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Protesters Show Up At the Doorstep of Google Self-driving Car Engineer 692

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-home-jerks dept.
mpicpp sends this report from Ars Technica: "Protests against tech giants and their impact on the San Francisco Bay Area economy just got personal. According to an anonymous submission on local news site Indybay, an unknown group of protesters targeted a Google engineer best known for helping to develop the company's self-driving car. ... The protest against Levandowski came the same day that the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) voted for the first time to take action regulating Google, Facebook, Apple, and a number of other large tech companies that shuttle workers in private, Wi-Fi-enabled buses from the Bay Area to points south in Silicon Valley."
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Protesters Show Up At the Doorstep of Google Self-driving Car Engineer

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  • Wait so now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:52PM (#46039891)

    Being a Luddite is fashionable?

  • morons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:53PM (#46039911)
    So they're being too eco-friendly with the bus rides? Or everyone's jealous about the benefits? Or public transportation isn't crowded enough? I don't get it but I have the sneaking suspicion that these people are morons.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:54PM (#46039917)

    Levandowski should claim that the protesters are motivated by anti-semitism. Checkmate!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:56PM (#46039951)

    I didn't see anything in the article about unions. Stop being an asshole.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:58PM (#46039975) Homepage Journal

    No, but being a liberal Democrat is. At least in the Bay area.

  • by zerosomething (1353609) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:58PM (#46039981) Homepage
    This is a very good example of people who like to call them selves "Liberal" not being very liberal. Technology will advance and apparently some people don't like it in the same way some other people don't like gay marriage or pot smoking.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:00PM (#46039987)

    Part of their flyer says:

    There are men and women in the Congo, slaving away in giant pits in order to extract gold and other precious metals from the earth. This gold will go into phones and tablets made by companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft

    Unless they all walked there and are wearing homemade clothes from home grown cotton weaved by hand into fabric, and "printed" their flyers by hand by writing them using sustainably harvested carbon pencils on home made papyrus, and organized the protest through word of mouth (which was probably aided by the fact that they all live in the same cave) rather than using email and iPhones, they are being disingenuous by protesting against resources used for technology that they themselves use and enjoy.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:03PM (#46040009) Homepage
    You're right. The article does not mention unions. But now that he, and you, brought it up, and now that I think about it -- who else would be opposed to self driving cars? It all makes sense.
  • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:05PM (#46040029)

    Ah, but then they become a common carrier, just like city buses, and competing with city buses.
    We can't have any private industry competing with City mass transit in the race to the bottom.

  • by admiralh (21771) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:09PM (#46040071) Homepage
    So the 55-year old candlestick makers were supposed to upgrade their skills or do what? Starve? I think that tech advances are generally good, but this "Creative Destruction" comes at a cost to certain individuals in society who were unlucky/unconnected enough to choose the wrong profession. You can't simply let all those people fend for themselves without any support.

    The protesting slime seem to think they have a god given right to be where they are.

    Wow. I think you would fit into Putin's (or Stalin's) Russia just fine.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Altus (1034) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:18PM (#46040195) Homepage

    and that is this guys fault personally and somehow not the fault of the protesters who likely have their own phones and computers and used the same resources to print the very fliers that they used to protest this one guy who is just designing things and is really, in no way, more responsible for the economic state of the world than any of the people standing outside his house.

    If you have a problem with this kind of economic inequality then you have a long journey ahead of you. Bitching about one engineer and the fact that he can cary a baby and check his cell phone at the same time (but what about the LIFE he carries in his HAND!) is sure as shit not going to change any of that.

  • by frog_strat (852055) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:18PM (#46040207)
    That's all well and good when the jobs are still there, they're just changing. That candlestick maker, he can retrain to work on robots ! But when jobs are shed and not replaced, this will eventually lead to big problems. Shaming the unemployed is not so effective when there are no jobs.
  • by neo-mkrey (948389) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:22PM (#46040277)
    Hypocrisy is often lost on the hypocrite.
  • Re:Dear San Fran (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:28PM (#46040327)

    Easy solution: These companies should open major offices in downtown San Francisco. Build a skyscraper (vertical campus!) that is walking distance from a BART subway stop. They already have one (very small) office in the downtown SF area (opened in 2007 [cnet.com]). Same with Yahoo (though they can't afford a skyscraper), who recently bought the old SF Chronicle building [bloomberg.com].

    Build a skyscraper!? You really don't know anything about SF, do you?

