Google, Does Quantum Supremacy Imply That Former Staff Grouse in Public?

April 5, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumbNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I am not sure if this story is spot on. I am writing about “Report: A Google AI Researcher Resigned after Learning Google’s Bard Uses Data from ChatGPT.” I am skeptical because today is All Fools’ Day. Being careful is sometimes a useful policy. An exception might be when a certain online advertising company is losing bigly to the marketing tactics of [a] Microsoft, the AI in Word and Azure Security outfit, [b] OpenAI and its little language model that could, and [c] Midjourney which just rolled out its own camera with a chip called Bionzicle. (Is this perhaps pronounced “bio-cycle” like washing machine cycle or “bion zickle” like bio pickle? I go with the pickle sound; it seems appropriate.

The cited article reports as actual factual real news:

ChatGPT AI is often accused of leveraging “stolen” data from websites and artists to build its AI models, but this is the first time another AI firm has been accused of stealing from ChatGPT.  ChatGPT is powering Bing Chat search features, owing to an exclusive contract between Microsoft and OpenAI. It’s something of a major coup, given that Bing leap-frogged long-time search powerhouse Google in adding AI to its setup first, leading to a dip in Google’s share price.

This is im port’ANT as the word is pronounced on a certain podcast.

More interesting to me is that recycled Silicon Valley type real news verifies this remarkable assertion as the knowledge output of a PROM’ inANT researcher, allegedly named Jacob Devlin. Mr. Devil has found his future at – wait for it – OpenAI. Wasn’t OpenAI the company that wanted to do good and save the planet and then discovered Microsoft backing, thirsty trapped AI investors, and the American way of wealth?

Net net: I wish I could say, April’s fool, but I can’t. I have an unsubstantiated hunch that Google’s governance relies on the whims of high school science club members arguing about what pizza topping to order after winning the local math competition. Did the team cheat? My goodness no. The team has an ethical compass modeled on the triangulations of William McCloundy or I.O.U. O’Brian, the fellow who sold the Brooklyn Bridge in the early 20th century.

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2023

Google Economics: The Cost of Bard Versus Staplers

April 4, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumbNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Does anyone remember the good old days at the Google. Tony Bennett performing in the cafeteria. What about those car washes? How about the entry security system which was beset with door propped open with credit card receipts from Fred’s Place. Those were the days.

I read “Google to Cut Down on Employee Laptops, Services and Staplers for Multi-Year Savings.” The article explains:

Google said it’s cutting back on fitness classes, staplers, tape and the frequency of laptop replacements for employees. One of the company’s important objectives for 2023 is to “deliver durable savings through improved velocity and efficiency.” Porat said in the email. “All PAs and Functions are working toward this,” she said, referring to product areas. OKR stands for objectives and key results.

Yes, OKR. I wonder if the Sundar and Prabhakar comedy act will incorporate staplers into their next presentation.

And what about the $100 billion the Google “lost” after its quantum supremacy smart software screwed up in Paris? Let’s convert that to staplers, shall we? Today (April 4, 2023), I can purchase one office stapler from Amazon (Google’s fellow traveler in trashing relevance with advertisements) for $10.98. I liked the Bostitch Office Heavy Duty device, which is Amazon’s number one best seller (according to Amazon marketing).

The write up pointed out:

Staplers and tape are no longer being provided to print stations companywide as “part of a cost effectiveness initiative,” according to a separate, internal facilities directive viewed by CNBC.

To recoup that $100 million, Google will have to not purchase 9,107,468.12. I want to retain the 0.12 because one must be attentive to small numbers (unlike some of the fancy math in the Snorkel world). Google, I have heard, has about 100,000 “employees”, but it is never clear which are “real” employees, contractors, interns, or mysterious partners. Thus each of these individuals will be responsible for NOT losing or breaking 91 staplers per year.

I know the idea of rationing staplers is like burning Joan of Arc. It’s not an opportunity to warm a croissant; it is the symbolism of the event.

Google in 2023 knows how to keep me in stitches. Sorry, staples. And the cost of Bard? As the real Bard said:

Poor and content is rich and rich enough,
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor. (Othello, III.iv)

Stephen E Arnold, April 4, 2023

TikTok in Context: It Is Technology, Not the Wizards Writing Code

March 23, 2023

Note: Written by a real, still alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, thank you.

