Google needs a new CEO, but dumping Sundar Pichai is not enough

Google needs a new CEO, but dumping Sundar Pichai is not enough, by Glenn Reynolds.

When a gigantic corporation that controls our data and knows us intimately takes a controversial political stance, it ought to make us worry. …

Damore authored a moderate proposal, stressing that he supported diversity and thought that people should be treated as individuals, while offering some suggestions as to why Google’s efforts to recruit more women techies had failed. Various people (most of whom, as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf noted, seem not to have read Damore’s actual memo, but rather to have been responding to an imaginary document instead) demanded that Damore be fired. CEO Sundar Pichai complied and gave Damore the boot. For this egregious piece of mob-induced misjudgment, Pichai must go. But that’s the least of the problems for Google, and Silicon Valley.

The Damore firing, and Pichai’s disgraceful handling of it, represents colossal damage to Google’s brand. In essence, it’s an announcement — by a company that has access to everyone’s data — that it endorses the notion of thought-crime. …

Silicon Valley has become corporate and PC (not that they make PCs there anymore, you understand):

Since its 1990s heyday, Silicon Valley has transformed from an unruly collection of aggressive upstarts disrupting existing industries to a flabby collection of near-monopolies, now busy enforcing gentry-liberal norms on their employees and customers.

Whether it’s censoring right-leaning political figures, or firing employees who dare say something truthful but politically incorrect, there’s not much of the old startup spirit there. These are flabby overstaffed Big Business corporations, run by their HR departments. You might find more dynamism at General Motors, these days.

But worse yet, they exercise tremendous power and require tremendous trust. When you use Facebook or Google (or Twitter, or Amazon, or Netflix) you’re sharing a lot of data with a company that you have to trust won’t abuse that. It’s much harder to trust a company that has decided to aggressively pursue thoughtcrime. And it doesn’t matter where you are on the political spectrum – Damore describes himself as a centrist. But it only takes one politically incorrect utterance, as so many in academia have learned, to achieve Enemy Of The People status. And then, apparently, you’re fair game. …

Can you trust Google to prevent its (apparently many) “social-justice warrior” employees from trawling through your personal data looking for dirt, and then leaking it?

Having spoken out against the carbon dioxide theory of global warming in 2008 (on 60 Minutes), I became somewhat persona non grata with government in Australia — search the Internet for “David Evans climate” and you will find that the most prominent pages are attacks on me, funded either by government or by NGOs that accept government funding. So what the heck? Might as well speak out on other issues too. Hence the Wentworth Report, for the news the PC people would prefer did not exist.