It’s Tough Being Over 40 in Silicon Valley

Older workers are finding it harder to get jobs in Silicon Valley, say Carol Hymowitz and Robert Burnson at Reuters. So they take steps to seem younger and fit in. They hang around the parking lots of companies to see how their prospective colleagues dress, They study Reddit and other social platforms to get up to date on the latest pop culture references. They hang up their business suits and bowties. And they even go in for plastic surgery and lawsuits.

I’m 55. I haven’t personally encountered age discrimination. I’m fortunate. Or oblivious.

The Singularity is a white person’s problem

terminator

Rich white folks worry about the Singularity, but AI is already making problems for the rest of us.

Kate Crawford, The New York Times:

According to some prominent voices in the tech world, artificial intelligence presents a looming existential threat to humanity: Warnings by luminaries like Elon Musk and Nick Bostrom about “the singularity” — when machines become smarter than humans — have attracted millions of dollars and spawned a multitude of conferences.

But this hand-wringing is a distraction from the very real problems with artificial intelligence today, which may already be exacerbating inequality in the workplace, at home and in our legal and judicial systems. Sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many “intelligent” systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.

Software used to assess the risk of recidivism in criminals is biased against blacks, as is software used by police departments across the US to identify hotspots for crime. Amazon’s same-day delivery service was initially unavailable for ZIP codes in predominantly black neighborhoods, “remarkably similar to those affected by mortgage redlining in the mid-20th century.” And women are less likely than men to be shown ads on Google for highly paid jobs.

Thanks, Cory!

Baby boomers are taking on ageism — and losing

Lydia DePillis, The Washington Post:

In a weak economy, companies are sometimes all too happy to dump veteran employees, with their higher health-care costs and legacy pensions, for younger ones who expect neither.

Not a problem for me — yet. At 55, maybe I’m not old enough for ageism to be an issue. And I’m blessed with good genes.

Keeping physically fit helps limit age discrimination. You move like a younger person. But you can’t do anything about your genes.

Supreme Court says “not yet” to taking the case on Texas voter ID law

They’ll intervene if a lower court doesn’t resolve the issue by midsummer.

There is no evidence of the kind of voter fraud that voter ID laws claim to be blocking. Also, voter ID laws are flagrantly un-Constitutional. Where in the Constitution does it say that you have a right to vote if the government says it’s OK?

The liberal redneck got some thoughts on this transgender bathroom mess

Funny accent, good points.

Unlike the liberal redneck here, I don’t ridicule cisgender people who are uncomfortable with transgender people using the restroom of their choosing. Gender identity is confusing if you haven’t given it much thought. And most people don’t give it much thought because they don’t need to.

Save your scorn for the political leaders who feed fears about imaginary transgender sexual predators.

Help wanted: Questions to weed out job applicants can be accidentally discriminatory

Help wanted: Questions designed to weed out unsuitable job applicants can turn out to be accidentally discriminatory.

Automatically ruling out people with felony convictions, or setting arbitrary standards on experience, can disenfranchise many workers. Better to look at the applicants as whole people.

But what hiring manager has time to do all that, along with their regular work, particularly when hundreds of people are applying for a single position?

Planet Money looks into it, but doesn’t have any answers:

When you’re an employer looking at a giant stack of resumes, you have to find some way to quickly narrow the field. But how do you do that fairly? And what happens when your good intentions backfire?

In this episode, we bring you a group of stories about hiring. We talk to a female software engineer who’s trying to bring blind hiring to Silicon Valley. She’s come up with a way to mask applicants’ voices during an interview—we hear what it sounds like. And, we look at what happened when the nation’s biggest employer began hiring people who had felony records. It turned out that those employees performed just as well as people with no criminal background—sometimes better. The employer? The United States military.