Yep, let’s focus on technology; specifically, online and digitization. The press release / essay “MEMO: TikTok Is a Threat. So Is the Rest of Big Tech” does not name names. The generalization “technology” is a garden spray, not a disciplined Banksy can of spray paint. Yep, technology.

The write up from the Tech Oversight Project states:

Right now, lawmakers are weighing the virtues of a TikTok ban in the United States versus a forced divestiture from Chinese Communist Party-connected parent company ByteDance. Regardless of which direction lawmakers choose, focusing solely on TikTok does not fully get at the heart of the practices every platform engages in to cause so much harm.

And the people? Nope, generalizations and a handful of large companies. And the senior managers, the innovators, the individuals who happily coded the applications and services? Not on the radar.

The document does include some useful information about the behaviors of large technology-centric companies; for example and these are quotes from the cited document:

  • Facebook developed a censorship tool in an attempt to court Chinese engagement.
  • In an effort to court the Chinese market, Google developed a censored version of its platform for use in China and was forced to backtrack under pressure from human rights organizations.
  • 155 of Apple’s top 200 suppliers are based in China.

My view is that specific senior executives directly involved in okaying a specific action or policy should be named. These individuals made decisions based on their ethical and financial contexts. Those individuals should be mapped to specific decisions.

Disconnecting the people who were the “deciders” from the broad mist of “technology” and the handful of companies named is not helpful.

Responsibility accrues to an individual, and individuals are no longer in second grade where shooting a teacher incurs zero penalty. Accountability should have a shelf life akin to a pressurized can of party cheese.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2023

Google and Its High School Management: An HR Example

March 22, 2023

I read “Google Won’t Honor Medical Leave During Its Layoffs, Outraging Employees.” Interesting explanation of some of Google’s management methods. These specific actions strike me as similar to those made by my high school science club in 1959. We were struggling with the issue of requiring a specific academic threshold for admission. As I recall, one had to have straight A’s in math and science or no Science Club for that person. (We did admit one student who published an article in the Journal of Astronomy with his brother as co-author. He had an incomplete in calculus because he was in Hawaii fooling around with a telescope and missed the final exam. We decided to let him in. Because, well, we were the Science Club for goodness sakes!)


Scribbled Diffusion’s rendition of a Google manager (looks a bit like a clown, doesn’t it?) telling an employee he is fired and that his medical insurance has been terminated.

The article reports:

While employees’ severance packages might come with a few more months of health insurance, being fired means instantly losing access to Google’s facilities. If that’s where a laid-off Googler’s primary care doctor works, that person is out of luck, and some employees told CNBC they lost access to their doctors the second the layoff email arrived. Employees on leave also have a lot to deal with. One former Googler, Kate Howells, said she was let go by Google from her hospital bed shortly after giving birth. She worked at the company for nine years.

The highlight of the write up, however, is the Comment Section. Herewith are several items I found noteworthy:

  • Gsgrego writes, “Employees, aka expendable garbage.”
  • Chanman819 offers, “I’ve mentioned it before in one of the other layoff threads, but companies shouldn’t burn bridges when doing layoffs… departing employees usually end up at competitors, regulators, customers, vendors, or partners in the same industry. Many times, they boomerang back a few years in the future. Making sure they have an axe to grind during negotiations or when on the other side of a working relationship is exceptionally ill-advised.
  • Ajmas says, “Termination by accounting.”
  • Asvarduil offers, “Twitter and Google are companies that I now consider radioactive to work for. Even if they don’t fail soon, they’re very clearly poorly-managed. If I had to work for someone else, they’re both companies I’d avoid.
  • MisterJim adds, “Two thoughts: 1. Stay classy Google! 2. Google has employees? Anyone who’s tried to contact them might assume otherwise.

High school science club lives on in the world of non-founder management.

Stephen E Arnold, March 22, 2023

Google: Poked Painfully in Its Snout

March 15, 2023

The essay “Why Didn’t DeepMind Build GPT3?” identifies three reasons for Google getting poked in its snout. According to the author, the reasons were [a] no specific problem to solve, [b] less academic hoo haa at OpenAI, and [c] less perceived risk. My personal view is that Googlers’ intelligence is directed at understanding their navels, not jumping that familiar Silicon Valley chasm. (Microsoft marketers spotted an opportunity and grabbed it. Boom. Score one for the Softies.)


