover of Sports Illustrated before his junior year of high school.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeBron_James#High_school_caree...

He is such a freakish outlier.


What you're saying about LeBron as a high-school prospect isn't consistent at all with the consensus at the time. 2003 wasn't that long ago - you can find draft prospect reports that show this. You can also compare his reports to the other top prospects and the difference is palpable. For example here is an excerpt from scout.com

"Simply one of the best high school players in the last decade. Whatever you have heard about him is true. He’s so gifted it’s scary. As a scorer, his range extends to 3-point land. He’s a terrific passer and is quite unselfish. Simply put: his talents are on another level. We can list schools with him until we are blue in the face, but in the end this is the best high school-to-NBA prospect since it became chic to make the jump. LeBron James is a special basketball player, good enough to don the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior in high school."

Fron nbadraft.net

" He has met and surpassed the hype every step of the way. The game just comes so easily to him, he’s the epitome of a hoops prodigy. He has changed the face of highschool athletics with Nationally televised games being carried by ESPN. He has lived up to the hype and then some every step of the way. Carmelo Anthony has a better jumpshot than LeBron, and a NCAA title under his belt. But LeBron has far superior upside.[...] No one has ever had to overcome this kind of hype as a highschool player."

Here's an article from SI in his junior year - https://vault.si.com/vault/2002/02/18/ahead-of-his-class-ohi...

Quotes:

"OHIO HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR LEBRON JAMES IS SO GOOD THAT HE'S ALREADY BEING MENTIONED AS THE HEIR TO AIR JORDAN"

"There are only four or five players in the NBA that I wouldn't trade to get LeBron right now," says former Phoenix Suns coach Danny Ainge."

(Also, I think that article illustrates that LeBron didn't have much luck in his life other than his talent)


I don't think this is a great example. LeBron James has once in a generation physical gifts. It is not true that lots of players have the physical talent that LeBron has. With those gifts, he is going to go pro in a major sport and probably be a standout in most situations. I think his success is pretty independent of luck and time.


Having once in a generation physical gifts is a huge amount of luck.

Most people have to cope with mediocre physical gifts that no amount of training will fix.


Not to mention that for all I know I could have a once in a generation physical gift, but i never really enjoyed physical sport and never trained to the level where this gift would become apparent

Or maybe I have a hand-eye coordination that means I'd be a gold medalist at Shooting, or some other sport I've never had the inclination or opportunity to train in


Sure, but there is an ocean between the fraction of Lebron James' success that is luck (which is substantial, as you point out, call it 25%) and that of a lottery winner (which is effectively 100%)


You're arguing against a point no one made. I never said said Lebron was all luck. I said that the luck was Lebron having his genetics and mindset combined with the year he was born, the circumstances with which he was drafted and the coaching and teammates he got.


He was the best self-driving engineer at a time when that was worth $120 million to Google. Is the world's best hydrogen fuel cell engineer getting $120 million bonuses? How about the world's best metallurgist? Historical linguist? You have to be the world's best in a field that could unlock dominance in an enormous potential market that is being actively contested and that one of the world's richest corporations thinks might be won in the next decade.


A valid point. Especially as self driving is nowhere close to bringing in revenue for any of the companies involved. Other than engineers working with batteries or metals which lead to actual billion dollar revenues.


You might say what's unusual with Levandowski is that he made so much money while working for someone else; and while not actually achieving any additional revenue.

If a battery or metals (or self-driving) engineer comes up with a material break through and starts a company they could easily eclipse Levandowski's earnings.


At this point the right sports comparison isn't LeBron James; it's Lance Armstrong.


Sounds about right. Lance could basically sit down in the rocket and take the fame, while thousands of other people did the work to make the rocket and have it go to the moon and back.


Are we confusing Lance Armstrong and Neil Armstrong?


Hahahaha, yes, I was like ‘wtf, lance armstrong? are coders doping?


Absolutely we are doping! Adderall, modafinil.... caffeine...


Right, Lance Armstrong was the great musician :)


Yes, my bad ^^


=)


It's not that he's the best self-driving engineer (though no doubt he is excellent). It's that he is the best self-driving engineer who is also a shrewd political operator.


Not shrewd enough, apparently. Or maybe he just got giant hubris and thought he could fool all of the people all of the time.


> world's best self-driving engineer

Citation needed. I don't see many self-driving cars around, did you mean "world's most self-promoting engineer in self-driving cars"?


