I think this is the part where you're doing some magical thinking backed up by anecdotes. Have you done any actual experimental work on those who have failed the question but that you've hired anyways? Have you then been able to objectively measure how well they communicate? Your sample size seems pretty small (a couple hundred) so my guess would be no. I frequently see this kind of thinking about interview questions: "If somebody fails this problem this way, then they'll perform poorly on the job in the following way." Unless you actually have performed a study on this kind of thing, then you're probably just guessing when you say those kinds of things, and you're showing a lot of not particularly rigorous thinking about the relationship between the interviewing process and on the job performance.
It's definitely a small sample size, but I have more data on this than any other techniques I've seen out there.
I've been overruled once after no hiring a candidate. Low and behold the same person ended up nearly getting fired 9 months later for the very same issues that came up from this question. They struggled to answer even the simplest questions with one sentence responses.
So, that's a sample size of 1. Not quite what we would call scientifically rigorous ;). I'm not saying it's not a useful question. I'm just saying, you jump to a whole lot of conclusions that are clearly not based on evidence in your hiring process. That's fine, just be aware that your hiring process is not doing what you're thinking or asserting it's doing.
I frequently speak with people in my neighborhood about my experience of working from home, and they say: "I don't think I could handle it."
For me, it's just a different type of distraction. When I got bored when working in an office, I would take a break, go get a drink, walk around and see what everybody else was up to, and then go back to work refreshed.
From home, when I get bored, I get up, get a drink of water, play with my kids for a couple of minutes and then go back to work refreshed.
All that being said, I'm not sure this particular study has much to say in the way of helping those of us who do knowledge work from home. Call center work seems like it's different enough that I can see the type of work invalidating the applicability of this particular study to our particular line of work.
Call centers are a very different type of work than most office work. And different types of call center work have very different implications. The company involved in this study was CTrip – China’s largest travel agency. [I think] Travel agencies are usually speaking with happy customers planning vacations. Tech support, customer service, and telemarketing call center employees would have had a significant reduction in utilization in this study.
Having studied Chomsky a fair bit in grad school, and also studied cognitive linguistics a fair bit in grad school, I think the idea that Chomsky's models will ever win anything is just wrong.
Chomsky's central problem is that his modeling is not based on anything biological at all. His models don't correspond to reality. Some of them were based on some assumptions about how the brain works that were untestable in the 50s and 60s when all of his linguistic models were developed, and have since become testable and are not particularly evident in the way we currently understand the brain to work.
Given this fact, I think your current best bet is Norvig as a modern approach to AI or anything linguistic-y. But this is only because it is slightly more grounded in reality rather than being something that Chomsky (who is a very smart guy) came up with on his own without the benefit of actual biological models of the brain.
In the end, I think there will be (eventually, a long time from now) an actual model of how the brain processes language based on actual observations of working brains that throws away much of what Chomsky has proposed but probably uses some of it and that doesn't use huge Google-esque lookup tables but is highly influenced by statistics.
But until we get to that point, statistics are probably your best bet since at least they're grounded in reality (unlike much of Chomsky's work).
Children learn language much faster than it seems possible for a "blank" neural network to learn. It seems that there is some "circuitry" hard-wired into the human brain that helps learning language. So the question is: can a computer learn language as well as a human, without simply hard-coding language into it?
This is a popular summary of Chomsky's thesis that was put down decades ago, when cognitive psychology was at its infancy. Now we know a lot more on how babies learn the world and language (do a Google search on "infant statistical learning") and most evidence points to the fact that they employ algorithms that are mainly statistical in nature for learning.
"Children learn language much faster than it seems possible for a "blank" neural network to learn." This is a very strong statement that has no mathematical or computational proof AFAIK. It had no proof when Chomksy first put down that thesis either, it was an axiom of his. BTW, belief in a specialized language faculty was not universal, even in the past, esp. some philosophers of language disagreed with this view.
