The "Google Manifesto" which got a Google employee fired (FULL)

(Maus) #21

Andrew, affirmative action: action favouring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, is exactly what this is you’ve described here, even if unintentional. :wink:

(Maus) #22

For example, if you hire someone with autism because of their ability to submerge themselve in a particular topic and persist until they know everything about it, or persist with a project they’re passionate about against all odds, wouldn’t that be affirmative action? Not saying all people with autism are like this but I believe it’s a common trait. Wouldn’t affirmative action also mean making sure that their special needs are met so they can do their best work in an environment not really designed for them?

(Ben McGinnes) #23


Here’s one and here’s another. There are differences, but the differentiation is more between individuals than split down the sex lines. The same goes for the argument of bathing a foetus in a particular hormone, as decades of twin studies have proven. We discussed part of this during the development of the transgender and intersex policy development (and by “we” I mean you and I).

Politics. C’mon, you know that. The sole point of that memo worth paying any attention to is how much an organisation, whether a corporation or any other type, bases its policies more on the perception of those policies by others (e.g. customers, the general public, populism, etc.) than on scientifically or methodically proven grounds. You mentioned something similar earlier in this discussion regarding one researcher needing to be concerned about how his research is perceived in order to retain funding.

That said, just because that sort of thing is a legitimate issue to be wary of, does not mean that the various assertions stated in the Google memo are themselves logically or factually accurate enough to back the position of the author. The memo is riddled with scientific inaccuracies or, at best, misinterpretations.


Applying an effective remedy to a situation involving discrimination is an action favouring those who tend to suffer from discrimination. Affirmative action, on the other hand, is discrimination.

As per the wikipedia definition:

(Note the “in favor of” bit, which covers affirmative action.)

The situation you describe is not discrimination and hence not affirmative action because the person would have been selected on relevant individual attributes. Hiring someone who is good at what they do and who also happens to be autistic is different from hiring someone who is autistic because they’re autistic.

(Andrew Downing) #25

Laura, you got different pictures of the same words going on in your head that I do in mine.
Could it be that we’re different?

All the affirmative action I see, is usually just discrimination by another name.
When I said “Why not just go crazy and find whole new ways to do business with these differences?”, I mean really actually different.

Here’s one just off the top of my head:
Create a new division where they do commercial software development entirely like open source. Everyone works from home, everyone chooses their own hours, collaboration is entirely online asynchronous (kinda like this but better). Contribution is gauged by some vote of peers (game theory this to make it fair). Pay for results, share it out accordingly.
This would suit a lot of people such as women with children who can’t always swing the usual full time in the office job, gives great flexibility and pays according to contribution.

Now once you do this, you don’t need to do affirmative action in terms of recruitment.
Instead you’d have a lot more women (and others who this suited) rocking up as candidates, massively increasing the talent pool you have to choose from. Women in turn start looking at career in tech as a more viable career choice etc etc etc.
Then proceed lawfully, to choose the best qualified candidates for the jobs.

(Maus) #26

Uhm, no. Affirmative action is an attempt to remedy a situation of discrimination or caused by discrimination, successfully or otherwise.

In the example I gave, the trait for which the person with autism was hired is part of what makes them autistic. So they were logically hired because of their autism. Any prejudiced employer would not have wilfully employed them but discriminated against them because of perhaps difficulties of coming across suitably in the job interview.

(Maus) #27

I would call this affirmative action because it tries to remedy a situation of discrimination or caused by discrimination, perhaps unintentionally.

(Andrew Downing) #28

It would be quite intentional.
Lets classify that as Positive Affirmative Action :wink:
I’m in favour of that.

(Paul Templeton) #29

This is why the web is broken. Was expecting some links to abstracts but alas…

Akin to - "Emerging Trends; how tech is changing democracy"


Well, we’re definitely using different definitions here. Judging by wikipedia it seems the ones I’m using are more accurate, for however accurate you can be in a descriptively defined language, but whatever.

Now seems like a good time to point out that differing representation of men/women/white/aboriginal/asian/whatever in a particular industry/occupation/whatever is not, by itself, evidence of discrimination. Such a situation can happen for entirely non-discriminatory reasons. It’s quite common even, as far as I know.

(Andrew Downing) #31

Those links are just neuro-scientists looking at brain scans and making guesses about the meaning of what they see. I don’t see the relevance. We’re talking psychology here.

Yes I do remember that conversation, but you seem to have missed the point I made at the time.
I don’t know why you keep coming back to some argument about “foetus’s bathing in hormones”. I never asserted anything along those lines. I pointed at the time to research indicating that there was a biological cause suggested for some large number of MtF transgender cases, being that the baby itself due to a genetic difference, was not producing(enough) of its own testosterone in utero, and as a result was physically male (XY chromosomes) but did not develop male brain patterns. As a result, later in development, the child would have distinct sense of being physically male and yet feeling internally as though they were female.

Now, following on from that, and assuming you actually believe transgender people are real and honest in their claims, how could you possibly accept that on this one hand, a MtF transgender person can have a deep sense of having a female brain that doesn’t match their male body, and then on the other hand deny that any such male/female difference exists?

(Andrew Downing) #32

Links to abstracts would have been nice.
Not sure what you’re saying about the “akin to” thing.
That link is me putting together some questions so that when i host a discussion with a group of people who all work on different democracy tech, they can discuss how their solutions are affected by these things. No real claims are being made, but hopefully fruitful discussion will ensue.

