news-arrows-blue-resizedGoogle Fires Software Engineer Who Wrote Memo Criticizing Corporate Culture 

Even the most tolerant corporate environments have their limits. Software engineer James Damore was fired earlier this week by Google after writing a 3,300-word memo about gender differences and criticizing the search giant for tamping down on conservative perspectives.

“(The memo) was published internally to Google employees late last week and argued that conservative viewpoints are suppressed at Google and that biological differences explain in part why more men work in software engineering than women,” writes Ellen Huet in Bloomberg Technology. “Many in Silicon Valley denounced Damore’s arguments, including Google chief Sundar Pichai.”

This story has been covered widely, but I recommend Ellen’s article, which explains why Damore might have a hard time proving that Google did something wrong by firing him. 


Mobileye Acquisition is Major Move for Intel 

Intel demonstrated that it is serious about becoming a big player in the autonomous driving space by purchasing Mobileye for $15.3 billion this week. Mobileye is considered the leader in self-driving car technology, and Intel’s acquisition creates a whole new competitive dynamic in the automotive industry.

This deal is highly significant because Mobileye already supplies advanced tech to many of the major automakers. Frankly, I think this is a brilliant decision by Intel, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out. For more details, I recommend reading Neal Boudette’s fascinating article in The New York Times.


Scientifically Testing Basic Concepts of New Technology By Disguising Researchers as Car Seats

I couldn’t resist one including one more item on the topic of driverless cars, even though the story is about disguising humans as car seats to fool other drivers into thinking that nobody is driving. The point of the experiment is finding out how people react to sharing the road with driverless cars. From my perspective, the experiment makes good sense.

As IT leaders, we know that every step forward actually involves three distinct components: people, processes, and technology. Get one part wrong and the whole initiative can fall apart. The experiment, dubbed “Car Seat Man,” is essentially trying to determine how people will respond to new technology.

“Car Seat Man is part of a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study into human-vehicle interactions – information automakers and tech companies like Google will find invaluable as they loose thousands of self-driving cars onto the country's roads,” writes Aarian Marshall in Wired. “The Institute confirmed that the guy inside that definitely-not-store-bought car seat costume and his shiny new van are part of its research effort. It didn't have much to say beyond that, but the Institute notes on its website that it hopes to observe how humans react to robocars, and determine whether the folks making such vehicles should consider design tweaks to ease any tension or avoid any confusion.”