#2 is simply wrong. Children are corrected when their grammar is off so they do get to see incorrect sentence structure. It's questionable if children could learn language from only watching TV, but that's not the standard learning environment.
PS: I am far from the first person to point that out. At this point they are treating it as an axiom because they continue to believe it despite the disproof of their premises.
This strikes me as the old nature vs. nurture debate - trying to determine which human behaviors are hard wired and which are learned. Like most complex questions I don't think there is a single right answer, but my current theory is that humans have more hard wired behavior than most people like to admit. It is precisely because of our language skills that we can rationalize behavior that has it's root cause in the more animal regions of the brain.
To put it another way - most people think they are rational. Most people act irrationally. To me it is animal instinct that is cause of greed, war, social hierarchy, etc. and it is so ingrained in society that we don't question it's root cause which most likely boils down to atavistic tendencies.
By "blank" of course I mean that they begin blank and immediately start learning from their environment. You say they develop skills "slowly" but it's still much faster than you would expect, unless children have some innate skill at language built in instead of being "blank."
You are being way too vague. What is setting your expectations of "slowly"? What rate would you expect children to learn language at? Even if that were to be the case, your argument is essentially a god of the gaps argument. Not P therefor Q is not sound reasoning.
The whole notion of the Universal Grammar and innate language faculties which instantiate subsets of the Universal Grammar is weird.
"Pinker explains that a universal grammar represents specific structures in the human brain that recognize the general rules of other humans' speech, such as whether the local language places adjectives before or after nouns, and begin a specialized and very rapid learning process not explainable as reasoning from first principles or pure logic. This learning machinery exists only during a specific critical period of childhood and is then disassembled for thrift, freeing resources in an energy-hungry brain."
Having read the book, his arguments are far more convincing than your assertions.
However, unlike his arguments I limited myself to using actual facts.
If you just want a compelling argument: Biology is a vary important component in the creation and evolution of language, because the fine motor control required to say "linguistic" vs "mommy" or "stop" has a lot to do with how languages are learned and evolve. As baby's practice how to say thing babble converts to simple words but in doing so there are pattern as to which sounds are easier to produce and therefore enable them to probe their environment by reproducing. This paralls the evolution of language where the most important and simplist ideas where the first to be communicated and therefore take up the 'root' address space in the language with more complex words and ideas like 'chemist' being tacked on over time.
PS: Sure, it sounds great. But how many assumptions am I stringing together in just those few sentences.
Look, if you haven't read the book, I'm not interested in your opinions of his arguments; you don't know them. When someone recommends a book, you don't kill the messenger when your disagreement is with the author; don't be an ass.
I have read most of the language instinct. I get why people find it compelling, but that has little to do with being accurate. My point was his style tends to be convincing vs. his actual evidence being compelling.
PS: Think of it like this A -> B, B -> C therefore A -> C is all well in good most of the time. A -> B .... Y -> Z therefore A -> Z only really works with math, build a chain that long and it's unlikely for all those steps to be accurate.
And I don't find your point in the least bit compelling. Unless you're a leading expert in the field as he is, your points mean jack squat to me. And since I'm not making the argument, it's not argument from authority to say his book is far more convincing than your assertions without evidence. You're trying to debate me about a book I recommended; you're an ass. Goodbye.
That seems overly rude. It's also a ridiculous appeal to authority at the same time.
If I where to attack the book I could say something like: "In chapter 2 'Chatterboxes' he states humans are the only animal that uses language which is complex issue by it's self. He goes further and says every group of humans in remote areas we encountered have had complex language. He then runs with that line of reasoning. However this ignores not just other animals that use simple forms of language but human ancestors that where close to us anatomically and probably also used language. If homo sapiens's ancestors also used language then you would expect the earliest humans to also use language therefore language would spread from it's origins to all those remote areas vs. being created from scratch in those remote areas."
Are you mentally handicapped, what part of "Goodbye" was unclear to you? And no, it's not an argument from authority, I specifically headed off that critique when I said I wasn't making any fucking argument. Learn to read.
