Diversity, Diversity Debate, Tech

Diversity and Discrimination in Open Source

Back in May, I decided to leave the LLVM project, to which I was a contributor. I announced this decision in an open letter to my colleagues, which received some coverage in the technical press at the time, and a number of requests for further comment, which I declined. In what follows, I want to elaborate upon my reasons for leaving and explain what I think is going wrong in open source generally, and at LLVM in particular.

First, for those unfamiliar with the tech world, a little background. Software is commonly developed and made available to the public in one of two ways: either proprietary software is developed privately inside a company and sold for a fee, or open source software, as the name implies, is developed in the open for anyone to use and improve. Microsoft’s Office is an example of the former, and the Linux operating system is an example of the latter.

Among programmers, there are ongoing discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of both models. I have been attracted to the open source side of this debate since I started university, the most appealing aspect of which was the greater potential to do good. Only one company can improve on proprietary software, and only that company’s customers can use it. With the same effort I could write open source software and make it available to everyone.

Having developed software in both models, I now realize that another big advantage of open source is the development community. Because software is developed in the space between companies, the corporate politics of each company is avoided, and developers working for different employers can normally cooperate more freely. This was, until recently, a geek’s paradise. Open source is old, but it grew rapidly during the early days of the internet, back when it was used to be said that, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” It didn’t matter who you were, all that mattered was the quality of the work you produced.

In 2006, LLVM was the first open source project I managed to work on full time, shortly after leaving university. I was hooked. From that day forward, I always tried to ensure that if it wasn’t my job it would still be my hobby. I have moved companies and countries many times since, but I’ve always looked for jobs where I would have the opportunity to work in LLVM. LLVM is mainly a tool for other developers. As such, it may seem a bit esoteric to those not involved in software development. It also means that there are a lot of indirect users, including iPhone and Android. The combination of a meaningful but obscure area of work was exciting and rewarding, and as the years passed, I became one of LLVM’s most active developers.

Unfortunately, the environment changed fairly quickly. First, with the adoption of a code of conduct, and then with the introduction of policies that promoted discrimination in the name of ‘diversity.’ It is easier to start with the second of these issues, which was also the one that convinced me to leave.

Over the summer months, it is common for open source projects to recruit students as interns. The main contributor to this scheme is Google’s ‘Summer of Code,’ which has been sponsoring student internships for 13 years. This is an invaluable initiative and I am proud to have mentored a student myself in the past.

This time around, however, the LLVM foundation decided to pay for an internship themselves, and agreed a partnership with an organization called Outreachy. This collaboration saw LLVM  adopt interesting new eligibility criteria. Outreachy’s rules state that an applicant must “meet one of the following criteria”:

  • You live any where in the world and you identify as a woman (cis or trans), trans man, or genderqueer person (including genderfluid or genderfree).
  • You live in the United States or you are a U.S. national or permanent resident living aboard, AND you are a person of any gender who is Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@ [sic], Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander

What is the problem with that? Isn’t diversity something we should incentivize? As it happens, I don’t think diversity is either inherently good or inherently bad. Rather, it is normally an indicator of something good. For example, if it is desirable to live in a particular country and that country is open to newcomers, immigration will naturally make it diverse as a consequence. I have personally benefited from openness when moving from Brazil to Ireland and from Ireland to Canada. When I left Brazil, my original intention was to move to the US, but the quotas operative in the US immigration system are the reason I went to Ireland instead. When I moved again, I opted for the Canadian permanent residency program over the US green card.

The same principle applies to open source. No one has to pass an interview or physically relocate to work in open source, so it attracts more people than a corresponding proprietary software position. Had LLVM been proprietary, a new graduate from Brazil like myself would have found it impossible to get involved. So, I think it is evident that reducing barriers to entry is a good thing. It is also likely to increase diversity. In the absence of obstacles, all that matters is the willingness and ability of each individual. That is a noble meritocratic goal.

Problems arise, however, when objectives are confused with indicators. A similar confusion occurs in other areas. In economics, it is known as ‘Goodhart’s Law‘: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” In the case of diversity, this confusion is particularly unfortunate. The use of discrimination to meet quotas at the expense of merit is exactly the opposite of what made diversity initiatives laudable in the first place.

