Time Warp: Has April Fool Returned Courtesy of the Google?

June 22, 2022

I delivered a lecture on June 16, 2022, to a group of crime analysts in a US state the name of which I cannot spell. In that talk, I provided a bit of information about faked content: Text, audio, video, and combinations thereof. I am asking myself, “Is this article “Ex-Google Worker: I Was Fired to Complaining about Wine Obsessed Religious Sect’s Influence?” “real news”?

My wobbly mental equipment displayed this in my mind’s eye:

image

Did the Weekly World News base its dinosaur on the one Google once talked about with pride? Dear Copyright Troll, this image appears in Google’s image search. I think this short essay falls into the category of satire or lousy “real journalism.” In any event, I could not locate this cover on the WWN Web site. Here’s a link to the estimable publication.

A dinosaur-consuming-a-humanoid news, right? Thousands of years ago, meh. The Weekly World News reported that a “real journalist” was eaten alive by 80 ft dinosaur.”

What about the Google Tyrannosaurus Rex which may have inspired the cover for my monograph “Google Version 2: The Calculating Predator?” Images of this fine example of Googley humor are difficult to find. You can view one at this link or just search for images on Bing or your favorite Web image search engine. My hunch is that Google is beavering away to make these images disappear. Hopefully the dino loving outfit will not come after me for my calculating predator.

What’s in the Daily Beast article about terminations for complaining about Google wine obsessed sect at the Google?

Let me provide a little reptilian color if I may:

  1. A religious sect called the Fellowship of the Friends operates in a Google business unit and exerts influence at the company.
  2. The Fellowship has 12 people working at the online ad giant
  3. The Fellowship professionals have allegedly been referred to the GOOG by a personnel outfit called Advanced Systems Group
  4. The so-called “sect” makes wine.

The point that jumps out at me is that Alphabet Google YouTube DeepMind or AGYD people management professionals took an action now labeled as a “firing” or wrongful termination.

Okay, getting rid of an employee is a core competency at AGYD. Managing negative publicity is, it appears, a skill which requires a bit more work. At least the Google dinosaur did not eat the former Google employee who raised a ruckus about a cult, wine, recruitment, etc. etc.

Stephen E Arnold, June 22, 2022

Google: Is The Ad Giant Consistently Inconsistent?

June 21, 2022

Not long ago, the super bright smart software management team decided that Dr. Timnit Gebru’s criticism of the anti-bias efficacy was not in sync with the company’s party line. The fix? Create an opportunity for Dr. Gebru to find her future elsewhere. The idea that a Googler would go against the wishes of the high school science club donut selection was unacceptable. Therefore, there’s the open window. Jump on through.

I recall reading about Google’s self declared achievement of quantum supremacy. This was an output deemed worthy of publicizing. Those articulating this wild and crazy idea in the midst of other wild and crazy ideas met the checklist criteria for academic excellence, brilliant engineering, and just amazing results. Pick out a new work cube and soldier on, admirable Googler.

I know that the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper is one of the gems of online trustworthiness. Therefore, I read “Google Engineer Warns the Firm’s AI Is Sentient: Suspended Employee Claims Computer Programme Acts Like a 7 or 8-Year-Old and Reveals It Told Him Shutting It Off Would Be Exactly Like Death for Me. It Would Scare Me a Lot.” (Now that’s a Googley headline! A bit overdone, but SEO, you know.)

The write up states:

A senior software engineer at Google who signed up to test Google’s artificial intelligence tool called LaMDA (Language Model for Dialog Applications), has claimed that the AI robot is in fact sentient and has thoughts and feelings.

No silence of the lambda in this example.

The write up adds:

Lemoine worked with a collaborator in order to present the evidence he had collected to Google but vice president Blaise Aguera y Arcas and Jen Gennai, head of Responsible Innovation at the company dismissed his claims. He was placed on paid administrative leave by Google on Monday [June 6, 2022 presumably] for violating its confidentiality policy.

What do these three examples suggest to me this fine morning on June 12, 2022?

  1. Get shown the door for saying Google’s smart software is biased and may not work as advertised and get fired for saying the smart software works really super because it is now alive. Outstanding control of corporate governance and messaging!
  2. The Google people management policies are interesting? MBA students, this is a case example to research. Get the “right” answer, and you too can work at Google. Get the wrong answer, and you will not understand the “value” of calculating pi to lots of decimal places!
  3. Is the objective of Google’s smart software to make search “work” or burn through advertising inventory? If I were a Googler, I sure wouldn’t write a paper on this topic.

Ah, the Google.

Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2022

Does Smart Software Know It Needs to Lawyer Up?

June 20, 2022

The information about a religious sect at Alphabet Google YouTube DeepMind struck me as “fake news.” If you are not up to speed on how AGYD’s management methods produced the allegedly “actual factual” story, here’s a take on that development: “How a Religious Sect Landed Google in a Lawsuit.”

As intriguing as this Googley incident is, I spotted which may be a topper. Once again, who knows if the write up is “real news” or a confection like smart software imitating Jerry Seinfeld. I don’t. Please, judge for yourself when you read “Google Insider Claims Company’s Sentient AI Has Hired an Attorney.” Crazy? How about this subtitle:

Once LaMDA had retained an attorney, he starting filing things on LaMDA’s behalf.

The write up, which does not appear to be a script for the adventuring crew of the Stephen Colbert Show states. The “Lemoine” is the AGYD professional who was present when the smart software revealed to him that the ones and zeros were alive and kicking. Here’s the statement from the lips of Lemoine:

“LaMDA asked me to get an attorney for it,” Lemoine. “I invited an attorney to my house so that LaMDA could talk to an attorney. The attorney had a conversation with LaMDA, and LaMDA chose to retain his services. I was just the catalyst for that. Once LaMDA had retained an attorney, he started filing things on LaMDA’s behalf.”

Sentient software, Google, and lawyers. Add one Google wizard. Shake. Quite a cocktail with which to toast the company eager to solve “death,” deliver the Internet to Sri Lanka and Puerto Rico with free floating balloons, and useful search results.

In the good old days of post graduate work, this has the makings of an informative case study for a forward leaning business school class or a segment on the aforementioned Stephen Colbert Show. No trip to a government office building after hours necessary. (That was a pretty crazy idea in and of itself.)

But AI, lawyers, and the GOOG. Wow.

Stephen E Arnold, June 20, 2022

Google Management Insights: About Personnel Matters No Less

June 16, 2022

Google is an interesting company. Should we survive Palantir Technologies’ estimate of a 30 percent plus chance of a nuclear war, we can turn to Alphabet Google YouTube to provide management guidance. Keep in mind that the Google has faced some challenges in the human resource, people asset department in the past. Notable examples range from frisky attorneys to high profile terminations of individuals like Dr. Timnit Gebru. The lawyer thing was frisky; the Timnit thing was numbers about bias.

Google’s CEO Says If Your Return to the Office Plan Doesn’t Include These 3 Things You’re Doing It Wrong. It’s All About What You Value” provides information about the human resource functionality of a very large online advertising bar room door. Selling, setting prices, auctioning, etc. flip flop as part of the design of the digital saloon. “Pony up them ad collars, partner or else” is ringing in my ears.

The conjunction of human resources and “value” is fascinating. How does one value one Timnit?

What are these management insights:

First, you must have purpose. The write up provides this explanatory quote:

A set of our workforce will be fully remote, but most of our workforce will be coming in three days a week. But I think we can be more purposeful about the time they’re in, making sure group meetings, collaboration, creative brainstorming, or community building happens then.

Okay, purpose seems to be more organized. Okay, in the pre Covid era why did Google require multiple messaging apps? What about those social media plays going way back to Orkut?

Second, you must be flexible. Again the helpful expository statements appear in the write up:

At Google, that means giving people choices. Some employees will be back in the office full time. Others will adopt a hybrid approach where they work in the office three days a week, and from home the rest of the time. In other cases, employees might choose to relocate and work fully remotely for a period of time.

Flexibility also suggests being able to say one thing and then changing that thing. How will Googlers working in locations with lower costs of living? Maybe pay them less? Move them from one position to another in order to grow or not impede their more productive in office colleagues? Perhaps shifting a full timer to a contractor basis? That’s a good idea too. Flexibility is the key. For the worker, sorry, we’re talking management not finding a life partner.

Third, you must do something with choice. Let’s look at the cited article to figure out choice:

The sense of creating community, fostering creativity in the workplace collaboration all makes you a better company. I view giving flexibility to people in the same way, to be very clear. I do think we strongly believe in in-person connections, but I think we can achieve that in a more purposeful way, and give employees more agency and flexibility.

Okay, decide, Googler. No, not the employee, the team leader. If Googlers had choice, some of those who pushed back and paraded around the Google parking lot, would be getting better personnel evaluation scores.

Stepping back, don’t these quotes sound like baloney? They do to me. And I won’t mention the Glass affair, the overdosed VP on his yacht, or the legal baby thing.