>I don't see many self-driving cars around

It doesn't mean that he's not the best, does it?


That's why I was asking for a citation, I want to know by what criteria he was deemed to be the god of self-driving cars.


My take on that but by no means I'm knowledgeable in those topics:

As far as I've heard Waymo was considered to be #1[0] when it comes to self-driving cars, thus it's probably someone of Waymoers

So if he was actually doing a lot of work there (basing on experience and how important for Google he was) then I think it's fair to consider him as a pretendent to be industry leader

[0] - Basing on Googling "most advanced autonomous cars"


That's survivor bias though, isn't it? Hard to see the world's best self-driving engineers when they're not getting caught stealing trade secrets and forced to reveal compensation.


Thought this was going to go a different direction for a moment...


Well they wouldn't be the world's best self driving engineers in that case would they?


I don't think that's true. Because they were already being compensated very highly.


Not really, I can say that for example Karpathy is at the same general level as Levandowski and he hasn't been caught stealing trade secrets.


No one is saying that talent and commitment weren't involved, but anyone who thinks there's not also a lot of luck involved is kidding themselves. Any number of fantastic and hard working engineers, not being at the right place at the right time could end up nowhere.

Of course, commitment can increase your odds grealy, but it doesn't magically make them 100%.


I think they gave the credit to him about having the skills. But it's the truth that luck is a huge factor. The same goes for Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They had enormous skill and talent but if they so much as had slightly different childhoods or friends or geographic locations it would have been someone else.

1. Bill Gates had computer access 2. Steve Jobs met Woz


Yes, imagine they were born 50 years earlier, or indeed now!


Well, it's a lot more like tripping and falling on your face than being Lebron James in this case.


One basic requirement is that you must be so greedy that this kind of bonus isn't enough. A person less greedy than that would never pull through with the posturing that gets anyone to that level.


Sociopathy and narcissistic personality disorder on top of average skills.

My career took off when I had a particularly bad metal break where I exhibited both to a frightening degree. When I got over those I just retired with all the money I'd made.

Make no mistake, success is a mental illness.


You need serendipity.


knowledge / training + bargaining skills


Obligatory Dwight Schrute quote:

“Would I ever leave this company? Look, I'm all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I'm being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly, I'm going wherever they value loyalty the most.”


What's more ridiculous is that he was not even worth it. Uber wouldn't even have realized he existed if Google didn't pay him so much. The technology itself was never that secret or that valuable.


People in the security industry have told me that this sort of thing often comes down to ego and self-importance.

In Intelligence, people have been caught selling state secrets for 10-20k a pop. The kind of secrets that can land you decades in jail. It makes no sense from a monetary standpoint.


This phenomenon has been known from ancient times. A slighted ego is a powerful incentive to turn to the other side. For example, in the ancient Indian work on statecraft, the Arthashastra, Chanakya lists the kind of personalities who can become spies: See Chapter XIV of the Arthashastra:

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Arthashastra/Book_I


One contrast I can think of between people in intelligence and Levandowski is tens of millions of dollars in pay... which actually causes me to agree with you. It seems mostly guided by an overinflated ego and a sense of invincibility.

Gotta remember not to drink your own Kool-Aid ;)


MICE or RASCLS

Never underestimate the power of the ego trip...

https://www.google.com/search?q=mice+rascls&oq=mice+rascls&a...


Intelligence screening essentially tries to select for more financially conservative people and in the cases so far people only go that far due to extenuating situations like divorce, addictions, etc. rather than standard American Greed motive. Until relatively recently people didn’t make $500k+ / year as individual contractors or founding random boutique firms. As such, one of the oddities of the US IC demographics is that a really high number of them are Mormon. It helps explain the Salt Lake City presence and investment when most other sectors of technology are relatively lukewarm there.


That reads like a total 'just so story'

Once decision makers are Mormon, of course they're going to hire more and more Mormons. They don't even have to be doing it corruptly, thats just how networks of humans work.


You should probably provide some evidence for those assertions.


The Mormon thing was started in the FBI and goes back to Hoover

bduerst 85 days ago [flagged]

It's likely Levandowski has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), as is evident by his founding The Way of The Future, which is his own church to worship artificial intelligence.


Please don't do Internet Psychiatric Diagnosis (IPD) on HN.