The tech industry in general has, by now, travelled a considerable distance down the discrimination-for-diversity path. According to the Wilberg v. Google lawsuit, recruiters were given quotas to meet for different ethnic groups. Finding a suitable candidate to fill a technical position is hard work. Were I starting out now, I would worry that a recruiter might hire me to help fill a quota on the basis of my name alone, rather than on the basis of my abilities.

Even if one is inclined to agree with discrimination in the name of diversity, the particular criteria used by Outreachy are still rather odd. Why is it sufficient to identify as a woman, but necessary to be Black, Hispanic, or some other favored demographic? And why is the US a special case? Is a Hispanic living in the US more deserving than a Mexican born and raised in Guadalajara or Tijuana?

The adoption of Outreachy’s bizarre new eligibility rules compounded the problems already associated with LLVM’s recently floated Code of Conduct, which I oppose mainly because it also correlates with discrimination. Most Codes of Conduct look a lot alike. As far as I can tell, one of the earliest templates was the explicitly discriminatory (and now discontinued) code introduced by the TODO group, which stated, among other things, that, “We will not act on complaints regarding: ‘Reverse’ -isms, including ‘reverse racism,’ ‘reverse sexism,’ and ‘cisphobia’.”

That prototype was subsequently popularized when it was adopted by GitHub. From there, it has spread, with some variations, to a number of other projects. While the explicitly discriminatory language has been dropped in some instances, including the version adopted by the LLVM project, it nonetheless lingers in spirit. The LLVM code reassures participants that, “We strive to be a community that welcomes and supports people of all backgrounds and identities.” One would hope that blocking someone from an internship based on their skin color or sex would then not be acceptable. In practice, however, the same people pushed for both the code of conduct and for Outreachy’s involvement.

There are also a number of smaller, but still serious, issues with the letter of the proposed Code of Conduct. Not least among these is its scope. The LLVM version of the code explicitly extends the project’s authority to the lives of its members outside the workplace: “Violations of this code outside these spaces may, in rare cases, affect a person’s ability to participate within them.” Other variants of this warning are not as explicit, but the failure to delimit the scope of the code’s authority makes it dangerously ambiguous. Which cases? And how rarely? Participants are not told.

One of the problems with this kind of careful ambiguity is that we are living in an era in which those who warn of the dangers of tribalism (eg: Jordan Peterson) or Islamism (eg: Maajid Nawaz) can find themselves in serious trouble as a result. Can we be sure that either of these individuals would be accepted into a community instead of being excluded for being ‘disrespectful’?

Open source projects were, in my experience, already some of the most welcoming and inclusive environments in which to work. Even if we concede that an explicitly worded Code of Conduct is desirable, it is essential that its scope is clearly defined. It is, for example, perfectly possible for pro-life and pro-choice advocates to collaborate on a software project. They just have to leave their opinions about abortion at the door, and this should not preclude them from freely sharing those opinions on social media without fear of disciplinary reprisal. In this way, rules can be made simpler and stricter: the spaces provided by the project are only for discussions relevant to the project, and what goes on outside the workplace is not our concern.

For a few years now the idea that one should “Bring Your Whole Self to Work” has been popular in tech circles. But it now seems that when we do this, work tries to enforce what that “whole self” ought to be. This will not result in an increase in diversity. To the contrary, it will produce an atmosphere of stifling conformity.

 

Rafael Avila de Espindola graduated from the University of Campinas in 2005. He has since worked on various open source projects (gcc, firefox, llvm). He has a very quiet blog at blog.espindo.la

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33 Comments

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  6. derek says

    A few years ago I was actively involved in the KDE project. I wrote a weekly report on the code changes and features. Part of the purpose was to encourage participation; the core resource of a project are it’s developers, and there is no end of work that needs to be done.

    The project was successful and very active. People from all over the world, a few women not many. It was raucous at times, but lots got done, people learned and grew as developers, many got paying jobs, and the project kept getting better.