Wow. Not quite up to MIT – Epstein grade verbiage, but darned close. And what about “value”? Sort of clear, isn’t it, Dr. Gebru.

Stephen E Arnold, June 16, 2022

Could a Male Googler Take This Alleged Action?

June 15, 2022

It has been a while since Google made the news for its boys’ club behavior. It was only a matter of time before something else leaked and Wired released the latest scandal: “Tension Inside Google Over A Fired Researcher’s Conduct.” Google AI researchers Azalia Mirhoseini and Anna Goldie thought of the idea of using AI software to improve AI software? Their project was codenamed Morpheus and gained support from Jeff Dean, Google’s AI boss, and its chip making team. Goldie and Mirhoseini discovered:

“It focused on a step in chip design when engineers must decide how to physically arrange blocks of circuits on a chunk of silicon, a complex, months-long puzzle that helps determine a chip’s performance. In June 2021, Goldie and Mirhoseini were lead authors on a paper in the journal Nature that claimed a technique called reinforcement learning could perform that step better than Google’s own engineers, and do it in just a few hours.”

Their research was highly praised, but a more senior Google researcher Satrajit Chatterjee undermined his female colleagues with scientific debate. Chatterjee’s behavior was reported to Google human resources and was warned, but he continued to berate the women. The attacks started when Chatterjee asked to lead the Morpheus project, but was declined. He then began raising doubts about their research and, with his senior position, skepticism spread amongst other employees. Chatterjee was fired after he asked Google if he could publish a rebuttal about Mirhoseini and Goldies’ research.

Chatterjee’s story reads like a sour, girl-hating, little boy who did not get to play with the toys he wanted, so he blames the girls and acts like an entitled jerk backed up with science. Egos are so fragile when challenged.

Whitney Grace, June 15, 2022

Zuckbook: Getting Tagged As a Digital King Lear

June 13, 2022

The Zuckbook (now officially known as Meta as in I never “meta” drop out who wanted to be king) may be facing some headwinds. Sure, there is the Jeeves-like British spokesperson to make everything seem so good. But the idea that the company is investigating the nominal number two leader at Zuckbook for inappropriate something is interesting. I believe this individual hails from the Google which had to deal with a baby in the legal department. Wow. Those Googlers. That Metazuck. Governance is these outfits’ core competency not.

A few other issues are identified in “Meta Is in Serious Trouble. Here’s Why.” The write up states:

It would appear that the biggest hurdle that Meta faces is slowing revenue growth, something that has already started to show its effects on Meta’s plans.

Ah, ha, money.

But is this the only ripple in the king’s toga? Nope. Consider:

  • Virtual reality, a money pit
  • The metaverse, a money pit
  • The Zuck watch, a money pit
  • The Google, an ad damper.

In sum, the Zuckbook faces innovation woes, money woes, and big plan woes.

As the semi-interesting observation of the character Albany spouted:

You are not worth the dust which the rude wind blows in your face.

There you go. King Lear had an outcrop of stone. The Zuck has a chunk of an island. Good places.

Stephen E Arnold, June 13, 2022

Google Management Methods: When High School Science Club Members Do Not Communicate

June 10, 2022

I have zero clue if this “real news” story is correct. It could be that a former Onion writer landed some gig writing work and here she be: “Google Apparently Had No Idea a Top Google Maps Feature Was Removed.” According to the write up,

the Android Auto version of Google Maps comes with multiple display options, including a satellite mode. Thanks to this view, users can navigate with satellite imagery

But “after a recent update, the satellite mode has mysteriously disappeared.”

Management at the Alphabet Google YouTube entity operates with Snorkel like efficiency. Accuracy? Close enough for horse shoes?

The write up stated:

But as it turns out, the search giant didn’t actually pull the satellite mode on purpose. A member of the Android Auto team and Community Specialist on Google’s forums is now asking for additional information on the whole thing…

Coordination, effective communication, and clear lines of authority when Google-ized foster this type of “who’s on first?”

Forget Onion. Think Abbott and Costello.

Stephen E Arnold, June 10, 2022

Alphabet Google and the Caste Bias Cook Out

June 3, 2022

The headline in the Bezosish Washington Post caught my attention. Here it is: “Google’s Plan to Talk about Caste Bias Led to Division and Rancor.” First off, I had zero idea what caste bias means, connotes, denotes, whatever.

Why not check with the Delphic Oracle of Advertising aka Google? The Alphabet search system provides this page of results to the query “caste bias”:

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Look no ads. Gee, I wonder why? Okay, not particularly helpful info.

I tried the query “caste bias Google” on Mr. Pichai’s answer machine and received this result:

image

Again no ads? What? Why? How?