Google’s management team reacting to ChatGPT’s marketing success. The art was created via who owns the creative juices required to fabricate this interesting depiction of Google caught in a moment of management decision making.

These reasons make sense to me. I would suggest that several other Google characteristics played a role, probably bit parts, but roles nevertheless.

Since 2006, Google fragmented; that is, the idea of Google providing great benefit as an heir to the world of IBM and Microsoft gave Google senior managers a Droit du seigneur. However, the revenue for the company came from the less elevated world of online advertising. Thus, there was a disconnect after the fraught early years, the legal battle prior to the IPO, and the development of the mostly automated systems to make sure Google captured revenue in the buying and selling and brokering of online advertising. After 2006, the split between what Google management believed it had created and the reality of the business was institutionalized. Google and smart software was perceived as the one right way. Period. That way was a weird blend of group think and elite academic methods.

Also, Google failed to bring direction and focus to its products. I no longer remember how many messaging services Google offered. I cannot keep track of the company’s different and increasingly oblique investment arms. I have given up trying to recall the many new product and service incubators the company launched. I do remember that Google wanted to solve death. That, I believe, proved to be a difficult problem as if Loon balloons, digital games, and dealing with revenue challengers like Amazon and Facebook were no big deal. The fragmentation struck me as similar to the colored particles tossed during Holi, just with a more negative environmental effect. Googlers were vision impaired when it came to seeing what priorities to set.

Plus, from my point of view Google professionals lacked the ability to focus beyond getting more money, influence, and access to the senior managers. In short, Google demonstrated the inability to manage its people and the company. The last few years have been characterized by employee issues and other legal swamps. The management method has reminded me of my high school science club. Every member was a top student. Every member believed their view was correct. Every member believed that the traditional methods of teaching were stupid, boring, and irrelevant. The problem was that instead of chasing money and closeness to the “senior managers”, my high school science club was chasing validation and manifestation of superiority. That was baloney, of course, but what do 16 year olds actually understand. Google’s management is similar to my high school science club.

Are there other factors? Sure, and these include a wildly fluctuating moral compass, confusing personal objectives with ethical objectives, and giving into base instincts (baby making in the legal department, heroin on a yacht with a specialized contractor, and March Madness fun in Las Vegas).

Who will chronicle these Google gaffes? Perhaps someone will input a text string into ChatGPT to get the information many have either ignored, forgotten, or did not understand.

Stephen E Arnold, March xx, 2022

Is It Groundhog Day? Googzilla Chases Its Tail

March 10, 2023

In the buzz of Code Red, Google has a management fix for the damage caused by Microsoft’s ChatGPT marketing attack. “Google Dusts Off the Failed Google+ Playbook to Fight ChatGPT” states:

Google’s ChatGPT panic seemed a lot like its response to Google+, and several employees relayed that same sentiment to Bloomberg. Just like with G+, the report added that “current and former employees say at least some Googlers’ ratings and reviews will likely be influenced by their ability to integrate generative AI into their work.”

Google+ (try and search that, Google search fans). Does Google Plus work? How about a combo of “Google+ Plus Orkut” as a query?

The write up passes along a quote by an unnamed Google wizard:

“We’re throwing spaghetti at the wall, but it’s not even close to what’s needed to transform the company and be competitive.”

My take on this reference to Google+ or Google Plus is:

1. The sources for this story are not Googley and, therefore, cannot appreciate the management brilliance

2. The Google is out of ideas; that is, the Code Red thing and idea that it will be smart software everywhere is a knee jerk reaction

3. Googzilla is chasing its tail; that is, senior management has not idea what to do and hits upon this idea, “Google+ or Plus was a success. Let’s do that again.”

Net net: Is it groundhog day at the Googleplex? Next question: What confidence does one have in groundhogs?

Stephen E Arnold, March 10, 2023

Google: Share Googlers As You Did in Kindergarten. No Spats over Cookies!

March 1, 2023

The 2023 manifestation of the Google is fascinating. There was the Code Red. There’s the Supreme Court and the European Union. There’s the anti-Microsoft Bing thing.

And now we have the kindergarten mantra, “Share, kiddies.” Sorry, I meant, “Share, Googlers.”

