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At CES 2015, Intel dropped a $300 million bomb on the tech industry by announcing the Diversity in Technology Initiative (DTI). According to Intel, DTI has the following goals: achieve “full representation” of women and under-represented minorities at Intel by 2020, help build a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists, support hiring and retaining more women and under-represented minorities, and fund programs to support more “positive representation within the technology and gaming industries”. It’s a noble goal, to be sure; I, for one, applaud Intel for stepping up to the plate and telling the world they see an issue and are willing to invest the time and money to fix it.
That’s not the whole story, of course—it would make a pretty boring commentary if it was the entire story. Intel is partnering with IGDA and Fem Freq, amongst others. Twitter went berserk in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. I have to admit I’m perplexed a bit as to why. I understand the principle: The IGDA leadership is incompetent to the point of negligence, as evidenced by their total mismanagement of ggautoblocker, and Fem Freq are documented anti-capitalist, anti-consumer, anti-creative process bigots whose non-existent knowledge of technology rivals their non-existent knowledge of video games. However, it seems I’m in the vast minority when I look at the announcement, look at the positives, and shrug my shoulders at it. Let’s break it down.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Don’t get me wrong, a top tech company investing 300 million dollars in workplace diversity is going to shake up the tech industry. However, there are many aspects of Intel and its partners that will still be true tomorrow, or in 2020, that were true yesterday. Intel will still be a publicly traded company, so the success or failure of DTI will be measured by how the talent generated or retained through DTI affects Intel’s bottom line, and by extension, the stock price. Jobs at Intel are still in the Top 1% of tech industry jobs.
Further, those jobs are going to require Top 1% of technology professional talent for Intel to create successful products and meet their business goals. Intel isn’t going to suddenly lower its standards for new employees in the name of “accessibility”; it’s not in Intel’s best interest to do so. The rainbow-haired, incompetent, blowhard “software engineers”, coders, designers, and not-game “developers” with Abandon all Hope, Ye Who Enter Here tattooed on her lower back aren’t suddenly going to get jobs at Intel.
The people on the outside of the tech industry looking in and looking to blame absolutely everyone but themselves for why they don’t have top 1% industry jobs will still be on the outside in 2020. Meanwhile, Intel will continue to hire top talent, regardless of who that talent is and where that talent comes from, and create components found in more and more devices every day.
P.T. Sarkeesian and McIntosh are still charlatans with dubious knowledge of technology, gaming, or products that sell. The best possible scenario for them is to sit in the corner while the adults are talking and quietly nod agreement when good ideas are brought forward; subsequently they can take all the credit for DTI’s success when it’s time for another round of crowdfunding.
The worst possible scenario for them is that they’re brought in to consult on products. How long would they be allowed to baselessly assert the same variety of nonsense they spew about gaming and “toxic masculinity” on social media every day on the biggest stage in the technology sector? How many commercial failures would they consult on before Intel sent them home? The ~130k left over from the Tropes crowdfunding can’t turn a commercial failure into a commercial success, no matter how many advertisements The New York Times, MSNBC, Polygon, Kotaku, The Mary Sue, Salon, and Jezebel et. al. run for them.
Similar is true for IGDA. Their negligent mismanagement of ggautoblocker showed everyone who’s paying attention that IGDA leadership doesn’t know much of anything about software design or coding. IGDAs Board of Directors doesn’t seem to care their organization was embarrassed by publicly distributing terribly designed, barely functioning code to the public—after all, Kate Edwards still has her job as Executive Director, in spite of the autoblocker fiasco.
There’s very little IGDA can bring to the table that will help DTI achieve Intel’s goals, so organizationally IGDA is in the same boat as Fem Freq. The best case scenario is to survive as consultants to the end of DTI, and fight with Fem Freq to take the credit for whatever successes DTI generate.
Finally, it should come as no surprise to anyone that a technology company introducing a diversity campaign at a major conference would be covered by the Ministry of Truth as a slap in the face to a consumer revolt. News outlets incapable of journalism, including all the usual suspects, made a direct tie between the Intel announcement and a denouncement of GamerGate. The tie is simultaneously journalistic malpractice and tryhard utopian delusion put together in one neat package of putting the narrative in front of the facts—as obvious as it is fabrication, since it was journalistic malpractice and putting narrative in front of facts that started GamerGate in earnest on August 28, and has kept GamerGate going into its fifth month.
In the real world, media outlets across the board tied the announcement to Intel trying to garner good PR in response to pulling ads from Gamasutra after Leigh Alexander’s asinine, hate fueled condemnation of the gamer identity as a part of the 2 Minutes Hate perpetrated against consumers by the gaming media. That tie, by contrast, is less journalistic malpractice than it is laziness in research.
Last year, I addressed the idea the philosophy of inclusion as imposed by the education academic elitists over the last 20+ years on American public schools has created an environment where students coming out of college in STEM majors are not qualified for jobs in VR and Cybersecurity. It would come as no surprise to me that Intel would be looking at the top 1% of talent coming out of places like Cal Tech, MIT, Stanford, etc. and found them lacking the skills to be on the cutting edge of technology development.
It’s far more likely Intel is making a 300 million dollar investment to lead the discussion of how to undo the damage inclusion has done to public schools in the US, particularly in STEM subjects, than Intel is investing 300 million dollars for workplace diversity because they thought they screwed up by standing up for their consumers.
So What Is DTI
DTI is going to do exactly what it says on the tin: 300 million dollars will create a pipeline of potential employees at Intel. Intel is not going to shoot itself in the foot with this initiative, so people who come out of DTI that aren’t qualified to work at Intel aren’t going to work at Intel. The tech industry at large will see the most benefit from DTI—“graduates” of DTI that are not qualified to work at Intel, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Oracle, or Cisco will have more than sufficient skill to work for a ton of other technology companies in virtually every sector of tech. Hopefully, VR, Aerospace, Cybersecurity, and Defense will all benefit from Intel’s investment, and they will join Intel in creating an even bigger pipeline of candidates, regardless of gender, race, or orientation, for the tech industry.
DTI should be the beginning of the end for inclusion in STEM subjects in American public schools. It won’t take long before public school students who are being held to mediocrity because of inclusion resent not qualifying for DTI scholarships that are going to students of private or charter schools. The domino effect could propagate as far down as elementary school, where Gifted & Talented programs are specifically designed to cultivate a love of technology and enhance the skill sets of students to get them into DTI in the first place. Getting rid of inclusion in STEM, if not all of public schools, is a win for everyone.
I have seen many calls to action to boycott Intel processors in people’s next PCs. Obviously, what you spend your disposable income on is your business and none of mine. If anything, I would advocate taking the long view on DTI. Sure, IGDA and P.T. Sarkeesian are going to fight for the credit of DTI’s successes, but don’t we all know the empress has no clothes? We all know journalism challenged news outlets are going to tout the same narrative, but don’t we know better? Isn’t it a good thing that private industry is going to do in 5 years what education academic elitists couldn’t do in 30 years? I’m on board with the Diversity in Technology Initiative and Intel, regardless of how incompetent their partners might be.