    I work in a technical trade and have been aware for a long time that I and others that ply the trade are a problem to be solved. I see the same thing here. People see an active and productive group of people doing something they don’t understand in the least, and some of the more ridiculous among them who can’t get any status from their coding ability do it a different way. They are trying to solve a problem, and it is their relevance. Free software projects have always had an ethic of valuable contribution; show me the code. That is hard, extremely hard. So the goal is to control and be important without having to do the hard work of developing skills to be able to contribute in a positive way.

    Google is getting to be a pernicious influence. I was listening to a technical podcast and the google engineer guest insulted the group because it wasn’t to his taste.

    Thank you Rafael. I don’t know if I have personally used your code, but you are one of the many who has changed the software industry for the better. If all the ankle biters can complain about is the color of the skin, or the genitalia of the participants, they have nothing.

    And that is all they have.

  7. It’s good to see Quillette offering a platform to someone who has experienced first hand the destructive effects of intersectional activism on open source. In my experience, there is a pretty big blind spot about this among most of the counter-culture, who do not realize that e.g. what happened with James Damore at Google has been years and years in the making. These problems did not only branch out from academia recently. We had an early warning of this with DongleGate in 2013, while other geek communities such as Atheism and Sci-Fi encountered this type of entryism even before that.

    One point should be corrected though Rafael. The TODO group’s Code of Conduct was in no way one of the earliest templates. That ‘honor’ goes to the now defunct Ada Initiative and their ‘anti-harassment’ efforts (who claimed they were effective without any proof or data). The accusation that conferences were too white and too male, and also unsafe for women, was used for years to browbeat them into submission. Conferences made a juicy and vulnerable target, and once they were “won over”, this was then exported back online into the open source communities they sprung from.

    I have illustrated some of this entryism in open source on Status 451, if you are interested:
    https://status451.com/2016/04/05/all-aboard-the-shame-train/

    Will Shetterly’s book “How to make a Social Justice Warrior” details his experiences in sci-fi.

    As for whether a Code of Conduct is actually desirable… the main problem is actually that it does not matter what the CoC says, because that’s not how they are actually applied in practice. The Node.js community saw a great example of this recently with the attempted expulsion of Rod Vagg, ironically for linking to a Quillette article on Twitter, whose accuser’s social media feed was full of racist and sexist invective aimed at white people and men. It was very obvious who was violating the CoC and who wasn’t, and it didn’t matter one bit. The CoC only served as a pretense of due process, to be used to beat people into submission.

    See e.g.:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/node/comments/6whs2e/multiple_coc_violations_by_nodejs_board_member/

    Another good example is the persecution of Larry Garfield in the Drupal community for a completely manufactured story of imagined sexual abuse. The resulting attempts to justify the matter caused the Drupal leadership to twist itself into pretzels, contradict itself and retroactively edit it statements, to try and hide what was plain to see for all.

  8. Tim says

    Thanks for the interesting article. I guess these diversity initiatives will most likely hurt quality of code and pace of development, if not already.

    • ” I guess these diversity initiatives will most likely hurt quality of code and pace of development, if not already.”: that’s what I’d like to know about: has quality gone down? Production levels? Undoubtedly, such policies have affected the willingness to work and “esprit de corps.”

      These human resource types — former humanities students all, no doubt — are a menace (and I say that with sadness, as a fan of the humanities in a big way — just not how they’re taught, or not taught, now).

  9. Doug says

    This will not result in an increase in diversity. To the contrary, it will produce an atmosphere of stifling conformity.

    As you and I and the community here know, “diversity” to these people only refers to the most superficial elements of skin hue, genitalia, and orientation. Stifling conformity of opinion among these “diverse” individuals will be enforced.

    • TarsTarkas says

      In other words, superficial diversity trumps character diversity. It’s not what you know and can do, it’s what you look like or say and who you can blame for your failures. It’s as if they’re trying to kill the communities they’ve taken charge of and hand over golden business opportunities to those who don’t give a s**t about intersectional BS but just want to make money. Sorta like the way it was before the SJW’s decided to introduce the lessons of 1984 and Animal Farm into open platform.

