Florida Tech is equal parts innovation and sunshine-Did we mention our 360-plus days of sunshine and 72-degree average daily temperature? We wanted a return to the old days when Larry and Sergey gave weekly talks, while protesting the Rubin payouts that those two approved. The last speaker of the day, Mihaela Ghidersa, gave a critical perspective on the backend-for-frontend (BFF) design pattern and suggested GraphQL as an alternative. At the walkout, I heard frustration from old-timers and “nooglers” (god help us) alike that they wish they could return to the good old days, back before Google built software for drones, before they fired dissenters and gave massive payouts to sexual harassers. We were protesting payouts from 2013, smack in the middle of this old “open culture” we were asking for a return to. These disparities between expectations and reality grew and became more visible – donations to anti-LGBT candidates, close partnerships with large oil companies, work on military drones, and of course, the Andy Rubin payouts. I am skeptical of this nostalgia; incentive alignment was perhaps a more convincing myth in the early days, but even then it failed to reflect reality.
The implementation is dependent on the configuration (e.g. if you are using gunicorn or uwsgi) so I won’t go into the details. Certainly we should find them at fault, but it’s here that we, the employees, are complicit in these “perverse incentives” too. After much heartache and wallet searching I decided that we had to have a reliable engine so there was little else to do but find the money and find the engine. Its employees tended to have a more utopian outlook, aptly summarized by its former slogan, “Don’t be evil.” Employees expected executives to put ethical considerations above profit-making. So the solution is to find a business model where the more a company profits, the more good it does in the world. It knows any business is incentivized to turn a profit by any means possible. As a theory entirely built around choosing an ethical business model, it has no way to challenge unethical business models that already exist. This is why I decided to revive the website reviews as they were in the 90’s, this is why I re-registered my old domain, and why I built this website the way it is.
The incentive aligned world that we’d like to imagine has no way to ethically build an Uber, a company incentivized to pay their drivers as little as possible, without overtime, vacation, or health care. At the retreat, I often heard “incentive alignment” as a solution. Like many technological solutions, incentive alignment provides a thin veneer of egalitarianism without actually having to challenge power. After all, Google was an incentive aligned company. Google became a hotspot for organizing. I was working at Google during the 2018 Walkout for Real Change, a protest over the $90 million payout to a known sexual harasser, attended by more than 20,000 Google employees worldwide. While the retreat had been running annually for half a decade, I suspect 2018 felt a little different. Two days before, at dawn, I instead flew to the Bay Area to spend that weekend attending a retreat for young people in the technology industry. The first three scheduled performances were sold out to standing room only crowds so that two return performances were held, which also sold out. It was also a good excuse to try out Odin. I think it’s very reasonable to keep both the export and DAL code close as you don’t want serializing and deserializing to go out of sync, so that’s what I’m doing in my export tools.