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=%22internet%20psychiatric%20di...


In all seriousness: You shouldn't remote diagnose mental illnesses for anybody.

It's totally frowned upon by psychiatrists and psychologists, who are experts in the field, because it's actually impossible and can do a lot of damage.

This has nothing to do with Levandowski not being a full blown greedy asshole and now a criminal too. But the problem is really that doing that can potentially hurt people with mental issues.


This seems like good advice. Amateur diagnosis of mental syndromes seems to happen a lot these days.

It raises an interesting question though. Every time narcissism / NPD comes up, the general advice seems to be that you should stay they hell away from these people. There seems to be plenty of evidence that they can wreak havoc on the lives of people around them, particularly anyone in an intimate relationship with them.

So it's arguably a good idea to learn how to "diagnose" these people, at least for self-preservation.


> In all seriousness: You shouldn't remote diagnose mental illnesses for anybody.

As a counterargument: I am extremely annoyed by the people who publicly criticize the personal traits of others without even considering that they might be affected by a mental disorder.


Those two things aren't necessarily in opposition.

For example we can choose to have sympathy and empathy for Kanye West during his public struggles. (Or not. I'm not telling anybody what to do. I don't have strong feelings about the guy myself.)

We can recognize that yes, clearly, the man is struggling with something. We can also simultaneously refrain from hamfistedly trying to figure out what, specifically, he's struggling with.


So in your view noting that someone has some issues that they need help with is not the same as remote diagnosis?


In your view, are those merely different degrees of the same thing? I mean, yeah, I guess. I suppose "that guy is struggling" is something of a diagnosis in and of itself.

For me, the clear differentiator is that "that guy is struggling" is a "diagnosis" I think just about anybody would be qualified to make. We have all struggled. And people generally don't go on Twitter posting sprees of alternating jumbled, grandiose, and vaguely worrisome thoughts when they're doing well. Nor do they make tearful public appearances, etc. And his wife confirms he's struggling. So assuming he's not putting on an elaborate ruse - I think your average layperson is qualified to say he's struggling.

Being more specific than that would require a level of training and direct contact with him that, obviously, a layperson doesn't have. And mental diagnoses are rather uh, fuzzy even when handed out by qualified professionals under ideal circumstances.

It's like the difference between me saying, "my car won't start" (a thing I'm qualified to say!) and "the fuel injector controller is faulty; Honda screwed up the design and Nissan's version of the same thing is much more robust." (a thing I just made up, and am not remotely qualified to say)


More like The Way of Shielding Assets From Creditors


Maybe. I took the liberty to look up their 990 form [1] and it looks like it's an empty non-profit (no assets or activity).

Interestingly enough, Lior Ron (Otto co-founder) was appointed CEO of the church.

1 - https://990s.foundationcenter.org/990pf_pdf_archive/814/8147...


Which I have to believe is a joke based on the end of "The Aviator"... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_Pbx9mvWPY


[flagged]


You should do some reading about it. I don't mean that like "go educate yourself", more like you might be surprised how fascinating is. I thought for as long as I can remember that it was a term excusing people being awful. Labels for everything. After reading some books about it I was left feeling... A lot of things.

It's a little unnerving, extremely nuanced, complicated, and fascinating. I've come to see it more as a description for a mode of being that's actually very important to understand to some extent and to figure into how you understand the world. A label like NPD does it no justice, like any other label for the way a human might behave. I highly recommend giving the idea a chance and thinking about how it might fit into your life.

I think it's important not to sensationalize it. In fact, it's probably far more typical and mundane in most instances. I've come to believe it's widespread but generally only acknowledged or recognized in extreme cases. A typical case of the topology only revealing the mountains from among the rolling hills.


The narcissistic personality was first described by the psychoanalyst Robert Waelder, in 1925; furthermore, the term narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) was coined by Heinz Kohut in 1968.

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


Actually, one could make the point that social media came from NPD.


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

It’s been recognized as a “real thing” for decades.


Whenever I see this sort of reaction, I suspect the person making it lacks understanding of what a "disorder" is.

A disorder is not an excuse for one's behavior.

A disorder just means, hey, there's something here that's out of the normal. A recognition of something that people struggle with.

Does Levandowski have some kind of disorder? I really have no opinion; I haven't followed this case and refrain from amateur diagnoses in general.