  10. Andrew Arnott says

    Thanks for the great writeup. I agree with the pros and pitfalls you mention.

  11. Kyle M. says

    One time, the most brilliant, gifted, talented genius-level programmer I have ever met was having an argument with a very low skilled programmer.

    The high skilled programmer was talking about how the tech industry was the most egalitarian field she had been involved in – “no one cares who you are, all that matters is what you do. It’s just about the work, that’s how it should be.” She would turn in her code, and people were thankful and respectful.

    The low skilled programmer kept talking about all the built-in misogyny in tech, how she was constantly facing barriers everywhere she goes, “because of her gender”. She would turn in her code and face a barrage of criticism and dismissal.

    While I was listening to this argument, I couldn’t help but wonder if there might be another variable, something other than gender that was leading to these starkly opposed reactions each received from the tech field.

    • cdnanon says

      Here’s the thing: Every single barrier that that low-skilled programmer has faced, low-skilled male programmers have also faced. But when the low-skilled male programmers are excluded, they don’t get to cry sexism.

      I’m sure there is some actual sexism out there. But from what I’ve seen, the overwhelming majority of what is called sexism in tech is just the honest result of actually treating women equally.

  12. cdnanon says

    When I was in college, the world of software was an amazing place where a bunch of passionate nerds could spend way too much time focusing on hyperspecific details of complex systems. It was fun, and the community of like-minded people was a welcome refuge from the rest of the world. Prior to my friends and I meeting in university and forming our group of friends, most of us had miserable lives. Broken families. Physical abuse (“bullying” back when that meant fists, not snark) at school. Social isolation. Building software was our safe space.

    Then we all graduated and found out that, surprisingly, our quirky passion was lucrative. We all started taking contract jobs for way more money than we ever thought possible (a whopping $30 per hour! AMAZING!). We built a formal development community in our city. Once a week we would meet up and just fuck around on software projects. We started dozens of passion projects that we lost interest in, and that still litter our Githubs. We participated in competitions and hackathons. Our weekly “Code Golf” was the highlight of my life.

    This wasn’t even ten years ago.

    Today, I’ve withdrawn from every coding community I’ve ever been involved with. Each and every one has been taken over by these people. Each and every one has adopted the same Code of Conduct, and started taking enforcement actions against us. Every major community I’ve been in has had at least one beloved member of the community taken down by baseless accusations that, at best, were unsupported by the evidence presented.

    Meanwhile, throughout every tech community, as well as throughout the SF bay area where I now live, I’m constantly being blamed for everything, based purely on my skin colour. Because I’m a white male. Nevermind that I come from a broken home. Nevermind that my family was lower-middle class, significantly less wealthy than my bougie accusers. Nevermind that my childhood was full of physical abuse at school and emotional abuse at home. Nevermind the fact that I’m a foreigner in the US, subject to all the same risks and indignities that these people speak out about when it happens to Mexicans.

    I’ve even had people attack my reputation, going to my manager (as well as their friends in recruiting departments at other companies) and telling them about how I’m a “far-right neo-nazi” for the crime of reading James Damore’s memo.

    I used to be passionate about coding. Now, I hate it. It’s the thing I do so they don’t take away my legal right to be here. It’s miserable. I spend more time at work bikeshedding over politics than building systems. I’m on eggshells, worried that every word I say might get me fired over some pretense. The friends and community I had via developer groups? Completely gone. What’s the point? Nobody’s enjoying themselves, nobody’s having fun. Every group is a handful of domineering sociopaths surrounded by a few dozen people who’re just going through the motions.

    Coding used to be my safe space. The place where people actually liked and respected me. Where nobody ever tried to hit me. Sociopaths didn’t try to manipulate me. Where I could be myself and just have fun making computers do magic. These people, not only have they taken this away from me, but they scream about their oppression while insisting that my life must be perfect, because of my skin colour.

    It’s an absolute tragedy, and the only thing that cheers me up out of this misery is the knowledge that eventually, when all of us who actually know what we’re doing have been pushed out, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of economic and technological value will go up in smoke when the political commissars realize they don’t have the faintest idea how to actually build a software system

    • Wow. That is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve read in a long time. I’m pissed for you, man.