I read “Google Cloud Staff Asked to Share Desks in Real Estate Efficiency Drive.” The article reports as absolute real journalism:

Google has reportedly asked employees to begin sharing desks at several sites across the US as part of a “real estate efficiency” drive.  Employees at Google’s cloud division will be asked to pair up with colleagues and alternate in-office shift patterns as part of the move…

How will this work in Kirkland and Seattle, Washington, Manhattan, San Francisco, and maybe TC3 or MP1? The write up explains:

“Most Googlers will now share a desk with one other Googler,” the documents state. “Through the matching process, they will agree on a basic desk setup and establish norms with their desk partner and teams to ensure a positive experience in the new shared environment.”

Have you been in a Google, DeepMind, Alphabet, or YouTube meeting? Ah, well, if the answer is “yes,” you will know that reaching agreement is an interesting process. If the answer is “no,” you can replicate the experience by visiting a meeting of the local high school’s science club. Close enough I would suggest.

I remember when:

  • Tony Bennett performed in the Google cafeteria
  • Odwalla (a killer health drink) filled fridges
  • A car wash service was available in the parking lot on Shoreline Drive

Yes, I remember.

In 2023, the Google is showing its age (maybe maturity) after the solving death and Loon balloon era.

Reducing costs is a cookie cutter solution to management running out of ideas for generating new revenue. How many McKinsey or Booz, Allen consultants did it require to produce the idea of sharing a sleeping bag? A better question is, “How much did Google pay outside consultants to frame the problem and offer several solutions?

Googzilla is not dead. The beastie is taking steps to make sure it survives after the Microsoft marketing wild fire scorched the tail of the feared online advertising, relevance killed creature.

And Odwalla? Just have a New Coke? Oh, sorry. That’s gone too.

Stephen E Arnold, March 1, 2023

MBAs Rejoice: Traditional Forecasting Methods Have to Be Reinvented

February 27, 2023

The excitement among the blue chip consultants will be building in the next few months. The Financial Times (the orange newspaper) has announced “CEOs Forced to Ditch Decades of Forecasting Habits.” But what to use? The answer will be crafted by McKinsey, Bain, Booz, Allen, et al. Even the azure chip outfits will get in on the money train too. Imagine all those people who have to do budgets have to find a new way. Plugging numbers into Excel and dragging the little square will no longer be enough.

The article reports:

auditing firms worry that the forecasts their corporate clients submit to them for sign-off are impossible to assess.

Uncertainty and risk: These are two concepts known to give some of those in responsible positions indigestion. The article states:

It is not just the traditional variables of financial modeling such as inflation and consumer spending that have become harder to predict. The past few years have also provided some unexpected lessons on how business and society cope with shocks and uncertainty.

Several observations:

  • Crafting “different” or “novel” forecasting methods will accelerate the use of smart software in blue chip consulting firms. By definition, MBAs are out of ideas which work in the new reality.
  • Senior managers will be making decisions in an environment in which the payoff from their decisions will create faster turnover among the managerial ranks as uncertainty morphs into bad decisions for which “someone” must be held accountable.
  • Predictive models may replace informed decisions based on experience.

Net net: Heisenberg uncertainty principle accounting marks a new era in budget forecasting and job security.

Stephen E Arnold, February 27, 2023

Another Grousing Xoogler: A Case Study Under Construction?

February 20, 2023

Say “Google” to me, and I think of:

[a] Philandering in the Google legal unit. See this story.
[b] A senior manager dead on a yacht with a “special” contractor and alleged concoctions not included in a bright child’s chemistry set. See this story.
[c] Solving death. See this story.
[d] An alleged suicide attempt by a high profile Alphabet professional fond of wearing Google Glass at parties and who suffered post traumatic stress when the love boat crashed. See this story.
[e] Google’s click fraud matter. See this story.
[f] Pundits “forgetting” that Google’s pay-to-play was an idea for which Google’s pre-IPO management paid about $1 billion to avoid an expensive legal hassle over alleged improper use of Yahoo, GoTo, and Overture technology. See this story.

I am not sure what you think about when you hear the word “Google.”

googler trust ver 2

Image of trustworthy people generated by A dinobaby wrote this Beyond Search story and the caption for the AI generated image which I assume is now in for fee image banks with PicRights’ software protecting everyone’s rights.

