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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 @05:52PM (#46039891)

    Being a Luddite is fashionable?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spy Handler (822350)

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DickBreath (207180)
        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.
        • Ooops. Sorry..Replied to the wrong. :-(
      • Re:Wait so now (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:20PM (#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, Informative)

      by hey! (33014) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:52PM (#46040681) Homepage Journal

      It never went out of fashion. The difference is there used to be a firewall against fanaticism: upward mobility.

      The Great Recession reduced the median net worth of American Household's by 39%, and 85% of self-identified middle class people say it has become harder to maintain a middle-class lifestyle over the past decade (citation: 2012, Pew Research Center, "Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier: The Lost Decade of the Middle Class"). The Great Recession also wiped out 15 years of growth in the median household income in the US (citation: Wikipedia, 'Household income in the United States',http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States), with the median continuing to drop even after economic growth resumed, although truth be told median household income was stagnant through the first decade of this century.

      If you want to know how politically stable this country is, look at those median numbers. If they drop or stagnate while average incomes rise, that means the mass of people in the country are experiencing economic insecurity, and a certain proportion of those people are apt to be radicalized -- toward both ends of the political spectrum.

      • by lgw (121541)

        Mostly the housing collapse reduced the average "net worth" of American households, as a good many people had unsustainably inflated home equity.

        Did you know, the average income of a 1%er in 1995 dropped by about 25% by 2005? No, I'm not taling about "the average income of the 1%", I'm talking about the specific people who were 1%ers in 1995. High incomes tend to be unstable, and it's very common for people to spend only a year or two in the top 1% of incomes before the winds of fate change.

        Meanwhile, peo

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

          by triffid_98 (899609) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:24PM (#46041531)

          The Great Recession really sucks, and the investment banks have never been held to account for their strong role in creating it [...], but don't lay all the world's ills at its doorstep. We're still far better off economically than the 70s!

          In spite of a far more educated workforce I have serious doubts that that's true.

          Adjusted for inflation, the median household income in 1975? $45,788
          The median household income in 2012? $51,017

          But wait you (might) say. That means we're better off now....except for one small detail. We're measuring household income.

          In the 1970's that was (generally) one persons income, in 2012 that's two people's income. In terms of physical goods I think we compare quite favorably, but factoring in things like housing, energy and food? Not so much.

          REFERENCE http://www.davemanuel.com/median-household-income.php [davemanuel.com]

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

            by lgw (121541) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @09:17PM (#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.

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

              by swalve (1980968) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:20PM (#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:4, Informative)

      by Luckyo (1726890) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @07:28PM (#46041133)

      It's been so for a while. People stalk researchers working on life-savng drugs, threaten to kill a woman with cancer who thanks the people who work on saving her life and so on.

      Being a crazy lunatic is fashionable in certain circles. It's quite sad really.

  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:52PM (#46039893) Homepage
    This fanatical "activism" needs to be stopped.
    • Re:Maniacal (Score:5, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:10PM (#46040099) Homepage Journal

      This fanatical "activism" needs to be stopped.

      Boycott them!

      If that doesn't work, organize a vocal protest.

    • This fanatical "activism" needs to be stopped.

      Well, to do that, you're going to need to draft up a Constitutional Amendment that voids the First Amendment, then get 2/3 of state legislatures to ratify it.

      Good luck with that, chief.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Naw. That is Sf, they are deeply nuts there. All that needs to happen is for Google and other companies to leave. Austin Tx is nice I hear as is Cary North Carolina, South Florida also has nice weather and low housing costs.

  • morons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:53PM (#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 Etherwalk (681268)

      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.

      They probably just wanted revenue so they decided to tax the buses.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        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.

        They probably just wanted revenue so they decided to tax the buses.

        They aren't earning any revenue from the buses -- state law prohibits the city from earning a profit on the bus stop fees, so the fees equal the administrative overhead to collect them.

    • by Khopesh (112447) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:21PM (#46040255) Homepage Journal

      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.

      I think you've missed the point. Dozens of companies in the peninsula have their own dedicated bus lines. The bus-to-person ratio is quite high, and this is not as eco-friendly as you might think. It also causes congestion in the city, and confusion at the shared bus stops (which are owned by the city of SF), both of passengers and of citizens looking for a bus they can actually ride.