  13. “those who warn of the dangers of tribalism (eg: Jordan Peterson) or Islamism (eg: Maajid Nawaz) can find themselves in serious trouble as a result.”

    I am not aware of these two being in serious trouble.

  14. ga gamba says

    And Stalin dreamt of growing lemons in the Arctic Circle. His dreams, no matter how preposterous, often became policy that drove Soviet science into ways that made it the laughingstock of the world.

    There are a lot of neo-Lysenkoites, i.e. crackpot ideologues, stirring the pot. It is a cult-like system of the creation of “artificial reality”: a system of distortions, omissions, and lies that are designed to support flimsy, faulty, or fraudulent “research” of the selected “politically correct” pseudo-scientists. Science is practiced in the service of ideology.

    Although he [Lysenko] ran poorly designed experiments and probably faked some of his results, the research won him praise from a state-run newspaper in 1927. His hardscrabble background—people called him the “barefoot scientist”—also made him popular within the Communist party, which glorified peasants.

    Lysenko: “In order to obtain a certain result, You must want to obtain precisely that result; if you want to obtain a certain result, you will obtain it …. I need only such people as will obtain the results I need.”

    Helen Sheehan, author of Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History, writes: Older scientists were, of course, horrified at such talk, so utterly alien to the habits of mind in which scientific method was grounded.

    But Lysenko was the man of the hour, suited as he was to step into the role of the man of the people, the man of the soil, who had come up from humble origins under the revolution and who directed all of his energies into the great tasks of socialist construction. He knew well how to whip up massive peasant support, how to woo journalists, and how to enlist the enthusiasm of party and government officials. He began to be pictured as the model scientist for the new era.

    Come hell or high water, today’s fixation on the giving legs up to the marginalised glorifies the “achievements” of the under represented no matter how barmy they are. “Invent” a clock; achieve renown in the mainstream press; meet the president.

    Lysenko promoted the Marxist idea that the environment alone shapes plants and animals. Put them in the proper setting and expose them to the right stimuli, he declared, and you can remake them to an almost infinite degree.

    Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?

    Lysenko forced farmers to plant seeds very close together, for instance, since according to his “law of the life of species,” plants from the same “class” never compete with one another. [In 1937], after a 163-fold increase in farmland cultivated using Lysenko’s methods, food production was actually lower than before.

    One may think results, or the lack thereof, will expose and damn ideologues. Yet, the opposite often happens. More policing for wrong think. More demands of public statements of compliance to the ideology. More purges. Remember, you’re dealing with the genuinely possessed and their flunkeys.

    Before the 1930s, the Soviet Union had arguably the best genetics community in the world. Lysenko gutted it, and by some accounts set Russian biology back a half-century.

    Adds Sheehan: The science of genetics was denounced as reactionary, bourgeois, idealist,and formalist. It was held to be contrary to the Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism.

    I wonder whether the same will be said of the West’s software community a few decades from now.

    How are they so resilient? There are several ways ideology takes hold. Coercive control of the code of ethics, policy framework, and enforcement. Coercive control of the scientific press. Coercive control of scientific appointments. Coercive control of the scientific education system.

    Blog Status 451 writes: It doesn’t take a genius to notice this [increasingly restrictive political monoculture] and worry that you might be next [for attack]. When faced with an unpatched exploit, people will adapt their behavior to mitigate the danger regardless. Worse, in the eyes of the justice seekers, this is a good thing, for their ends are being achieved—in this, the model is spot on. But to do so, they are not abandoning process, no, they are adding ever more rules, embedded into the very social fabric of their communities. We can expect goalposts to be moved towards legislating values rather than conduct, as the conditions that set off the witch detector will have to be necessarily broadened. The cure for the dysfunction that results is ever only more of the poison. This too is an unwritten rule. www(dot)status451(dot)com/2017/05/18/the-backchannel-is-the-message/