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SiliconSeraph (996818) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:30PM (#46040353)
    Picketing this guys house doesn't solve anything. He's enriching the world with his work. He's not beating child slaves in some African diamond mine, he's not indenturing people to manufacture tennis shoes. These people are doing the most convenient thing possible to act like they care without actually leaving the city or county they live in. The protestors would be better served to use that energy to plant a tree and get over themselves.
  • Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:33PM (#46040391)

    If Google, Apple, and Facebook are not welcome in the San Francisco, I'm sure there are a lot of other places that would welcome them.

    For instance, taxes and cost of living are much lower in Ohio. Plus we have all this lovely snow.

  • by div_2n (525075) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:36PM (#46040435)

    At the risk of drifting to one side or the other -- I think you're oversimplifying. While gentrification is not a new phenomenon, this is one of the first times I've ever heard of people reacting so viscerally to it. I think the reason this stings so badly for existing non-Google employee residents is because it's not happening due to a new employer opening their doors nearby. If that were the case, existing residents could potentially get jobs there and afford the new normal.

    In this particular instance, you have an employer that is NOT nearby making the fact that this location is not nearby a non-issue for its employees and causing gentrification in a way that mostly leaves current residents out of the loop since it's not likely the average resident could get a job at Google. The results can be devastating situation depending. Some residents might only be getting by or barely getting ahead. Having to relocate could completely upset their financial balance in a way that they can't rectify.

    At a minimum, people's lives are being upended due to no fault of their own and it's quite clear where they should direct their energy.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:38PM (#46040459)
    Yeah! How dare those people who are earning money be able to afford rent! Damn it, they should pay even more rent, in a more expensive part of town, so everyone can be poor together!

    Wait, that's right, isn't it?
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:41PM (#46040509) Journal

    this is not as eco-friendly as you might think.

    It easily beats having those people all driving themselves.

    It also causes congestion in the city,

    No, it reduces congestion in the city.

    -jcr

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:43PM (#46040545) Journal

    Shaming the unemployed is not so effective when there are no jobs.

    Sure it is! It's still a perfectly good rhetorical justification for not doing anything about them, and I'm certain they'll either starve or do something we can imprison them for soon enough!

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:55PM (#46040729)

    if it takes a private bus to get them to stop driving, the issue is that they're already looking down upon "regular" people, and that is not to be rewarded.

    Bullshit. Lots of people don't take regular buses because:

    1) The schedule is not as regular as you might hope
    2) Hard to work on most public buses (not good seating for it or network access, and you may well not get a seat).
    3) Total time taken might be very long if you have to transfer, and the bus is not going exactly where you are so there's some walking component when you reach home.
    4) Bus schedules at night get worse.

    The company buses potentially solve all those issues:

    1) Buses will be more regular as they have fewer (or possibly just one) stop.

    2) Seats meant for working and enough buses so that you can get a seat.

    3) Total time taken is greatly reduced and it's going exactly where you are, so no wasted time walking after the bus stops.

    4) Can run buses on demand.

    Really the reason these companies have buses is because employees can get hours more work in per day. That's also better for the employees because they do not necessarily have to stay at work late if they can finish up things on the bus.

    There's nothing elitist at all, it's just that a bus tailored to working serves people far better than public transport ever can. There's nothing wrong with this and as many have pointed out it is reducing congestion for everyone and ever keeping the public buses less crowded for rush hour commuters.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:57PM (#46040753)

    I don't particularly agree with these guys, but the argument of "you're not a ridiculously exaggerated shining beacon of the ideals I lay upon you, so your argument is worthless" is pretty piss poor.

    So if I stand in front of you eating a steak and tell you that you need to be a vegetarian because your meat eating habits are cruel to animals, you wouldn't find me to be the least bit disingenuous? Realistically, I don't need to be a vegetarian to think that killing animals for food is bad, and really, why shouldn't I tell you that what you're doing is wrong even as I do the same thing myself?

    Talking on an iPhone while giving a Google engineer a digitally printed flyer to tell him that his use of technology is forcing men and women in the Congo into slavery to mine gold certainly seems to be diluting the message. If they'd just stuck with things like privacy concerns, worries about robot cars on the roads, etc, that's one thing, but to tell someone that his use of technology is bad, while they are using much of the same technology themselves just comes across as hypocritical.

  • by ClintJCL (264898) <[clintjcl+slashdot] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:57PM (#46040755) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't necessarily beat having those people all driving themselves. Buses take a lot more fuel. It's only when they run at a certain capacity that you have ROI. That's not a given when picking up individuals. A single bus also causes a lot more congestion than a car -- it pretty much makes the entire lane behind the bus untenable in areas with lots of red lights. Again, it's only net-positive, congestion-wise, for a specific number of people.

