Quote to Note: The Election. Yes, That Election

September 13, 2018

I read CNBC’s “Leaked Video Shows Upset Alphabet Executives Responding to President Trump’s Election in Company-Wide Meeting.”

Here’s the quote I noted. I even circled it with my True Blue marker which I usually reserve for IBM Watson factoids:

Myself as an immigrant and a refugee, I certainly find the selection deeply offensive and I know many of you do too. I think it’s a very stressful time and conflicts with many of our values.

Who made this statement? According to the “real” news source CNBC, the answer is Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google.

The “real” news outlet reports “real” news from Google. The article reproduces text of an alleged statement made by a Google spokesperson (yes, this is similar to an anonymous source so keep this in mind). That statement asserts:

At a regularly scheduled all hands meeting, some Google employees and executives expressed their own personal views in the aftermath of a long and divisive election season. For over 20 years, everyone at Google has been able to freely express their opinions at these meetings. Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products. To the contrary, our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint.

Interesting stuff. Is it possible that an algorithm, particularly a Clever one like Google’s, could be influenced by individuals who set thresholds, sequence the order of numerical recipes, and feed inputs into a system. Could these individuals make the math perform like a circus pony.

Here in Harrod’s Creek we know that companies like Google let the math do the talking. Well, there are exceptions like company wide meetings and anonymous statements.

Stephen E Arnold, September 13, 2018

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