      The city taxing the bus services allows maintenance to be applied to the extra load of the stops as well as planning for the increased traffic these systems create. I think it is quite reasonable.

      Daily Kos had a good explanation of the problem [dailykos.com] back in April.

      • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:41PM (#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 ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:57PM (#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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jcr (53032)

            I don't suppose it's occurred to you that the number and capacity of the busses is adjusted according to what the operators know about their client's needs?

            This isn't a government operation we're talking about here.

            -jcr

            • by ClintJCL (264898)
              How does that work? They force their employees to live near each other? Say I live 5 miles out from any other employee. How is me having a vehicle to myself saving in congestion? I get what you're saying, and see how it can be applicable some of the time, but the fact of the matter is, a private bus won't let anyone on 'til it gets to its first stop. You've already lost there, as a proper bus would pick up all the people needing a ride from point A to point B. Imagine if every company did this. You'd have
        • by pauljlucas (529435) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @07:55PM (#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.

  • Yes, these Indymedia commie's will go in the history book as modern day flat-earthers. What an idiots, targeting one of the brightest engineers working on cutting-edge technology.

    If they were born in the 1900s, they would have targeted Nikola Tesla.
  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • 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 icebike (68054) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:05PM (#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 Enry (630)

        Given those services are usually a money pit for the city in question (albeit a necessary one), they'd probably love to have that taken off their hands.

      • by supervillainsf (820395) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:23PM (#46040283)
        Except for the fact that there is no city bus that runs from San Francisco or Berekely to Mountain View, so the competition would be with CalTrain which is owned by Amtrak. As for Bus service, anyone who does the SF - South Bay commute will be familiar with Bauer's busses and they are a private company doing exactly what you are saying can't be done. So, the whole "can't compete with gubment" thing is a bit stupid in this context.
      • In Ontario we have a train/bus service called Go Transit. Regulated by the province. The goal is pulling workers into Toronto and out of Toronto without them driving. It works great and is expanding. The only thing it sucks for is people not working the 9 to 5.
    • Google probably does not want to run a public bus service. That is not their business. There would be many other legal, insurance and bureaucratic hurdles.

      Google does this for their employees. I can understand why everyone would want to ride on Google's luxury buses. Heck, I would like to. It must be frustrating that they pick up and drop off so close to your own endpoints. I can sympathize.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      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.

      Better yet, have these tech titans fund some Bay Area high speed commuter rail.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:56PM (#46039947)

    and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Engineer.

    Then they came for the Software Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because there was no Software Union.

    Then they came for the Network Admins, and I did not speak out-- Because those guys are mostly assholes.

    Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • by zerosomething (1353609) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:58PM (#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.
    • Liberal and "progressive" are not as synonymous as much as the left-wingers would love to portray. I have less problems with Liberals as they tend to try to have rational (even if I disagree with them) reasons for their positions, but Progressives are usually the ones proclaiming one-offs and anecdotes as "the way things actually are". Therefore, they extrapolate their cause and attack people doing their job for being "evil", and filled with "hate" simply because they don't agree. There is no logic, and th

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:00PM (#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.

    • It's typical moron drivel trying to drive their point home by attempting to induce guilt rather than by rational argument. It's a last ditch effort at trying to effect some kind of change in the world outside so they don't have to change themselves.

    • by darkmeridian (119044) <william DOT chuang AT gmail DOT 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.

    • by neo-mkrey (948389) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:22PM (#46040277)
      Hypocrisy is often lost on the hypocrite.
    • Their flyer also asks for people to disengage from capitalism and for babysitters to steal from their employers.
      http://i.imgur.com/5ACrabf.png [imgur.com]

  • It's the only way to not let the killer robots rule humanity after the Goopocolypse!
  • FTA:

    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. Anthony Levandowski has never worked in a pit mine nor will his children...

    And maybe if you would let him finish working on his robots, then no one's children will! Alas, it seems that no mind can be flexible enough to wrap itself around the reasoning of narrow-minded. I mean, these protesters' points are not so wrong, the problem is merely that their reasoning is so not complete - and yet they take complete action!

    I wonder if ignorance must remain unaware of itself in order to survive...