    In case I'm unclear: I'd much rather be on a road with 1,000 people driving 1,000 cars, than 500 buses with 2 people in them. I used n=2 in this example, but I'm thinking even for n=6, it's a net loss. I don't actually know the value of n.

  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:01PM (#46040819)
    I whole heartedly agree. I couldn't bare to see Texans squeezed out of Texas. Keep them there where they're well contained and away from me. It's bad enough I have to deal with their politicians from time to time.
  • Re:Wait so now (Score:1, Insightful)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:22PM (#46041061)

    Intelligent people tend to abandon farms and rural areas and move to the cities, where there is more intellectual stimulation.

    False. Intelligent people prefer independence and elbow room. The "intellectual stimulation" of an overly-dense metropolis is a cacophony of self-important masses clamoring for attention.

  • by s.petry (762400) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:23PM (#46041077)

    I realize that it's easier to be an asshole than think and read, but failing to educate yourself makes you "just" an asshole.

    I live near Google and see these buses all the time. Many times these buses are empty, and driving to stops with no people. It's not a door to door limousine service, it's a bus route paid for by private funds. Just like any other bus service, there are peak and off hours. The difference between public and private is that routes can be changed when the pubic sees money being wasted. Google may keep a bus route for 1 person they believe "key" in a project, and reschedule buses at will.

    Buses are much larger than cars (obviously) and they block traffic and cause congestion which omits what they are supposed to be doing (relieving congestion and carbon emissions). When you have numerous buses blocking a lane for several minutes, it's not doing any one other than the company and employee any favors.

    In terms of city revenue, it also hurts. Tax revenue for cities that house these companies suffer as a result of people _not_ moving closer to work. They don't need to move closer to work, because they have a free shuttle service and get counted as working on the bus.

    It also makes the companies more money, because by shuttling people in they don't have to pay the same rates.

    The excuse that it's "Greener" is questionable at best, if not dishonest. It's convenient for the companies and more profitable for the companies. If you truly believe it's greener show me some stats that prove that since these bus services started there has been improvement in traffic in the bay area. You can't, because there has been no such improvement.

  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:55PM (#46041343) Homepage Journal

    It easily beats having those people all driving themselves.

    True, but what I think the protesters are thinking is that if companies eliminated the shuttles (or shrank their radius so that SF was outside of it), then most workers, rather than endure a multi-hour commute each day, would simply move closer to work (and, more specifically, outside of SF city limits). It might increase traffic in/around Mountain View, but the companies could run local shuttles with a 10-mile (instead of 35-mile) radius to alleviate that problem. But it would no longer be SF's problem.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @07:20PM (#46041491) Homepage Journal

    don't go blaming liberal democrats.
    I am a liberal democrat, and I think SFMTA is in the wrong, and that these protesters are idiotic.

    Stop letting echo chambers, and shit stirrers cause you to think along such simple lines.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @07:26PM (#46041549) Journal
    Do you understand, that living in the first world, you are likely richer than 90% if not 99% of the rest of the population? How much of your wealth are you willing to give up in the name of inequality?
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @07:38PM (#46041669) Homepage Journal

    You have a weird definition of public spaces if there are certain classes not allowed to use them.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:17PM (#46042069) Journal

    Well, we don't have 10% inflation nor gas lines. And remember houses are bigger now - the ratio of rooms to people in houses has doubled, I think, with it becoming rare for children to share a bedroom. There's also buying power, which inflation adjusting only loosely accounts for. In terms of anything computerized, or just about anything medical, we have miracles by 70s standards. SO I'd argue that physical goods, entertainment, housing, and energy are all better now, and food is no worse, plus we have a stable currency for the moment. Plus it's quite common for a middle class family to have a maid and a gardener now (much of the second persons income goes to replace the work that second person once did in the home, naturally enough).

    Remember, money us just the intermediary - for the most part the stuff (goods and services) we have is the stuff we collectively produce, and we produce far more than we did 40 years ago.

  • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:41PM (#46042195) Journal

    At a minimum, people's lives are being upended due to no fault of their own and it's quite clear where they should direct their energy.

    Toward getting better skills, better jobs, or finding more affordable places to live if the first two don't work out?

    Talk about fault, what fault is there with Google or its employees? The process you describe will happen regardless of where Google goes (since it can only go where supporting infrastructure exists). So Google and other high paying companies are terrible, evil companies regardless of where they go? How about their employees? Are they only allowed to live in their own offices at work? Since apparently they aren't allowed to choose where to live based on the location, rents, etc.