(Paul Templeton) #33

Shouldn’t have used the word akin and should have put a better blurb - getting of topic won’t waste any more time on it.

This topic has me flummoxed.

The document is one part of a whole story. There must have been a lead up to the manifesto being disseminated and we are not privy to it. Would love to know Googles internal policies for firing this person. Seems the big issue for this person was lack of being able to discuss his views. But saying that who knows what the lead up was.

(Andrew Downing) #34

Well, he did talk about the issues leading up to the memo, if a video interview I linked waaaay up in the second post of this thread. Also, many relevant academic publications attached to that video description on YouTube.

(Paul Templeton) #35

Thanx - I’m tired - at work.

(Tom Randle) #36

I see a lot of posts above pointing out things that are ‘wrong’ with articles other forum members have shared discussing the original memo, let me make a suggestion: it takes more effort to discuss the things you agree with in an article which overall you might disagree with. So I would like to see this discussion here moving more towards things that all sides in this controversy have got mostly correct, and less picking side on which hot take totally owned it.

The starting point for discussing a controversy such as this, as @MarkG did his best to hint at, is to recognise this controversy has taken on a life of its own.

The original context has essentially been totally lost in a cascading series of events since the memo was first published. So if you have the arrogance to think you totally understand this controversy and the interplay of all the views, issues, opinions, assertions and science that have been flooding forth over the last week-ish… I would suggest it is probably time for you to embark on some self reflection about your place on that tiny mote of dust floating in a sunbeam (since we may not have that much time left anyway cough-trump-cough ).


Very true. I’d like to take a moment and dig something out of the dark reaches of my browser bookmarks for a second. A long, long article… on meme theory, about the Toxoplasma of Rage. (Scroll down till you hit part V if you’re feeling lazy.)

(Ben McGinnes) #38

I may have misremembered that one, I’ve definitely seen that argument posited elsewhere and around the same time.

I think you may mean androgen there rather than testosterone, but putting that aside, genetic variance is just proof that there are differences between individuals and not that there will be neurological differences split down biological sex. There are, of course, thousands of genes spread across the chromosomes (of which about 1,500 are on the X sex chromosome and a lot less on the Y) and so it makes far more sense that the observable differences relate to specific genes than the more generalised chromosomes.

For approximately 98.3% (or higher, since the 1.7% figure I’m referencing covers more than chromosomal variance) of the population that’ll be 46 chromosomes; those with 45, 47+, chimerism and/or mosaicism are all part of the intersex world. I’m going to assume that, particularly given what little context was available in the Google memo, the intersex variations are not being included in any of this argument, on either side of the debate? Right? Unless, of course, those of you who can point so clearly to what a “male brain” is or what a “female brain” is can also define what an “intersex brain” is and why it is that.

Anyway, XY with the inability to process androgen and testosterone properly such that a female body develops either in whole or in part is Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which is split into three main types: Mild Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (MAIS), Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (PAIS) and Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS). PAIS is what Pidgeon Pagonis has and Hanne Odiele has CAIS. Whereas there are a bunch of other conditions which result in producing less testosterone (as distinct from the inability to process the androgen itself) and some of those are chromosome related (e.g. some XXY people with hypogonadism), but some of them are purely hormonal.

All of these conditions, however, are intersex conditions and not transgender. That being the case I’d be interested to see the details of the case you’re citing and specifically whether it’s actually regarding a transgender person or whether it’s another case of either misappropriation of intersex conditions or conflating the two.

I can accept that a transgender person has a deeply held sense of identity or sense of self which they interpret along a particular gender role or perception of a gender role. This does not necessarily mean that their experience of that gender identity is categoric proof of a biological basis for that gender role. Nor do I necessarily have to accept that any interpretation of gender roles or the societal construct surrounding them must always have greater value than biological issues; or that their experience of their gender self-perception’s ascendancy over their biological sex necessarily means that the same experience for all others requires gender perception to be ascendant over biology (regardless of whether or not that gender perception matches biological sex or not).

(Ben McGinnes) #39

That’s actually pretty awesome (and I did skip down to §V). It also reminds me of that old '90s mini-series, Wild Palms. IIRC it’s an early Katherne Bigelow project, stars Michael Keaton and deals with a whole bunch of related themes (including memetic engineering of society).


I love the point you are trying to make! It’s a good example.

Is it really “Affirmative Action” though?

I consider Affirmative Action to be shoehorning someone into a role even though they aren’t the most qualified based on merit because you want diversity stats to look good.

What you seem to be describing is when someone’s diversity has lead them to get an actual advantage in being able to do the role better than everyone else and actually are more qualified based on merit.

Another example: Someone to represent women’s issues. I would dare say that it would probably be a women who is most qualified to represent women (and certainly not Tony Abbott when he was the Minister for Women) because only a woman would truly know what it’s like to be a woman.

In the Men:Women sphere I think that the edges where men can do something that no woman can do, and vice-versa is extremely narrow.

Another reason why I keep criticising his graph, because it makes the distribution between men and women’s exclusive personality traits on the edges look quite large in comparison to the common distribution. There was no scale provided and was generic enough that it could be applied to any given “trait”. He should have used some examples.