But it is not normal to steal hundreds of millions of dollars (or hundreds of millions of dollars worth of things) and if a person has a longstanding pattern of shitty behavior then yeah, there's something going on there that's worth figuring out.


Probably a habit built up over time. You don't just go from upstanding guy to con man overnight.


Read the stories about him - he was always scamming to move up - specifically how he treated the other people who were helping with his ventures.


can you post links of article? are you saying he was not even that good of an engineer?


If I had to guess, I'd say it's actually clearly correlated. The same underlying ego could've driven both the ambition and rewards he got at Google (after lots of rule-bending) and the brazen theft.


This. You see this behavior in gamblers who make it big and then lose it big, or in revenge trading. Make a lot of money then lose a lot of money. If you are even luckier you might even be net positive at the end.

People who know when to quit will usually not have made that much money in the first place because it's a different personality type almost.


One can only guess how much survivorship bias is in there


For some people, it isn't ever about having enough. It's always about having more. It also might not have been entirely about the money: he could have craved recognition, more power or who knows what else.


There's a great quote in "Liar's Poker" where the author's mentor is explaining to him the dissatisfaction he feels even though he got a big bonus. He describes how as you earn more you become ever more jealous of people who are earning even more than you. It goes something like "We never become rich, we simply experience ever-increasing levels of relative poverty".


Next, you'll hear Levandowski 2024. Got to always be moving up


No, it's about dominance and winning. It isn't about the reward. It's about the game.


On the money! and the game is like being in the matrix...you’re always trying to bend the spoon even though reality tell you otherwise...in the end, you start believing the spoon is bent, when it’s not


In reality, the overwhelming majority of fraud and theft never gets prosecuted, and organised crime is an actual thing.

We even know governments run drug cartels to fund black-ops, and sell stolen weapons to this weeks chosen side.

I don’t have a problem with what Levandowski did. It’s just that stealing from one mega corp to give to a another bunch of overly wealthy and getting caught is sloppy.

And makes for a pretty boring documentary or film adaptation.


The reward is just a way to keep score.


The existing theories are plenty likely, but I figure I'll toss out a (probably significantly overly generous) alternative. I don't know nearly enough about the situation to really give much of an estimate of the relative likelihoods.

Imagine you deeply believe that getting self-driving cars to market ASAP is vital to saving countless lives. And imagine you strongly believe you know how to make that happen. If you aren't being able to do that in your current environment, you might feel compelled to change even if you're getting huge piles of money, and you might be willing to cut corners along the way. How much would you give up, if you were convinced it would save thousands of lives each day?


Some people always take the path towards “more.” It doesn’t matter how much they’ve got, if they can find an opportunity for more they’ll take it.


Judging by the amount of money he was collecting from them, his ultimate reason must have been rage against a manager or coworker unless he just has a totally unusual view on money needs?


>> This guy had such a sweet deal at Google originally, it staggers me that he'd go to these lengths to steal even more.

Not sure about this instance but in general, people dont get to some promontory then lose it all doing something illegal/unethical. They often rise up the ranks -- doing illegal/unethical things the entire way up. You just see the time they got caught (the last time) and it seems they could have stopped at step n-1.


A sort of white-collar kleptomania? A thief with a stronger sense of risk management would've quit a long time ago. He felt compelled to keep going perhaps.


The same delusional self belief that gets you to 100 million dollar bonuses sends you to prison.

If he was rational he wouldn't have got to the 100 million dollar stage.


It's the ol' adage, "You don't get to be a billionaire without cheating someone."


That’s a pretty broad brush you’re slapping about there.

If you listen to Marxists, employing people to do anything you yourself benefit from is inherently abusive. Property is theft!

Or you could ask my father in law what he thinks about that, having grown up under Mao.


A company making N billion in revenue is a lot different than its profit, and LOT different than an individual making even one billion of personal wealth. There's a reason the adage is not about millionaires. 1 million, 10 million, even 100 million isn't really "world-changing" amount of money. But 1 billion is, and there are currently just over 2500 people in the world that have at least 1 billion in personal wealth. People don't really understand just how much a billion dollars actually is. It's an obscenely dangerous amount of money for a single individual to command.


Being a billionaire isn't about money, it's about ownership. Take Warren Buffet as an example, Buffet is "worth" 71 Billion dollars, but what does that actually mean?