    In 1994 two academics, biologist Paul R. Gross and mathematician Norman Levitt, published Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science – the book inspired the Sokal hoax. It foresaw what we see here now: an assortment of radical feminists, Afrocentrists, deconstructionists, and deep ecologists assert white, male, Eurocentric scientists have perpetrated unparalleled crimes and despoiled earth – nothing good has come from these fella. Heck, even Newton’s Principia Mathematica is a “rape manual”, according to feminist Sandra Harding in her 1986 book The Science Question in Feminism. These activists say we need a new, postmodern science, taking its bearings from the oppressed and from those cultures living closest to Mother Earth. The reviews at the time dismissed the evidence and the claim as absurd. They have been vindicated. Gross and Levitt recognised these movements, these “isms,” were new a Lysenkoism that, left unchallenged, represented nothing less than the potential triumph of another and even more sinister “ism,” namely, nihilism.

    So, we’re a couple decades of hearing the alarms from Gross and Levitt to Pinker, Peterson, and Espindola. We’re retreading the same ground… a lot. At some point words must result in actions.

    What?

    And when?

    • X. Citoyen says

      The biggest impediment is liberal blindness, that unique combination of naivety, self-regard, fellow-feeling, and fecklessness that makes them incapable of seeing what’s right in front of them. One even sees it in pieces here at Quillette: Liberals positioning themselves as the voice of reason between two warring “ideologies,” as if there could be a moral equivalence between an invading army and the hapless civilians who happened to get caught in its path.

      Until liberals are able to see that they’re useful idiots, I expect things to continue as they are. After all, it takes getting personally bitten by the beast to see it—as the cases of Haidt, Peterson, and Weinstein show.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      – “At some point words must result in actions.”
      An obvious, but necessary statement, to be sure.

      – “What [action]?”
      Force, the prospect of it, or those sustained by it, e.g., willful selection pressures.

      – “And When?”
      At the sociological tipping point, e.g., disruption of socio-cultural ecosystem(s).

      Call me optimistic, but I have a hard time seeing all that is traditional Western culture – which has hitherto been the cultural canon by which all other are judged – go gently into that good night.

    • In my experience, there are only two things that are quite effective:

      1) Fund and support anyone who is threatened with deplatforming, so that efforts to boycott backfire spectacularly. This is what happened with LambdaConf, a conference whose sponsors were pressured to pull out because of a ‘wrong-thinking’ speaker invited after double-blind anonymous submission review. In 48 hours, a replacement budget of over $40,000 was crowdfunded. Since then, no event has been similarly targeted.

      Social Justice Activists are mainly running a grift to try and funnel money and power their way, so they will be outclassed when people with real jobs stand up and give resources to the targeted.

      2) The main way to delegitimize left-wing tactics is to apply them to left-wing targets. For instance, the moral panic about “online harassment” only occurred when the counter-culture took to Twitter to debate and criticize. Before that, it was completely legitimate for progressive figureheads to direct their followers to harass and swarm, and it was absolutely accepted to ‘doxx’ and threaten.

      Unfortunately, in the process, the left has successfully induced collective amnesia about their prior actions, as if the internet was all puppies and rainbows prior to 2014 and “toxicity” didn’t exist. So it’s a double edged sword, because this lead to left-wing groups using their victimization to enact widespread censorship through organized mass-flagging. Which is now a new tactic that the counter-culture is very reluctant to apply, but should probably just start doing.

    • C Young says

      The identitarian left has no option but follow Lysenko down his rabbit hole. Neither can accept any limits on societal reform. Lysenko-ism followed directly from Stalin’s assertion that society could be entirely reconstructed by an act of will – no constraints could be accepted. Similarly, the identitarian left cannot accept any biological/genetic constraints on its planned Year Zero.

  15. After reading the article, comment thread and posted links, I have a modest proposal. Perhaps a group of like-minded coders could initiate an open source egalitarian Code of Conduct, which would be promoted as a gold standard. If rules there must be, the rules can at least be reasonable and fair, and applied judiciously. Of course it could be argued that this is a recipe for yet another massive cluster****, but if the alternative is leaving the field of play altogether, some proactive tactics couldn’t hurt.