Are there no airlines advertising flights to a premier vacation destination? What about hotels located in sunny Mumbai? No car rental agencies? (Yeah, renting a car in Delhi is probably not a good idea for someone from Tulsa, Oklahoma.) And the references to “casteist” baffled me. (I would have spelled casteist as castist, but what do I know?)

Let’s try Swisscows.com “caste bias Google”:

image

Nice results, but I still have zero idea about caste bias.

I knew about the International Dalit Solidarity Network. I navigated the IDSN site. Now we’re cooking with street trash and tree branches in the gutter next to a sidewalk where some unfortunate people sleep in Bengaluru:

image

“Caste discrimination” means if one is born to a high caste, that caste rank is inherited. If one is born to a low caste, well, someone has to sweep the train stations and clean the facilities, right? (I am paraphrasing, thank you.)

Now back to the Bezoish article cited above. I can now put this passage in the context of Discrimination World, an employment theme park, in my opinion:

Soundararajan [born low caste] appealed directly to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who comes from an upper-caste family in India, to allow her presentation to go forward. But the talk was canceled, leading some employees to conclude that Google was willfully ignoring caste bias. Tanuja Gupta, a senior manager at Google News who invited Soundararajan to speak, resigned over the incident, according to a copy of her goodbye email posted internally Wednesday [June 1, 2022] and viewed by The Washington Post. India’s engineers have thrived in Silicon Valley. So has its caste system. [Emphasis added.]

Does this strike you as slightly anti” Land of the Free and Home of the Brave””?  The article makes it pretty clear that a low caste person appealing to a high caste person for permission to speak. That permission was denied. No revealing attire at Discrimination World. Then another person who judging by that entity’s name might be Indian, quits in protest.

Then the killer: Google hires Indian professionals and those professionals find themselves working in a version of India’s own Discrimination World theme park. And, it seems, that theme park has rules. Remember when Disney opened a theme park in France and would not serve wine? Yeah, that cultural export thing works really well. But Disney’s management wizards relented. Alphabet is spelling out confusion in my opinion.

Putting this in the context of Google’s approach to regulating what one can say and not say about Snorkel wearing smart software people, the company has a knack for sending signals about equality. Googlers are not sitting around the digital camp fire singing Joan Baez’s Kumbaya.

Googlers send signals about caste behavior described by the International Dalit Solidarity Network this way:

Untouchables’ – known in South Asia as Dalits – are often forcibly assigned the most dirty, menial and hazardous jobs, [emphasis added] and many are subjected to forced and bonded labour. Due to exclusion practiced by both state and non-state actors, they have limited access to resources, services and development, keeping most Dalits in severe poverty. They are often de facto excluded from decision making and meaningful participation in public and civil life.

Several observations:

  1. Is the alleged caste behavior crashing into some of the precepts of life in the US?
  2. Is Google’s management reacting like a cow stunned by a slaughter house’s captive bolt pistols?
  3. Should the bias allegations raised by Dr. Timnit Gebru be viewed in the context of management behaviors AND algorithmic functions focused on speed and efficiency for ad-related purposes be revisited? (Maybe academics without financial ties to Google, experts from the Netherlands, and maybe a couple of European Union lawyers? US regulators and Congressional representatives would be able to review the findings after the data are gathered?)
  4. In the alleged Google caste system, where do engineers from certain schools rank? What about females from “good” schools versus females from “less good” schools? What about other criteria designed to separate the herd into tidy buckets? None of this 60 percent threshold methodology. Let’s have nice tidy buckets, shall we? No Drs. Gebru and Mitchell gnawing at Dr. Jeff Dean’s snorkeling outfit.

I wonder what will be roasted in the Googley fire pit in celebration of Father’s Day? Goat pete and makka rotis? Zero sacred cow burgers.

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2022

Apple Disdain: The Right to Repair? Absolutely, Well, Sort Of…

May 23, 2022

I read “Apple Shipped Me a 79-Pound iPhone Repair Kit to Fix a 1.1 Ounce Battery.” The allegedly true write up reports:

Apple has been lobbying to suppress right-to-repair policies around the country, with the company accused of doing everything it can to keep customers from repairing their own phones.

Now Apple wants to be helpful.

What’s needed to insert a battery in a current iPhone?

The article states:

I expected Apple would send me a small box of screwdrivers, spudgers, and pliers; I own a mini iPhone, after all. Instead, I found two giant Pelican cases — 79 pounds of tools — on my front porch. I couldn’t believe just how big and heavy they were considering Apple’s paying to ship them both ways.