Buffet doesn't have a vault full of 71bn dollar notes. His wealth almost entirely consists of the ownership of Berkshire Hathaway stock. That means that wealth consists of factories, media companies, property, mines, shops, warehouses and hundreds of thousands of people doing productive work.

So by and large, and there are exceptions of course, most billionaires are so because they lead and own huge businesses doing work on which our entire civilisation depends. They gained that control through being effective leaders that know how to build efficient and productive enterprises that employ people like you and me.

So what's the alternative? Appropriating their wealth would also involve removing their ownership and leadership of those businesses, and handing it to who? On what pretext, and to who's benefit?

Personally I have no problem with people being successful like that. What I think can be a problem is what happens to that wealth when those people die. If a person obtains vast wealth through hard work and contributing to society that's fine, but inheriting that kind of wealth is a different question. I think there's a reasonable case to be made for much higher inheritance taxes and regulation of trust funds.


I agree with you and want to expand on:"People don't really understand just how much a billion dollars actually is."

Billion and it's larger cousin, Trillion(etc and so forth), really are hard for the human mind to grasp.

From: https://betterexplained.com/articles/how-to-develop-a-sense-...

One strategy is to rescale. So, if I am worth 1 million (I wish!) then someone worth 1 billion could treat things as though they were 1000 times cheaper than me. If you could get a $1000 per night hotel for $1 per night, that might change how you live. Further examples left to the reader.


He wanted to ship the technology, not just get paid a lot of money.


Although it does not surprise me one bit that you express such a sentiment as it is likely the most common one from that perspective; it is the result of the whole tech industry and even economy that is and has long been a kind of extreme mania of permissiveness and pillage, with next to no push back that would have possibly moderated such behavior, both on a systemic and the personal level that this is an example of. I know that being faced with such a reality will both be instinctually rejected by many as it is a threat to their frame of mind and causes cognitive dissonance just even hearing it, and some will simply not even have the ability to integrate it at all.

What, just from looking at all the massive and excessive fraud and graft and "disruption", aka, destruction, of the economy that we have just alone witnessed in our lifetime that is any different than what Levandowski thought he could maybe also get away with on an individual level. He just didn't realize he had to diffuse what he was doing and not make himself an individual and identifiable target.

Just alone China has been pillaging and stealing in every conceivable manner over just the last 25 years or so; from all out hacking, to buying up tech companies and IP, to placing engineers in our Universities Inc., to basic industrial espionage, to immigration to place industrial spies in our tech companies, and on and on and on … to little more than the muted chirp of crickets.

What would make Levandowski think that he could not have gotten away with what he was doing when we have witnessed nothing but the very same kinds of law and ethical and moral depravity all across the board from top to bottom, left to right, and front to back for decades now? Tech companies have perverted and sold out our whole society as a function of even deeper graft and corruption for many decades now, I am not at all surprised that Levandowski thought he too could get a piece of action; he just made the mistake of not running in a pack like in DC or on "Wall Street" on in the tech sector. He stood out and strayed from the pack in a noticeable manner so they needed to pick him off to avoid wider recognition of what is really going on as we careen off the rails.

To put a point on it, it is precisely the utterly permissive, corrupt, and rotten state of not only the whole tech industry; but our whole society and failed and inherently illegitimate government that are the cause of someone like him thinking he could get away with what he did. Because let's be frank, it was a solid bed that he would have gotten away with it considering what everyone else has gotten away with for many decades now.


Sure espionage happens, but there are half a dozen people in prison for spying for the Chinese already, and counting. In fact it’s precisely because people keep getting caught and thrown in prison that we know it keeps happening. Every few years a programmer at an investment bank gets sued or jailed for stealing code. There’s nothing new about people facing consequences for pulling this sort of crap.


Giving up $120mil and going to an American prison, never an easy thing, during a pandemic.


It sounds like he gets to wait for after the pandemic.


Judge Alsup said that home confinement would “[give] a green light to every future brilliant engineer to steal trade secrets. Prison time is the answer to that.” From Google >>>> TO Uber >>>> To >>> TOSSING SALAD in jail.


Corporate politics likely came into play - he was sidelined at Chauffeur and didn't show up to work, if you read the bloomberg articles. Likely he just wanted to make a difference and politics or corporate stupidity got in the way. The irony is that all these tech companies talk about changing the world. Reality is lawsuits and corporate politics.


Corporate politics don't make you steal from your company. "Sidelined" wouldn't be a defense for direct embezzlement of funds, and it's not a defense here.

