Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brad on foreign CEOs

Brad Templeton describes a good way to explain the current distribution of nationalities in the tech field:
I gave him one suggestion, inspired by something I saw long ago at a high-roller CEO conference for the PC industry. In a room of 400 top executives and founders of PC and internet startups, it was asked that all who were born outside the USA stand up. A considerable majority (including myself) stood. I wished every opponent of broader immigration could see that.

I agree with Brad that, at least in the software field, we benefit tremendously from foreign workers.

I suspect most observers would agree if they thought about it. You don't have to look just at executives. Walk into any software shop and you will see a large fraction of the workers who were born abroad. Futhermore, talk to any software developer about the job market, and it's not like they are hurting for work. If we sent all the foreign workers home, it's not like we'd have more American programmers at work. We'd simply have less total computer work being done.

It seems that software is getting swept up in laws and regulation that were developed with other fields in mind. If you follow the political discussions on the topic, it is always about lower-skilled jobs in fields where it is tough to start a new company. This depiction simply does not match computer science.

It's the same sort of thing that happens with research oversight. Research oversight is driven by the needs of medical research, and it just doesn't match the ethical issues that computer researchers face.

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