    The devil’s in the details, which in this case might mean carefully defining the spirit in which the thing is enforced. Ideologically driven CoC enforcement seems to be more of an issue than the wording of the CoC itself.

    • Peter Kriens says

      There is an NCoC (No Code of Conduct) on Github[1]. Another scary story how politics is creeping in coding is the Opal[2] story. A tweet caused activists to demand his firing of the Opal project. The discussion is frightening. If this would happen on a project of mine I would (sadly) immediately close the comments to committers. These people are scary.

      [1]: https://github.com/domgetter/NCoC
      [2]: https://github.com/opal/opal/issues/941

  16. “Rather, it is normally an indicator of something good. For example, if it is desirable to live in a particular country and that country is open to newcomers, immigration will naturally make it diverse as a consequence. ”

    The US and other rich countries receive, not only a lot of immigration, but credit. These are indicators of hegemonic or strong currencies that, in turn, are the result of hegemonic military and financial might. To be at the receiving end of capital flows and refugees from either war or free trade zones is not an indicator of anything good, particularly for the expelling countries, unless one considers Western global hegemony to be good, which many Westerners do, if only they could get the internal diversity bit under control.

    It’s as if the whole world, upon seeing photos of Americans of diverse skin colors, hair textures, sexes, and sex partners working together in harmony will bring about the New American Century.

    • ga gamba says

      It’s as if the whole world, upon seeing photos of Americans of diverse skin colors, hair textures, sexes, and sex partners working together in harmony will bring about the New American Century.

      The literal superficiality of this sentence is adorable.

      Kumbaya.

  17. Robert says

    I haven’t been directly involved in this kind of work for a long time. I hadn’t realized this sort of behavior had made itself into opensource projects.

    I remember meeting a great many people who came from all backgrounds and all countries, and I remember it being one of the things I loved about it. In that space, it was actually all inclusive and nothing else that I could see in the world at the time rivaled it for allowing the best from anywhere to come together and do something great to help change the world.

    It’s unfortunate, but not unexpected. I suppose I had just hoped it would take longer to hop into the space so that maybe the madness could end before it tainted a pure and noble cross-cultural endeavor.

    Thanks for your work, both on this article and LLVM. I remember using it and thinking, “damn, these people are awesome.” You still are.

  18. “Rather, it is normally an indicator of something good. For example, if it is desirable to live in a particular country and that country is open to newcomers, immigration will naturally make it diverse as a consequence.”

    This is something people obviously don’t understand. If you drive a car and the tachometer tells you that you are driving too fast, what will you do? Of course you take the foot off the accelerator. And maybe brake a little bit depending on the circumstances. But what do we do? We keep driving and push back the needle of the tachometer with the finger wondering why we still get a ticket. This happens also in management of companies all the time. We try to massage the KPI, not the process leading to it. You get what you measure. And most of the time we even lack the understanding of what we actually measure. We try to derive the speed from the revolutions of the engine without taking the gear box into account. (Or even worse, by looking at the volume setting of the radio.) A team of a male, black, gay mechanical engineer and a female, asian, straight mechanical engineer will probably propose the usual, boring solutions born from their engineering background. While a team of a male, white, straight mechanical engineer and a male, white, straight marketeer mayby comes up with something more creative.

    For a company this just means that it’s run inefficiently. But for our society… there’s more at stake! And I’m very afraid, that we are looking at the radio.

  19. Alex says

    Wooaaa. About 2 months ago, google released swift tensorflow (the Low level AI framework) and I stumbled upon the code of conduct, a file included in the main code trunk.

    I was speechless. The code of conduct essentially assumes limitless powers to vindicate harassment claims, the sort of which can only be used under extreme social coercion. That was the first time i’d seen SJW manifesto in a field of engineering that is basically meritocratic.

    I was very upset, and tracked the author, who turned to be a trans activist, whose boss (at the time GitHub) had her pushed aside because of abysmal incompetence. Her job reviews were very poor, she was apparently very defensive, to the point no one wanted to work with her (according to her own account!!!)

    And now this. Oh my oh my.

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