News You Can Use: 9/27/2017

  • Some Companies Are Reinventing Job Interviews In Weird (And Possibly Illegal) Ways

    Two recent examples come from the New York Times’s Corner Office series with columnist Adam Bryant. In their conversation, Don Mal, CEO of software firm Vena Solutions, tells Bryant that he asks candidates if they’d ever leave their families at Disneyland “to do something that was really important for the company.” This, Mal says, helps him understand applicants’ work ethic. Barstool CEO Erika Nardini shares that she texts candidates over the weekend to see how fast they respond. (Nardini tells Bryant that the acceptable response time, in her view, is within three hours.)

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40460395/some-companies-are-reinventing-job-interviews-in-weird-and-possibly-illegal-ways

  • Former Google Employees Allege Bias Against Women

    One plaintiffs, Kelly Ellis, alleged that she was assigned to a lower level than her similarly qualified male counterparts when she was hired as a software engineer on the Google Photos team in 2010. In the complaint, Ms. Ellis claimed she was brought in at a level typically given to new college graduates, despite her four years of engineering experience. She asked for a promotion after learning that she had equal or better qualifications than male engineers in a higher level, and after receiving “excellent performance reviews.” She said she was denied. According to the complaint, Ms. Ellis resigned from Google around July 2014 due to “the sexist culture.”

    The claims from the other two plaintiffs, Holly Pease, who managed software engineers, and Kelli Wisuri, a salesperson, follow a similar pattern where they felt their initial positions did not match their qualifications, then found it hard to catch up to male employees and move up the ladder.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/former-google-employees-file-lawsuit-alleging-gender-discrimination-1505411804

  • Will AI Result in Mass Unemployment or a New Middle Class?
  • The Second-Class Office Workers

    The contractor model offers companies lower costs, more flexibility and fewer management headaches. Workers get far less from the arrangement.

    Outside workers usually aren’t surprised when they get no paid holidays, sick days, employee-sponsored health insurance, 401(k) plan or other perks routinely offered to traditional employees at the same companies.

    What wounds more deeply are things taken for granted or barely considered at all by regular employees, outside workers often say. The work lives of contractors frequently feel like a series of tiny slights that reinforce their second-class status and bruise their self-worth. Even when contracting jobs are easy to get, they can vanish instantly, and turning contract assignments into a real career remains out of reach.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-contractors-life-overlooked-ground-down-and-stuck-1505400087

  • Growing Up with Alexa (thanks JD!)

    It’s a little worrisome. Leaving aside the privacy implications of kids telling an Internet-connected computer all kinds of things, we don’t know much about how this kind of interaction with artificial intelligence and automation will affect how children behave and what they think about computers. Will they become lazy because it’s so easy to ask Alexa and its peers to do and buy things? Or jerks because many of these interactions compel you to order the technology around? (Or both?)

    Some of that may happen. It seems more likely, though, that as with many technologies before this, the utility of digital assistants will outweigh their drawbacks. Already they’re making an incredible amount of data and computer-aided capabilities available directly to children—even those not yet in kindergarten—for learning, playing, and communicating. With Alexa, kids can get answers to all kinds of questions (both serious and silly), hear stories, play games, control apps, and turn on the lights even if they can’t yet reach a wall switch. And this is just the beginning of the kiddie AI revolution.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608430/growing-up-with-alexa/
    From personal experience, once the novelty has warn off, kids don’t care about them. The article’s point about kids being frustrated because the digital assistant can’t hear them is spot on. Other than to turn on a light every once in a while, my son completely ignores Echos we have in the house.

Photo: Bench Accounting

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