Software engineering has changed… (a manifesto)

Welcome back. Now today we have a very
critical issue to talk about. It’s been on my mind for years, really. And I think a lot of us
have been aware of it, but nobody really wants to talk about it. And it is about, how software engineering has changed over the years. It is no longer what it used to be. You know, ever since I was
fired from Facebook last year as an ex-Google tech lead, by the way, I had asked myself if I want to reapply to get a job in tech. I asked myself if I want my
kid to get into tech as well, if I recommend the
profession for my nephews. And the answer to that is not really, because software engineering
is just not what it used to be. So let’s put it this way. The path to get into a
top tier tech company like Google or Facebook usually requires, or it really helps if you get into a very good school, like say, Harvard, Stamford. However, even to get into these schools, a lot of them will reject you
simply based on your race, your appearance, even if you’re
the smartest kid out there. Even if your programming
skills are top notch, you could get rejected simply because they’ve reached their quota for the type of people that you are. Simply because of the
way that you are born. And there could be so many
political reasons for this. Maybe diversity issues. And they may even be
very well reasoned about. But at the end of the
day, you could be rejected simply because of the way you were born. So that’s the first
gatekeeper in this process. And I can tell you that,
at least for myself, when I first got into software
engineering, into programing, what really drew me into it was that there would be no gate keepers. You see, for me, the reason I got into coding
was back in high school. I used to have one of
these cool english teachers and he liked to align himself
with all the other cool kids. He wanted to be seen as
one of the hip teachers, and I wasn’t one of these cool kids so we didn’t get along very well. And as a result, he gave me poor grades. It didn’t really matter how
good my english essays were, he would just be mentally
biased against me, unconscious bias. And then he would just
give me these bias grades, meanwhile he’d be chatting it up with all the other cool kids. So for the nerdy, unpopular kids with pale and crusted skin. Well, we had the few refuges
like math, coding, physics because these were areas
that were purely objective. Didn’t matter how much
a teacher hated you, if you got the answer right, you would get a good grade and nobody could take that away from you. It was a pure meritocracy,
a battle of skills. And that’s why I fell in love with coding. We were outcasts. We wouldn’t win many friends necessarily by our appearances or by our charisma. And that’s where a lot of hacker and programmer stereotypes may come from. Where you see these people,
they’re not very attractive. But at the end of the day, they would deliver a beautiful product like a website or an app, or a beautifully engineered system and their work would show for itself. However, these days, programming is just no longer objective. You can be the best
programmer in the world, apply to Harvard and still get rejected and that has nothing to do
with your perfect SAT scores or how many open source
projects you’ve been building. They simply will reject
you on your appearances. It’s a perfectly valid
reason to reject you, simply based on, say, diversity reasons. You just weren’t the
right ethnicity or gender. Now that may not necessarily
be a complete deal breaker because these days information
is largely self-served. College is not the only vendor
of information out there. There’s so much information
and knowledge on the internet. You can go to boot camps or enroll in my course where I’ll teach you to
land the coding interviews. Check that out, by the way. But the frustrating thing is even after you’ve obtained the
necessary programming skills, there can still be so many other
gate keepers further ahead. For example, if you
wanna apply to job fairs, go to a company, activities, events. You know, there are so many activities that will explicitly ban you, based simply on the way you were born. For example, they will only allow women
or non-binary genders into their conferences. And these are job fairs sponsored by large top
tier tech companies. Opportunities will exclude you simply based on the way you were born, your ethnicity, your gender. And so to me, tech is no
longer about objectivity. It’s not a place where you can just say, don’t look at me, and let’s just take a
look at this body of work and judge that work
objectively for what it is and let the results stand for itself. Because the problem with tech is it is now evaluated based
on equality of outcome. So it’s not about equality of opportunity because certain groups
will just have more access to private events and
functions than other groups. And back when I was working
at Facebook and Google, they would say, well, if two candidates
interviewed equally well, then they would prioritize the candidate who is more diverse. Which means that you could be rejected simply based on your appearances,
the way you were born. And I wanted to be clear here that I am not, by any
means, rejecting diversity. I think diversity efforts have been great. And we should, by all means, support as many different types of people to get into tech as possible. I just hope that we can be inclusive and welcoming to everybody, and not get to the point
of reverse discrimination where certain groups of
people will not feel welcome. For example, at the BUILT
BY GIRLS conference, I actually kinda wanted to go
there and support the movement to bring more women into tech. But they actually would reject me simply because of my gender. In my opinion, it would be great if these conferences and events would be welcoming to everybody to help support some common cause, whether that be bringing