  • by div_2n (525075) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:08PM (#46040069)

    The protesters are part of a group that are upset about gentrification. In the event that you don't know what that is, I'll explain since all the posters so far clearly didn't read the actual article (another day on /.). Quite simply -- it's when people with significant wealth and/or income move into an area of people with less wealth/income and thereby drive up real estate prices beyond what the established population can potentially afford. Hint: property taxes start going up and the established population can't afford to buy/rent a new place in their current neighborhood and possibly can't afford their current residence anymore and will be forced to move potentially far from where they currently live. For families, this is a non-trivial challenge.

    They've been protesting Google buses because this has put gentrification onto the fast track by making areas more attractive to Google employees that otherwise wouldn't have been due to transportation headaches. Getting a company funded ride straight to work is not a small deal.

    Note I'm not taking a side on the issue, just pointing out what's going on. Essentially you have people that can see the time coming when they will have to move and it's directly the result of Google and its employees. I won't use the word "fault" because that implies wrongdoing.

    The tactics of the protesters are clearly questionable, but I'll leave that up for the ensuing discussion.

    • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:37PM (#46040441) Homepage

      Please note that rising property taxes is not a big issue in California because of Prop 13, which prevents properties from being reassessed until their next transfer of ownership. People who already own houses in the neighborhood will not see their property taxes go up any more than they otherwise would. Prop 13 was passed specifically to prevent owners from being forced out of their homes by rising property taxes, and it does a good job. Gentrification may increase the cost of living in other ways (e.g. by replacing affordable local stores with more expensive ones) but it will also help the local city's finances and help to pay for better public services.

      The people who really lose out to gentrification are renters, who certainly can be priced out of their neighborhood. Even rent control and other tenant protections can be worked around, if nothing else by landlords selling to owners who plan to live there rather than rent out the property.

    • by Altus (1034)

      There is a SHIT LOAD in this particular protest that has nothing at all to do with the gentrification issue that you describe. Even if it were about gentrification how does it help to protest one particular engineer and then call him out for his work on self driving cars like those are somehow related to the problem ever mind all the crap about pit mines in the congo and blaming this guy for them rather than any of the protesters (many of whom certainly own devices containing materials mined in the same ex

    • by russotto (537200)

      Hint: property taxes start going up and the established population can't afford to buy/rent a new place in their current neighborhood and possibly can't afford their current residence anymore

      This is a problem in other places. Not in California; you can't be priced out of your current residence by property tax increases, thanks to Proposition 13 (which leftists hate BTW)

  • I'd like to live there but it's too expensive. Maybe I need a bigger sign?

  • I read through that entire sentence-fragment of an article, and I still don't see what people are protesting. Are they just OWS hippsters and neo-anarchists who will protest anything that isn't run directly by the state? Perhaps they just don't like the fact that some people have money? Surely it's not because some people choose to carpool. I don't get it.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:16PM (#46040179)

    Do actually follow the link. Don't worry; there is a great big picture with a few words, so you don't have to read much.

    The very first thing you should notice is that this is about more than property values. This is also, and perhaps primarily, about hate for technology and technologists. The black-and-white image of Levandowski's house doesn't say "so and so is pricing you out of your neighboorhood." It says:

    Anthony Levandowski is building an unconscionable world of surveillance, control and automation. He is also your neighbor.

    So at this point we should be all done soft-pedalling these people (a la this submission) as good but misguided folks in fear of "impact on the San Francisco Bay Area economy," or whatever. These are neo-luddite libtards fomenting hate and using surveillance to intimidate individuals.

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:21PM (#46040263) Homepage

    The Nautilus Group is composed of designers and builders who have created military installations, malls, and hospitals.

    Oh God! Not military hospitals! THE HORROR! THE HORROR!

  • Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @06:33PM (#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 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.

    • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @09:58PM (#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!

  • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @09:09PM (#46042003) Homepage

    They may have a point, but picketing a person's home is disgusting.

    Really harms the legitimacy of someone's position, and is a terrible invasion.

    Really needs to be illegal. I'm pro-civil liberties, but stuff like that should not be tolerated, and should be a felony for repeat offenses.

    Disturbing someone at home because you don't like the implications of the technology he works on or the fact materials for it are mined in the Congo or whatever (bet the protestors own iPhone or use other tech that needs minerals) is frightening. Not only gov't can have a chilling effect!

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