Former Googler Pulls Back the Curtain on a Bureaucratic Maze and Lambastes Bosses and Employees for Losing Sight of What’s Important” suggests that my associations are not comprehensive. A Xoogler wizard named Praveen Seshadri suggested, according to Fortune Magazine:

Google employees don’t go to work each day thinking they serve users or customers. Instead, they serve something internal to Google, be it a process, a technology, a manager, or other employees.

What about promotions, bonuses, and increasing advertising revenue? Not top of mind for Praveen it seems.

Googlers, he allegedly says, according to Fortune:

Instead, the focus is on potential risk, which is seen in “every line code you change” and “anything you launch,” resulting in layer upon layer of processes, reviews, and approvals.

Ah, ha. Parkinson’s Law applied to high school science club management methods, perhaps?

The Fortune write up states:

… today, Seshadri argues in his essay, there is a “collective delusion” within Google that the company is still exceptional, whenin fact most people quietly complain about the overall inefficiency. As a Google employee, “you don’t wake up everyday thinking about how you should be doing better and how your customers deserve better and how you could be working better,” he writes. “Instead, you believe that things you are doing already are so perfect that they are the only way to do it.”

I suppose I should add one more item to my list of associations:

[g] Googlers strugle to perceive the reality their actions have created. See this story.

What happened to Foundem, the French tax forms, and Timnit Gebru? A certain blindness?

Each week appears to bring another installment of the Sundar and Prabhakar team’s comedy act. I look forward to a few laughs from the group now laboring in Code Red mode.

Stephen E Arnold, February 20, 2023

Fixing Bard with a Moma Badge As a Reward

February 17, 2023

I read an interesting news item from CNBC. Yep, CNBC. The story is “Google Asks Employees to Rewrite Bard’s Bad Responses, Says the A.I. Learns Best by Example.” The passage which caught my attention immediately was:

Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s vice president for search, asked staffers in an email on Wednesday to help the company make sure its new ChatGPT competitor gets answers right. The email, which CNBC viewed, included a link to a do’s and don’ts page with instructions on how employees should fix responses as they test Bard internally.

moma buttons okay

Hypothetical Moma buttons for right fixes to Google Bard’s off-the-mark answers. Collect them all!

I don’t know much about Googlers, but from what I have observed, the concept “answers right” is fascinating. From my point of view, Googlers must know what is “right.” Therefore, Google can recognize what is wrong. The process, if the sentence accurately reflects the wisdom of Sundar and Prabhakar, is that Google is all knowing.

Let’s look at one definition of all knowing. The source is the ever popular scribe, disabled, and so-so poet John Milton, who described the Google approach to fixing up its smart software by Google wizards, poobahs, and wonder makers. Milton pointed out his God’s approach to addressing a small problem:

What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled,
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Not me. (3.103-111) [Emphasis added, Editor]

Serving necessity? Question: When the software and systems are flawed, humans must intervene … of necessity?

Will Googlers try to identify right information and remediate it? Yes.

Can Googlers determine “right” and “bad” information? Consider this: If these Googlers could, how does one explain the flawed software and systems which must be fixed by “necessity”?

I know Google’s senior managers are bright, but this intervention by the lesser angels strikes me as [a] expensive, [b] an engineering mess, and [c] demonstrating some darned wacky reasoning. But the task is hard. In fact, it is a journey:

… CEO Sundar Pichai asked employees to spend two to four hours of their time on Bard, acknowledging that “this will be a long journey for everyone, across the field.”

But the weirdness of “field” metaphor is nothing to this stunning comment, which is allegedly dead accurate:

To incentivize people in his organization to test Bard and provide feedback, Raghavan said contributors will earn a “Moma badge…”

A Moma badge? A Moma badge? Like an “Also Participated” ribbon or a scouting patch for helping an elderly person across Shoreline Drive?

If the CNBC write up is accurately relating what a senior Googler said, Google’s approach manifests arrogance and a bit of mental neuropathy. My view is that the “Moma badge” thing smacks of a group of adolescents in a high school science club deciding to create buttons to award to themselves for setting the chem lab on fire. Good work, kids. Is the Moma badge and example of Google management insight.

I know one thing: I want a Moma badge… now.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2023

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