If he felt the way you describe, he should have gone off and started his own thing (he did!) maybe sold it for lots to someone else (he did!) and not steal tech from his former employer (fail!)

We all get fed up with work politics, not having our opinions prevail, etc. We don't all walk out the door with countless hours and millions of dollars of work product.


you don’t think google has changed the world??


He was so brazen in using identical schematic and suppliers. It amazing to think all this is a result of the supplier getting confused from having two clients with identical schematics and accidently cc'ing the wrong engineers.


You mean "confused." I think the supplier knew exactly what was happening and decided to let the cat out of the bag.


I'd agree with you, if I hadn't worked adjacent to the financial industry for a bit. There are a lot of companies with liberty in the name (not even just US based), and I've mixed some up, even on technical issues.

Obviously the "name" isn't the issue, or maybe it is, it's possible they worked with this person in the past, and it never occurred to them to check the current employer, because it usually doesn't change that much, but once you end up working with customers in an emergent industry (separate experience in analytics, yes the past two decades is emergent), you'll find you have a customer who after a few quarters is on to a new job, but still your customer!

There are so many ways for these wires to get crossed, I'll stick to Hanlon's razor, but modify it to not be about malice, but to be about confusion:

Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by confusion.

And if there's any chance I get something named after me, since this pattern is cute, let's call Clover's razor, any aphorism that takes on the form "Never attribute to X that which can adequately be explained by Y."

:)


"Never attribute to Clover's razor that which can adequately be explained by Hanlon's razor."? :)


Maybe that’d be called a Hanlon’s Clover?


I could imagine that after Levandowski left Waymo that his email was forwarded to a manager or peer. You could see how a supplier could accidentally pick corey@waymo.com instead of corey@uber.com when they type “Corey” into the email client.


Yep, especially since Gmail also truncates signatures aggressively. They almost make it difficult to know if a person is representing an org, and instead just show what ever name they've decided is most appropriate :)


> Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by confusion.

That's a new favorite of mine. I think I'll need to append it to Hanlon's razor any time I use it:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity, and never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by confusion."


There’s a recursion joke waiting to happen here.


Fun historical fact, it's from this aphorism that the proverb "measure twice cut once" comes from, because confusion can be supplanted by repetition.


My rule is "measure three times, then cut the wrong side off."


Yep, done that all too many times.


I’ve ribbed colleagues with the measure twice cut once line after screw ups, and I shared this very good retort with them and they appreciated it :)


Just happened yesterday.


I've had that happen with crystal oscillators that I ordered at nonstandard frequencies. The vendor gave me a heads-up when my customer placed subsequent orders for production. "Hey, just FYI, these guys appear to be cloning your product."

I thought that was nice of them, as they were under no contractual obligation to decline orders from anyone else or to let me know about them. I guess Levandowski would have a different take on it.


I’ve seen this happen before in a totally different industry. Now I wonder how many opportunities there are for companies to do this and I wonder how often they get away with it.


Never seen that story and can't find any details after a quick Google search. I wonder how much of the anti-Levandowski news is Google or Uber PR propaganda.


It's in the official waymo statement and was pretty easy to find: https://blog.waymo.com/2019/08/a-note-on-our-lawsuit-against...

"Recently, we received an unexpected email. One of our suppliers specializing in LiDAR components sent us an attachment (apparently inadvertently) of machine drawings of what was purported to be Uber’s LiDAR circuit board — except its design bore a striking resemblance to Waymo’s unique LiDAR design."

It was also in many articles. The story is that they were reluctant to pursue it until that email, you can find a ton of sources in the wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Levandowski


You kind of made my point by quoting straight from Google public relations. Was the strikingly similar schematic verified independently by journalists? Did it come up at trial?


I respectfully don't really understand your point, you think there's a conspiracy to publicly falsify evidence and influence the public? That would have caused immediate problems at trial if each company made such bold false statements and would have been a blessing for Levandowski's legal team. Also, not sure how or why you would 'google' anything to verify news if your bar is so high and you're not willing to spend more than a minute researching.

edit: it took two minutes to find the WAYMO LLC v UBER TECHNOLOGIES pdf on google and they reference the email evidence various times.