more women into tech, more black people into tech. Or any other efforts for diversity or whatever else that may be. Okay now, for anyone who’s been
working in tech for a while this should all come as no huge surprise. The fact is being a software engineer has just become way too popular. Everybody wants to be doing it. And it’s kind of a shame that
for certain classes of people, it can be a totally uphill battle. There will be gate keepers
every step of the way whereas in the past, there
were no gate keepers. If you wanted to be a programmer nobody would be there to stop you. They would just say,
oh, you wanna do that? Feel free, be my guest. That’s a nerdy profession. They don’t wanna do that. People wanted to be lawyers,
actors, accountants, investment bankers, architects. Not so much anymore these days. Everyone’s just piling in on
the software engineering game. So the way I see it, it is an uphill climb all the way through. And if you were to ask me, would
I recommend this profession to my kids or my nephew. I would say, not really because it is so difficult
it is just uphill. And why do you wanna go uphill, find some path where you can go downhill where you don’t have to struggle every single step of the way where every time somebody
is trying to deny you, based on the way you were born. Maybe you just weren’t born
for this type of career. And what I find particularly
destructive about this is that a lot of these issues you
cannot even talk about on social media like Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, because a lot of these companies happen to also be the same gatekeepers. So they’re not going to
necessarily support your rhetoric. They could even limit your virality censor you burn your account or demonetize your channel. If you happen to be supporting
some political stance that they don’t really support as much. You know, we do have freedom
of speech in America, but we don’t have freedom
of distribution of speech. It still happens that speech
is pretty much controlled by the these tech companies. And there’s no distribution platform for conversation of any other idealism. The fact is social media
networks and platforms. They are not neutral. They don’t need to be neutral. They’re privately owned entities. And there’s a monopoly on
conversation these days, the way we talk our idealism, our beliefs are limited to the type of information that we are able to see. I believe that one day in the future, we may look back on this age and view as the age of censorship because there’s so much
that we cannot talk about. If the topic is controversial, or potentially not advertiser friendly distribution of that
content will be limited. In fact, you may have seen
the men’s rights movement has been censored and demonetized
on YouTube and Reddit. Zero Hedge which is a day trader blog, they were banned on Twitter. And you hear about the
coronavirus also been censored and while some of the
censorship may be valid, it seems to give tech companies
incredible and unfair power to allow them to decide what society is and is not allowed to discuss. So what do I recommend. Well, I would recommend
in this day and age to look into self publishing, because all of these
gatekeepers, they may exist, but you can still bypass all of them. Because if you put out good work, if you come up with the
best website, project, framework or system, then the
work will speak for itself. And overall, I would say that software engineering
programming is still probably one of the only games in town. Is still a great field to get into. But you wanna be careful about all these gatekeepers along the path. And look for ways that you
can do self publishing, get into entrepreneurship,
personal branding, learn about marketing, such that you don’t have to go through
all of these other people just learned about what it
takes to create a project, an app or a website and
launch it on your own. Nobody is going to be able to stop you from doing any of this stuff. If you wanna write a book, for example, then you can learn to do
self publishing on Amazon and just put out a Kindle book. You can build an app or website, maybe form a team with your friends. And if you take a look at YouTube, well, I’m sure that somebody like myself in the past Hollywood executives would have probably just
blocked me right way, but YouTube is essentially
self publishing. There are no gatekeepers. And that is why in my
opinion, entrepreneurship is still such a great area to get into. And something that I would recommend young people to get into, because in a sense, is
one of the easier paths. Because there are no gatekeepers here, nobody blocking you based
on the logical reasons. If your work is good, it
will stand out on this own. And then as a backup plan, like a plan B, look into computer science,
software engineering, coding. Because you can still make
a great career out of it and make some good money. Although it’s just going to be a little bit tougher than it
should be all the way through. And of course, if you’re
looking into self publishing, there are also a lot of
other relevant skills here like marketing, personal
branding, writing, media, networking, maybe even
some social sciences that can help you relate to people and talk at a more charismatic level. So that’s all I’ve got for you today. Good chat. Good chat, but let me know if you had the kid. Would you recommend that kid to get into computer science programming, or would you recommend some other route. Let me know in the comments below
if you liked the video, give a like and subscribe and I’ll see you next time. Thanks bye

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