    Sorry, but paying rent today (or for however long) does not entitle one to continue paying that same rent tomorrow and forever into the future. What you're entitled to is what's in your lease. If your lease says you can pay rent for the next 12 months at $1,000, there's absolutely nothing there saying you can pay that (or anything near that) 13 months from now. If you want the security of staying where you are, BUY; renting doesn't give you that and it shouldn't. This whole concept of some people being somehow entitled to continue residing in the same place simply because they've been there for a given period is patently absurd.

    Gentrification is a net positive for an area. It makes the area nicer, increases the tax base without altering the individual tax burden, reduces crime for that area, and helps stamp out poverty. It won't be a net positive for every resident and that's fine. No change ever makes everyone happy all the time and it doesn't have to to be a net positive. How many crime-ridden ghettos of NYC have been completely turned around by gentrification?

    Want to see a place without gentrification? Look at Detroit.

  • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:58PM (#46042293) Journal

    SF still has a few bad cheap neighborhoods, but they're under attack, building by building. The 6th Street corridor is still a druggie and flophouse area. But go a hundred feet off 6th and there are luxury lofts. The area of Market Street around 6th to 8th was also a big druggie/homeless area. Then Twitter HQ moved in there. As that area gets gentrified, the 6th St. corridor will be cut off from the Tenderloin across Market. We'll know that's happened when the last strip club there closes.

    Dear God! What will San Francisco's good and decent law-abiding citizens do without crackhouses, whores, and the homeless?! Oh the humanity!

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swalve (1980968) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @09:20PM (#46042427)
    Exactly. My parents and all their cousins grew up in houses with about 100 sq feet per person. Three bedrooms, 7 kids, etc. Sure, they were able to live on dad's salary, but mom's entire day was spent toiling so they could make it work. If you want to live like they did in the 70s (and 60s and 50s), you certainly can on one income. But it won't be pretty, because it wasn't pretty then either. We have two income households because we have greater expectations for standards of living.
  • Re:Wait so now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by floobedy (3470583) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @09:42PM (#46042525)

    they have valid points about the Congo and rising rent caused by google's self-driving cars spreading their high-earning workers into lower-rent neighborhoods.

    The protesters certainly do not have valid points. The rising rents in the SF Bay Area are caused by fixed supply despite growing demand, which in turn is caused by the relentless opposition to constructing any new urban housing there.

    The far left in the SF Bay Area has fought tooth and nail, for decades, to disallow any dense urban housing construction. That is why rents are increasing. Demand increases every year while supply is fixed.

    From the protesters' flier:

    Levandowski is now making his contribution to the further sterilization and gentrification of Downtown Berkeley and Shattuck Avenue [by sponsoring new condominium buildings]. The proposed project is a testament to the arrogance, disconnection, and luxury of the ruling class. Growing their own vegetables in a rooftop garden and selling them to other wealthy people allows them, somehow...

    Here the protesters will not allow the construction of new urban housing. When rents continue to go up, which is what the protesters are causing by their own actions, they will complain again that rents are too high.

    The protesters are causing additional carbon emissions and environmental destruction. If they successfully prevent the construction of dense urban housing, then obviously that will force those people to live in suburban housing (because people don't protest new construction there), and suburban housing has vastly worse carbon emissions that urban.

    Newsflash: if you prevent the construction of dense urban housing, then that doesn't cause the potential occupants just to disappear magically. Instead, it causes them to live in suburban housing instead, which is far worse for the environment in every regard. Suburban residents usually have triple the carbon emissions or more, of urban residents.

    Furthermore, if the protesters manage to shut down the bus (!?), then obviously that will force some people to drive which will contribute to the gridlock on the 101, and will cause thousands of cars on the gridlocked 101 to idle even longer during their travels.

    valid points about the Congo

    If you care about the Congo, as the protesters claim to do, then you should send part of your money as charity to the Congo. It does not help the people there, to boycott their only product and to boycott the only major export from the entire country. It causes economic devastation to a country to prevent its exports. That is why a blockade on exports is forbidden by the UN as an international crime.

    If exports are exploitation, then the Israelis are doing the Palestinians a big favor by blockading the ports at the Gaza strip. It is preventing the palestinians from being "exploited" by selling what they have on the international market.

    It's nice of you to try to find something positive about the protesters. However, in my opinion, the protesters are just stupid. What they are doing is silly, poorly thought out, unintentionally destructive, and it causes precisely the problems which they are trying to cure.

That does not compute.

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