> you think there's a conspiracy to publicly falsify evidence and influence the public

It's not a conspiracy theory, companies employ public relations to influence how the public views them. In this case Google has a strong interest in making Lewandowski out to be unusually reckless so that other engineers don't view Google as a company that goes after engineers.


I think you're spending more time trying to justify your initial failure at finding the story on google rather than just doing the basic research to satisfy your curiosity. I can't tell if you're trolling at this point.


Why is white collar crime punished with such light sentences? I could have got that sentence for house breaking, or shoplifting to the value of $5k. I could get a lot more for dealing drugs to a few friends. Steal $100m and get 18 months, starting when the world is a nicer place. The world really is set up for rich people.


Someone made this point elsewhere. It's a 'trade secret' and 'stealing' is not as accurate as 'leaking' or 'copying' as it doesn't prevent the original owners from using it.

Usually civil lawsuits are fines. Should your (ex) employeer be able to put you in prison? Because I can see how that can be misused if a few figured out how to be convincing enough


A thug stealing $1k from me would hurt me much more than someone stealing $100m from Google would hurt them.


For any non-violent crimes we should not send people to prison. I don't even know why it became a criminal matter. Civil courts can do that job really well.

If we prosecute everyone who took information from the previous job, then there will no sales people left. I don't know any SaaS sales person who doesn't take their sales funnel with them.


That would mean that rich people could just do non-violent crime without any real consequences. The risk to be caught is way too small to outweigh the rewards of those crimes. It would still be a benefit for them in the long term.


The rich already can do a lot without any real consequences. Fines are for poor people.

Fines for minor matters should be % based somehow. (I don't know how!)

My $150 parking ticket should be their $15,000 parking ticket.


Some fines in a few countries are based on income, most notably Finland, which has issued fines in the tens of thousands for minor infractions like speeding. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-fine


What's your definition of non-violent? I think the following bad behavior deserves jail time:

Signal man distracted on TikTok causes train crash

Fraudster electronically steals retirement savings

Pedophile gets child to do stuff over the internet

Driver repeatedly drives drunk, though never hits anyone


Corrupt politicians should work without pay for 5-10 years and all wealth confiscated.


I would argue that rules should pay attention to "motivation". When you say the politician should "work", I hope you mean "breaking rocks" or "brick laying" rather than continuing as a politician...


Much more interesting to me is that the article says "he will not need to report until threat of COVID-19 pandemic has passed." and "With no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, it is possible that Levandowski’s latest lawsuit will be resolved before he even reports to jail."


A courtesy not afforded to the largely not-rich, not-white general prison population. I don't think Levandowski should be treated worse, just noting it would be nice if less privileged prisoners were treated as humanely.


Totally agree. I don't like it when the responses are "they should rot in prison" because so many people have done less and been in prison forever. We need to severely reduce sentencing in this country - across the board - for everyone, especially the minorities and impoverished that have borne the brunt of our ridiculous school to prison pipeline.


It’s a courtesy that is absolutely being afforded to people in California, where this is taking place.

Some people just want to see racism everywhere they look.


[flagged]


Wow... Or perhaps you should acknowledge that many others are being granted the same treatment. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/0...


Rich black people don't have the same privileged to buy justice as rich white people?

That's not true. From basketball players to music icons like Michael Jackson the rich can buy a certain level of justice.

If you think the white rich still have it easier. I think we are focusing on the wrong thing. The 1% or .1% percentages have it better than everybody else regardless of color.


> Rich black people don't have the same privileged to buy justice as rich white people? > > That's not true.

Kinda funny how you made up a statement that they didn't say and then started arguing against it. Congratulations, you fought yourself and won.


It was in response to the parent post. Below is a direct quote.

"A courtesy not afforded to the largely not-rich, not-white general prison population. "


but in your direct quote, it clearly says "not-rich, not-white", so clearly the direct quote was not talking about "rich blacks"


The phrase can be interpreted two ways.

To simplify this comment, when I say "black" I mean "not white". Easier than to keep typing non-white, etc.

You have a quadrant of four categories:

1. Rich and white

2. Poor and white

3. Rich and black

4. Poor and black

You are interpreting the statement to refer to "people who are not (rich or white)" - which with Boolean logic expands to "people who are not rich and not white)". Looking at the first form, this means category 4 (people who are poor AND are not white). It also means that poor white people get this privilege, and rich non-whites do.

The other person is interpreting it as "not (rich and white)" which means all the categories except 1.