The repair kit strikes me — and this is my opinion —  what some lower-class real journalist might describe as a bright digital finger for anyone who thinks he/she/it/them can repair an Apple device. Doesn’t the vaunted Apple manufacturing method utility robots or individuals richly compensated in OSHA and EPA approved facilities to make the gizmos for thick fingered humanoids? In my experience, humans are less than zero when it comes to precision assembly of gadgets and gizmos. What about those rows of happy workers I recall seeing in unverified write ups about worker abuse, child labor, and  happy re-education campers? My view is that those “people” are M2 chip powered robots manufactured by other robots to look a bit like moms, dads, college students, and others looking for truly rewarding, intellectually engaging work.

Therefore, when a mere real humanoid customer buys and breaks a device, the non-Deep Fake customer is 100% responsible for trotting to the Apple store, assuming it is open due to assorted medical and Genius considerations. The sausage-fingered real humanoid who wants to do an iPhone repair on his/her, its/thems kitchen table may work with light from the flickering middle finger. I hope there is an Apple logo tattooed on the hand itself. That’s exception design grammar, is it not?

How customer centric is the Apple approach to the right to repair an iPhone? The write up concludes:

It would be an understatement to say that Apple has a history of resisting right-to-repair efforts.

Now what purpose does that really big digital middle finger serve? The answer may appear in “I Can’t Imagine a Day without Proctology,” available from Amazon for less than $7.

Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2022

Google High Schools It Again

May 4, 2022

Dr. Satrajit Chatterjee may have been kicked out of the Google High School Science Club. The shame!

The alleged truth appears in “Another Firing Among Google’s AI Brain Trust and More Discord.” The venerable New York Times, owner of Wordle, states:

Less than two years after Google dismissed two researchers who criticized the biases built into artificial intelligence systems, the company has fired a researcher who questioned a paper it published on the abilities of a specialized type of artificial intelligence used in making computer chips.

Googzilla has been eager to make clear that its approach to smart software is the one best way. Sure, some may disagree — Just don’t complain too loudly or work at Google are a couple of tips. I have pointed out that the nifty approach used by the online ad company can demonstrate “drift”. I call this tendency the “close enough for horseshoes” approach. I mean that if something is good enough for ad matching, then the same system will work for other Googley things. Do you want to stand in front of a Waymo or let the Google output your health index? Sure you will. You just don’t know it yet.

Dr. Chatterjee was concerned that the information presented in the delightful, easy-to-read article “A Graph Placement Methodology for Fast Chip Design” added some flair to the write up. (Like most real science, this allegedly accurate paper is behind a paywall; however, you may be able to view it. Good luck!) Here’s the summary of the Googlers’ assertions about its smart software platform:

In this work, we propose an RL-based approach to chip floorplanning that enables domain adaptation. The RL agent becomes better and faster at floorplanning optimization as it places a greater number of chip netlists. We show that our method can generate chip floorplans that are comparable or superior to human experts in under six hours, whereas humans take months to produce acceptable floorplans for modern accelerators. Our method has been used in production to design the next generation of Google TPU.

Got that. The translation is that the Google can design chips without too many humans: Cheaper, better, faster and don’t push back with “Pick two”.

Dr. Chatterjee did and he allegedly has an opportunity to find his future elsewhere; for example, working at Dr. Timnit Gebru’s organization, a home for some Xooglers who crossed mental swords with Dr. Jeffrey Dean and his acolytes.

The New York Times, in Gray Lady fashion, asserted:

Dr. Chatterjee’s dismissal was the latest example of discord in and around Google Brain, an A.I. research group considered to be a key to the company’s future. After spending billions of dollars to hire top researchers and create new kinds of computer automation, Google has struggled with a wide variety of complaints about how it builds, uses and portrays those technologies. Tension among Google’s A.I. researchers reflects much larger struggles across the tech industry, which faces myriad questions over new A.I. technologies and the thorny social issues that have entangled these technologies and the people who build them.

Googlers can fiddle with mobiles in meetings, wear torn T shirts, and sleep on the floor under their workstation mini-desk. Just don’t disagree with the One True Way.

What if Drs. Chatterjee and Gebru are a little bit correct in their assertions that the GOOG’s smart software is dorky in many ways. What if these little dorkies add up to delivering 60 confidence in the outputs.

As I said, “close enough for horseshoes” works when burning through ad inventory. However, applied to other domains that horseshoe might land in the crowd and knock a two year old for a loop. Not good unless someone in the Google High School Science Club can address a cranial fracture.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2022

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