Saying you found his argument convincing is in no way important either it's a factual statement it it's not, what you believe is meaningless. Suggesting it matters in any way who made the argument is an appeal to authority even if your next sentience says it's not. Reality does not care what you think it just is.
PS: You clearly lack the courage of your convictions to actually leave an argument when you say 'Goodbye'. However, I realize trying to reason with a fool is a waste of time, so best of luck and 'Goodbye'.
PS: Fuck you, I wasn't even talking to you, I recommended a book to someone. You lack the brains to know when someone isn't interested a debate, because you're an ass.
PS: You're still an ass, and you don't know what appeal to authority means. We have to be debating and me relying on him to make a point for it to be an appeal to authority. As I clearly indicated I wasn't interested in debating the subject, you can't accuse me of logical fallacies, a point I made previously but you failed to grok because you're an ass.
I'm not sure what you mean by "faster," (what are you comparing to exactly?), but I think something that speeds up human learning considerably as compared to computers is feedback. Children don't just blankly sit there taking in information and then "fitting it" to a model-- they perform actions and observe the consequences; it is empirical. The embodied action-perception loop is fundamental to how real-world learning works. A closer computer model is reinforcement learning, for example, which does exactly this, it wraps a neural network in an action-perception loop an uses online training to learn the reward function. The problem is of course that the reward function can be very hard to design except for fairly simple tasks.
Does anybody have any insight on how a process like this is debugged at Apple? I've heard, for example, that at Amazon there is a process of blame-finding after a major issue/outage like this, whereas at Google I hear things are more post-mortem let's fix the process that led the human error involved in the outage, rather than blame the person who made the faulty commit.
Anybody know how things work inside Apple's culture?
"that at Amazon there is a process of blame-finding"
Ex-Amazonian here. It's important to note that Amazon's Cause of Error (COE) process is not about blame. It is about determining what happened, why it happened, and what concrete steps are being taken so that it does not happen again. Individuals are not blamed as part of this process and that's in the official rules. The goal is to iterate and avoid making the same mistakes again.
I've heard from a lot of ex-amazonian's that in practice there's a lot of blaming as part of the process at least in part because of the compensation/promotional processes. But maybe that's changed recently?
Of course, I've also heard that there is a wide diversity of culture between teams, so maybe that plays in to it, too.
Totally happens, even though it is not supposed to. If a dev didn't outright break the rules then they shouldn't be blamed. The rules in this case would be something like "a peer must review before deploy" - if you bring down the site after breaking that rule, you're going to get fired most likely.
I've never had COEs come up in my or others' performance reviews.
If the boss who owns the COE "gets it" and has internalized the old-school Amazon culture then there won't be blame. The bosses really take the hits here, they do get personally blamed for these things. If they can't stand between the team and the more senior management then they are not doing it right.
If you and your boss mutually hate each other (which unfortunately I have seen) then it won't go well.
Consider the salary and benefits and office space costs of one employee at Google. Then assume that the backdoor interface requires at least a few employees. You're already at $1M. Now imagine a bit of extra infrastructure, people to deal with communications, legal, etc., and you're in the millions.
I was talking to a friend in HR and finance at a company. He has some processes they go through for placing bids with customers that are horrible and based on people copying and pasting lines from one word document into lines in another. That's the way their core business is done. Copy and pasting. Yes, it's inaccurate. Yes, the sales guys sometimes for get to update all the documents with copying and pasting causing large business problems. I have repeatedly tried to convince him: "Write an excel document with a few macros!" Their bottom line would profit from such a spreadsheet. He just doesn't have the minimal knowledge he needs to do it.
Best part: he works at a technology company, with a technical staff. That makes millions and millions of dollars a year.
I appreciate Jeff's sentiment, but he's missing the huge swath of people that could benefit from just a little (admittedly not great and half broken) programming knowledge.