Hence the confusion.


in English, comma separated lists of adjectives or other descriptors are almost always understood to have AND between them, not OR. OR must be explicit, otherwise AND is implicitly assumed.

This is not just a matter of two equally valid alternative explanations: a reasonable reading of the original sentence "not poor, not white" (along a minimal amount of thought about the context and subject matter, e.g. prisons clearly are not full of rich blacks) would have easily led to the other person realizing that it was category 4 that the parent was talking about, not 1-3.


> Hence the confusion.

Why would anyone believe that there was confusion? It smells like ideology to me.


I think rich any-people shouldn't get a free-ride buuut... The comment you're responding to focused on privilege being the primary differentiator, but you focused in on "largely not-rich, not-white general prison population", please read comments a bit closer.


I know it wasn't the main point but using false race stereotypes need to get called out regardless.


You’re trying to make this into a race issue, when that’s not really the case here.

The justice system in San Francisco bends over backwards to keep criminals of all races, classes, and backgrounds out of prison, and especially so with Covid-19.


Isn't this a Federal case?


Class is a race issue.


It’s not a class issue. It’s not a race issue. It’s a “the Bay Area is not putting anyone short of convicted murderers in prison right now” issue.


It makes sense though - if California only had a single prison and it was built inside of a volcano then we'd object to folks not receiving capital sentences being sent there since there's probably be all sorts of chances that the prisoner die during incarceration. The prisons we have weren't designed for Covid, they aren't safe and while those people are criminals they are people. They did ill but weren't judged worthy of losing their lives and, I'd wager, some people look really closely at their behavior to figure out if they're going to be an immediate societal risk before deferring their sentence.


No, the state of California is letting a ton of criminals out of prison. I don’t think they have to finish serving their time either.


This was a federal case?


A vast number of nonviolent inmates have been released in California:

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/0...



There's about an equivalent number of whites and blacks in US prisons, with a lower number of Hispanics and a much smaller amount for the rest. [1] Race doesn't matter, only wealth and status insofar as they get you the influence and connections to swing justice your way.

The fact that he's still sentenced and will have to serve while other inmates are currently being released due to covid shows that there isn't a major discrepancy in this particular case.

1. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/30/shrinking-g...


> A courtesy not afforded to the largely not-rich, not-white general prison population.

This claim seems to be unsubstantiated and in fact blatantly false... Please take the care to do cursory research on the situation before blindly stoking the race flame. That kind of thing is the very last thing we need in the public discourse right now.


Come to California and see for yourself. It is afforded to everyone.


Who said money can’t literally buy a get out of jail card?


When you say "literally" do you mean to imply he literally paid someone? That's quite implausible.


He can pay lawyers to make the arguments for delaying until after Covid. A public defender isn’t going to do that for you.


> Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to alleviate the outbreak by releasing as many as 8,000 inmates and further reducing the population by about 10,000 through delayed admissions.[1]

I would guess some of them had public defenders. Although I guess they got it without even having to argue for it. Did Levandowski's lawyer argue for it? According to the article Levendowski's lawyer argued for home confinement (unsuccessfully, obviously).

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20200802050956/https://www.latim...


> When you say "literally" do you mean to imply he literally paid someone?

Sadly, "literally" can mean "figuratively":

From M-W:[1]

"in effect : virtually —used in an exaggerated way to emphasize a statement or description that is not literally true or possible"

(Yes, I know they used the word "literally" in the definition).

They also made a special page to explain this.[2]

[1]: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literally

[2]: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/misuse-of-lite...


Yes, in this case "literaly" means "figuratively", but still, what's the mechanism? I don't think he paid a bribe, and nobody is suggesting that. One may argue that the judge was somewhat subconsciously influenced by Levandowsky's wealth; this is also quite improbable, the judge in this case [1] is a very high profile judge. In particular he rebuked Trump on DACA.

In the end though, if anything, it looks to me Levandowsky's prison postponement makes his sentence harsher, not more lenient. He will still have to serve his whole sentence in an actual prison, and until he starts the prison sentence his liberty will be curtailed (for example it's very likely he will not be allowed to leave the country). A good defense team would've gotten for him house arrest during the Covid19 crisis, and his defense team argued for this. They didn't get it.

So, literally or figuratively, how did money buy Levandowsky a get-out-of-jail-free card?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Haskell_Alsup#Deferred...


He certainly paid his legal team.


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