The Fast Descent to Mediocrity Revealed

January 12, 2022

I read “Google’s Director of Engineering Hiring Test.” I love these inside looks at what Google thinks is important to the company’s success. I email several questions from the decades of GLAT to a Fancy Dan financial whiz. He was unable to make sense of any of the wonky questions. Since the whiz kid and Google are wallowing in financial oceans filled with molecules of money, I am not sure there is much value in certain types of smart filters.

Tucked into the questions and answers, however, is considerable insight into what the company thinks is funny like the GLAT or why a firm is accelerating its ski slope ride to meh. Here’s the statement that caught my attention:

Hiring people that know things that you don’t know helps more than hiring people who merely know what everybody knows.

My hunch is that the issues at Google — for instance, the new phone that doesn’t do phone stuff — is an example of making assumptions about what’s right. Apply this to super duper automated content indexing for machine learning training sets and what happens? Perhaps you get a variation of the phones that don’t do phone stuff? Smart software may end up learning what it already knows. Great for cost reduction but not so great for finding one’s way through a snow storm near Tahoe.

Stephen E Arnold, January 12, 2022


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