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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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  • by t0qer (230538) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:54PM (#46039929) Homepage Journal

    I started thinking to myself, "Wow, I only live a mile from where they pick folks up, and they drop me off about a mile from work" Maybe SF should take into consideration that non-goog-app-fac employees might want to ride on the same line. These companies should consider allowing non-employees to pay a fare to use the busses.

  • by darkmeridian (119044) <william.chuang @ g m a il.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:21PM (#46040265) Homepage

    These idiots probably designed those flyers on a Mac using Microsoft Office, and used Google to find all the facts and allegations in their flyers.

  • Re:Dear San Fran (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:22PM (#46040269) Homepage Journal

    San Francisco is Contrary City - Whinge - whinge, whine - whine, protest at the drop of a hat. "What are we protesting today, Fred?" "I don't know, Dave, I just looked up in the sky and saw the Protest Signal." The crazy thing is as screwed up as The City seems to be, it still works and people like living there. (It is a fine place to visit, just don't bring your car!)

    The real problem here is the mobility of workers has caught up with the ability for them to get to work. 101 is a rotten old road, which seems to always be under repair in some stretch and those work zones play havoc with the dense traffic. I-280 is a pretty good bet for a sprint, until you get near Redwood City, where it begins to clob up (and there's just no good way of getting through these bay area cities and to the campus along Shoreline. Google should just open a campus in SFO (or expand whatever they have already.)

    This moving people about in cars, when you are a tech company at the forefront of communications is an anachronism.

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:34PM (#46040405) Homepage

    That could actually be a net win for long time residents since the Googlers would move closer to work and rent in the city would fall back to affordable levels.

  • by RR (64484) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:35PM (#46040409)

    Does San Francisco not run buses on the same lines? If not, the problem is with the city, not Google.

    The problem is with the entire region. San Francisco buses can only run in San Francisco, with limited service to a couple recreational areas a few miles away. The rest of the region doesn't want to get caught up in San Francisco's myriad governance issues, so they operate their own transit systems. There are only a couple systems that cross the entire region: BART [bart.gov] and Caltrain. [caltrain.com]

    So, to get from my home to Google via existing transit lines, I'd have to take a bus to Caltrain, then take Caltrain to Mountain View, and then take a bus to Google. The pretty good regional trip planner [511.org] says that it would take me 4 buses, 2 hours, and $13 to get from my home in San Francisco to Google, even with rush hour express service. It's cheaper if I get monthly passes and take my bike onto Caltrain, but it still takes a lot of time.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @07:28PM (#46041139) Homepage

    I met Lewandowsky when he was an undergrad at Berkeley, building a self-driving motorcycle, while also running a startup to sell a two-screen display for field use at construction sites with a player for drawings. I was impressed. He does tend to deliver on his schemes.

    The Google bus thing is impressive. Google now has a huge bus fleet. They're all the same, they're all huge, and they're all white and unmarked. They're more visible than the public bus lines, because they're concentrated in a few areas. Yesterday, I was caught in a traffic jam of Google buses in Mountain View.

    One of those areas is the Mission District in San Francisco. It's an OK low rent neighborhood, but not great or particularly cool. (SOMA, pre Dot Com Boom 1.0 was cool - lots of art galleries, performance spaces, clubs, warehouse parties - the fun things that need big, cheap spaces. That's over.) I have friends living in the Mission. I've been there many times. It's not really being "gentrified". It's just that rents are going up on existing buildings, which is annoying residents. SOMA and Dogpatch have been redeveloped, with most of the old buildings replaced and most of the rest converted to residential lofts or such.

    SF is driving out low-income people. Mayor Brown said a few years ago that no one making less than $50K a year should live in SF. Really. The Mission was one of the few cheap neighborhoods left that was merely poor, not awful. 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.

  • Re:Wait so now (Score:1, Interesting)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:45PM (#46041743)

    If that were false, then why do people end up congregating in that way? Your just expressing an opinion. Some hate crowds some don't. You obviously don't.

    Because most people are incapable of providing for themselves and so cluster around established infrastructure for food, water, shelter, power, clothing, transportation, etc. Said infrastructure is expensive - time, money, space, labor, materials, etc. - so it makes sense for the infrastructure to be clustered. The dependent people follow the infrastructure.

    Independent people are more likely to live away from the masses, choose property with other criteria as a priority (view, weather, etc.) This is why the wealthy live in gated communities, try to prevent the public from accessing the beach in front of their house, live in the hills outside the cities, etc. They want to get away from the masses of poor, stupid, ugly, dirty, sick, etc. people. This is why royalty and titled people built castles and moats. It's why artists live cloistered lives. It's why the religious figures, the rabbis, the wise men, the medicine men, etc. had a space to themselves and people trekked to them for guidance and assistance.

    This has been true for all of human history. The intelligent seek to shed the husk of ineptitude that is the rest of humanity. Of course, this doesn't mean some dumb people don't do the same thing, or that everyone with the means to live on a private island is intelligent (often they're merely benefiting from the legacy of someone who was). But the general drive of the intelligent is separation, privacy, and introspection. Extroversion is the noise of the insipid masses. A desire to cluster in numbers is the behavior of prey animals. Desire for attention is a sign of insecurity.

    And I fucking hate crowds.

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

    by hey! (33014) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @03:14AM (#46043643) Homepage Journal

    What you're doing here is interesting. You've created a basket of goods, and argued that those things are cheaper for a given quality. And it's an important point that you *can* do this -- but it's tricky.

    Take Elvis' house. Elvis was rich, but he was not a cultural sophisticate, except possibly when it came to music. I can point to counter-examples. I once worked in a non-profit that was chock full of scions of elite Boston families -- Forbes's, Cabots, Lowells, etc. These are people whose ancestors made fortunes in the 1700s and handed it down generation to generation, and patterned their consumption patterns on those of the English aristocracy. Their homes aren't large or flashy, but they're unmistakably old money, and almost couldn't be reproduced at any price today. Everything is old, handmade and of fabulous quality, selected to be handed down to the next generation.

    Now that's an extreme example (as extreme as Elvis's house), but it shows there's a flip side the the "everything's cheaper" argument. Everything *is* cheaper, not only in the sense of price, but in the sense of durability and serviceability (with a few exceptions like autos). I'm 53 years old, and there's been a shift in the very concept of quality over my lifetime that makes comparisons tricky, a shift from use-centered quality to sales-centric quality. Look at the original IBM PC-XT, obviously a ridiculously underpowered by today's standards, but focus on the build quality for a moment. It's almost exotic by today's standards, and it's built to last for ten years or more, to be serviced and upgraded. In comparison the smartphone I carry is incomparably more powerful, it is designed to be thrown away when it's non-replaceable li-ion battery starts to flag after about two years.

    There's been a shift in the way we live our lives, and it's something of a mixed bag. We have to buy stuff differently now, because it's all designed with a very short service life (again except for cars, which are a huge bright spot). I can fill my house with attractive Ikea furniture at a bargain price, and it'll make my Brahmin friends' hand crafted mahogany stuff look dowdy in comparison -- but I'll have to replace most of it in five years, and they'll pass their dining room set down to yet another generation of descendants.

    A lot of our enhanced buying power comes at the cost of getting on the replacement treadmill. I bought a $400 flat screen HDTV two years ago, and I just replaced it with another $400 flat screen HDTV. Meanwhile the 1970s Sony Trinitron in the spare bedroom keeps going. The point is that comparing what you could buy in 1970s to today is complicated, because our notion of quality has changed to one based on the assumption that stuff is disposable.

"A car is just a big purse on wheels." -- Johanna Reynolds

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